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Pope Francis heads to Iraq, February jobs report, 'Coming 2 America': 5 things to know Friday

Editors, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Stark divide on race, policing emerges since George Floyd's death, poll says

Americans' trust in the Black Lives Matter movement has fallen and their faith in local law enforcement has risen since protests demanding social justice swept the nation last year, an exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll released on Friday finds. Last June, 60% in a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll described George Floyd's death as murder; that percentage has now dropped by double digits to 36%. Uncertainty has grown about how to characterize the incident, caught on video, when former officer DerekChauvin held his knee on Floyd's neck and ignored his protests that he couldn't breathe. Floyd's death was one of series of confrontations last year in which law enforcement officials killed or assaulted unarmed Black people, prompting historic protests.

Reason for concern? All eyes on February jobs report

The Labor Department is set to release its February jobs report Friday, as U.S. businesses are reining in hiring and investment as fallout from the coronavirus outbreak dampens sales and creates a cloud of uncertainty over the economy Most of the epidemic's effects so far revolve around companies involved in travel and tourism, trade shows, and business conferences, as well as manufacturers that haven’t received vital parts from China. Meanwhile, low inflation has helped the Fed keep interest rates at record low levels in an effort to help lift the economy out of the recession. The Fed will likely let the economy run hotter for longer to extend job creation for lower wage earners.

  • Americans are more interested in getting stimulus than in seeing bipartisanship support for bill, poll says

  • 'I'm just worried': Coronavirus prompts companies to pull back on hiring as uncertainty grows

LSU report on its handling of harassment cases to be released

Louisiana State University on Friday will release a report of the university's handling of dozens of sexual misconduct cases since 2016. LSU commissioned the audit amid a USA TODAY investigation that uncovered widespread mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations by the athletic department and broader administration. In a specific case, the investigation revealed the university conducted an internal probe in 2013 of former football coach Les Miles over allegations he sexually harassed student workers and made sexist comments about others. USA TODAY is suing LSU to gain access to that probe, which is separate from the more recent and wider-ranging report being released Friday. Some or all of the internal Miles investigation may be included in that report.

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Pope heads to Iraq amid security, coronavirus concerns

Pope Francis is scheduled to make a high-profile visit to Iraq Friday, just days after multiple rockets struck an airbase in Iraq and killed one U.S. civilian. His Holiness will be in Iraq through Monday, in his first foreign trip since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted last year. Among the highlights of the three-day visit? A private meeting Saturday with the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a revered figure in Iraq and beyond. The Iraqi government is eager to show off the relative security it has achieved after years of wars and militant attacks that nevertheless continue even today. The Vatican defended the decision to go ahead with the trip despite rising coronavirus infections in Iraq. It said the pope's trip is an "act of love for this land, for its people and for its Christians."

Saying Goodbye to 'WandaVision' and Hello to 'Coming 2 America'

Friday is packed with new offerings from the world of entertainment. First, the highly anticipated season finale of "WandaVision" hits Disney+. Several key unanswered questions from the series starring "Avengers" veterans Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) are expected to be addressed. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige also has confirmed that "WandaVision" will correspond with the upcoming "Doctor Strange" sequel as Olsen will star in 2022's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." On the movie side, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall make a second journey to Queens, New York, from Zamunda in the long-awaited sequel "Coming 2 America," which premieres on Amazon Prime.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pope visits Iraq, February jobs report: 5 things to know Friday