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Clooney urges action on Sudan generals’ assets

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George Clooney, seen here in May 2019, is calling for financial pressure on Sudan's generals AFP/File

Hollywood star and activist George Clooney on Tuesday urged the international community to go after illicit money from Sudan, voicing hope that financial pressure would change the calculus for generals who violently put down pro-democracy protests.

Clooney — a longtime campaigner for human rights in Sudan’s western region of Darfur — noted that the notorious Janjaweed militias were involved both in abuses in Darfur and in putting down demonstrations last week.

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Dozens were killed when paramilitary forces forcibly dispersed a weeks-long sit-in outside the headquarters of the army, which had deposed veteran leader Omar al-Bashir but balked at protesters’ persistent demands for a prompt transition to civilian rule.

Clooney, in a joint op-ed piece written with former US official John Prendergast, said that the generals were afraid they would lose out in a deal after they “looted the country with impunity for 30 years.”

The pair said that The Sentry, an initiative they founded to track dirty money, had pointed to financial laundering out of Sudan as the crisis intensified.

“Freezing and seizing some of those assets — and blocking some of these officials from the international financial system — would be a major and unutilized point of leverage for peace and human rights,” Clooney and Prendergast wrote in Politico.

“By creating significant financial consequences for regime leaders and their commercial collaborators, diplomats from Africa, Europe and the United States will be able to to influence the cost-benefit calculus of Khartoum’s generals,” they wrote.

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They voiced fear that US envoys including Tibor Nagy — the top US diplomat for Africa, who is due in Khartoum this week — will see their appeals “fall on deaf ears” without parallel action on the pocketbooks of the generals.

Despite Western criticism of the crackdown, Clooney and Prendergast noted that the generals still enjoy support from Gulf Arab states, China and Russia.


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The Arab uprisings were weakened by online fakes

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The Arab uprisings a decade ago were supercharged by online calls to join the protests -- but the internet was soon flooded with misinformation, weakening the region's cyber-activists.

When Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January 2011, rumours and uncertainty created "panic and hysteria", said ex-activist and entrepreneur Houeida Anouar.

"January 14 was a horrible night, so traumatic," she said. "We heard gunfire, and a neighbour shouted 'hide yourselves, they're raping women'."

As pro-regime media pumped out misinformation, the flood of bogus news also spread to the internet, a space activists had long seen as a refuge from censorship and propaganda.

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Dr. Fauci warns of post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge in US

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The United States is the worst-affected country, with 266,074 Covid-19 deaths, and President Donald Trump's administration has issued conflicting messages on mask-wearing, travel and the danger posed by the virus.

"There almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel," Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union."

Travel surrounding Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday made this the busiest week in US airports since the pandemic began.

"We may see a surge upon a surge" in two or three weeks, Fauci added. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's the reality."

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Sidney Powell’s new election lawsuit cites election experts she won’t even name: legal expert

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President Donald Trump's former election lawyer, Sidney Powell, has filed her lawsuit in Georgia suing Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) for what she says is a fraudulent election.

But lawyer Mike Dunford explained that it doesn't exactly work that way. Reading through Powell's court document "Emergency Motion for Declaratory, Emergency, and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Memorandum in Support Thereof."

"If you want emergency relief it is very helpful to be as clear and concise as humanly possible," he explained. "Pointing the court back to your 100+ page complaint with its 29 exhibits isn't how that is best done. To put it very mildly."

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