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Iraqi Forces Kill 28 Protesters After Iranian Consulate Torched

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More Than 16 Killed In A Crackdown On Protests In Iraq

28 protesters were shot dead by Iraqi security forces on Thursday in the southern city of Nassiriya, and authorities have imposed a curfew in Najaf after demonstrators burned its Iranian consulate.

Joint military-civilian “crisis cells” have been set up by authorities to try to stem unrest.  A paramilitary commander has vowed to use force to stop any attack against Shi’ite Muslim religious authorities.

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The burning of the consulate in Najaf, the southern holy city, has caused violence to increase in Iraq after weeks of mass demonstrations that aim to bring down a government they believe is corrupt and backed by Tehran.

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The inability of Iraq’s government and political class to deal with the unrest and answer protesters’ demands has fueled public anger.

Prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has promised electoral and anti-corruption reform, but he has barely begun delivering while security forces shot dead hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Baghdad and southern cities.

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Russia And Ukraine Agree To Ceasefire By The End Of 2019

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Russia And Ukraine Agree To Ceasefire By The End Of 2019

Russian and Ukrainian leaders have agreed to a ceasefire and to swap prisoners by the end of the year.  This agreement was reached during a four-way meeting in Paris on Monday involving France and Germany.

The four heads of state said they had made progress and that just talking was a key step forward. They are to meet again in four months.

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Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky said he was confident the ceasefire would take place this month.  In a late-night press conference, Zelensky outlined both steps forward and progress still to be made.

This is the first meeting between Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, since the Ukrainian president took office earlier this year. It’s the first such four-way summit since 2016.

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Putin confirmed that there was a possible thaw between Russia and Ukraine he said there was progress on most issues.

These talks are an effort to resolve the ongoing conflict between the two countries—conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014. Both sides have since accused each other of failing to honor a 2015 peace agreement.  But president Zelensky, a political newcomer, has made ending the conflict a priority.

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International Journalist Group: Fewer Media Staff Killed This Year

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International Journalist Group: Fewer Media Staff Killed This Year

The International Federation of Journalists said on Monday far fewer journalists are being killed this year compared to last.   But it warned that part of the reason may be that media workers are going to the most dangerous areas in fewer numbers.

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The IFJ said 49 journalists have been killed so far this year, down from 95 overall last year. The group says even if it is good that journalists show more caution, it also means that the public is less informed about some of the worst war and human rights claims.

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IFJ general secretary, Anthony Bellanger said that lack of security that has led to loss of lives among journalists and media workers in several conflict zones in recent years has deterred many journalists from covering these events from the field.  He said this has resulted in people being less informed about matters of public interest.

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French Pension Strikes Expand, Police Gird For New Protests 

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French Pension Strikes Expand, Police Gird For New Protests 

French airport workers, teachers and others joined nationwide strikes on Tuesday as unions stepped up pressure on the government to scrap changes to the national retirement system.

Police ordered shops and restaurants closed in many parts of Paris, for fear of violence springing up on the fringes of what government opponents hope is another mass march in the afternoon. At least 800,000 persons demonstrated around France when the strike movement kicked off last Thursday.

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Protests were also ongoing on Tuesday in other cities, as the strike pushes on into a sixth straight day.  Unions fear president Emmanuel Macron’s retirement reform will force people to work longer for smaller pensions.

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Only about a fifth of French trains ran normally on Tuesday.  Tourists were frustrated at empty train stations and cancelled trains.  Most Paris subways were grounded.

Overall the number of striking workers is lower than last week but travelers’ patience is wearing thin, as commuters struggle to squeeze on scarce regional trains to get to work.

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Air France, the national carrier, said the strike will ground more than a quarter of its domestic traffic on Tuesday.

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