By Michael Georgy DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's army chief declared on Thursday that police had quelled anti-government unrest that has killed 21 people but that his troops were ready to intervene if needed, as authorities staged more pro-government rallies. The protests, which seem spontaneous and without a unifying leader, erupted a week ago in Iran's second city of Mashhad over economic hardships - mostly high youth unemployment, high living costs and alleged corruption. (For a map of protests in Iran, click http://tmsnrt.rs/2CGK4eQ) "Although this blind sedition was so small that a portion of the police force was able to nip it in the bud ... you can rest assured that your comrades in the Islamic Republic's army would be ready to confront the dupes of the Great Satan (United States)," Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi was quoted in official media as saying. Iran's vastness as well as restrictions on independent media make it hard to determine the breadth and depth of the unrest. The semi-official labor news agency ILNA said the government on Thursday lifted restrictions on Instagram, one of the social media tools used to mobilize protesters. But access to a more widely used messaging app, Telegram, remained blocked, suggesting authorities remained uneasy about protest threats. In the latest protests, which generally occur after nightfall, social media video showed demonstrators in Khorramabad in southwestern Iran on Wednesday evening throwing stones at riot police, who were retreating. In other social media footage, hundreds poured into streets of the northwestern city of Orumiyeh near the Turkish border, chanting anti-government slogans. None of the videos could be authenticated by Reuters. The student news agency ISNA quoted Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli as saying on Thursday that "at most 42,000 people attended the protests, which is not much" in a nation of 80 million people. On Wednesday, the commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the number of "troublemakers" did not exceed 15,000 nationwide. Amnesty International said on Thursday that more than a thousand Iranians had been arrested and detained in jails "notorious for torture and other ill-treatment over the past seven days", with many being denied access to families and lawyers. Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, in an interview with Reuters, urged the United States and the international community to support protests in Iran with political sanctions and not economic measures that could hit the general population. She called for a ban on "sales of arms or any tools that can be used to suppress people," and restriction on Iran's dozens of radio and television stations, that she said were part of a "wrongful" foreign policy, and "spread hatred and lies" in different languages. A senior U.S. official said on Wednesday that the United States aimed to collect "actionable information" that could allow it to pursue sanctions against Iranian individuals and organizations involved in a crackdown on protesters. U.S. President Donald Trump - who has criticized Iran for its ballistic missile program and human rights record - said on Wednesday he would throw support behind Iranian protesters at an "appropriate time". The United States on Thursday sanctioned five Iranian-based entities it said were owned or controlled by a industrial firm responsible for developing and producing Iran's solid-propellant ballistic missiles. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said earlier this week Washington was seeking emergency sessions on Iran's turmoil at the U.N. Security Council in New York and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Russia rejected the idea, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov calling it "harmful and destructive", according to RIA news agency. He said Iran's domestic affairs had nothing to do with the U.N. Security Council's role, which was the "maintenance of international peace and security". RARE ANTI-GOVERNMENT OUTBURSTS As unrest spread across Iran, mainly in smaller cities and towns, protesters said they were tired of official anti-Western rhetoric and it was time for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the government of President Hassan Rouhani to quit. "I voted for Khatami and Rouhani, hoping for change. Hoping for freedom. Hoping to live like a normal human being. But nothing has changed,” said Maryam Azemi, 48, a mother of two in the city of Karaj near Tehran. "I don’t trust anyone anymore. We waited so long for change in this country. We tried peaceful ways to bring change, like voting, but look at us now. The officials are competing with each other to rip us off.” Protests have drawn largely young people and workers but have begun to draw in members of the educated middle class that formed the backbone of a pro-reform revolt almost a decade ago. After six days of demonstrations, Jafari said on Wednesday that Revolutionary Guards units had been deployed to put down protests in three provinces that have been hotbeds of unrest. That was the clearest sign yet that authorities were taking the protests seriously. The Revolutionary Guards, the sword and shield of Iran's Shi'ite theocracy, were instrumental in suppressing an uprising over alleged election fraud in 2009 in which dozens were killed. STATE-SPONSORED COUNTER-DEMONSTRATIONS State television broadcast live pictures of pro-government rallies on Thursday, including Ghaemshahr in northern Iran and Mashhad in the northeast, and Shahin Shahr in central Iran. Marchers carried posters saying, “No to riots”, and "Death to seditionists", as well as portraits of Khamenei. State media said three Iranian security agents were killed on Wednesday near the Iraqi border in a clash that led to the dismantling of a team of "counter-revolutionaries" who had planned to cause explosions and provoke unrest. The intelligence ministry said several "terrorists" were killed in the clash and one was arrested. Kurdish rebels are known to be active in the area. Few believe the protests pose an existential threat to the clerical elite, backed by pervasive security services, that have dominated Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew a U.S.-backed monarchy. But protesters have become increasingly bold in challenging Khamenei, who blamed the most sustained challenge to his 29 years in power for nearly a decade on "seditionists" and foreign agents. "I don’t want to harm my country but when I see those who run this country are so corrupt, I feel like I am being suffocated. They just talk. They accuse 'the enemies' of everything," said protester Reza, 43, a father of three in the central city of Isfahan. "I am not an enemy. I am an Iranian. I love my country. Stop stealing my money, my children’s money," he told Reuters by telephone. (Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Denis Pinchuk in Moscow; editing by Mark Heinrich)
- Yahoo News
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., told the Yahoo News "Skullduggery" podcast that President Trump's supporters claiming voter fraud share a lot in common with the people searching for Bigfoot.
- Yahoo News
Rep. Ilhan Omar proposed the legislation in April but concerns about an impending wave of evictions has continued to grow.
- Associated Press
The leader of a pro-gun group that stages armed protests against police violence has been charged with pointing a rifle at federal officers while in Kentucky for a demonstration. John F. Johnson, who calls himself “Grandmaster Jay,” is facing a federal charge of assaulting task force officers. A complaint filed in federal court in Louisville said Johnson pointed a rifle, which had a flashlight mounted to it, at officers who were on a roof in downtown Louisville on Sept. 4.
- The Daily Beast
Earlier this week, Project Veritas released the first of what it promised would be many shocking revelations from CNN’s internal editorial meetings, which founder James O’Keefe appears to have infiltrated and recorded over the course of several weeks.First, the right-wing group tried to make hay out of the fact that one high-level CNN staffer considered Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be racist—while simultaneously misidentifying the staffer in question. Their latest bombshell? CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks Rudy Giuliani is “crazy.”According to Project Veritas’ website, O’Keefe believes it will be “virtually impossible for the American public to take CNN’s reporting seriously after listening to these tapes.” And yet, once again, nothing that Zucker has said should surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Giuliani, especially in the weeks since Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.“There is a term for what Rudy Giuliani is suspected of being, which is ‘useful idiot,’” a voice identified as Zucker’s can be heard saying in a tape made just a couple of days after the man formerly known as “America’s mayor” started pushing material supposedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.He goes on to call Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the election a “really important story,” adding, “It gets tied to the Hunter Biden email disinformation campaign. That’s the way we do this, because it’s all tied and part-and-parcel of one. I know Washington is working on putting that all together.”In a more recent call, when another staff member suggests that the “real craziness is the client,” referring to President Trump, “not the lawyers,” the voice ID’d as Zucker agrees before saying, “I think you raise a good point about not just pawning it off on the crazy legal team, but the client is the one who is directing the crazy legal team.”Other comments from Zucker that seem to have outraged Project Veritas concern the baseless allegations of pedophilia against Biden that circulated online, especially among QAnon Facebook groups, in the run-up to the election.“The president of the United States has just retweeted a post accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile to his 86 million followers which is just beyond,” he says on another tape. “You know it also is just unacceptable that the president of the United States is trafficking in this and doing it.”Once again, an exposé intended to make Zucker and CNN look bad has only revealed that they are simply adhering to reality.Project Veritas’ CNN Sting Uncovers Explosive News That Tucker Carlson Is RacistRead 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.
- The Telegraph
Murderers and rapists could be barred from claiming asylum as part of Priti Patel's crackdown on immigration
Murderers and rapists to be prevented from claiming asylum, says Priti Patel, after the Jamaican deportation flight row. In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary said it was “completely wrong” that convicted killers and rapists released from jail should be able to exploit the asylum system to remain in the UK. She also indicated that asylum will be “streamlined” to prevent migrants making multiple claims that can be lodged and heard hours or even minutes before their removal. It will be part of a major reform of Britain’s “completely broken” asylum system, which is due to be unveiled in the new year. Her comments came after a murderer, two rapists and two would-be killers were among 23 criminals who escaped deportation to Jamaica early on Wednesday morning after lodging 11th hour appeals including claims for asylum. One was removed from the flight just minutes before the flight after a judge granted a stay.
- Associated Press
A top Pakistani court on Wednesday declared the country’s ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who lives in exile in London, a fugitive from justice after he failed to return home to face additional corruption charges. The move by the Islamabad High Court comes months after Sharif was given the chance to voluntarily return home. The next court hearing will be held in a week’s time, when the judges will discuss whether to proceed with the hearings and try Sharif in absentia.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden has settled on a team to lead the U.S. through its biggest ongoing crisis, two people familiar with the decision tell Politico.Jeff Zients, who headed the National Economic Council under former President Barack Obama and is co-chair of Biden's transition team, will reportedly be named the White House's COVID-19 coordinator. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under Obama, will reportedly return to his role with more responsibilities, and Biden's coronavirus advisory board co-chair Marcella Nunez-Smith will get a special role focused on health disparities.Zients "isn't a health care guru, and he's the first to say that," one source close to Biden told Politico. But his managerial experience is seen as an asset as the U.S. prepares to roll out a vaccine and combat the coronavirus-induced economic crisis — "he's essentially playing that role with the transition now," the source said. Zients will reportedly be paired with health experts including Murthy, who has already been a part of Biden's coronavirus plans. Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor of medicine, will meanwhile help address how COVID-19 and other health care issues disproportionately affect people of color.The left wing of the Democratic party isn't expected to be thrilled with Zients' selection, The New York Times reports. Progressive groups such as Revolving Door Project and Justice Democrats have already pointed out his corporate record, and the fact that an anesthesia company managed under the investment firm Zients ran had poor reviews. Under Obama, "his role was essentially to be a management consultant for the executive branch: cutting costs, finding efficiencies and looking at things like a businessman," Revolving Door said in a document about Zients' background.More stories from theweek.com The Donald goes down to Georgia Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims
- USA TODAY
Five executions are scheduled before Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment, takes office. Ninety current and former law officials want a halt.
A bilateral trade deal between Taiwan and the United States would reinforce U.S. support for the democratic island in the face of "unrelenting intimidation" from China, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has long angled for a trade deal with its most important diplomatic and military backer, and in August Tsai announced a relaxation on imports of U.S. pork and beef, removing a stumbling block.
As 300 UK troops arrive in Mali, the BBC's Frank Gardner looks at the role of Islamist militants across Africa.
- Yahoo News Video
President Trump is threatening to veto a defense policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.
- Associated Press
The killing of a young Black man last month by a white man who complained that he was playing loud music has roiled Ashland, Oregon, forcing the liberal college town that is famous for its Shakespeare festival to take a hard look at race relations. The death of Aidan Ellison, 19, added another name to the list of Black men and women whose killings have sparked a nationwide reckoning with racism and fueled a surge in a Black Lives Matter movement. On Nov. 23, Robert Keegan fired a single shot into Ellison's chest after complaining about the music late at night in a motel parking lot.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden said when it comes to the Department of Justice, he is "not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do."Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday, and the discussion turned to reports that President Trump is contemplating preemptively pardoning his adult children, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Biden said this "concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks [at] us as a nation of laws and justice."Biden promised that he is "not going to be saying, 'Go prosecute A, B, or C,' I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role, it's not my Justice Department, it's the people's Justice Department. So the persons or person I pick to run that department are going to be people who are going to have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted, who doesn't."Harris, who once served as California's attorney general, added that the administration will assume that "any decision coming out of the Justice Department ... should be based on the law, it should not be influence by politics, period."More stories from theweek.com The Donald goes down to Georgia 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse.
Moscow launched an online service on Friday for people to book appointments to be vaccinated against COVID-19, two days after President Vladimir Putin called for large-scale vaccinations. Sputnik V, one of two Russian-made vaccines to have received regulatory approval in Russia despite clinical trials being incomplete, requires two injections. Ten vaccines are being developed in Russia, TASS news agency cited Anna Popova, head of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, as saying on Thursday.
He is the first to be arrested under a controversial anti-conversion law passed last month.
- Associated Press
A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. Morrison's change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat, after the Chinese company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public. China has angrily rejected Morrison's complaints, but its foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Week
Several Republican lawmakers are showing enthusiasm for a potential 2024 run from President Trump, Politico reports.Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went so far as to say he would support Trump's candidacy if he chooses to run, while Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he "should run and would have the support" of the Republican Party.Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), both of whom have had their names floated as potential presidential candidates, also indicated to Politico that they'd back Trump's effort to return to the White House, as did Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who said the U.S. "would benefit tremendously" from another Trump term. Blackburn, though, is still holding out hope Trump will win his doomed battle to overturn the 2020 results.Not everyone was overtly enthusiastic, however, including some of Trump's notable allies like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who declined to comment. Cotton is another senator many speculate could launch his own bid, so he may be keeping things close to the vest. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), meanwhile, said he doesn't talk about hypotheticals, a point echoed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) may have been the hardest to read. He repeated his opinion that Trump would be the clear favorite if he ran, but didn't hint one way or another how he'd feel about it. "I know it's an interesting story, but I have no idea," he told Politico.More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Trump administration pushes ahead with sale of oil and gas leases in Alaska wildlife refuge
- Business Insider
Attorney for Jared Kushner and a Trump fundraiser investigated by DOJ in alleged bribery-for-pardon scheme
The New York Times reported that a lawyer for President Trump's son-in-law was investigated by the Justice Department this summer.
- Associated Press
A Democratic congressional candidate who trailed by six votes after a recount said Wednesday she will forgo further legal challenges in Iowa and instead appeal directly to the U.S. House for additional recount proceedings. Rita Hart's campaign had until Wednesday afternoon to contest the election under Iowa law following Monday's certification of results in which Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was declared the winner of the closest House race in decades. An election contest in Iowa would have set in motion the formation of a five-judge panel that would have been required to rule on who won the race by Tuesday, Dec. 8.