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Protests held across Pakistan after 7-year-old girl's rape and murder

Protests held across Pakistan after 7-year-old girl's rape and murderBy Mubasher Bukhari LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Protests broke out across Pakistan on Thursday after the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in a district south of Lahore, due to public anger at what is seen as the authorities’ failure to investigate such cases. It is the 12th such murder in the town of Kasur in a year, and has raised concern that a serial killer may be on the loose. Two people were killed on Wednesday when police fired at angry protesters in Kasur, and a local resident said schools, offices, and markets remained shut in the town on Thursday.



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Rare public protests spread across Iran amid spiraling inflation

Rare public protests spread across Iran amid spiraling inflationIranian police clashed with protesters demonstrating against government corruption on Friday, in a rare public show of discontent in the Islamic republic.  About 300 people gathered in the western city of Kermanshah on Friday calling for a "revolution", shouting "where's my paycheck?", "the people are begging, the clerics act like God" and “death to the dictator”. It followed a day after similar protests in the northeastern city of Mashhad, where more than 50 were arrested.  President Hassan Rouhani's government has been unable to control spiralling prices – the costs of basics such as milk and eggs has doubled in a week. And despite the loosening of international sanctions in 2015, the country has seen little economic growth and few ordinary residents feel they have benefitted.  There have been calls on social media for protests up and down the country, despite warnings from the government against illegal gatherings. Protestors attack security forces in Iran (location unknown) #iranprotestspic.twitter.com/aeS8zVyM9X— Wladimir (@vvanwilgenburg) December 29, 2017 The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern over the country’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as Syria and Iraq. There were also chants in Mashhad on Thursday of "not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran" and "leave Syria, think about us". Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked to by police, but a few who refused were "temporarily detained", the ILNA news agency reported. In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back-pay. "The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," the resident said by telephone. Chants in the holy city of Qom tonight, the spiritual center of #Iran: “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!” pic.twitter.com/ilawigFGej— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) December 29, 2017 In Qom, a stronghold of the Shi'ite clergy, footage posted on social media showed protesters attacking Ayatollah Khamenei by name. "Seyyed Ali should be ashamed and leave the country alone," they chanted. Police arrested 52 people in Thursday's protests, Fars quoted a judicial official as saying in Mashhad, one of the holiest places in Shi'ite Islam. In social media footage, riot police were seen using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds. Some social media videos showed demonstrators chanting "Death to Rouhani" and "Death to the dictator". Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities. Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent. The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests. Pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged. The protests came as Tehran looked to have bowed to internal pressure to relax its strict Islamic dress codes. Morality police in the capital said they will no longer automatically arrest women for failing to women seen without the proper hijab head-covering in public, mandated since the 1979 revolution. For nearly 40 years, women in Iran have been forced to cover their hair and wear long, loose garments.  Younger and more liberal-minded women have long pushed the boundaries of the official dress code, wearing loose headscarves that do not fully cover their hair and painting their nails, drawing the ire of conservatives. The announcement signalled an easing of punishments for violating the country's conservative dress code, as called for by the reform-minded Iranians who helped re-elect President Rouhani, a relative moderate, earlier this year.



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People Across the Country Are Celebrating a White Christmas Today

People Across the Country Are Celebrating a White Christmas TodayCheck out the festive photos



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Amtrak derailment reignites safety concerns across the country

Amtrak derailment reignites safety concerns across the countryIn what is just the latest derailment in a list of crashes involving passenger trains, investigators are looking into whether the train was going way too fast as it approached a curve.



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Bel-Air wildfire joins the siege across Southern California

Bel-Air wildfire joins the siege across Southern CaliforniaA wildfire erupted in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel-Air section Wednesday as yet another part of Southern California found itself under siege from an outbreak of wind-whipped blazes that have consumed multimillion-dollar houses and tract homes alike.



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A North Korean Defector's Dramatic Dash Across the Border Was Captured on Video

A North Korean Defector's Dramatic Dash Across the Border Was Captured on VideoA North Korean soldier made a desperate dash to freedom in a jeep and then on foot, being shot at least five times as he limped across the border and was rescued by South Korean soldiers, according to a video released by the U.S.-led U.N. command.



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Six Syrian men arrested across Germany on suspicion of Isil 'Christmas market' plot

Six Syrian men arrested across Germany on suspicion of Isil 'Christmas market' plotSix Syrian men were arrested in raids across Germany on Tuesday morning on suspicion of planning a terror attack on behalf of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). According to unconfirmed reports, the target of the planned attack was a traditional Christmas market which opens in the western city of Essen next week. The men all entered Germany as asylum seekers, and are believed to have known each other in Syria before travelling to Europe. Authorities were alerted to the suspects by other asylum seekers who recognised them as jihadists who had fought for Isil in Syria, Welt newspaper reported. Officials have yet to comment on the target of the planned attack. A statement by prosecutors said the men were “planning an attack with weapons or explosives on a public target in Germany”.  The scene of carnage after a truck ploughed through the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin in December 2016 Credit: EPA The plot had not yet advanced beyond the planning stage, prosecutors said. The arrested men are aged between 20 and 28. Four of them entered Germany as asylum seekers in September 2014, before Angela Merkel opened the country’s borders in her controversial refugee policy, while the other two arrived in 2015. The arrests come 11 months after Anis Amri, a rejected Tunisian asylum-seeker, killed 12 people and injured more than 50 when he drove a stolen lorry into a packed Christmas market in Berlin. Germany recent terror attacks Cities across Germany have ordered new security measures for Christmas markets this year, including concrete bollards to prevent a repeat of the lorry attack. Details of the new plot were not clear on Tuesday morning, but it appears from prosecutors’ statements the arrested men were planning to use a different means of attack. The suspects were held in a series of coordinated raids in the cities of Essen, Kassel, Hannover and Leipzig. More than 500 police officers took part in the operation.



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North Korean soldier shot as he makes rare defection across one of world's most heavily guarded borders

North Korean soldier shot as he makes rare defection across one of world's most heavily guarded bordersA soldier from North Korea managed to make a rare successful escape across the heavily fortified border with South Korea, on the same day a US national was detained as he attempted to enter the North.  The North Korean guard stationed within the Joint Security Area fled across the border into the South early on Monday, sustaining gunshot wounds to his shoulder and elbow after being fired on by other North Korean guards. The soldier was airlifted by a United Nations Command helicopter to a hospital for treatment, military officials told Yonhap, and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Cases of North Koreans successfully crossing the Demilitarised Zone into the South are rare because of the landmines, tripwires and machine guns that are trained across the border. Defections within the JSA are even less common, because the North Korean troops assigned to the small area where the two sides' militaries are face to face are hand-picked for their loyalty to the regime. North Korea marks anniversary of founding of Workers' Party 01:04 The injured soldier was found by South Korean troops on the South's side of the frontier after several bursts of gunfire. He was unarmed and wearing the combat fatigues of a low-ranking soldier. He has not yet been named. "Currently, there are no unusual signs in the North Korean military, but we are increasing our alertness against the possibility of North Korean provocations", a South Korean military official said. Five hours later, a US citizen, who has been identified as "A" by South Korean police, but is reported to be 58 years old and from Louisiana, attempted to cross into North Korea. He arrived in South Korea on Friday and was detained shortly before 10am local time after crossing the Civilian Control Line just south of the frontier. Reality check: Is North Korea a threat to the UK? 01:48 A villager spotted the man in an area of the border district of Yeoncheon that is out of bounds to non-military personnel and informed local authorities of his presence, Yonhap news reported. The man has told South Korean police that he crossed the Civilian Control Line as he intended to enter North Korea for "political purposes". US and South Korean soldiers, foreground, and North Korean soldiers, background, stand guard next to the meeting rooms that straddle the border between the two Koreas Credit:  SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg Local police, the South Korean Army and officials of the National Intelligence Service are questioning the man to get a fuller picture of his motivations. The man's actions come less than five months after the death of Otto Warmbier, a US student who was detained on a visit to North Korea in January 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour for attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel in Pyongyang. Released in June after 17 months in the North, he died less than a week after arriving back in the US. An autopsy indicated he had suffered an acute neurological injury about a month after his conviction and had been in a coma ever since. A coroner was unable to identify the cause of the injury. As a consequence, the US government on September 1 imposed a ban on American tourists entering North Korea.



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Republican Tax Reform Bill Limps Across Starting Line

Republican Tax Reform Bill Limps Across Starting LineWASHINGTON ― Republicans prepared to finally unveiled their tax reform legislation on Thursday with a draft bill that would dramatically cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.



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Bump stocks sell out across US as ban looms after Las Vegas shooting

Bump stocks sell out across US as ban looms after Las Vegas shootingClark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, demonstrates how a bump stock works when attached to a semi-automatic rifle on Wednesday in South Jordan, Utah. Bump stocks are selling out across America as momentum gathers in Congress to ban the rifle modification used by the Las Vegas shooter to obtain catastrophically high rates of fire.



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