May 14, 2018

Strident critic of the U.S. leads Iraqi election

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

Preliminary results show that the coalition of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has surprisingly emerged as the front-runner in Iraq’s first national parliamentary election since the defeat of ISIS, leading incumbent Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi who's backed by the West, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Sadr did not formally run. But if the coalition maintains the lead, Sadr has the ability to influence the make-up of Iraq’s next government. The Post notes that Sadr, a staunch critic of Washington, had commanded a militia that fought against American troops during the Iraq war. Final election results are expected Monday. [Go deeper: What's to know about Iraq's election]

Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly stated that Moqtada al-Sadr would lead the next government if his coalition wins.

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NYT: Xi Jinping ordered action on coronavirus earlier than previously reported

Xi Jinping vists a community health center in Beijing on Feb. 10. Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he first gave orders to tackle the coronavirus crisis on Jan. 7 in a speech released by state media on Saturday, the New York Times reports. He did not disclose details of those orders in the speech.

Why it matters: The newly published address, which Xi gave on Feb. 3, confirms "for the first time that he was aware of the virus while officials at its epicenter were openly downplaying its dangers," per the Times.

Go deeperArrow21 mins ago - World

Washington and Lee's 2020 mock convention: The 27th running of a century-old tradition

The view from the prompter. Photos: Mike Allen/Axios

I visited my alma mater — Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. — this week for a sneak peek at Saturday's 27th running of a 112-year tradition: The nation's best known mock political convention.

Why it matters: The students treasure their record for accuracy, despite having to make the pick early in the primary process: In 26 previous conventions, W&L has correctly predicted the out-of-party nominee 20 times (including the year I was Western regional chair, and Sen. Joe Biden was our keynoter).

France sees COVID-19 casualty, Egypt confirms first virus case

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn confirmed on Saturday the death of a Chinese patient diagnosed with coronavirus in a Paris hospital, the first COVID-19 casualty outside of Asia. Meanwhile, Egypt confirmed its first coronavirus case, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,527 people and in mainland China infected nearly 66,497 people, a number the CDC believes is underreported. There are more than 500 cases in 27 other countries and territories.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Health