Ryan Knaus describes how Pascal Siakam has gotten healthy for the Toronto Raptors and is heating up on the court for managers.
Ryan Knaus describes how Pascal Siakam has gotten healthy for the Toronto Raptors and is heating up on the court for managers.
The team seeks its first winning streak in more than a month when it hosts the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. The Celtics were victorious 118-112 over the Indiana Pacers last time out -- a game in which they trailed by 14 less than five minutes in. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and was just Boston's fourth in its last 12 outings.
A trio of gunmen shot and killed a religious cleric, his teenage son and a student on the outskirts of Pakistan's capital Islamabad, police said, amid a rise in militant attacks. Police officer Shahzad Khan said the killing took place in the Bhara Kahu neighborhood when Mufti Ikramur Rehman was heading toward his car with his 13-year-old son and a seminary student late Saturday night. The cleric, his son and the student received multiple gunshot wounds and died at a hospital.
"Saturday Night Live" viewers got an NSFW "sience" lesson this week from U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Cecily Strong).
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s criticism of LeBron’s activism is a rehash of the familiar Fox News double standard: that it’s OK for athletes to speak out on issues as long as conservatives agree LA Lakers star LeBron James has been one of the NBA’s leading voices in the ongoing fight against police brutality, racism, inequality and social change. Photograph: Jesse D Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images At the end of Black History Month, the Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a larger-than-life figure who has resuscitated an entire city during a remarkable season with Milan, felt the need to take time out of his schedule to criticize LeBron James for using his global platform to turn a spotlight on social injustices in the United States. LeBron has been one of the NBA’s leading voices in the ongoing fight against police brutality, racism, inequality and social change, using his voice in a way that will have him permanently listed with the great athlete-activists of the past such as Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges and Colin Kaepernick. Etan Thomas Apparently, Ibrahmovic believes that’s not his place. In an interview with Discovery+ in Sweden, Ibrahimovic felt compelled to criticize the Los Angeles Lakers star and any sportsperson who dares to use their position and platform to speak out on issues beyond the narrow focus of the sport they play. “I like (James) a lot,” Ibrahimovic said. “He’s phenomenal, what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people with a status speak about politics. Do what you’re good at doing. “I play football because I’m the best at playing football. I’m no politician. If I’d been a politician, I would be doing politics. “This is the first mistake famous people do when they become famous: for me it is better to avoid certain topics and do what you’re good doing, otherwise you risk doing something wrongly.” On Friday, after the Lakers’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron responded to the criticism from Zlatan by vowing never to stay silent about social causes. As he put it to reporters: “I will never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people and I preach about equality, social justice, racism, voter suppression – things that go on in our community. “Because I was a part of my community at one point and saw the things that were going on, and I know what’s still going on because I have a group of 300-plus kids at my school that are going through the same thing and they need a voice. “I’m their voice and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that might be going on, not only in my community but in this country and around the world.” LeBron James addresses the media at the 2018 opening of the I Promise School, a district-run public school in his Ohio hometown of Akron that was the brainchild of James’s foundation and the city’s public school district. Photograph: Jason Miller/Getty Images LeBron didn’t stop there. He went on to reference a Canal Plus interview with Ibrahimovic from three years ago where he blamed “undercover racism” for what he’s considered unfair treatment by the Swedish media. “He’s the guy who said in Sweden, he was talking about the same things, because his last name wasn’t a [traditional Swedish] last name, he felt like there was some racism going on,” James said. “I speak from a very educated mind. I’m kind of the wrong guy to go at, because I do my homework.” Maybe Ibrahimovic watched a little too much Fox News while he was living in the US during his two-year spell with the LA Galaxy, because his criticism sounded very familiar to Laura Ingraham, the conservative opinionator who infamously demanded that LeBron “shut up and dribble” in a segment many perceived as racist. It’s a line of argument that exposed Ingraham and the entire American right wing: It’s perfectly OK for athletes to use their platform when they are promoting a narrative that you agree with or that is personal to you. That double standard was on full display last year when the GOP invited NFL and college football legend Herschel Walker to be a speaker at the Republican national convention. However, if the narrative is in opposition to their personal beliefs, then the athlete needs to stay in his lane, or stick to sports, or shut up and dribble – or as Ibrahimovic put it – do what you’re good at doing. And again, as LeBron pointed out, Ibrahimovic had zero problem speaking out about the racism and discrimination he felt that he was a victim of. That’s the definition of hypocrisy. And finally, for the record, LeBron’s decision to stand with the athletes and activists across America in calling for an end to the police killings of unarmed Black and Brown people isn’t “politics”, but a demand for basic human rights. And that’s something that anyone – no matter what color, race, nationality, place of origin, background, religion, occupation or status – should have the moral courage to support. Like Dr Martin Luther King said, there comes a point when silence is betrayal.
Police fire live rounds, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-coup rallies in several cities.
Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update reflects on some of the biggest headlines of the week. This time, that included Paramount+’s announcement that a Frasier revival series is officially happening. Because it’s been 16 years ago since the end of the original series, Colin Jost used Friends to explain Frasier to younger viewers, eliciting laughs and […]
The Philippines is due to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region. President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials will welcome the arrival of 600,000 doses of China-donated vaccine in a ceremony at an air base in the capital that will underscore their relief after weeks of delays, officials said. Aside from the donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company.
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi stocks fell the most in a month, tracking last week’s declines across emerging markets, as traders weighed the impact of a U.S. intelligence report saying Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed off on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.The Tadawul All Share Index retreated as much 1%, its sharpest decline since Jan. 31. It was 0.6% lower as of 10:43 a.m. in Riyadh. Rajhi Bank, Saudi Basic Industries, Saudi Telecom Co. and Saudi Aramco dragged the index down the most by points.While President Joe Biden’s administration imposed only modest new sanctions on the kingdom, it’s expected to announce more action on Monday. Saudi Arabia said it “rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report.”“We could see some influence in the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia” Alia Moubayed, the London-based chief economist for Middle East, North Africa at Jefferies International, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “But in terms of flows, unless sanctions hit particular asset classes, I don’t see flows being significantly affected.”Trading in Riyadh was also pressured by wider declines in emerging-market shares on Friday, when the MSCI EM Index fell 3.2% as a selloff in Treasuries triggered a slide in risk assets. Oil, Saudi Arabia’s biggest export, finished 1.1% lower last week.Outflows from the Saudi stock exchange climbed to a record of 6.6 billion riyals ($1.76 billion) in October 2018, the month when Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. It was the biggest monthly drop in foreign holdings since the country opened up its stock market to international investors in 2015.MIDDLE EASTERN MARKETS:The Saudi index trims drop to 0.5% as of 10:29 a.m. local time. It’s still up 5.1% in FebruaryRiyad Bank rises as much as 1.4%, the most among 12 listed lenders, after proposing a dividend for 2020 of 0.5 riyal per shareDubai’s DFM General Index slips 0.8%, the most in the GulfAbu Dhabi’s ADX General Index falls 0.3%In Doha, the QE Index climbs 0.1%Ezdan Holding Group rises as much as 5.3% after saying it’s finalizing a bank facility to fully repay a $500 million sukuk maturing in MayShares dropped last week after S&P Global Ratings said the Qatari property developer faces the risk of a default or debt restructuringQLM Life & Medical Insurance rises 10% for a second session, after Qatar said last week that all expatriates and visitors will be required to have health insuranceGauges in Bahrain and Oman rise 0.1%Kuwait’s market is closed for a local holidayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Rishi Sunak can do self-restraint. After an addiction to drinking full-strength Coca-Cola resulted in seven fillings to his teeth, he rationed himself to a single Coke a week.When he comes to deliver his budget on Wednesday, the chancellor of the exchequer faces a battle to persuade his colleagues of the need to turn down the flow of government spending, and to address the painful hole in the public finances, approaching 400 billion pounds ($558 billion).The question he’s still grappling with is how to pay the bill. Will he raise taxes, hitting the wealthy and clawing back profits from the few businesses that made them, as some suggest? Or will he prepare the ground for cuts to public spending? Or will he instead signal that the pain of cuts and taxes will have to come, but just not yet?Sunak’s answers will shape his own fortunes, the Conservative government’s political identity, and the U.K. economy’s chances of making a full recovery from its deepest recession for 300 years.“We went big, we went early, but there is more to come and there will be more to come in the budget. But there is a challenge,” with public finances and “I want to level with people about the challenge,” Sunak told the Financial Times in an interview Friday. In common with finance ministers around the world, Sunak poured out vast sums of taxpayers’ cash to save jobs and businesses when coronavirus forced the government to shut shops and restaurants and confine people to their homes.Now that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out his “road map” for a cautious four-month lifting of the lockdown, Sunak is reconciled to keeping that flow of support going for as long as the restrictions are in place.What Bloomberg Economics Says…“The rise in bond yields over the past month, if it sticks, would mean debt interest costs as a share of GDP average 1.2% over the five years rather than 1%. Debt servicing costs have averaged 1.7% since 2000.”— Dan Hanson, senior economist. Click here for the full report.That will mean extending the 54 billion-pound furlough wage support program, along with cuts to business rates and sales tax at least until the end of June. This won’t be a surprise to Sunak’s colleagues and will please many, but not all, Conservative members of Parliament on Wednesday.But it runs against the grain of his instincts as a small-state Conservative, and many of his colleagues are also deeply uneasy about the economic policy their Tory government finds itself pursuing. The prospect of hiking taxes – including potentially a sharp rise in business levies – to pay the bill is particularly hard for most Tories to swallow.In recent weeks, the chancellor has been working assiduously to canvass his colleagues’ views in an effort to understand what he’s up against and tailor his messages to match. Some MPs report being invited to four or five Zoom calls with Sunak in the run-up to his budget.“Rishi was very open, very listening, really cared about what we were saying,” said Alexander Stafford, one of the new Tory MPs elected in December 2019. “We all know there are going to be cuts or tax rises. My hope is none of that falls too hard at the moment. We’re not out of the woods yet.”Others put it more bluntly. “If he were to raise taxes, it would undermine everything we’ve done to get businesses to this stage,” said Andrew Bridgen. “No society can ever tax its way to prosperity.”Among the details emerging on the plan, Sunak will pledge 22 billion pounds for a previously proposed infrastructure bank to boost the country's green economy, the Treasury said in a statement on Saturday. The bank will offer a range of products, including equity, loans and guarantees, to support projects in sectors such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and transportation. He's also expected to announce the launch of a fund that would channel up to 375 million pounds into fast-growing tech start-ups.What Else Will Be in Sunak’s Budget? A new state-backed loan program to help companies recover from the pandemic Extensions to the main virus support measures, including the furlough program, a reduction in VAT and the business rates holiday More details on how a proposed infrastructure bank will work An extension to the 20 pounds uplift in universal credit, a welfare payment 126 million pounds of new funding for 40,000 traineeships A signal that corporation tax is set to rise, possibly to 25% by the end of the parliament, according to the Sunday Times A freeze on the pension lifetime allowance, and on the point at which people start paying the basic rate of income tax, according to the Times A 5 billion-pound fund for pubs, restaurants and non-essential stores, according to the Sunday Telegraph A possible tax on every internet delivery, according to the Telegraph A fourth round of 3-month grants to self-employed people at up to 80% of their pre-pandemic earningsSteve Baker, a Tory who sits on the Treasury committee and will interrogate Sunak on his choices, said the government’s priority must be to create better-paid jobs for people in the months ahead. “I just don’t see how raising taxes promotes more, better, higher paying jobs for the public,” he said.The pandemic has fundamentally challenged the Tory party’s sense of what it stands for. In the past, Conservatives have flirted with privatizing state healthcare, cut welfare payments, and slashed taxes for high earners.What Bloomberg Economics Says…"The rise in bond yields over the past month, if it sticks, would mean debt interest costs as a share of GDP average 1.2% over the five years rather than 1%. Debt servicing costs have averaged 1.7% since 2000.-- Dan Hanson, senior economic. Click here full reportYet Johnson’s team now paints itself as the champions of the National Health Service while pumping up social security and weighing options to raise levies on capital gains.The influx of more than 100 new Conservative Members of Parliament in 2019, many of them representing northern seats prised from the left-wing Labour Party for the first time in decades, has changed the makeup of the party in Westminster.There’s less clamor for fiscal prudence than in years gone by, and there’s certainly no appetite for the return of the austerity policies pursued over much of the last decade by Tory-led administrations.Historically low interest rates mean there also isn’t pressure from the bond markets on the chancellor to rein in his spending immediately. While the country’s debt has ballooned during the crisis, the cost of servicing it has actually fallen.Yet Sunak sees big risks in doing nothing to address the U.K.’s pandemic-ravaged public finances. Even if he delays most of the difficult decisions until the next budget in the fall, or even next year, many of his colleagues expect he won’t be able to put off the pain any further.Bond markets are signaling that Sunak’s borrowing costs may only get higher. Interest rates on gilts in financial markets have risen a half percentage point in the past month for securities maturing in six years and beyond. The yield on the Treasury’s benchmark 10-year gilt reached 0.836% on Friday, the highest since March 2020 when the pandemic began spreading widely in Europe. Every 1 percentage-point increase in interest rates adds 25 billion pounds to the U.K.’s cost of servicing its debt, Sunak told the FT.“We all know that the markets can turn very, very quickly,” Harriet Baldwin, a Conservative who traded bonds during a market rout in 1994. “Although the situation is very favorable at the moment, it’s not necessarily always going to be the case. He’s got a tricky tightrope to walk.”Observers praise Sunak for his work ethic and attention to detail, and the chancellor himself has said he likes to start his day with a workout, either on a treadmill, in the gym, or on a stationary bicycle, before getting to his desk at 7:45 a.m.The truth is, no amount of sweat or preparation can guarantee Sunak’s policies will succeed. The biggest factor in determining whether Britain’s economy is permanently scarred or recovers quickly lies beyond the chancellor’s control: the pandemic itself.If, despite a fast and apparently effective vaccination program, Johnson’s government cannot keep a grip on coronavirus, the U.K.’s plan to reopen the economy on a cautious timetable of dates over the next four months will be at risk. So too will party unity.“All hell will break loose if the dates are challenged or they slip back,” said Indiana-born Joy Morrissey, who was elected under Johnson’s leadership in 2019. “These dates are the last possible dates everyone is going to accept.”(Adds comment from Bloomberg Economics.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
PerformInsider announces the release of the report "9 best services for essay help online"
The French dance duo broke up this week, just ahead of the 20th anniversary of their album that introduced their masked alter egos to the world. Ed Power salutes a 2001 marvel
Fresh protests in Barcelona over the jailing of a Spanish rapper turned violent on Sunday, with ten people arrested for assaulting the cops by nightfall.Trash cans were set on fire, broken glass covered the sidewalks, and police lines formed around crowds.Demonstrations began earlier this month, after rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested and taken to start his nine-month jail sentence.Known for being anti-establishment, Hasel was convicted in 2018 for breaking free speech laws glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty.In tweets and lyrics, he called Spain's former King a mafia boss, likened Spanish judges to Nazis and referenced a Basque separatist group, ETA.On Saturday, some 2,000 people in masks and holding banners marched through Barcelona, calling for his release.Police put up barricades downtown, as businesses and a police van went up in flames.Pressure now mounts on Spain's government to uphold its recent promise to relax free speech laws.
After struggling defensively against Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the Hornets (15-17) meet the Kings (13-20) at the midway point of the road trip.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik is not happy with his losing effort against Ciryl Gane in UFC Fight Night 186 headliner.
The 78th Golden Globes air on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT live on NBC, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returning to host for the first time since they hosted three ceremonies in row from 2013-2015. They return to a show that will be unlike any other thanks to the coronavirus restrictions, which […]
City to plant shadier trees to preserve its environment, keep people cool, reduce urban warming and improve air quality Officials said there was no plans for mass chopping down of trees, and that the percentage reduction would be achieved by planting new trees. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA As a poster child for the climate emergency, Miami Beach has become a world leader in mitigating the effects of sea-level rise. Now the subtropical Florida city is cutting back on its famous swaying palm trees as it seeks shadier alternatives to preserve its environment and try to keep residents and visitors cool. Officials have embarked on a 30-year plan to reduce the percentage of palm trees in the city to only one quarter of its total canopy by 2050, according to the Miami Herald. Currently, Arecaceae palms account for more than 55% of the city’s population of 48,900 trees. The cutback is needed, the newspaper says, to reduce urban warming and improve air quality, and about 1,000 palm trees will be removed in the coming weeks as part of already scheduled construction projects. But Elizabeth Wheaton, the environmental and sustainability director for Miami Beach, said there was no plan for any mass chopping down of palms, which have been a staple of postcards and travel brochures depicting Miami for generations. Instead, the percentage reduction will be largely achieved by planting about 1,300 new shade trees instead of palms over the next two decades, which she said would make the city “more walkable and pleasant.” “Expanding shade canopy will enhance the city’s brand and quality of life,” Wheaton wrote in an email to the Herald. “Palms will continue to be a focal point along the city’s roads, green spaces and parks.” According to the urban forestry master plan that forms part of Miami Beach’s Rising Above initiative to combat the climate crisis, about 17 percent of the city’s 15.2 sq-mile footprint has a tree canopy. The plan details the environmental benefits of planting shade trees, including species such as oak, ash, elm and sycamore, in place of palms. For example, a 16in trunk diameter live oak tree would remove 510lb of carbon dioxide, 20oz of harmful ozone, and intercept 725 gallons of rainfall per year. By contrast, a native sabal palmetto palm of the same dimensions would absorb only 2.7lb of carbon dioxide, 1.7oz of ozone and 81 gallons of rainfall. “Trees have been proven to be one of the most effective tools for mitigating the effects of climate change,” the plan, drawn up by urban and landscape experts in conjunction with the Florida forestry service, states. “Palms, while an iconic part of Miami Beach’s landscape, have moved from being an accent plant to a major component of the city’s urban forest. General guidelines for species diversity state that no family should make up more than 30% of a city’s tree population.”
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(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden called it “outrageous” that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed off on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and cast ahead to an announcement about the kingdom next week.Biden said in an interview with Univision News that he told Saudi King Salman this week that “the rules are changing” in the kingdom’s relationship with the U.S. and promised “significant changes” on Monday.The prince has denied involvement in the killing and the kingdom rejected what it called a “false” U.S. narrative. No sanctions have been announced against him.The Biden administration on Friday released a partially redacted report the Trump administration withheld from the public revealing that the U.S. intelligence committee believed the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s October 2018 murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report concluded.“It is outrageous what happened,” Biden said.Saudi stocks fell on Sunday, the first day of trading in Riyadh after the release of the report.Kingdom ‘Rejects’ FindingThe report builds on classified intelligence from the CIA and other agencies. The kingdom dismissed it outright.“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.The prince has said he accepts symbolic responsibility for the killing as the country’s de facto ruler. Saudi officials have said the murder was carried out by rogue agents who’ve since been prosecuted. Relevant authorities took “all possible measures within our legal system” to ensure those agents were properly investigated and that justice was served, the statement said.The decision to release the report, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, reflects the Biden administration’s determination to recalibrate relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, over its human rights record.Saudi Commentators Welcome U.S. Report as VindicationAlthough the four-page declassified version didn’t disclose any direct evidence or the U.S. intelligence methods that were used in reaching its conclusion, it said the team that killed Khashoggi included seven members of the crown prince’s “elite personal protective detail” who wouldn’t have taken part without his approval.“The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him,” the report said. The report said it had “high confidence” about the 21 people who were involved in the killing on the prince’s behalf.At least for now, there is no indication that the U.S. plans to sanction the crown prince. That’s in keeping with a broader assessment that he’s destined to be the kingdom’s ruler for years to come and punishing him now would risk alienating a country that, for all its flaws, remains a crucial ally.Saudi Arabia dominates the Gulf Arab region geographically, is its economic powerhouse, and has for decades been a political heavyweight in regional affairs. It’s also one of the biggest customers for American arms.Biden will have to navigate the relationship with Saudi Arabia carefully, however, as he seeks to re-engage Iran and persuade it to resume compliance with the nuclear accord. Signaling that being tougher on Saudi Arabia won’t mean he’s soft on Iran, the administration ordered airstrikes overnight on Iranian-backed militias in Syria that it blames for rocket attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Iraq.“There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally,” Biden told reporters as he departed the White House on Saturday for his home in Delaware.Economic PowerhouseAfter the report was released, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions against 76 Saudi individuals under what he called a new “Khashoggi Ban” policy. Under that authority, the U.S. says it will single out anyone who, acting for a foreign government, engages in “counter-dissident activities” beyond that country’s borders.State Department spokesman Ned Price had told reporters Thursday that the U.S. was looking at other ways to punish the perpetrators of Khashoggi’s killing. Among the options may be cutting back arms sales to Saudi Arabia, he said without elaborating.The decision to release the report reflects a return, under Biden, to routine diplomatic channels and traditional U.S. pressure over human rights, even on allies.Trump put Saudi Arabia at the center of his Middle East strategy, making it his first foreign visit. He later abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with a common enemy, Iran, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.Trump dismissed concerns about whether the crown prince approved the Khashoggi killing -- “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” he said -- citing the economic rewards of selling arms to the Saudis. His secretary of state, Michael Pompeo, said the U.S. had “no direct evidence” linking the prince to the murder, while Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner maintained a close working relationship with him.In contrast, within his first few days in office, Biden put on hold major weapons sales to the kingdom pending review, and announced an end to U.S. support for offensive actions in Yemen. In an overt rebuke, he also downgraded relations with Prince Mohammed, who runs the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom and typically liaises directly with foreign leaders. Instead, Biden has called King Salman his official counterpart.(Updates with Saudi market reaction on Sunday in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu FC have "ceased operations", the club said on Sunday, underlining the financial problems roiling football in the country.
Infectious disease experts are expressing concern about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Iraq, given a sharp rise in coronavirus infections there, a fragile health care system and the unavoidable likelihood that Iraqis will crowd to see him. No one wants to tell Francis to call it off, and the Iraqi government has every interest in showing off its relative stability by welcoming the first pope to the birthplace of Abraham. The March 5-8 trip will provide a sorely-needed spiritual boost to Iraq’s beleaguered Christians while furthering the Vatican’s bridge-building efforts with the Muslim world.