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Trump ‘statue of liberty’ burned in Slovenian town

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Suspected vandals on Thursday burned a wooden statue of US President Donald Trump built last year by a group of villagers to criticize populist politics, local authorities said.

The eight-meter-high (26 feet) statue of Trump complete with his trademark mane, blue suit, white shirt and red tie was built last August. It was named “statue of liberty” by architect Tomaz Schlegl who wanted it to serve as a criticism of populist politics.

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Initially installed in the Sela pri Kamniku village, 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Ljubljana, the statue was moved in December to the nearby town of Moravce after protests by villagers annoyed at the increase of tourists wanting to see it.

But shortly after its arrival to Moravce, vandals damaged the statue by drawing a moustache on its face in a clear reference to Adolf Hitler.

Early Thursday, firefighters rushed to extinguish the blaze that completely destroyed the statue. Police are expected to launch an investigation, according to Moravce mayor Milan Balazic.

“This is an attack against art and tolerance … against Europe’s fundamental values,” Balazic told AFP, adding many tourists had come to see the statue since it was installed last month.

Balazic had paid 1,500 euros ($1,700) for moving the statue to Moravce, seeing it as an opportunity to promote his small town.

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Architect Schlegl said he saw the suspected arson as an act against Trump given recent escalation of tensions after the US ordered a deadly strike against an Iranian general.

“I believe these attacks are understandable bearing in mind what’s happening in the world,” Schlegl told AFP.

Slovenia, a member of NATO since 2004, announced Wednesday that it was evacuating its six soldiers deployed in Iraq as part of the alliance’s training mission following Iran’s retaliatory attacks against US troops.

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Balazic said he planned to install a new sculpture, calling it the “tolerance statue” though this time it would be made of more durable material — rather than wood — and it would not depict the US president.

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.

His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.

Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:

Winners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice,  and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.

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Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst

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Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.

"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."

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Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.

WATCH: Protesters interrupt the #DemDebate as the debate nears end. pic.twitter.com/TKCn6eIEsN

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020

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