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Iraq’s Sadr calls for mass protests against US presence

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Firebrand Iraqi leader Moqtada Sadr called Tuesday for a “million-strong march” against the presence of US troops in Iraq, days after parliament voted for their departure following Washington’s killing of an Iranian general in a Baghdad drone strike.

“The skies, land and sovereignty of Iraq are being violated every day by occupying forces,” the Shiite cleric turned populist politician wrote on Twitter.

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He urged Iraqis to hold “a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations”, without giving a date.

Washington on January 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, in a strike that also killed a senior Iraqi military official.

The Iraqi parliament responded by voting on January 5 to oust foreign forces — including some 5,200 American troops — who have been backing the fight against Islamic State jihadists since 2014.

Soleimani’s killing also came weeks into mass anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad and the country’s south, condemning politicians seen as corrupt, inept and under the sway of both the US and Iran.

The rallies have persisted throughout but shifted to include calls for Iraq to be spared any conflict between Iran and the US.

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Iraq has been in political paralysis since the resignation of prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, with pro- and anti-Iran factions unable to agree on a candidate to form a new government.

Protesters have rejected the possibility of reinstating Abdel Mahdi.

“The people reject that,” said Hussin Ali Abdul Hussein, a demonstrator in Karbala, south of the capital. “We don’t want to recycle the rubbish, we want a prime minister the public can accept.”

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The protest movement and the ensuing crackdown by security forces has left around 460 people dead, mostly protesters. Activists have also faced a campaign of intimidation, abductions and killings.


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2020 Election

Paul Krugman issues dire warning about next four months under Trump

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In his column for the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman expressed dismay that -- even with coronavirus infection rates going through the roof across the country --Donald Trump is still acting like the health crisis is over and Americans should return to their normal lives.

Noting that Vice President Mike Pence recently penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal proclaiming, “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave',” the columnist was gobsmacked by the Trump administration's "delusions and magical thinking that have marked every step of the Trump administration’s response to Covid-19."

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CNN

‘Gaslighting on a massive scale’: Doctor warns Trump is lying us into a COVID disaster

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On CNN Friday, Dr. Celine Grounder tore into President Donald Trump's ongoing falsehoods about the coronavirus pandemic.

"No matter how many times public health officials, especially like Anthony Fauci, speak the truth, what does it do, Doctor, when the president continues to lie to the public in face of a public health crisis?" asked anchor Kate Bolduan.

"This is gaslighting on an enormous scale, and means until people eventually get sick or their family members get sick, the communities hit hard, they won't believe it, and then it will be too late," said Grounder. "The problem is there's a lag period from the time that somebody's infected and starts to develop symptoms a couple days later. We don't see people get severely sick and need to be hospitalized and in ICUs until a week into disease, and talking about probably one to two weeks of lag time from the time somebody's exposed at least before you start to see hospitalizations and then another couple weeks before you start to see deaths."

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2020 Election

Republicans ‘anxious’ as campaign aides observe ‘a sudden alertness’ in Trump that he is losing: report

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Republican are growing increasingly worried about President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, according to a new report in Politico.

“I’d say Republicans are feeling anxious, and there’s a real sense of urgency for the president to precisely define his second term agenda. What are we running on? His answers on that have been lacking and he needs to show people why he wants four more years,” Scott Jennings, a top political adviser in the George W. Bush White House, told the publication.

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