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Ex-DOJ official: Trump was 'vulnerable' to foreign intelligence agenciesMary McCord, the top Justice Department official who oversaw the FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia in its early stages, talks to the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.

Meghan McCain Confronts Tom Steyer: ‘You Bought Your Way’ Onto Debate Stage2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer got a warm welcome from every co-host of The View except one on Friday morning. “Mr. Steyer, between you and Mayor Bloomberg, you have now spent $200 million on political ads,” Meghan McCain told their guest. “It hasn't really helped you very much in the polls, but you did make it to the next debate stage. I think you bought your way there, and I don't think it's fair that you’re there and Cory Booker isn't. Change my mind.” After letting out an uncomfortable chuckle, Steyer skirted the question by touting his message about a “broken” government “bought by corporations.” When the candidate pointed out that he has been spending time in the early primary states—unlike that other billionaire—McCain shot back, “Cory Booker has too, who doesn't have $200 million.” “I’m talking about breaking a corporate stranglehold on our government that is preventing it from acting on anything,” Steyer said. “And no one can say that I have been purchased, but I also have 10 years of putting together coalitions like the people in this audience to stand up for our rights and to take on unchecked corporate power that has bought our government.” “But it’s good you have $100 million to buy Facebook ads to get you on a debate stage,” McCain said, interrupting him. “I’m completely unconvinced by this, but we can move on.” Later in the segment, after Steyer vowed to help elect whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being and reminded the hosts that he started “one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the United States,” McCain came back with, “That doesn’t make you a good politician, with all due respect.” “Mayor Bloomberg was mayor for three terms, and so if you’re going to go the billionaire route,” she continued, with a dramatic eye roll, “he's a lot more compelling than you are.” Meghan McCain: Greta Thunberg Didn’t ‘Earn’ Person of the YearRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Tessa Majors: 18-year-old college freshman found stabbed to death in New York City parkAn 18-year-old college student has been found stabbed to death in a park just a block away from the New York City Columbia University campus.Tessa Majors was a student at Barnard College, a private liberal arts college in Manhattan that is affiliated with the prestigious university near where she was found with multiple stab wounds.

2 children dead after being swept away in Arizona floodwatersThe bodies of two children were found about three miles from the crash scene.

US Pacific commander says China seeks to intimidate regionChina's activities in territory it claims in the South China Sea are meant to intimidate other nations in the region, the commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet said Friday. Adm. John Aquilino said China's actions, including constructing islands in the disputed waters, are intended to project its military capacity. China's vast territorial claims, far beyond its shores, have been challenged by other claimants, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Iran Demands $6 Billion Oil Payment From South Korea: Chosun(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the South Korean ambassador last month to demand payment of 7 trillion won ($6 billion) for oil it sold to the Asian country, Chosun Ilbo reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.Iran expressed “strong regret” over Seoul’s failure to complete the payment, which has been deposited at two South Korean banks without being transferred to Iran’s central bank for years due to U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, the newspaper said. It added that other Iranian authorities including the central bank also complained.South Korea sent a delegation to the Middle East late last month and explained that the country will cooperate with the U.S. to successfully complete transfer of the payment, it added.To contact the reporter on this story: Kanga Kong in Seoul at kkong50@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at, Sara Marley, Siraj DatooFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Republican congressman publicly identifies purported whistleblowerOn Wednesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert publicly named a person some Republicans and allies of President Trump claim is the alleged whistleblower who first brought the Trump-Ukraine scandal to light.

Pirates release three oil tanker crew kidnapped off TogoA fourth hostage, a Filipino, died from illness during captivity, European Products Carriers Ltd added.

Warren, slumping in the polls, attacks Biden and ButtigiegWith polls showing her once steady rise to the top tier of the Democratic race stalling, Elizabeth Warren went on the attack in New Hampshire.

Stomach flu outbreak terrorizes school in Washington state, sickening over 100 students, staffA number of schools from Seattle Public Schools and Vancouver Public Schools were forced to close to disinfect and clean because of the outbreak.

Turns out I'm Jewish after allBeing Jewish has become hard again.After decades when Jews in America permitted themselves to believe they had finally found a welcoming home in a majority Christian, creedally universalist country, things have begun to shift in familiar and terrifying ways. Jews have been murdered in synagogues and kosher delis in the United States. They are regularly harassed and beaten on the streets of American cities. Swastikas scrawled on walls, acts of attempted arson and vandalism at synagogues, shouted slurs — the stories add up, amplifying one another and mixing with similar and worse stories from abroad.Over a hundred gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in France were spray-painted with swastikas earlier this month. It was the latest in a seemingly endless series of incidents across the continent. And of course leaders (and would-be leaders) of nations, along with prime-time TV pundits, now actively encourage such demonization, turning Jewish philanthropists into scapegoats, blaming them for a wide range of injustices. As enemies of the Jewish people have always done.It's a painful spectacle for anyone committed to liberal ideals of pluralism and tolerance. But it's especially, existentially, agonizing for Jews themselves — even for bad, part-time Jews like me.I was born Jewish — my father is the son of orthodox Jewish immigrants from Central Europe (Poland and Austria), and my mother a convert — but for much of the past two decades, that hasn't much mattered. I grew up identifying as a Jew, but we never worshipped at a synagogue (even on high holy days). I received no Jewish education. There was no Hebrew school. No bar mitzvah.By the time I started to sense religious stirrings in my late 20s, I knew far more about Christian, and especially Catholic, theology and moral teaching than I did about Judaism. Plus, by then I'd gone and done what American Jews are often warned against doing (and yet increasingly do anyway): I married a non-Jew. That my wife's family hoped and expected our children to be raised Catholic made the path forward obvious. I would repudiate my upbringing by converting to Catholicism.As regular readers know, the conversion didn't take. After 17 years, in August 2018, I publicly renounced Catholicism. The decision was mainly motivated by disgust at the church's systematic sexual perversion and corruption. But there was also something else going on.Exploration of existential possibilities is relatively easy in good times. When I turned away from my birthright, I knew it was a rejection — a turning of my back on my family, an act of disregard for the demographic fate of the Jewish community, which would lose me and my progeny forevermore. But I would still express love for my family in other ways, and my rejection of Judaism seemed like the infliction of a very small harm. True, there aren't that many Jews in the world. But really, how important was little old me, my kids, and those who would follow us? And anyway, the Jews were doing just fine — in the U.S., in other liberal democracies around the world, in Israel. My contribution seemed pretty close to infinitesimal, utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of Jewish history.But things look and feel very different in dark times. Not that I'm now deluded enough to think the fate of Judaism in the world depends in any measurable way on whether or not I call myself a Jew or rise in defense of Jews when they face threat or come under outright attack. Of course it doesn't. I'm as infinitesimal and irrelevant as ever. Yet the fact remains that my youthful shirking of my inheritance no longer feels like a liberation. It feels more like an act of cowardice, perhaps even an expression of decadence, a sign that I took certain things for granted that no Jew should ever treat as a given.I also fear that at some level I was trying to hide, conceal, or camouflage myself by seeking to blend in so thoroughly and completely to the default Christianity of the surrounding culture. At the time of my conversion, in the center-right circles where I then worked, that culture was maximally welcoming of my spiritual decision while also treating the Judaism I left behind with a great deal of sincere respect. The borderline between traditions and faiths felt porous. Permeable.But not anymore. Walls are going up. Hard edges and irreconcilable differences are returning all over the liberal democratic world, raising a serious question about whether and to what extent that world will remain liberal and democratic. It would be nice if the cosmopolitan universalism that prevailed in the decade or so following the conclusion of the Cold War — during the era when so many of us permitted ourselves to believe that history had come to a peaceful end — could continue to feel compelling in the face of this threat. But it doesn't. It feels like foolishness. The world has changed, and we are changing with it. And we don't know how far the change is going to go.Turns out I'm Jewish after all. However malformed and badly enacted that Jewishness is and has been. The times are no longer compatible with, they no longer afford me the luxury of, denying it. Anything else would be irresponsible.That certainly doesn't mean I'll stop being infuriatingly, unreliably contrarian in my judgment of political issues and disputes. I'll continue to judge Israel's settlement policies and some of its punitive actions against the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza to be acts of moral and strategic idiocy. But I'll also continue to defend Israel's unconditional right to exist and defend itself against military threat. I'll continue to view President Trump's gestures of support for Jews with considerable skepticism — as incompatible with free speech and as doing little to compensate for the much greater harm precipitated by his intolerant and inflammatory rhetoric, which has done so much to activate previously dormant racism and anti-Semitism in the country. But I'll also continue to think of Judaism as a nationality or ethnicity as well as a religion. (Otherwise I could never have been considered a Jew in the first place.)But then what does my reaffirmation of my own Judaism amount to?All it means is that if things get worse — and who would dare try to reassure a Jew that it won't? — I will know exactly how and where I'll be taking my stand: in proud, defiant self-defense with my fellow Jews.More stories from Trump's pathological obsession with being laughed at The most important day of the impeachment inquiry Jerry Falwell Jr.'s false gospel of memes

Man gets life for killing 2 engaged doctors in their condoBampumim Teixeira, 33, requested not to be in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down because he said he wouldn't control himself. Teixeira declined to address the court, but the victims' families gave impact statements. Field's brother, Jason Field, delivered a tearful speech in which he described his brother as his “life adviser and best friend," the best man at his wedding and his roommate in college.

Satellite evades ‘day of reckoning' to discover puzzling weather phenomenon on JupiterAt first glance, these newly released images by NASA may look like lava churning in the heart of a volcano, but they reveal otherworldly storm systems whirling in a way that surprised scientists.The swirls in the photos are cyclones around Jupiter's south pole, captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Nov. 3, 2019. Juno has been orbiting the solar system's largest planet since 2016 and has seen these polar cyclones before, but its latest flight over this region of the planet revealed a startling discovery - a new cyclone had formed unexpectedly. Six cyclones can be seen at Jupiter's south pole in this infrared image taken on Feb. 2, 2017, during the 3rd science pass of NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) Prior to its early November pass, Juno had photographed five windstorms arranged in a uniform, pentagonal pattern around one storm sitting stationary over the south pole."It almost appeared like the polar cyclones were part of a private club that seemed to resist new members," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.It is unclear when exactly the new cyclone formed, but it changed the arrangement of the storms from a pentagon to a hexagon.Winds in these cyclones average around 225 mph, according to NASA, wind speeds higher than any tropical cyclone ever recorded on Earth. An outline of the continental United States superimposed over the central cyclone and an outline of Texas is superimposed over the newest cyclone at Jupiter's south pole give a sense of their immense scale. The hexagonal arrangement of the cyclones is large enough to dwarf the Earth. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) The discovery of this evolving meteorological phenomenon almost didn't happen as Jupiter itself almost caused the mission to end abruptly.Juno is a solar-powered spacecraft that relies on constant light from the sun to keep the craft alive. Flying through Jupiter's enormous shadow would take about 12 hours to complete, which would cut off the power source, drain the spacecraft's battery and potentially spell the end of the mission."Our navigators and engineers told us a day of reckoning was coming, when we would go into Jupiter's shadow for about 12 hours," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.To avoid the potential mission-ending eclipse, Juno fired up its engine (which was not initially designed for such a maneuver) and adjusted its trajectory just enough to avoid the icy grip of Jupiter's shadow. Jupiter's moon Io casts its shadow on Jupiter whenever it passes in front of the Sun as seen from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Tanya Oleksuik, (C) CC BY) "Thanks to our navigators and engineers, we still have a mission," said Bolton. "What they did is more than just make our cyclone discovery possible; they made possible the new insights and revelations about Jupiter that lie ahead of us."NASA scientists will continue to study these polar vortices in future flights over Jupiter's south pole to better understand the atmosphere over this part of the planet."These cyclones are new weather phenomena that have not been seen or predicted before," said Cheng Li, a Juno scientist from the University of California, Berkeley. "Nature is revealing new physics regarding fluid motions and how giant planet atmospheres work. Future Juno flybys will help us further refine our understanding by revealing how the cyclones evolve over time."

‘Move to Canada’ searches spike after Tories win general electionOnline searches for 'move to Canada' surged 49-fold in the wake of the Conservative's general election victory, according to data from Google.People seemingly unhappy with the prospect of another five years of Tory rule began searching for alternative countries as soon as the exit poll results were published on Thursday evening.

US-led forces had to bomb a clinic being built to care for local Afghans to stop a Taliban assaultThis battle highlights the difficult trade-offs the US and its partner forces face even after 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

Turkey adds former Palestinian politician Dahlan to most wanted listTurkey has added exiled Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan to its "red list" of most-wanted terrorism suspects, offering a reward of up to 10 million lira ($1.75 million) for information leading to his capture, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. Arrest warrants have been issued for Dahlan on accusations of playing a role in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, seeking to change the constitutional order by force, and various spying-related charges, the ministry said in a statement. Dahlan has also recently been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

For Gaetz to raise Hunter Biden's substance abuse is 'the pot calling the kettle black,' Johnson saysThe House Judiciary Committee debate over articles of impeachment against President Trump took an ugly turn Thursday when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., brought up Hunter Biden’s past drug use.

Bloomberg Vows to Finish Off Coal Plants: Campaign Update(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg wants to retire all remaining coal-fired electricity plants in the next decade and “immediately” stop the construction of new gas facilities to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030.His campaign said he’s still developing a cost estimate for his climate plan as well as figuring out where to find the revenue for it. It’s the second policy plan he’s rolled out this week without a price tag or a plan to pay for it.The former New York mayor released a climate proposal on Friday near a closed coal-fired power plant in Alexandria, Virginia, where he helped launch a campaign in 2011 to retire almost 300 coal facilities so far. He has committed $500 million for a “Beyond Carbon” campaign and said President Donald Trump “refuses to lead on climate change, so the rest of us must.”Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.Bloomberg wants to reach net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, which is in line with with plans released by front-runner Joe Biden and other leading candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. But it’s less aggressive than the 10-year timetable in the $93 trillion “Green New Deal.” Like other Democratic candidates, Bloomberg seeks to end subsidies for fossil fuels, impose fossil-fuel moratoriums on federal lands, and achieve 100% clean energy “as soon as humanly possible.”Bloomberg’s plan proposes more stringent limits on emissions and pollution to retire the remaining 251 coal plants. He said the regulation would also deter the building of new gas plants, though it’s unclear how quickly that could happen. Bloomberg would push Congress to expand solar and wind tax credits and enact new tax incentives for clean-energy technology.COMING UPJoe Biden will travel to San Antonio, Texas, for a community event on Friday afternoon.Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer will participate in a forum organized by 11 public education organizations in Pittsburgh on Saturday.Seven Democratic presidential candidates have so far qualified for the final debate of 2019 in Los Angeles on Dec. 19.(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at;Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at, Kevin WhitelawFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

A Mobster's Murder, and the Jockeying to Move Up the HierarchyNEW YORK -- On a quiet night in March, a mob leader was executed in New York City for the first time since 1985. The body of Francesco Cali, a reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, lay crumpled outside his Staten Island home, pierced by at least six bullets.Hours later, two soldiers in the Gambino family talked on the phone. One of them, Vincent Fiore, said he had just read a "short article" about the "news," according to prosecutors.No tears were shed for their fallen leader. The murder was "a good thing," Fiore, 57, said on the call. The vacuum at the top meant that Andrew Campos, described by authorities as the Gambino captain who ran Fiore's crew, was poised to gain more power.Cali's death was just the beginning of surprises to come for the Gambino family.Last week, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Fiore and 11 others in a sprawling racketeering scheme linked to the Gambinos, once the country's preeminent organized crime dynasty. The charges stemmed from a yearslong investigation involving wiretapped calls, physical surveillance and even listening devices installed inside an office where mob associates worked.As part of the case, the government released a court filing that offered an extremely rare glimpse at the reactions inside a Mafia family to the murder of their boss -- a curious mix of mourning and jockeying for power. The case showed that life in the mob can be just as petty as life in a corporate cubicle."Mob guys are the biggest gossips in the world," said James J. Hunt, the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's office in New York. "You think they're tough guys, but they're all looking out for themselves. The only way they get promoted is by a guy dying or going to jail."While Fiore initially plotted how Cali's death would help him and his faction, he adopted a different tone when calling his own ex-wife a few days later, prosecutors said. He warmly referred to Cali as "Frankie" and seemed to mourn the boss as a man who "was loved." He speculated about the killer's motive, saying he had watched the surveillance tape from Cali's home that captured the murder.Vincent Fiore appeared ambitious, court documents showed, eager to reveal his connections to other gangs and organized crime families. About two weeks after Cali's death, Fiore bragged in another wiretapped conversation about how he could take revenge on students who had hit his son at school, a government filing said.Fiore talked first about sending his daughter to beat the students up.But he also had other options, he said on the call. His ex-wife's father was a Latin King, her nephews were Bloods, and her cousin was a member of the Ching-a-Lings, the South Bronx motorcycle gang.Vincent Fiore and the other defendants have each pleaded not guilty to the charges. A lawyer for Fiore did not respond to a request for comment.Despite decades of declining influence in New York City, the Gambino family, led by the notoriously flashy John J. Gotti in the 1980s, is still raking in millions of dollars, according to the government. Prosecutors said they had evidence that the family had maintained its long-standing coziness with the construction industry, infiltrating high-end Manhattan properties.The indictments accused Gambino associates of bribing a real estate executive to skim hundreds of thousands of dollars from New York City construction projects, including the XI, a luxury building with two twisting towers being built along the High Line park in West Chelsea.At the height of their power in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Gambinos and other organized crime families had a stranglehold on New York City construction, through their control of construction unions and the concrete business.Some of the defendants charged last week operated a carpentry company called CWC Contracting Corp., which prosecutors said paid kickbacks to real estate developers in exchange for contracts.Despite the scramble after Cali's death in March, the Gambino crime family continued to thrive through fraud, bribery and extortion, investigators said.The wiretaps quoted in court papers hinted at the crime family's capacity for violence. One of the defendants was recorded in April claiming that he had a fight in a diner and "stabbed the kid, I don't know, 1,000 times with a fork." Inside another defendant's home and vehicle, agents found brass knuckles and a large knife that appeared to have blood on it.Among the notable names in last week's takedown were two longtime Gambino members, Andrew Campos and Richard Martino, who were once considered by Gotti to be rising stars in the Mafia, according to former officials."John was enamored by these guys," said Philip Scala, a retired FBI agent who supervised the squad investigating the Gambino family. "He couldn't believe what they were doing. These kids were making millions of dollars as entrepreneurs."In particular, Martino has long been viewed by mob investigators as somewhat of a white-collar crime genius, former officials said. Prosecutors have previously accused him of orchestrating the largest consumer fraud of the 1990s, which netted close to $1 billion. One part of that scheme involved a fake pornography website that lured users with the promise of a free tour and then charged their credit cards without their knowledge.Campos, 50, and Martino, 60, each pleaded guilty in 2005 to their role in the fraud and served time in federal prison.But as soon as they were released, the government said, they returned to the family business.Martino is now accused of hiding his wealth from the government to avoid paying the full $9.1 million forfeiture from his earlier case.After Martino's release from prison in 2014, he still controlled companies that conducted millions of dollars in transactions, using intermediaries to obscure his involvement, the government alleged. This included investments in pizzerias on Long Island and in Westchester County, according to a person familiar with the matter.Martino's lawyer, Maurice Sercarz, said his client fully paid the required forfeiture before reporting to prison. He added, "The suggestion that Mr. Martino concealed his ownership of businesses and bank accounts to avoid this obligation ignores or misrepresents his financial circumstances."Campos, meanwhile, climbed the ranks to become a captain inside the Gambino family, according to prosecutors.Henry E. Mazurek, a lawyer for Campos, said the government's photos and surveillance footage of his client were not evidence of a crime. "The government presents a trumped-up case that substitutes old lore for actual evidence," Mazurek said.After searching Campos' home in Scarsdale, New York, a wealthy suburb north of New York City, investigators found traces of a storied mob legacy. In his closet there were photos taken during his visits with Martino to see Frank Locascio, Gotti's former consigliere, or counselor, in prison.Locascio is serving a life sentence. He was convicted in 1992 alongside Gotti by the same U.S. attorney's office that brought last week's indictment. Gotti, who died in prison in 2002, was found guilty of, among other things, ordering the killing of Paul Castellano in 1985, the last time a Gambino boss was gunned down in the street.On March 14, the day after Cali's death, Campos drove into Manhattan around 5:50 p.m. to discuss the circumstances of the murder with Gambino family members, seemingly unaware that law enforcement was tracking his every move.He parked near a pizzeria on the Upper East Side, according to a person familiar with the matter. As the night progressed, he met with Gambino family captains on the Upper East Side and near a church in Brooklyn. They stood in the street, chatting openly, but law enforcement officials could not hear the conversations.Several days later, Campos and Fiore drove to Staten Island for a secret meeting. A group of about eight high-level Gambino lieutenants gathered to discuss Cali's murder, a court filing said. In a wiretapped call the next day, Fiore complained that he had stayed out past midnight.Fiore said on the call that a woman had been at Cali's home the night of his death, pointing to her as a possible connection. Court papers do not reveal the woman's identity.Nobody within the mob family seemed to suspect the person who was charged: a 25-year-old who appeared to have no clear motive.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

George P. Bush says GOP can't let 'racist' episodes slideRepublican George P. Bush, the only member of the Bush dynasty still in public office, condemned Thursday recurring episodes of what he described as racist or hateful rhetoric within the Texas GOP, and ripped what he called false accusations fanned by his Hispanic heritage. Bush, Texas' land commissioner, first denounced a white GOP state legislator who suggested “Asian" challengers on the ballot in 2020 were motivated by race.

'Absolutely heartbroken': Teen brothers from Chicago area among New Zealand volcano victimsNew Zealand medical staff were continuing to work around the clock treating severely burned survivors of the eruption as the death toll climbs to 16.

Boris Johnson Secures Historic Blowout Election WinLONDON—Boris Johnson has won a seismic election victory that will secure him a place in British history alongside the landslides of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Clement Attlee in 1945.By promising to deliver Brexit, the Conservatives succeeded in wiping out Labour strongholds that have stood across Britain since the 1930s, securing as many as 368 seats and giving Johnson a majority in the House of Commons of around 76 seats.Johnson will now lead Britain out of the European Union by the end of next month, ending three agonizing years of uncertainty and fundamentally reshaping the country’s political and economic future.Speaking before dawn on Friday, Johnson exclaimed: “We’ve done it. We pulled it off!”“This election means that getting Brexit done is now the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people.”As the results were tallied through the night, it became clear that the Conservative vote had increased since the 2017 election, but the decisive factor in Johnson’s stunning win was the total collapse of the Labour vote. The Conservatives have not received as much as 45 percent of the vote since 1970.Jeremy Corbyn has presided over the loss of huge sections of the Labour Party’s traditional heartlands in the Midlands, Wales, and Northern England, many of which voted in favor of Brexit in 2016. Those areas have been Labour for generations, and Thursday’s election result is likely to represent the party’s worst showing since 1935. In a speech after 3 a.m. local time, the Labour leader announced that he would stand down, but he said he wanted to stay in position while the party decided how to choose his successor. It remains to be seen how long he will be allowed to do so.As the recriminations began in the minutes after the shock exit poll was published, Corbyn’s No. 2, John McDonnell, claimed the vote had become “a Brexit election” and that the country had wanted to move on, accepting Johnson’s claim that he would “Get Brexit done.”That is half the story, but Labour candidates from across the country have also admitted that Corbyn’s brand of radical left-wing politics had been received disastrously by working-class voters in Labour strongholds. A battle within the party erupted in the early hours of Friday morning as Labour MPs clashed over whether the party could simply blame Brexit for their humiliating defeat or if they needed to select a more mainstream successor to Corbyn.The first big shock result of the night came in Blyth Valley, a northeastern district that was created in 1950 and has been represented by a Labour member of Parliament ever since. With a swing of almost 10 percent, the Conservatives took the seat for the first time. Ronnie Campbell, who represented the district for 32 years, did warn The Daily Beast earlier this week that the party was in big trouble. “We’re obviously going to take a little bit of a battering,” he said.He was right. The Tories won dozens of Labour seats, some of which they had not represented since they were founded as constituencies as long ago as 1895. Campbell blamed the handling of Brexit by Corbyn, a close ally of his on the left of the party for decades. “It could end his leadership and then we’ll get a right-wing leadership and we’re back to Tony Blair and the Blairites,” he said.To Labour politicians like Campbell and Corbyn, “Blair” is a dirty word that represents centrism and the selling out of the party’s socialist roots. It seems the British electorate does not agree. The rout of Corbyn—and the loss of millions of working-class voters—means that by the time of the next election, Blair will have been the only Labour leader to win a general election in 50 years. ‘Spineless’ Corbyn Risks Losing Labour’s Heartlands After a CenturyFor generations, Labour has represented a swath of seats that runs diagonally across the country from Blyth westward to North Wales. That hitherto impregnable barrier was known as the “red wall.”Many of those seats turned Tory blue overnight. Giddy at the scale of his party’s win, Conservative MP Mark Francois told the BBC: “In 1989, Russia’s Berlin Wall came down; in 2019 Labour’s ‘red wall’ came down.”Corbyn is Britain's least popular party leader since polling records began, with voters complaining about his indecision over Brexit, his extreme policy positions, and his inability to deal with anti-Semitism in the party.Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the wall had crumbled because of Corbyn's leadership.“It’s Corbyn. We knew that in Parliament. We knew he was incapable of leading, we knew he was worse than useless at all the qualities you need to lead a political party,” he told ITV. “The Corbynistas will make an argument that victory is a bourgeois concept, that ‘the only goal for true socialists is glorious bloody defeat.’”Even in Remain-voting areas, former Labour voters turned their backs on Corbyn. Richard Davis, 61, in the Labour target seat of Chingford and Woodford in northeast London, said his entire family was anti-Brexit but they had voted Conservative in order to stop Corbyn. “I’m in favor of socialist policies, but we can’t have an anti-Semite like Corbyn in power,” he told The Daily Beast.Boris Johnson’s victory will easily give him enough votes to pass his Brexit deal through the House of Commons in time for the next deadline on Jan. 31. Matters will then become more complex as he attempts to negotiate a trade deal in the remaining 11 months of the transition period, but by then Britain will have officially left the European Union.The straightforward narrative of getting Brexit done proved decisive, with swings toward the Conservatives particularly pronounced in Leave-voting districts. With seats falling like dominoes in areas that have been represented by Labour since the 1930s and beyond, Johnson secured a spectacular Conservative victory, the like of which has not been seen since the era of Margaret Thatcher.Johnson’s controversial and hardline stance on forcing Brexit through, which included shutting down Parliament, misleading the Queen, and sacking 21 of his colleagues, succeeded in convincing the country that he would deliver Brexit if he was returned to power.Voters overwhelmingly said they did not like Johnson or believe him to be truthful, but they did think he would get Brexit done. In the end, that was enough. Convinced that they could leverage Brexit to secure a five-year term in office, Johnson and his No. 10 aides pushed hard for an early election in the fall only to be rebuffed by the Remain alliance parties. That changed in late October, when Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson gambled and decided to break with Labour and join the Scottish National Party (SNP) in agreeing to accept the Tory electoral challenge.Buoyed by a string of positive opinion polls, Swinson began the campaign claiming she could be swept to power as prime minister on a wave of anti-Brexit feeling. She ended the campaign unemployed after failing to make any headway as a party leader and losing her own district to the SNP. That surprise result was celebrated wildly by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on a remarkable night in which she strengthened her grip north of the border, winning around 50 of Scotland’s available 59 seats. After the collapse of Labour, that makes Sturgeon the most powerful opposition leader and she is determined to take the fight to Johnson. She responded to the result by renewing calls for another Scottish independence referendum, which will put her at loggerheads with the prime minister. He is in no mood for compromise after securing a crushing victory in England and Wales, but he may find it was easier to “get Brexit done” than to see off the Scottish campaign to break up the union. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Anger erupts at U.N. climate summit as major economies resist bold actionMajor economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments as a U.N. summit in Madrid limped toward a delayed conclusion on Saturday, dimming hopes that nations will act in time to stop rising temperatures devastating people and the natural world. With the two-week gathering spilling into the weekend, campaigners and many delegates slammed Chile, presiding over the talks, for drafting a summit text that they said risked throwing the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming into reverse. "At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, and school children are taking to the streets in their millions, what we have here in Madrid is a betrayal of people across the world," said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think-tank in Nairobi.

Greta Thunberg may be the world's savviest Twitter troll. Here are the presidents and pundits she has put in their place.The teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has mastered the art of trolling world leaders on Twitter after they criticize her.

Italy Government Braces for Upheaval After Five Star Defections(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s ruling coalition, rocked by the defection of three senators, prepared for a period of heightened instability as some lawmakers warned that more exits could be coming.A day after Senators Francesco Urraro, Stefano Lucidi and Ugo Grassi left the Five Star Movement to join the opposition League party, Lucidi warned that another “20-30 people will leave” Five Star’s delegation in the two houses of parliament, possibly to form a new political group, in comments reported by Corriere della Sera.The defections leave Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s Five Star-Democratic Party coalition with a razor-thin majority in the upper house, although senators from other parties as well as independent lawmakers could continue to support the government.Conte doesn’t expect any further lawmakers to leave the coalition, the premier said in Brussels Friday. “Everyone who wants to work with us can do so until 2023,” he added.With the state budget for 2020 due for parliamentary approval by the end of the year, Conte’s challenge will be to hammer out a government agenda in January, in a bid to lock in the coalition’s divided partners on a raft of future policy measures.While the defections complicate the parliamentary math for Conte, his problems don’t end there. Lawmakers from both Five Star and the Democrats suspect that League leader Matteo Salvini has struck a deal with ex-premier Matteo Renzi, who leads a small party within the coalition, to bring the government down and force early elections, daily la Repubblica reported Friday.To contact the reporters on this story: Jerrold Colten in Milan at;John Follain in Rome at jfollain2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at, Marco Bertacche, Karl MaierFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Would China Try to Claim Most of the Pacific Ocean?Nine-dash line? How about two hundred and fifty? Some fake news freaked an academic conference out several years ago.

California police officer involved in two fatal shootings in one yearA new report has found that a California police officer was involved in two fatal shootings in just one year, highlighting the deadly results of American police policies that generally allow officers to use deadly force when they deem necessary.In both instances, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Ceres police officer Ross Bays shot at individuals who had stumbled out of a car and began running away — and experts say that the timing of the shootings should be worrisome, even though both were ultimately ruled justified.

Hope, worry, lawsuits as NY enacts immigrant license lawA new law allowing New Yorkers to get driver’s licenses without having to prove they are in the country legally is set to take effect Monday, though immigrants might still face hurdles in some parts of the state. Some county clerks ideologically opposed to the law have challenged it in court and offered unclear messages this week on whether they’ll be issuing licenses under the new program Monday. Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, one of several clerks who sued, said that as of Tuesday, his office lacked the training and equipment to properly comply with the law.

Dems: Postponing impeachment vote was tacticalAfter a marathon session of debate, the House Judiciary Committee abruptly postponed a historic vote late Thursday on articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The Tiny, Simple Nuclear Reactor That Could Change EnergyThe next step in nuclear power is 1/100th the size of today's reactors.

The real story behind a charred Iraqi shrine: Resentment of IranIs Iran’s power waning in Iraq? Popular resentment toward Iranian overreach is growing, as the violence at a Najaf shrine showed.

Washington state seeks to ban sale of 'assault weapons,' high capacity magazinesIf successful, Washington would become the seventh U.S. state to ban assault weapons, which it defines as semi-automatic rifles with at least one military feature, and the ninth to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines. "We should be making it harder for those who want to inflict mass violence and destruction upon innocent people," Governor Jay Inslee said in announcing the gun-control push.

Rep. Adam Schiff turns over Pence aide's classified letter to Judiciary CommitteeHouse Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has submitted to the Judiciary Committee a classified letter from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Why is the president of the United States cyberbullying a 16-year-old girl?What it says to girls is: no matter what you do, no matter how much you achieve, powerful men will try to cut you downThe morning after election day 2016, I got a call from a girls’ school in New York where I was scheduled to speak. “We have to reschedule,” said a representative from the school. “The girls are too upset.”Girls across the country were upset when Trump was elected, but not simply on partisan grounds. They were upset because Donald Trump was a bully, a cyberbully, and he bullied girls and young women like them – women like the former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who revealed that, when she was 19, he called her “Miss Piggy,” a dig at her weight.In a New York Times poll in the run-up to the election, nearly half of girls aged 14 to 17 said that Trump’s comments about women affected the way they think about their bodies. Only 15% of girls said they would vote for him if they could.And now Trump has a new target for his bullying: Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist. Thunberg seems to be really making Trump upset, without meaning to. She doesn’t fit into any of his ideas of how girls are supposed to act. She isn’t trying to be a contestant in one of his beauty pageants. She’s too busy trying to get world leaders like him to do something about the climate crisis. She’s too occupied by giving speeches at places like the UN – where Trump was laughed at, when he gave a speech in 2018, and Thunberg was met with respect, despite slamming the entire body for “misleading” the public with inadequate emission-reduction pledges.In the last couple of weeks, while Trump was seemingly mocked by his peers at the Nato summit in London, and impeachment hearings against him began, Thunberg was named Time’s person of the year, an honor Trump reportedly wanted. And so he did what he always seems to do, on Twitter, when he’s upset: he lashed out by accusing the person upsetting him of the very things he’s feeling, or is guilty of.“Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Chill Greta, Chill!”Poor Trump. This tweet didn’t sound very chill. And Thunberg knew it. Like the majority of girls growing up in the digital age, she has been cyberbullied before – by Trump himself, who, after her celebrated speech before the UN General Assembly, sarcastically tweeted, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”Both times Trump has tweeted about her, Thunberg’s responses have been jocular, and sarcastic in kind. This week, she changed her Twitter bio to: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”In her handling of being cyberbullied by the president of the United States, at age 16, Thunberg has become an inspiration for girls two times over – first as a climate activist, then as a social media ninja.But that doesn’t mean that Trump’s cyberbullying of Thunberg is any less despicable, or dangerous. What it says to girls all over the world is: no matter what you do, no matter how much you achieve, powerful men can and will try to cut you down.This message is depressing, scary and not without potentially dire consequences. It’s a message that has contributed to a precipitous rise in the suicide rate among girls. It’s a message that has contributed to rising anxiety and depression among girls and young women. It’s a message that Trump’s wife, Melania, is supposed to be combatting, with her campaign against cyberbullying.But girls don’t need Melania Trump to be their role model in fighting against online harassment. They have each other, and they have Thunberg. * Nancy Jo Sales is a writer at Vanity Fair and the author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

Spokane Cop Accused of Sex Assault Finally Loses Pay After More Accusers Come ForwardA Washington state police officer once told a coworker he would “say exactly what's on my mind, unless I'm on body camera.” This week, his boast came back to haunt him. The Spokane Police Department suspended Officer Nathan Nash without pay after a domestic violence victim accused him of assaulting her, and a police investigation found he had turned off his body camera during the event.The investigation began in October, when a domestic violence victim told the police department Nash had sexually assaulted her in a follow-up call to her house. The woman says she called Nash to ask about the location of her evidence photos, according to court documents obtained by KXLY. Nash allegedly asked her to meet in a private place to “go over the bruises on her body” and then pressed her to let him come over before her mother returned. On his way to the woman’s apartment, Nash allegedly turned off both his body camera and tracking equipment, resulting in a 36-minute location gap that a police analyst later described as “peculiar.” Once inside, the woman says, Nash followed her into her bedroom and directed her to take off her pants and underwear. She told investigators she was confused by the request, but complied because he was a police officer. The woman says Nash then penetrated her with his fingers for 30 seconds to a minute. She says she panicked, but thought it might be what he was supposed to do. Eventually, she says she told Nash "OK, that's enough." She later told investigators the alleged assault was the worst thing that has ever happened" to her.Before leaving, the woman says, he gave her his personal cellphone number. He did not photograph or otherwise document her bruises.When questioned by investigators, Nash blamed the incident on the domestic violence victim, suggesting that she had come on to him and become “embarrassed, mad, or upset,” when he ended the sexual contact, according to court documents. He added that the police department's body camera manual was more than 100 pages and “there's no way I'm gonna know all that content." In a statement after Nash's arrest, his personal attorney Rocco Treppiedi said Nash “categorically denies the allegation of sexual assault and any criminal activity.” “Ofc. Nash considered the additional evidence she provided, and immediately followed up on the information she provided,” Treppiedi said. Nash’s attorneys did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.In the weeks after the initial report, two more women came forward with concerns about Nash. One was a second domestic violence victim, who told investigators that Nash had come on to her while he was investigating her complaint in May. During a visit to her home, the woman said, Nash made a point of turning off his bodycam, then gave her his personal cellphone number and said he would respond faster than 911. Over the following weeks, she says he friended her on Facebook and started liking photos of her in lingerie, and sending her “creepy” and “needy” messages. According to court documents, she told investigators she felt he “had a hidden agenda of starting a relationship with her.”A police department volunteer also complained about Nash, claiming he had given her his personal number and sent her inappropriate texts, including a Jeopardy-themed message reading, “Things I would like to do to you for $600,” and “Answer: what is a naked back rub?”“I’m too old to play games, no need in beating around the bush,” Nash allegedly wrote in another message. “I just say exactly what’s on my mind, unless I’m on body camera."Nash was arrested on Nov. 22 and pleaded not guilty to second- and third-degree rape and official misconduct. His trial is set to begin in February.Nash was originally placed on administrative leave while the investigation progressed. This week, the police department put him on “unpaid lay-off status,” meaning he will not work or be paid until the outcome of his case is determined.  If he is found not guilty, he will be reinstated while the department investigates whether he violated any department policy, City spokesperson Marlene Feist told local news station KREM.“The alleged conduct is completely unacceptable and in absolute conflict with the high standards of the Spokane Police Department,” Chief Craig Meidl said in a press release. “Our men and women took an oath to protect and serve the community in which we live. We will not shy away from that oath and it will be upheld.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Johnson's win may deliver Brexit but could risk UK's breakupLeaving the European Union is not the only split British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to worry about. Johnson’s commanding election victory this week may let him fulfill his campaign promise to “get Brexit done,” but it could also imperil the future of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t vote for Brexit, didn’t embrace this week’s Conservative electoral landslide -- and now may be drifting permanently away from London.

The US and NATO are preparing for Russia to go after troops in the field and at homeNATO is designed for air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace operations, but on the fringes of those, hybrid activity poses a new kind of challenge.

German Industry Slump Set to Cast Shadow on Economy Through 2020(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Germany’s worst manufacturing downturn in a decade is set to drag on economic growth at least through 2020 as domestic demand will increasingly be hurt by a weakening labor market, according to the latest projections by the country’s central bank.The Bundesbank cut next year’s GDP forecast for Europe’s largest economy in half. While exports should start to recover in the course of the year, bolstering industrial production, consumer spending is seen slowing. The projections show momentum will pick up in the following two years.Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said the recovery will ultimately be carried by supportive fiscal policy and the European Central Bank’s ultra-expansionary monetary policy, but pointed to continued downside risks. “There are still external danger zones, which could aggravate and lengthen the downturn in industry,” he said.Germany and the wider euro region have seen growth suffer amid a host of uncertainties including trade tensions between the U.S. and China, and the U.K.’s planned exit from the European Union. The forecasts offer a first glimpse of Germany’s economy in 2022 and the one that will likely be inherited by its next government, and come one day after the ECB confirmed it will maintain its accommodative stimulus stance.ECB President Christine Lagarde, who held her first press conference in that capacity on Thursday, said downside risks have become “somewhat less pronounced.” Trade talks have shown some signs of improvement and Germany dodged a recession in the third quarter.At the same time, data from the country’s manufacturing sector has yet to demonstrate a pickup after months of deterioration. A slump in factory orders and industrial production unexpectedly deepened in October, figures last week showed.Inflation is seen gradually accelerating across the projection horizon, in part because of higher energy costs related to the government’s measures to fight climate change. The Bundesbank predicts consumer-price growth of 1.9% in 2022 -- the rate the ECB aims to achieve for the euro area as a whole.To contact the reporter on this story: Carolynn Look in Frankfurt at clook4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at, Jana RandowFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Bullets and blackout: inside four days of killing in IranPouya Bakhtiari could barely contain his excitement as he sat in gridlocked traffic on the motorway between Tehran and his home city of Karaj.  The 27-year-old Iranian engineer filmed on his mobile as motorists parked their cars in the middle of the busy roadway to protest a sudden hike in petrol prices pushed through by the government.  Other drivers may have been frustrated but Pouya was thrilled by the open display of defiance against Iran’s rulers. “People, don’t miss this opportunity. Once and for all let’s destroy this criminal and corrupt regime,” he told the camera.  As the minutes dragged on and the traffic did not budge, Pouya turned his phone towards the setting sun. “Here is a gorgeous sunset. I wish a better sunrise for the people of Iran,” he said happily.  Pouya would never see another sunrise. Hours after filming the video on November 16, he joined a protest in the streets of Karaj with his mother and sister. The family was separated in the crowd and as his mother searched for him she saw a group of men lifting a body from the street.  Pouya had been struck in the head with a bullet fired by a member of Iran’s security forces. He died soon after.  Pouya Bakhtiari was killed on November 16  “His mind was filled with love for Iran but this regime is against this type of mind,” Pouya’s father, Manouchehr Bakhtiari, told The Daily Telegraph. “They do not want these minds to work for our country. They want them destroyed by bullets.”      Pouya was one of more than 200 people killed in four days of intense violence from November 15-18 as Iran’s government brutally suppressed protests in almost every corner of the country. The unrest was the deadliest in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic and saw security forces move far more aggressively than other recent protests.  When protesters took to the streets in 2009 over a rigged election, 72 people were killed over the course of seven months. Approximately two dozen were killed in 2017-2018 during mass demonstrations over the economy. This time Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its allies resorted to far greater bloodshed in far less time.  Yet the world knew little of what was going on as Iranian forces opened fire. Beginning on November 16, Iran’s government imposed a plan years in the making to cut off the internet. Protesters could no longer use services like WhatsApp to coordinate with each other or share information with the outside world.     اینجا جوانرود؛ ماموران امنیتی از بالای ساختمان دادگستری به معترضان شلیک کردند. کاوه رضایی یکی از معترضانی است که با تیر مستقیم این ماموران مقابل دادگستری کشته شده. منابع محلی می‌گویند دست‌کم ۷ نفر‌ در اعتراض‌های ۲۵ آبان در جوانرود کشته شده‌اند. بنزین— POOYA JAHANDAR (@POOYAJAHANDAR) November 17, 2019 It was only when the internet restrictions were eased a week later that the scale of the killings started to become apparent. “When the internet came back I was bombarded with videos of shootings and killings in the streets. They’re heartbreaking,” said Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and opposition activist living in exile. The exact death toll remains unknown but Amnesty International says it has verified the deaths of 208 people and the final tally is likely higher. Iran’s government is working hard to obscure the details of what happened. It has released no official death toll and threatened Iranians who speak to international media.  Families are told they will only get their loved ones’ bodies back if they promise to hold private funerals that cannot escalate into fresh protests. Some families have been forced to pay what is known as “bullet money” - a fee that authorities charge before returning the bodies.  Around 7,000 people are believed to have been arrested and remain in detention. The interior ministry has acknowledged protests broke out in all but two of Iran’s 31 provinces.  The Iranian regime is under intense pressure from US sanctions which have choked off oil sales and severely damaged the economy. Hardliners and relative moderates within the regime appear united behind the crackdown and the belief that the protests were part of a covert American-led effort to overthrow the Islamic Republic.    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the protesters of being US-backed agents  Credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, justified the violence with the familiar accusation that protests were a “dangerous deep conspiracy” by foreign powers. Hassan Rouhani, the president, struck the same note by calling protesters “mercenaries” and “hooligans” backed by the US.       “This is a system that perceives itself to be under siege,” said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group. “They don’t see Trump’s maximum pressure strategy as just economic warfare, they believe it also has a covert dimension. At the end of the day they are all in the same boat and preserving the Islamic Republic is a common goal among both the hardliners and the moderates.” A spokesman for the Iranian embassy in London sent links to several articles in pro-government media alleging that the protesters had been killed by foreign adversaries and suggested that the internet blackout was the work of the US.  Petrol then protest Iran’s petrol is among the cheapest in the world. Motorists paid just 10,000 rials (6 pence) per litre at the pump - one-twentieth the price in the UK. The tiny cost encouraged smugglers to buy petrol in Iran and sell it for a handsome profit in neighbouring Turkey or Afghanistan.  The government had been weighing whether to raise prices but the issue took on a fresh urgency as tax revenues shrank and US sanctions drove down oil sales. At the stroke of midnight on Friday, November 15 authorities announced a price hike of 50 per cent to 15,000 rials a litre.     Fuel price rises have led to demonstrations many times in the past and the government was expecting public anger. But none could have predicted the scale of the backlash.  Protests broke out Friday night in several cities including Mashad, Ahvaz and Sirjan. Demonstrators blocked streets and in some cases attempted to set fire to petrol stations. “Petrol prices went up, the poor just got poorer,” crowds chanted.  By Saturday morning the demonstrations had reached Tehran and protesters had a new tactic. They parked cars in the middle of the road to grind traffic to a halt. The Imam Ali motorway, a major road in eastern Tehran, was paralysed as motorists got out from behind the wheel and chatted in the street. Blocs of traffic were appearing across the country and demonstrators used Waze to find the protest nearest to them.    Protesters blocked roads with their parked cars Credit: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA Police were flummoxed as to how to re-open the roads. One video verified by Amnesty International shows police in riot gear smashing car windows and wing mirrors to try to force the drivers to get moving.     It was quickly becoming clear that what started as a protest over fuel was spilling into a general outpouring of anger against the Iranian government.  Standing on a bridge overlooking one of the traffic protests, a woman ripped off the white hijab she is forced to wear under Iranian law. “Because of dishonourable Khamenei we have lost everything,” she cried, waving the hijab over her head. “We have have suffered for 40 years. Death to Khamenei.” Drivers in the road below broke into applause next to their parked cars.   On the third day of IranProtests, watch this brave Iranian woman remove her compulsory hijab on a bridge & challenge Iran's dictators. "We've suffered for 40 years" amid a crowd of protesting drivers and their applause. Iranian women are at the forefront of IranProtests.— Masih Alinejad ��️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 18, 2019 As the sun went down on Saturday, the same sunset that Pouya Bakhtiari watched from a traffic jam west of Tehran, two things changed: the protests became bloodier and the internet was almost entirely shut off. “We know they shut the internet down because they didn’t want the world to see what they were doing,” said Nassim Papayianni, senior campaigner on Iran at Amnesty International.  The crackdown that followed was captured in a collage of horror on mobile phone videos. Pouya’s body lying on a slab in a Karaj morgue with part of his skull blown off. A government sniper firing at protesters from the roof of a justice ministry building in the western city of Javanroud. Soldiers shooting out of a helicopter as it flew over a crowd in Shiraz.       The youngest person known to have been killed was Nikta Esfandani, a 14-year-old girl shot in the head in Tehran on November 16. Friends said she loved music and joined a theatre club at school. Authorities reportedly waived the “bullet money” for her family because she was so young.   Nikta Esfandani, 14, was one of the youngest people killed in the protests While protesters attacked government buildings and hurled rocks at police, there is little evidence they used weapons or posed any serious threat to heavily-armed security forces.  “There are conflicting reports about whether or not there were one or more armed people among the protestors,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief.  “But this does not in any way justify such an indiscriminate, horrifying and deadly reaction by the security forces.” Leila Vaseghi, one of Iran’s only female governors, said at a press conference that she had ordered security forces to kill anyone who approached her offices, regardless of whether they were armed. “I ordered the guards that if any protester attempted to enter the building they must shoot them,” she said.  One of the bloodiest incidents took place on November 18 in Mahshahr, a predominantly Arab city near the border with Iraq. According to the New York Times, Revolutionary Guard forces exchanged fire with armed Arab residents and then pushed them back into a marsh area.  Up to 100 people may have been killed as the Guardsmen raked the marsh with bullets. Mobile phone footage from the scene shows government forces in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and captures long bursts of automatic gunfire. Onlookers called out to the soldiers to stop shooting.     A national internet For the last ten years Iran has been developing what it calls “a national internet”.  This meant building digital infrastructure so Iranian websites, messaging services, and banking platforms could be hosted on servers inside Iran rather in the US - giving Tehran far more control over their content.  Mahsa Alimardani, a researcher at the Article 19 human rights group, said Iranian authorities have given different explanations of why the national internet was needed.  Some said it would  help in enforcing Iran’s strict morality codes - including a ban on pornography - earning it the nickname “the halal internet”. Others said that an internet largely hosted in Iran would be less vulnerable to US sanctions, therefore reducing Washington’s economic leverage over the country. The full power of the national internet as a tool of government control became clear on November 16 when Tehran ordered Iranian internet service providers to shut down.  Soon the country’s internet connectivity was down to just 5 per cent of normal levels, according to Netblocks, a digital freedom group. Most of Iran’s 81 million people were cut off from the outside world.  Protesters in Tehran Credit: Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images Yet the blackout did not mean no internet at all. Foreign-hosted sites like BBC Persian and Iran International, which were reporting extensively on the protests, were inaccessible. But Iranian-hosted banking sites were still carrying out transactions and national hospitals were sending information.  The government was able to block the international sites it found threatening but keep its own critical digital infrastructure up and running. “It meant Iranians couldn’t use Whatsapp but they could connect to their bank accounts,” said Ms Alimardani.  Netblocks and the Internet Society estimate that the internet shutdown cost Iran’s economy $370 million a day, a steep price for a country already on its economic knees. But the national internet had served its purpose: it stopped word of the violence getting out; it prevented protesters from coordinating on messaging apps; and it kept the economy from coming to a complete stop.   When authorities finally restored access on November 23, the killing was over and the protests had been crushed. Iranians joked darkly that “God freed the internet”, a play on a famous phrase from Ayatollah Khomenei who said “God freed Khorramshahr” from Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.  More to come In the days that followed the crackdown, families searched for their loved ones in government morgues.  Masih Alinjad, the opposition activist, said several families told her that authorities made them sign agreements in return for the corpses. They were ordered not to hold funerals or else to hold small ceremonies at night under the supervision of the security forces.  “The Islamic Republic knows that funerals can easily turn into protests and they will do anything to prevent that from happening,” Ms Alinejad. As she tracked the dead she realised that at least three of the young people who were killed had followed her on Instagram.   While this round of protests has been crushed, none of the underlying sources of public anger have been addressed.  “Without the implementation of major economic and political reforms I think there will be more frequent and more violent confrontations between the state and the society in coming months,” said Mr Vaez.   “In the context of growing tensions between Iran and the US, the Iranian leadership is in no mood to demonstrate any flexibility at home that could be interpreted as a sign of weakness abroad.   Pouya Bakhtiari’s grieving family have taken over his Instagram page where he once posted song lyrics and pictures of nature. They have turned it into a shrine for their son and a digital rallying point for other protesters.  In defiance of the government, Mr Bakhtiari used an Instagram post to announce a traditional memorial service on January 5, 40 days after his son’s death.  Was Mr Bakhtiari, an army veteran who fought for his country in the Iran-Iraq war, worried that he would face reprisals from his government for speaking out? “What more damage could they do to me? They have killed my son and have left me and my family with nothing left in our lives,” he replied. “But I will not remain silent. I am the voice of Pouya and his young Iranian compatriots. I will cry out for justice and freedom on his behalf and on behalf of the young people of Iran, on behalf of all the people of my beloved country, who will eventually bring these people to their defeat.”

Democratic 2020 candidates threaten to skip debate because of labor disputeThe seven Democratic candidates who have qualified for next week's presidential debate in California threatened to skip it on Friday, saying they will not cross a picket line of union workers embroiled in a labor dispute. Unite Here Local 11, a union representing food workers at debate host Loyola Marymount University, have promised to picket the site ahead of next Thursday's debate as they continue negotiations on a contract with Sodexo, the company that employs them. After the union informed the candidates of the planned picket line on Friday, all of the debate participants quickly issued statements of support.

Man dresses as mother to take driving test after she failed three timesA man has been arrested for attempting to take a driving test on his mother’s behalf – by dressing like her in a bold attempt to fool examiners.Heitor Márcio Schiave, 43, wore a stuffed bra, floral top, long skirt, earrings, and a handbag to impersonate his mother at the State Department of Traffic in Novo Mutum Parana, in the Brazilian Amazon.

Heavy, gusty storms to rattle Florida, Georgia into Friday nightWhile a widespread outbreak of severe weather is not anticipated, storms capable of producing strong gusts and flash flooding will pester parts of the southeastern United States into Friday night.The thunderstorms are part of a large and strengthening storm that is producing an expanding swath of heavy rain in the eastern third of the nation. The risk is greatest from the central part of the Florida Peninsula to southeastern Georgia and the immediate coast of South Carolina. The risk also extends westward over part of the Florida Panhandle as well.People in this area should keep an eye on the weather. Heavy, gusty thunderstorms can briefly become severe with high winds, small hail and isolated tornadoes. A satellite image showing precipitation over the southeastern U.S. on Friday, December 13, 2019, around midday. (AccuWeather) What adds to the threat is the likelihood of storms developing after dark Friday.By Saturday afternoon, dry air is forecast to sweep from west to east across the region and end the thunderstorm threat.Download the free AccuWeather app to check the forecast in your area. Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

First lady appears to condone Trump's criticism of ThunbergThe first lady's apparent acceptance of her husband's actions stood in contrast to the work she's doing through her “Be Best” initiative to combat online bullying and teach children to be kind. Trump mocked the teenage activist, who has Asperger's syndrome, a week after the first lady tweeted angrily at Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan for mentioning Barron during her testimony as a Democratic witness at a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing.

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