Iran’s proxies: where will Tehran take its revenge for Qassim Soleimani’s assassination and who will help it?

Iran has warned the United States to prepare for a “dark day” of revenge for the killing of General Qassim Soleimani – but it remains unclear how and when the regime will retaliate. 

Experts say one thing is likely, which is that any response to the US airstrike will be carried out by Iran’s large network of proxies in the Middle East, rather than its own soldiers or spies. 

This is because the Iranian regime is reluctant to trigger direct confrontation with the US, even though the assassination of Soleimani marks the biggest escalation between the two countries in decades. 

Here we look at where Iran-sympathising militias, political parties and insurgents have footholds in the Middle East, and…

Why Nancy Pelosi may be right to shut down Democrat celebrations over impeachment

Not a single Republican voted for impeachment. This is the fact Donald Trump believes can turn a moment of historic rebuke against his presidency into a strength. 

Throughout the three-month impeachment inquiry the US president has framed the Democrats’ push to remove him as motivated not by patriotic duty but political bias.

It was not always certain that all 197 Republicans in the House of Representatives would stick by their president, especially when the Ukraine scandal first surfaced with such speed.

But now they have, Trump world believes it will help convince voters that the Democrats were just trying to get rid of a political opponent rather than uphold the US Constitution.

“We didn’t…

Bullets and blackout: inside four days of killing in Iran

Pouya 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…

Australia names first female intelligence chief 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday appointed a woman to head a major Australian spy agency for the first time.

Rachel Noble will become next director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which intercepts electronic communications from foreign countries.

"Her appointment to this leadership role is a significant step forward for women in the national security sector and we congratulate her," Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in a statement.

Noble, who will begin her new role in February 2020, will lead the ASD at a time when Australia is increasingly concerned about cyber-attacks.

In March, the ASD concluded China’s Ministry of State Security was responsible for a cyber-attack on its parliament and three major political parties, Reuters reported.

Australia decided not to go public with its findings for fear of risking its trade ties with China, two sources said.

China denies it was responsible for the hack.

Indian city deploys police mannequins to deter dangerous drivers

The Indian city of Bangalore has deployed around 70 mannequins dressed in police uniform to curb dangerous driving after cameras recorded more than 20,000 daily traffic violations.

India is the most dangerous place in the world to drive with over 150,000 deaths on its roads in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation. China, in second place, recorded less than 60,000.

The scheme is facing criticism on social media but authorities say motorists will mistake the mannequins for real officers and drive safely.

“We don’t have footpaths to walk on, roads to drive on and proper transport, yet Bangalore police have so much money to waste on this,” wrote one user.

“Why don’t you get more traffic police personnel and also help create employment rather than deploying such ideas. As if people will not be able to differentiate between a mannequin and a real person,” echoed another.

India’s roads are vastly over-congested with Mumbai and New Delhi ranked as two out of the top three cities in the world for motorists spending time in traffic.

Dressed in police caps, white shirts and brown trousers, and wearing sunglasses, the mannequins are now on duty at congested junctions Credit: Asif Saud/BBC

There are currently eight million registered vehicles in Bangalore and this is predicted to rise to ten million by 2022.

Poorly maintained vehicles – including cars, motorbikes, horse-drawn carts and auto-rickshaws – also jostle for space with an estimated 35 million stray dogs and six million cows.

Many roads do not have footpaths so people have to jaywalk to reach their destination. Pedestrians account for 60 per cent of road deaths in Mumbai.

Motorists also often ignore road rules to navigate gridlock with 64 per cent of road accidents caused by speeding, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Drink-driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping a red light and using a mobile phone while driving are also common causes of accidents.

Despite the introduction of heavier monetary fines and stricter punishments in September for breaking traffic laws, such as not wearing a helmet on a motorbike, enforcement is not widely carried out. 

Angela Merkel warns of new wave of anti-Semitism as she visits Auschwitz

Angela Merkel warned of a rising new wave of hatred and anti-Semitism across Germany and Europe as she visited Auschwitz to honour the victims of the Holocaust on Friday.

Speaking at the concentration camp where 1.1m people were murdered by the Nazis, the overwhelming majority of them Jewish, Mrs Merkel pledged that Germany would never forget its historical responsibility for the Holocaust.

“Remembering the crimes, naming the perpetrators, and giving the victims a dignified commemoration, that is a responsibility that does not end,” she said.

“It is not negotiable; and it is inseparable from our country. Being aware of this responsibility is an integral part of our national identity.”

Mrs Merkel used her first official visit to Auschwitz, which lies in modern Poland, to send a clear warning about rising anti-Semitism.

“These days it is necessary to say this clearly. Because we are experiencing worrying racism, increasing intolerance, a wave of hate crime,” she said. “We pay particular attention to anti-Semitism, which threatens Jewish life in Germany, in Europe and beyond.”

Mrs Merkel is only the third postwar German chancellor to visit Auschwitz, and followed in the steps of Helmut Schmidt and her mentor, Helmut Kohl.

Mrs Merkel spoke in front of images of Holocaust victims Credit: KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS

Dressed in black and accompanied by Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, she visited the gas chambers and held a minute’s silence at the Death Wall, where thousands of prisoners were executed.

She spoke movingly of how it felt to stand on the ramp, where Jewish prisoners arriving by train were selected for the gas chambers.

“Being here today and speaking to you as German Chancellor is anything but easy for me. I am deeply ashamed of the barbaric crimes perpetrated here by Germans – crimes that transcend the limits of all things,” she said.

“In horror at what has been done to women, men and children in this place, you have to be silent…And yet silence must not be our only answer. This place obliges us to keep the memory alive. We need to remember the crimes that were committed here and to make them clear.”

Mrs Merkel was speaking at ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and pledged a donation of €60m (£51m) towards its works to preserve the camp as a memorial and warning to future generations. 

The timing of her visit was clearly prompted by the recent rise in anti-Semitism in Germany.  A bloodbath was narrowly averted in October when a lone far-Right gunman failed to gain entry to a synagogue packed with people marking Yom Kippur in the eastern German city of Halle.

Mrs Merkel laid a wreath at the Death Wall where thousands of prisoners were executed Credit: LUKASZ GAGULSKI/EPA-EFE/REX

Violent anti-Semitic crimes rose by 60 per cent in Germany last year, with 62 offences leaving 43 people injured.

Solemn events are planned next month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops at the end of the war.

There has been speculation in Germany that Mrs Merkel chose to attend Friday’s lower-key ceremony in case she is forced from power before then.

Her coalition is looking increasingly fragile after her partners in the Social Democrats (SPD) elected two left-wing candidates to be its new leaders.

Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, who were officially confirmed as joint leaders by the SPD party conference on Friday, have threatened to pull the party out of Mrs Merkel’s coalition.

But they appeared to back away from the threat at Friday’s party conference, calling instead for negotiations on new government spending.

“With this propsal, the coalition will have a realistic chance of continuing – no more and no less,” Ms Esken told delegates.

Four dead, including gunman, after shooting at US Naval base in Pensacola, Florida 

Four people died and at least half a dozen were injured after a gunman opened fire at a US Navy base in Florida.

The shooter was among the dead after the attack in a training classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning.

Local sheriff David Morgan said: "Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie."

Two sheriff’s deputies were injured, one shot in the arm, the other in the knee, but both were expected to survive.

Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and monitoring the situation, a White House spokesman said.

The Pensacola base, which is near Florida’s border with Alabama, is a major training site for the US Navy, and home to the Blue Angels, its aerobatic flight demonstration squadron.

A total of 16,000 military personnel and 7,400 civilians work at the base.

The shooting happened in two-floor building housing classrooms, and the gunfire started just before 7am.

Grover Robinson, mayor of Pensacola, said it was a "tragic day". He added: "We are a military town."

The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, flew to the scene.

Captain Timothy Kinsella Jr., the base’s commanding officer, would not say if the gunman was a member of the military. He said the base was closed until further notice.

The shooting was the second to take place at a US naval base this week.

On Wednesday, a sailor shot dead two civilians at the Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii, before taking his own life.

The gunman, petty officer Gabriel Romero, 22, had been unhappy with his commanders, and had been undergoing counseling, a US military official said.

He used his service rifle to carry out the attack before turning his service pistol on himself.

Romero was part of the crew of the submarine USS Columbia, which was undergoing maintenance at Pearl Harbor.

The shooting happened days before a ceremony on Saturday to remember those lost in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 78 years ago.

#BREAKING: We are aware of reports of a possible active shooter at Naval Air Station Pensacola. More information to follow.

— (@USNavy)Dec 06 2019

Donald Trump has been briefed on the shooting, with Vice President Mike Pence saying he was "saddened" to hear of the incident. 

"Saddened to hear of the horrible shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola & continuing to monitor the situation," he wrote on Twitter.

"Praying for the victims and their families and we commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter and getting those on base to safety."

In July 2015, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez carried out an attack at two military installations in the state of Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor, with the FBI concluding that the violence was inspired by a "foreign terrorist group."

Two years earlier, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and wounded eight others at the Washington Navy Yard, just two miles (three kilometers) from the US Capitol building, before being shot dead by officers.

Four years before that, Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood.

He was considered a "lone wolf" who supported terror network Al-Qaeda.

How a Russian hacking group stole millions worldwide in one of the biggest cyber scams in history

The behaviour could hardly have been less inconspicuous. In the footage is a sports car, grey with blobs of bright yellow and black, driving in a busy corner of Moscow. 

With a few revs of the engine the vehicle begins to deliberately skid across the lanes of traffic in a wide circle, forcing dozens of cars to pull to a stop. 

The recklessness causes a commotion, with other cars honking their horns. But the driver continues unruffled, tires squeaking on a few more loops of the doughnut. 

The other videos tell a similar story – of people both flushed with cash and not much bothered who knows it. 

One shows a man mucking about on a segway before toppling over. Another shows a pet lion cub being…

George Zimmerman sues family of Trayvon Martin, and police, for $100 million

George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder after fatally shooting unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, is suing the dead teenager’s family and police for $100 million.

On Feb 26, 2012, Mr Zimmerman, who was then a neighbourhood watch captain in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, shot the black youth.

He was arrested and charged. During the 2013 trial, prosecutors argued Mr Zimmerman profiled, pursued and confronted the teenager.

Mr Zimmerman claimed he shot him in self defence. He was found not guilty by a jury.

The incident helped spark the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mr Zimmerman claims a fake witness was used to incriminate him.

He is suing Martin’s parents, state prosecutors and two women, who are accused of helping provide false statements to investigators.

Mr Zimmerman claims he was the victim of a "malicious prosecution" and defamation.

His legal claim said he received death threats and suffered "great mental anguish," and had to be treated by psychologists.

Benjamin Crump, the Martin family’s lawyer, said the action was baseless.

He told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Florida: "I have every confidence that this unfounded and reckless lawsuit will be revealed for what it is."  

Mr Zimmerman is also suing Mr Crump and his publisher,claiming they defamed him in a book.

New York City bans flavoured vaping products amid nationwide crackdown

New York City has approved a ban on most flavoured e-cigarettes and e-liquids after a second vaping-related death last week.   Any shop found selling them will be fined a minimum of $1000.

The ban targets sweet-flavoured vaping products, and the unpopular tobacco-flavoured liquid is exempt from the fine.

The ban comes amid a spike in concern across the US at the negative effects of vaping, particularly among teenagers. 

Mark Levine, the New York Health Committee Chair, said that the organisation has “no higher obligation than to protect the health of kids.”  

“No longer will kids in this city be lured into nicotine addiction and by the easy availability of flavored vapes,” he added. 

Massachusetts banned every flavoured tobacco product from its shelves last week, following Michigan’s temporary ban on e-cigarettes which will be in effect for at least six months. 

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, echoed Mr Levine’s concern when it found that almost 30 percent of high school students vaped in the 30 days preceding its research, which was carried out earlier this year.  

A 30-year-old Manhattan man died from a vaping-related illness following the death of a 17-year-old from the Bronx borough last month. 

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York City, and other officials, have expressed their concern. 

“Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people,” Mr Cuomo said in September.  

“At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth.”