UPDATE 8-Indian police kill 4 men suspected of rape, murder, drawing applause and concern

UPDATE 8-Indian police kill 4 men suspected of rape, murder, drawing applause and concernIndian police shot dead four men on Friday who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian near Hyderabad city, an action applauded by her family and many citizens outraged over sexual violence against women. The men had been in police custody and were shot dead near the scene of last week’s crime after they snatched weapons from two of the 10 policemen accompanying them, said police commissioner V.C. Sajjanar. Thousands of Indians have protested in several cities over the past week following the veterinarian’s death, the latest in a series of horrific cases of sexual assault in the country.


Russian spies used French Alps as ‘base camp’ for hits on Britain and other countries

Russian spies used French Alps as 'base camp' for hits on Britain and other countriesFifteen Russian spies, including those accused of the Salisbury nerve agent attack, used the French Alps as a “base camp” to conduct covert operations around Europe over a five-year period, according to reports. The revelations came as Germany expelled two Russian diplomats after prosecutors said there was “sufficient factual evidence” linking Moscow to the killing of a former Chechen rebel commander in central Berlin. According to Le Monde, British, Swiss, French, and US intelligence have drawn up a list of 15 members of the 29155 unit of Russia’s GRU military spy agency who all passed through France’s Haute-Savoie mountains close to the Swiss and Italian borders. They stayed between 2015 and late 2018, notably in the towns of Evian, Annemasse and Chamonix – the scene of a ski chase in the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough. They arrived from London, Moscow, Spain and often Geneva. The Le Monde report added five new names to those already published by online investigative outlets such as Bellingcat and The Insider. Their identities and movements were uncovered during a joint probe by allied counterespionage services in the wake of the attempted poisoning of defector Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018, said the paper. Britain and its allies accuse the Kremlin of seeking to assassinate Mr Skripal, a charge Russia vehemently denies. Those who stayed in the Haute-Savoie included Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – the cover names of the two GRU agents accused of carrying out the attack on Mr Skripal, along with Serguei Fedotov, the suspected mastermind. According to Le Monde, a fourth agent believed to be linked to the Skripal assassination attempt and who stayed in the Alps, Serguei Pavlov, was located in the UK by MI6 in 2017. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the Russian suspects in the Skripal poisoning, are among those alleged to have used the French Alps as a base Credit: Getty Images Europe Le Mondesaid the five new names cited, all aliases, are Alxandre Koulaguiine, Evgueni Larine, Tour Nouzirov, Naman Youssoupov and Guennadi Chvets. The unit was also active in areas such as Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro and Ukraine. Western intelligence services involved found no material or arms left behind by the agents during their stays in France, Le Monde said, but their presence was confirmed by where they ate, stayed and shopped. “The most likely hypothesis is to consider it (Haute-Savoie) as a rear base for all the clandestine operations carried out by unit 29155 in Europe,” said a senior French intelligence official, quoted by Le Monde. The paper said that one theory is that by staying in the Alps, the agents hoped to shake off any suspicion before they carried out their missions, which could explain why they conducted no covert missions on French soil. On Wednesday, Angela Merkel’s government summoned the Russian ambassador and ordered two of the embassy staff to leave the country within seven days. The two diplomats concerned are believed to be Russian intelligence officers, according to local media reports. The German foreign ministry said they had been declared persona non grata in protest at Russia’s failure to cooperate with investigations into the killing of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian national shot dead in a Berlin park in August. The suspected killer was captured by police attempting to dispose of a gun believed to be the murder weapon in the nearby river Spree. He was carrying a Russian passport which identified him as Vadim Sokolov, but German prosecutors on Wednesday confirmed that they now believe that is a false identity. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were both poisoned with Novichok, a banned chemical weapon, in Salisbury Credit: Social media/EAST2WEST NEWS Police findings indicate that it is “highly likely” the arrested man is Vadim Krasikov, a Russian national previously wanted for the murder of a businessman in Moscow in 2013, prosecutors said. A senior MP in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party (CDU) on Thursday described the case as a “return to the days of the Cold War”. “Counterintelligence and foreign reconnaissance against Russia must be significantly expanded,” Armin Schuster told Bild newspaper. “Germany must get its act together if a foreign state can order murder on German soil.”. France denies any “laxism” by its embassy in Moscow for handing him a 90-day emergency visa on July 29 on a fictitious address. He passed through Paris before travelling on to Berlin. British and French intelligence sources told Le Monde the assassination was “ordered by the pro-Kremlin Chechen regime of Ramzan Kadyrov with logistical help of the Russian state”. According to Le Monde, French intelligence suspects the Berlin assassination was leaked to the public for “political reasons” linked to President Emmanuel Macron’s apparent rapprochement with Moscow. Last week, Mr Macron said: “Has the absence of dialogue with Russia made the European continent any safer? … I don’t think so.” “France’s desire to rebuild strategic ties with Moscow has clearly prompted reactions from states who prefer direct confrontation with Russia,” said one French intelligence source, who denied any French “complacency or naivity” towards Moscow. French surveillance of foreign Russian espionage was, the source told Le Monde, “no doubt higher than any other service in Europe”.


Tennessee high court rules against paper in defamation case

Tennessee high court rules against paper in defamation caseThe Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a newspaper cannot use the state’s fair report privilege law as a shield against a defamation lawsuit for a story that was based on a one-on-one interview with a police detective. The case concerns Jeffery Burke, who was accused in 2013 of stealing money from a White County football team’s cookie dough fundraiser. The original trial court judge found that the story fell under Tennessee’s fair report privilege, a law that shields reporters from defamation suits when they report fairly and accurately on an official action or proceeding, even if that information turns out to be inaccurate.


Weather whiplash to bring warmup, heavy rain and flood threat followed by Arctic blast to Northeast

Weather whiplash to bring warmup, heavy rain and flood threat followed by Arctic blast to NortheastAs the holidays approach and many may find themselves dreaming of a white Christmas, Mother Nature has a different idea up her sleeves. The weather pattern will soon be reversed in the northeastern United States, allowing wintry landscapes to transform into a sloppy, muddy mess instead.Forecasters are closely watching a storm system that is expected to take shape and track toward the Great Lakes early next week — and it will be the player that will help to flip the weather conditions in the East. As wintry weather and yet another snowstorm are predicted for portions of the Midwest, surging warm and moist air will race out ahead of the system.Temperatures are expected to rebound to the 30s over the northern tier to near 50 F in parts of Virginia as a southerly breeze develops on Sunday.On Monday, temperatures are forecast to surge into the 40s across the northern tier and the 50s and 60s across part of the mid-Atlantic region. The warm air combined with rain will dissolve the deep snow over part of the Northeast, potentially leading to flooding issues for some communities. Recent storms have buried parts of New York state and central and northern New England under as much as 1-3 feet of snow in the last couple of weeks. A car makes its way through a snowy landscape in Highland Falls, N.J., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. The last of the snow is falling over parts of New Jersey after leaving behind power outages in the northwest part of the state. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) That snowcover contains a significant amount of locked-up moisture, called the snow-water equivalent.Within the existing snow on the ground, there is between 1 and 5 inches of water as of Thursday, Dec. 5.Many areas, including those places where deep snow is on the ground, may stay well above freezing Sunday night, which can allow the snow to soften up. This image was taken from the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (NOAA) Some of the deep snow may harmlessly melt from Sunday to early Monday before the storm and its soaking rain arrives, but there is a risk that surging temperatures, moist air and drenching rain may cause a rapid meltdown of the existing snowcover from later Monday into Tuesday.Instead of releasing the 1-5 inches of water by itself, another 1-2 inches of water may be added in depending on the intensity of the rainfall that occurs. “Since the ground is not frozen, some of the melting snow and rain will be absorbed by the soil and should avoid disastrous stream and river flooding,” Dale Mohler, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said.However, some quick rises on small streams are likely with minor flooding possible in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding during heavy rain or spring thaw events. Some of the rivers may surge to bank full as well.”Even if only part of the snow melts and only a light amount of rain falls, piles of snow along streets and highways that are blocking storm drains can lead to urban flooding,” Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said.Anderson said that property owners should make sure that runoff has easy access to storm drains ahead of the system’s arrival to reduce the risk of flooding as a precaution.”Even in some of the major cities along the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City where there is no appreciable snow on the ground, enough rain can fall to cause travel delays and ponding on roads that drain poorly,” Dave Bowers, AccuWeather forecaster, said.Ski resorts in the region that have gotten off to their earliest start in recent years will take a hit from the storm. Those seeking ideal ski conditions are encouraged to hit the slopes into Sunday, before the rainstorm arrives.Along with bringing a swath of heavy snow to part of the Upper Midwest, next week’s storm is predicted to unleash Arctic air in its wake later Tuesday and Wednesday. Remaining areas of slush and standing water can freeze as temperatures plummet across the northeastern U.S. There is a chance that the cold air may catch up with the back end of the rain and cause a period of snow at the tail end of the storm at midweek.Since the storm will be weak rather than strong, it’s possible that a secondary storm may develop along the push of frigid air, according to AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.”I am pretty convinced that a storm is going to form along this boundary [between warmer air in place and colder air surging] into the Carolinas Tuesday night. Then, the question becomes does the storm goes out to sea and the cold front blasts out to sea? Or, does the storm have enough energy because of all of the energy associated with the jet stream that the storm strengthens? And, if it does, it won’t go out to sea. It will come up the coast. If the storm does strengthen, you’ve got to worry about a snowstorm,” Rayno said.The I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and eastern New England could face snow if the latter and stronger scenario unfolds. If a weaker secondary storm develops, then it will likely push out to sea. If a secondary storm forms and it strengthens enough, it may bring snow to the Northeast. No indications are currently pointing to a big snowstorm developing and rather it could be more of a nuisance snowfall, according to Rayno.However, this type of weather pattern has yielded major snowstorms in the past, and meteorologists will have to keep a watchful eye on how all of the weather players come together, Rayno added.AccuWeather meteorologists are also tracking the potential for yet another significant storm toward the middle of the month, warning that it could be disruptive to the eastern U.S. Download the free AccuWeather app to check the forecast in your area. Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.


Nikki Haley Suggests Confederate Flag Just Meant ‘Sacrifice and Heritage’ Until Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ It

Nikki Haley Suggests Confederate Flag Just Meant ‘Sacrifice and Heritage’ Until Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ ItFormer U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley seemed to suggest on Friday that the Confederate flag did not have racist overtones until Dylann Roof “hijacked” it with his 2015 murder of nine black churchgoers.Speaking to Blaze TV’s Glenn Beck, Haley recounted her decision as South Carolina governor to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State House following Roof’s massacre at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston. “Here is this guy that comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag,” she said. “And had just hijacked everything that people thought of—we don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. It’s a small minority; it’s always going to be there.”“People saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage,” the ex-governor continued. “But once he did that, there was no way to overcome it. And the national media came in droves—they wanted to define what happened. They wanted it to make this about racism. They wanted to make it about gun control. They wanted to make it about the death penalty.”Apparently, according to Haley, the media at the time wanted to make the mass slaying of nine black people—an admittedly targeted racist attack, as laid out in Roof’s manifesto—about race.While Haley’s insistence that a flag long associated with slavery and sedition was actually just about “heritage” until only recently was immediately met with ridicule and mockery, her remarks to Beck are actually pretty much in line with how she equivocated on the issue when she removed the flag four years ago.Claiming at the time that many South Carolinians held up the flag as “a way to honor ancestors,” she added that “while an integral part of our past” it “does not represent the future of our great state.”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.


Virginia Commission Calls for Repeal of ‘Explicitly Racist’ and ‘Segregationist’ Laws

Virginia Commission Calls for Repeal of ‘Explicitly Racist’ and ‘Segregationist’ LawsA Virginia state commission released a report Thursday calling for the official repeal of “deeply troubling” state laws still on the books that contain “explicitly racist language and segregationist policies.”The Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law published a lengthy report saying that the outdated laws should not “remain enshrined in law” despite no longer being in effect.“The commission believes that such vestiges of Virginia’s segregationist past should no longer have official status,” the report states. “The devastating long-term social, economic, and political impact of legalized segregation in Virginia continues to plague people of color today.”While many of the laws the commission cited have been nullified by courts, such as the ban on interracial marriage in the “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity,” the commission warned that they could become relevant again with another court ruling.“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no child shall be required to enroll in or attend any school wherein both white and colored children are enrolled,” a 1956 law continues to read.Democratic governor Ralph Northam spearheaded the commission in June to identify state laws that “were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity.” The governor said he would focus on promoting racial equality for the rest of his term after weathering a scandal earlier this year over a racist yearbook photo depicting one person in blackface and another in a KKK outfit.Northam pledged in a statement Thursday to repeal all racially discriminatory language in Virginia law.“If we are going to move forward as a Commonwealth, we must take an honest look at our past,” the governor said. “We know that racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have governed our Commonwealth—today represents an important step towards building a more equal, just, and inclusive Virginia.”