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Amnesty International: ‘Alarming’ increase in Iraq executions

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Amnesty International on Friday condemned the “alarming” increase in executions in Iraq, which has put at least 70 people to death this year, and urged Baghdad to stop using the death penalty.

“The killing of Abd Hmoud is part of an alarming escalation in executions in Iraq and we fear others may soon face the same fate,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said in a statement.

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Sahraoui was referring to Thursday’s execution of Saddam Hussein’s presidential secretary and chief bodyguard Abid Hamid Mahmud, who was known as Abd Hmoud.

“The Iraqi authorities should refrain from using the death penalty, commute the sentences of all those on death row, believed to number several hundred, and declare a moratorium on executions.”

Mahmud’s execution brought the number of people put to death in Iraq this year to at least 70. At least 69 people had been executed as of February 21 — more than in all of 2011.

Iraq has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31.

[AFP Photo/Sabah Arar]

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Nunes cuts off GOP lawyer when cross-examination flops as Fiona Hill outlines damning case against Trump

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was forced to cut off the House GOP's own attorney after he gave former National Security Council official Fiona Hill an opportunity to outline the damning case against President Donald Trump.

Nunes' interruption came while attorney Steve Castor was asking questions about Hill's past interactions with European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland, whom she admits she got upset with after learning that he was working on Ukraine policy despite the fact that Ukraine isn't even a member of the EU.

"What I was angry about was that he wasn't coordinating with us," Hill said, referring to the National Security Council. "And what I realized was, listening to his deposition, that he was absolutely right. He wasn't coordinating with us because we weren't doing the same thing that he was doing."

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WATCH: Devin Nunes stunned after State Dept. official David Holmes knocks down his ‘black ledger’ conspiracy theory

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Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes Thursday afternoon appeared stunned when he questioned a U.S. State Dept. official during the impeachment hearings and did not get the answer he anticipated.

Rep. Nunes has been spewing far right wing conspiracy theories during each impeachment hearing over the past two weeks, including the thoroughly debunked lie that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked the U.S. 2016 election.

(Earlier one of today’s witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, publicly lambasted the spreading of the false Ukraine conspiracy theory as she sat just feet away from Nunes. The video is here.)

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David Holmes blows up one of Trump’s key defenses in Ukraine extortion scheme

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David Holmes blew up one of the central arguments in the impeachment defense of President Donald Trump.

The president's Republican allies have argued that Ukraine was not aware that congressionally approved aid had been held up by the White House as Trump demanded an investigation of Joe Biden, but Holmes explained why that's wrong, reported the Washington Post.

Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, told congressional investigators that Ukrainian officials seemed to have figured out that the pause, which had been reported in late August by Politico, was related to Trump's call for an investigation.

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