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US blames Iran as it readies to shut Iraq consulate

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Washington, Sep 29 : The US has said it will close its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra and blamed increasing threats from Iran and Tehran-backed forces.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said all but emergency staff would be relocated to Baghdad, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Pompeo said the US would hold Iran responsible for any harm to its citizens or facilities and accused Tehran of failing to prevent recent rocket attacks directed at the American consulate, the BBC said.

The decision comes amid growing tensions with Iran, after President Donald Trump re-instated economic sanctions on Tehran following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Basra is home to more than two million people and has witnessed violent protests over the past few weeks as protesters set alight government and political buildings, including the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of an Iran-backed paramilitary force, after a number of people were killed in clashes with police.

The protests in the city have been fuelled by growing public anger over poor infrastructure, contaminated water and a lack of jobs in a region that generates much of Iraq’s oil wealth.

They have also denounced what they perceive as Iran’s control of local affairs, said the BBC report.

Pompeo said there were “increasing and specific” threats against Americans and US facilities in Iraq.
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French government urges Russia to immediately release Navalny

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to urgently shed light on the “attempted murder” of opposition figure Alexei Navalny after French tests confirmed the use of the Novichok nerve agent, the Elysée said.

Macron told Putin in telephone talks that it is “imperative that all light be shed, without delay, on the circumstances of this attempted murder and who is responsible”, the French presidency said in a statement.

Read: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained after landing in Moscow

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

Putin, for his part, told Macron that it was “inappropriate” to make groundless accusations against Russia over the suspected poisoning of Navalny, the Kremlin said.

The Russian leader said his country wanted Germany to hand over medical test results taken from Navalny, according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained after landing in Moscow

Russian prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport after returning from Germany on Sunday, the prison service said.

The prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence and would be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case.

Mr. Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and determined foe, had spent the previous five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent attack that he blamed on the Kremlin.

Mr. Navalny decided to leave Berlin of his own free will and wasn’t under any apparent pressure to leave from Germany.

The prison service made the announcement after the flight carrying Mr. Navalny landed in the Russian capital, though at a different airport than had been scheduled. It was a possible attempt to outwit journalists and supporters who wanted to witness Mr. Navalny’s return.

The prison service last week issued a warrant for his arrest, saying he had violated the terms of suspended sentence he received on a 2014 conviction for embezzlement. The prison service has asked a Moscow court to turn Mr. Navalny’s 3 1/2-year suspended sentence into a real one.

After boarding the Moscow flight in Berlin on Sunday, Mr. Navalny said of the prospect of arrest: “It’s impossible; I’m an innocent man.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning.

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13 Israelis suffer facial paralysis post inoculation

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

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Jerusalem, Jan 17 : At least 13 Israelis suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after receiving the first Covid vaccine jabs, the Health Ministry said, adding that the count could be higher.

The officials have raised questions on whether or not to administer the second dose to these individuals the Health Ministry had recommended for the second dose, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

“I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.”

As for receiving the second dose, he admits he is undecided, but says that “it is important to note that this is something rare, and I don’t want people to avoid getting vaccinated – it’s important”.

“I recently came across, for example, someone vaccinated who was dealing with paralysis, and decided not to give her a second dose,” Galia Rahav, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Centre told Ynet.

“It is true that it can be given according to the Health Ministry, but I did not feel comfortable with it.”

She added that, “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose.”

However, the Health Ministry has assured of the second dose only when the paralysis passes, Ynet reported.

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