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It pains her to have to ask that question. Ussayid, 19, has autism and struggles to verbally express his thoughts, fears, and pain. He does so through colors.

“We worked for years to get him away from the black of death,” she explains. “But this was his expression of his fear that I would die or that my husband who he considers as a father figure would die.”

Nahla and her husband Aqil both contracted the coronavirus within days of each other. To get Covid-19 in Iraq means to assume responsibility for yourself, she says. The situation in the hospitals is simply too dire.

Iraq’s numbers have been spiking — it has recorded over 390,000 cases and 9,600 deaths from the virus. The country’s medical infrastructure, decimated from decades of sanctions, corruption and war, is hardly able to keep up, and health care workers say they lack personal protective equipment.

Ussayid had to care for both his mother and stepfather, alongside an incredible effort from friends, family and neighbors. When Aqil needed supplemental oxygen it was delivered by a young doctor. Others brought cooked meals. Ussayid went to the grocery store on his bike, had to sanitize the house, press fresh fruit juice, and stay away from the people he loved the most.

He would talk to Nahla through the window, asking when he could hug her and kiss her again.

She was terrified Ussayid would also catch Covid-19 and go through the same pain she was in, which made her cry out for her deceased mother. He would have been unable to express that pain.

“I always say there is a positive side of any struggle.” Nahla says. “The positive side is that we discovered that my son has more capabilities than what we thought.”

She can sit with him now, hug him, reassure him that she is ok. But the disease brought the darkness back into their lives.

I’ll never forget the day I met Nahla. It was 2007 and her husband — Ussayid’s father — had been killed in a car bomb, one of many that barely made the news back then.

Nahla al-Nadawi worked as a radio host in Iraq when her husband was killed in a car bomb in 2007. Her autistic son, Ussayid, was six years old at the time.

Her cheeks were hollowed, her long black hair, streaked by a few strands of white, tightly pulled back. She spoke in measured tones about being in the morgue, seeing a little girl’s body covered in a blue sheet, at one end pigtails poking out with red ribbons, at the other a tiny foot. She reflected on that family’s loss, on all that Iraq had lost.

I remember how Nahla’s pain radiated off her. It was soft and elegant despite being so unspeakably profound.

She told us about having to identify her husband’s body from a charred mess of nine other corpses, and how surreal it was to recognize the man who was the love of her life from a photograph of his blackened teeth and a surgical pin in his knee.

Their son Ussayid, which means little lion, was just six years old at the time. She told him Daddy was traveling.

There is a sentence she said then that has remained carved in my mind. Words eloquently strung together, so emotive in their simplicity: “Truly, life was in color and now it’s in black and white.”

The color black has crept back into Ussayid's drawings. Nahla believes that her son has carried that darkness with him since his father's death.

When I saw Nahla again, four years later, she looked utterly transformed. She radiated life. She told us how she loved life, loved all that is alive. How when she drops someone off, she will touch the seat of the car to feel the heat of their body. And she spoke with such pride about Ussayid who had just transferred out of a special needs school and into a normal one.

But inside, she said, she still felt like that woman we had first met, and Ussayid, despite his bubbly exterior, still carried a darkness inside because of the death of his father. A darkness that came out in his drawings. Landscapes like a cloud with rain that he would paint over in black.

Nadhim Shaker, former Iraqi soccer star, dies from Covid-19

After years of tirelessly raising Ussayid on her own, and helping him through his emotional turmoil, Nahla would fall in love again and remarry.

“We went through such efforts. It was such a long road for Ussayid to reach colors and happiness,” Nahla tells me on our video call. “Corona(virus) brought the black back into his drawings.”

It’s crushing. And yet that, in so many ways, is the story of Iraq. A nation whose history is more defined by death and bloodshed than the beauty of its people, the beauty of people like Nahla fighting for her son, her family, her country’s soul. Fighting against the darkness.

“I want to tell you something,” she says. “We are saving each other by uniting during Covid-19 and not looking towards the government. We could possibly emerge from coronavirus with a great lesson, that we should all be united to find the beginning of a path of light.”

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Poland’s biggest protests in decades stand against abortion ban

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Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said more than 100,000 people were in attendance, while protest organizers put the figure at 150,000.

Police detained 37 people Friday evening, the vast majority of whom were football hooligans, Sylwester Marczak, spokesman for the Warsaw Police headquarters, said Saturday morning. Taking into account the huge number of participants, it was a “very peaceful” protest, he added.

Demonstrations of this scale were last seen in the Solidarity movement of the 1980s in Poland which led to the collapse of the government, analysts say.

The protest in Warsaw was the culmination of nine days of nationwide protests since a court ruling on October 22 deemed abortion due to fetal defects to be unconstitutional. This meant abortion in Poland would only be legal in two scenarios — if the pregnancy threatened the mother’s life and health, or if a woman became pregnant following rape or incest.

Demonstrators also turned out in Gdańsk, Białystok, Poznan, Kraków, Wroclaw, Torun, Sczescin, Myślenice, Gorlice and Jasło on Friday.

According to local media, 430,000 people attended more than 400 demonstrations across the country against the ban on Wednesday. Online supporters are using the tag #ThisIsWar to show solidarity with those marching.

Polish women disrupt church services in protest at abortion ban

The protests have been taking place in defiance of a ban on gatherings of more than five people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aerial footage of the demonstration in Warsaw posted to social media showed the vast scale of the turnout there on Friday evening.

Protest organizers urged protesters to make their way towards the residence of Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party Leader (PiS) who is widely seen as the de facto decision maker in Poland. The demonstration ended there at around 11 p.m. local time and organizers urged protesters to make their way home safely.

Kaczyński on Wednesday called the protesters “criminals” and said people taking part in mass gatherings were endangering people’s lives given the surge in coronavirus cases in Poland.

Thousands of protesters march towards the residence of ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski during the demonstration Friday in Warsaw.

Draft amendment

In an apparent softening of his stance, Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday submitted a draft amendment to the controversial law which would legalize abortion in situations where the baby has “lethal defects” and would die soon after birth.

The amendment would mean abortion would remain legal in an event where “prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate a high probability that the child will be born still or burdened with an incurable disease or defect that will lead to the death of the child inevitably and directly,” according to a statement from Duda on Friday.

“It is an extremely delicate and painful situation for every mother, for every parent. In the case of lethal defects, the death of the child is inevitable. The protection of his life is therefore beyond human power,” the statement also said.

Duda had earlier clarified his stance on abortion in such cases in an interview with Polish radio station RMF FM. “You must clearly ask yourself whether anyone has the right to demand, or the law may require such a woman to… bear such a child in her womb and then bear the entire physical cost of birth,” Duda said.

Duda added that he did not think abortion should be legal in situations where a child has Down syndrome, for example, and the life of the unborn child is not at risk.

Poland moves to near-total ban on abortion, sparking protests

The ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal removed one of the few remaining grounds for legal termination in the country, which already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.

Abortions due to fetal defects comprised approximately 98% of all legal abortions carried out in Poland in 2019, according to data from the Polish Ministry of Health.

Asked about the ongoing protests across Poland over the controversial court ruling, Duda condemned the demonstrators who disrupted church services earlier this week.

“If we are talking about acts of physical or verbal aggression, if we are talking about invading churches, if we are talking about insulting religious feelings, profaning places of worship, I am sorry, but the boundaries are definitely exceeded here,” he said.

Abortion rights protest leaders have accused the populist PiS party of pushing the court to tighten abortion restrictions in order to please the party’s base, and the Church. Church leaders have denied influencing the change in law.

Covid warning

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday urged protesters not to go out on the streets as he announced further steps to try to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“I understand your anger, but I urge you to stay at home, especially for the sake of seniors,” he said.

The measures include closing cemeteries for three days, urging business owners to allow employees to work from home and urging older citizens to remain at home.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told Polish news channel TVN24 on Friday that he looked with “great concern” at the protests and urged people to isolate themselves from those taking part, saying they could be more exposed to Covid-19.

On Friday, Poland recorded 21,629 new coronavirus cases, marking another record high in the country, where case counts have tripled in less than a month. A further 202 deaths were also reported by the Polish Health Ministry, with the total number of confirmed infections in the country surpassing 340,000.

CNN’s Zahid Mahmood contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus: Hungary and Poland see record cases

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Greece is the latest country to announce a partial lockdown, with restaurants and other leisure activities closed in major Greek cities from Tuesday. “We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday. Greece has not seen as many cases as other parts of Europe, but there has been a steady increase since early October

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Philippines typhoon: Evacuation ordered as Goni, the world’s strongest storm of 2020, approaches

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Typhoon Goni — known locally as Rolly — is a category 5 storm with 215 kilometers per hour (133 miles per hour) sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph). It will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people in November 2013.

Pre-emptive evacuations have started in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, while the Albay provincial government will order residents in risky areas to leave their homes, Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station.

Earlier this week, Typhoon Molave killed 22 people in the Philippines — mostly through drowning in provinces south of the capital Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni.

Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, behind only Indonesia.

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Relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment are already positioned in key areas, Filipino Grace America, mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, told DZBB radio. “But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient,” she said.

Local officials canceled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail.

Typhoon Goni, moving westward at 20 kph (12 mph) from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 14 provinces nearby on Saturday evening, and threats of floods and landslides.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year.

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