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Islamists restore order amid Tunisia violence

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ETTADHAMEN, Tunisia — Charred cars, vandalised shops, roadblocks made of garbage and manure have made this town nearly unrecognisable were it not for Islamists who have taken action to re-establish calm and order.

Ettadhamen, a deprived district outside Tunis, is one of several areas across the country that has been rocked with violence over the past several days, prompting authorities to declare an overnight curfew in the capital Saturday.

The district was at the centre of protests in January during the uprising that led to the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but a series of protests against the transitional government have flared up recently.

Residents said youths had ransacked and pillaged a major electrical goods store and a pharmacy and set fire to several vehicles the previous day.

Amid thin police presence in Ettadhamen, the Islamist group Ennahda (Awakening) took action to prevent pillages and restore order, said a member and residents.

Ennahda “has deployed a number of volunteers to protect people from looting”, explained Saber, a member of the movement which the interim government legalised after decades of being banned by the Ben Ali regime.

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“We are not replacing the police. We are simply trying to talk to these youth and to prevent them from turning violent or looting. Everyday we coordinate among ourselves. We are doing all this for the good of the country.”

“Our role is to protect and to give a sense of responsibility to young people with good words,” he added.

Thari, a cafe owner, recalled a “night of chaos despite the curfew”.

“It was horrible. The streets were black with people. They worked in groups, and some were armed with knives. They searched all the cars that passed by and when drivers refused to stop they smashed their windows,” he added.

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A helicopter armed with a powerful searchlight hovered above the district during the night and took photos of troublemakers, but faced with the violence “law enforcement officials just vanished”, he added.

One resident, Ali, said: “It was the Islamists who took action the most to restore calm and who recovered stolen goods, stocking them in a mosque to return them to their owners.”

Another man named Ali, whose ancient pottery shop was pillaged, said the chaos erupted late in the evening and lasted into the early hours of Sunday.

“They are between 14 and 20 years old, some with gashes in their face. They just want to take advantage of the disorder to have fun,” he added, showing the shattered remains of his wares.

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In the smashed-up streets of Ettadhamen veiled women hurry along with their children in front of stalls where sheep carcasses hang with their throats slit. Some solders, with dark rings under their eyes, take a breather at cafes.

“We are more and more scared every day,” said a young woman whose father accompanies her after work because of the unrest.

Nearby, an old man held his head in his hands wailing: “Tunisia is crashing into a wall.”

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Lock him up? Democrats are pushing prosecution for Trump — but those calls alarm some law enforcement vets

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President Donald Trump -- whose rallies are still punctuated with "lock her up" chants" -- may face turnabout from his Democratic rivals.

Some Democratic candidates are openly threatening Trump with prosecution once he's out of office, and those taunts are alarming to some law enforcement veterans, reported Politico.

“Presidents aren’t supposed to suggest there be investigations or prosecutions of particular people, let alone their political rivals,” said Matt Axelrod, a former Justice Department senior official under Obama. “President Trump has flagrantly and repeatedly violated that norm, but that doesn’t mean the norm has been obliterated.”

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WATCH: Alabama GOP official berates reporter about Sodom and Gomorrah after she questions his anti-LGBT rant

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Republican Mobile County Treasurer Phil Benson defiantly told a reporter from a local news station to read the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah when she came to ask him about his recent anti-LGBT rant that he posted on Facebook.

The controversy surrounding Benson started when he reacted angrily to a story about a bakery getting sued for refusing to serve an LGBT wedding.

"Freaking queers have gotten too much sympathy," Benson wrote on Facebook in response to the story.

Local news station NBC 15 sent out reporter Andrea Ramey to question him about his remarks, and he tried to insist that she read Chapter 19 of Genesis, which details the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah over their tolerance of homosexuality.

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Charitable giving drops after GOP tax ‘cut’: report

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On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that charitable giving dropped 1.7 percent last year, adjusted for inflation, even as the economy surged.

The likely culprit? The GOP tax law, according to a report from Giving USA.

Although corporate donations rose 2.9 percent and foundation gifts rose 4.7 percent in the previous year, charitable donations from individuals — which is where the bulk of actual charity takes place — dropped 3.4 percent, the first time this has happened since the financial crisis.

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