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U.S. denounces burning of Koran copies by U.S. pastor

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WASHINGTON — The US State Department on Monday denounced the burning of copies of the Koran and a depiction of the prophet Mohammed by a Florida pastor, saying the acts did not reflect American values.

“We find such action deplorable. We find it disrespectful. I, frankly, don’t want to give this issue or that individual any more air time here,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

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“This is the act of one individual and in no way reflects the values of the American people or of the US government,” Nuland said.

The burning, attended by 20 people and streamed live over the Internet, was carried out by pastor Terry Jones at his church in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday, The Gainesville Sun said.

Video of the burning was uploaded to YouTube by the pastor’s supporting group “Stand Up America Now.”

The actions were taken to protest the imprisonment in Iran of a Christian clergyman, Youcef Nadarkhani.

The Pentagon had urged Jones to reconsider, expressing concern that US forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere could be put at greater risk because of the act, the newspaper said, but Jones insisted on going ahead with the protest.

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Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death under Islamic sharia law for converting to Christianity when he was 19.

Now 34, he is a pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran. Iran’s supreme court in July 2011 overturned the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Nadarkhani’s hometown of Rasht, in Gilan province.

His retrial took place at the end of September 2011 with no verdict made public.

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Several Western countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and France condemned the death sentence and said they feared it could be carried out soon.


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Controversial Contractors for Trump’s highly-criticized $3 billion food aid program hire lobbyist to tout their work

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Companies receiving taxpayer dollars as part of President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program hired a longtime lobbyist to push back on criticism that the government is relying on unqualified contractors, such as an event planner.

“We’re working to take the stories of the impact this is having on farmers, processors, distributors and end users and making sure some positive aspects of the program, from both the economic and social standpoints, are out there too,” said the lobbyist and industry consultant, Dale Apley, who reached out to ProPublica on behalf of the contractors. “It’s not all just certain stories about certain companies that maybe shouldn’t have been awarded contracts.”

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Ivanka Trump ‘urged’ Trump’s Bible photo-op — which could become a ‘defining moment’ of his presidency: NYT

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First daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump "urged" her father to take part in a controversial photo-op with a Bible according to a new report from The New York Times.

"After a weekend of protests that led all the way to his own front yard and forced him to briefly retreat to a bunker beneath the White House, President Trump arrived in the Oval Office on Monday agitated over the television images, annoyed that anyone would think he was hiding and eager for action," the newspaper reported.

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The psychology of protesters — and the psychology of people who hate them

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It is hard to imagine that anyone who watched the horrific video of George Floyd being asphyxiated by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would come away feeling empathy for the police force that stood by and let it happen. And yet, amid the biggest coordinated civil rights protests in the United States since 1968, there are many voices out there who find excuses to defend cops like Derek Chauvin, who is now facing charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
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