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Iraq: Fresh Clashes Erupt In Baghdad Despite Call For Calm

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Fresh Clashes Erupt In Baghdad Despite Call For Calm

Despite a call for calm by the Iraq’s top Shia leader, fresh clashes between Iraq’s security forces and anti-government protesters broke out in Baghdad on Friday.

Authorities grapple with the country’s biggest crisis in years as security forces again fired tear gas and threw stun grenades into crowds of protesters wearing helmets and makeshift body armour on a main road in the middle of the Iraqi capital, sending demonstrators scattering, some wounded.

According to Reuters News Agency, more than 260 people have been killed since the protests over a lack of jobs and services began in Baghdad on October 1 and quickly spread to southern provinces, according to police and medics. Security forces have used live gunfire against mostly unarmed protesters since the beginning of the unrest.

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A representative of al-Sistani said in a sermon after Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala that “the biggest responsibility is on the security forces. They must avoid using excessive force with peaceful protesters.”

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who only speaks on politics in times of crisis and wields enormous influence over public opinion in Shia-majority Iraq, held security forces accountable for any violent escalation and urged the government to respond as quickly as possible to demonstrators’ demands.

Earlier, security forces in the southern oil-rich province of Basra forcibly dispersed a sit-in but there were no deaths reported, security sources said.

The U.S embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday condemned the deadly violence against unarmed demonstrators, and urged Iraq’s leaders to engage urgently with the thousands who have been protesting.

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World Bank Lends Philippines $500m To Counter Virus Impact

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World Bank Lends Philippines $500m To Counter Virus Impact

The World Bank Group has said on Friday it has approved a $500m loan for the Philippines to help it cope with the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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The country’s Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement the loan will support efforts to provide immediate relief to poor Filipinos and small business workers who have lost their jobs during the lockdown.

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In one of the world’s toughest and longest lockdowns for residents which started since mid-March, the Philippine government will begin easing restrictions from June 1 in the capital and other key cities, restoring much-needed activity to an economy facing its deepest contraction in nearly three decades.

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George Floyd: Protesters Set Minneapolis Police Station Ablaze

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George Floyd: Protesters Set Minneapolis Police Station Ablaze

In the United States, a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota has been set on fire on Thursday night during a protests which erupted across the United States over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified.

Demonstrators vented their rage over the death of Floyd who appeared in a viral video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck to the ground for several minutes.

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Floyd died on Monday. Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis for a third night on Thursday, demanding justice and an end to police violence.

The four officers involved were swiftly fired, but Floyd’s family, community leaders and residents are calling for arrests to be made.

Earlier, police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse a crowd outside the 3rd Precinct, the epicentre of the unrest.

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But the cordon around the police station was eventually breached by protesters, who set fire to it and two other nearby buildings, as officers withdrew.

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that the 3rd Precinct had been evacuated shortly after 22:00 “in the interest of the safety of our personnel”.

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On Thursday, Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN he hoped the officers involved got the death penalty, he added that the officers who “executed my brother in broad daylight” must be arrested and that he was “tired of seeing black men die”.

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Covid-19: Britain Launches New Test And Trace Service

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Covid-19: Britain Launches New Test And Trace Service

Before now, anyone in the United Kingdom, who developed symptoms of coronavirus, for example persistent cough, fever or sudden loss of taste or sense of smell, had to isolate for seven, the rest of their household for 14 days.

But from now on, everyone with symptoms could call 119 for an online test.

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This is a new approach to gradually take the United Kingdown out of lockdown restrictions, and reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It is called a test and trace service operated by the National Health Service (NHS).

UK government says the new service will help identify, contain, control and reduce the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

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Under the new system, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS test and trace, and will need to share information about those with whom he recently interacted.

Executive chair of NHS test and trace, Dido Harding says the system has already employed more than 40,000 persons.

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Thousands of contact tracers are already making their first phone calls

Northern Ireland has its own version of the test and trace programme already, and Wales’ scheme is due to start in early June.

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