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Germany has been marking 30 years since the Berlin Wall was brought down, an event which heralded the end of Communism in Eastern Europe.

A ceremony was held to mark the anniversary at Bernauer Strasse – where one of the last parts of the wall remains – which was attended by leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Afterwards they placed roses in gaps in the barrier that divided the city for 28 years.



Merkel still







Merkel remembers Berlin Wall victims

Head of the Berlin Wall memorial site, Axel Klausmeier, recalled the images of delirious Berliners from East and West crying tears of joy as they hugged each other on the night of 9 November 1989.

He paid tribute to the peaceful protesters in East Germany and neighbouring Warsaw Pact countries who took to the streets and demanded freedom and democracy.

He also praised the then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of reforms.

The country’s Communist government was put under pressure to open its borders to the West by the protests and people fleeing East Germany.

A photograph from 9 November 1989
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A photograph from 9 November 1989

Germany has become the most powerful economic and political force on the Continent since the wall fell, but there remains deep criticism in the country over how the transition from socialism to capitalism was managed.



BERLIN WALL







How the Berlin Wall fell by accident

This was acknowledged in a recent interview with German chancellor Angela Merkel who said that “with some things, where one might have thought that East and West would have aligned, one can see today that it might rather take half a century or more”.

Speaking at a memorial service in a small chapel near where the wall once stood, Mrs Merkel commemorated those who were killed or imprisoned for trying to flee from East to West Germany and insisted that the fight for freedom worldwide is not over.

She said: “The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history and it teaches us no wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it can’t be broken down.”



HUNGARY BORDER







The countries still divided by walls

She also recalled that 9 November remains a fraught date in German history because it also marks the anniversary of the so-called Night of Broken Glass, an anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938 that foreshadowed the Nazis’ Holocaust.

Concerts, light shows and public debates are planned throughout the city and other parts of Germany to mark the fall of the wall, including a concert at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.

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Should Trump be impeached? Voters are as split as politicians | US News

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It was a fascinating end to a week of intense testimony.

Fiona Hill, the daughter of a British coal miner, started with a stark warning to those claiming that it was Ukraine and not Russia who meddled in the 2016 US election.

The former aide to then national security adviser John Bolton delivered a stern rebuke of lawmakers, and implicitly Donald Trump, for pushing a “fictional narrative”.

Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council
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Fiona Hill claimed Moscow is ‘gearing up’ to repeat its interference in the 2020 US presidential election

They were, she said, perpetuating a Putin lie and undermining public faith in American democracy.

Some Republicans on the intelligence committee, including ranking member Devin Nunes, continue to advance the idea that Russian interference was a “hoax”.

In Moscow, Vladimir Putin sounded almost gleeful with the fact that theory was getting such a public and official airing.

“Thank God,” he declared. “No one is accusing us of interfering in the US elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

But Ms Hill – composed, robust and clearly concerned – told the hearing that Russia was busy gearing up to meddle in 2020 too.

She also provided a withering assessment of Gordon Sondland, the EU ambassador who, in a stunning U-turn on Wednesday, stated that there was definitely a quid pro quo and that “everyone was in the loop”.

David Holmes and Fiona Hill
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Fiona Hill and David Holmes gave evidence at the impeachment inquiry on Thursday

Ms Hill said Mr Sondland had carried out a “domestic political errand” for Mr Trump while she and her colleagues were involved in “national security policy”.

She told House investigators that she came to realise he wasn’t simply operating outside official diplomatic channels, as some assumed, but was in fact carrying out instructions from Mr Trump.

Mr Sondland had admitted exactly that the day before.

Ms Hill and David Holmes, a state department adviser in Kiev, claimed it was abundantly clear that Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was pursing political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine.

She said she knew then it would “come back to haunt us”. She added that her former boss, Mr Bolton, had also expressed concern that a “drug deal” was being cooked up.

But he, like so many in the White House, has not testified.



How impeachment works for a US president in two minutes.







How impeachment works

You only have to step outside for a few minutes to see how differently the public viewed their pair.

One man declared her “elitist and “irrelevant”. Another woman called her “the very best of America”. It all comes down to who you believe.

As a long day drew to a close, Mr Nunes told the room that this was simply a “show trial”, driven by Democrats who had reached their verdict before they had even begun.

Today and throughout this impeachment process, Republicans have characterised the evidence as third-hand and third-rate.

Ms Hill was not on the July call that sparked this inquiry and she like so many others, they argue, should be discounted.

I would say up to half of those I have met in the long queues outside the hearing think the Republicans have a point.

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Voters are just as split as those who are representing them.

So what next? Well, Democrats could file articles of impeachment before Christmas and hold a vote.

Given they have the majority, it is certainly looking like they would vote to impeach President Trump.

But it is also likely that the Republican-controlled Senate won’t vote to convict him.

It’s also absolutely plausible that he wins a second term.

The president’s supporters seemed almost resigned to the idea that he’ll be impeached, but also determined to keep him in office.

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UK defies US over ‘illegal’ Israeli expansion into West Bank | World News

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Britain has defied the US by urging Israel to stop its “counterproductive” expansion into the occupied West Bank.

The Foreign Office has waded into the debate after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the White House was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the territory.

It was the latest move from the Trump administration to anger Palestinians, as it weakened their claims to ownership of the state and put Washington at odds with other nations working to end the long-running conflict.

Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law
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Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law

Responding to the change in policy, the Foreign Office said: “The position of the UK on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.

“We urge Israel to halt its counterproductive settlement expansion.”

The announcement by Mr Pompeo had angered Palestinians, with a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas claiming settlements are illegal under international law.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the US government had “lost credibility to play any future role in the peace process”.

Since becoming US president, Donald Trump has made a number of foreign policy decisions in favour of Israel.

The most controversial move was to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Middle Eastern country, angering those who labelled it a severe blow to the Middle East peace process.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed in October, to form a government
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been struggling to form a new government despite US backing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly welcomed the support of Mr Trump, although his backing has done nothing to help him form a new government despite two elections this year.

In more bad news for Mr Netanyahu, he has been indicted on corruption charges including fraud and bribery.

The allegations include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends – and offered to trade favours with a newspaper publisher.

Mr Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases and – in Donald Trump style – has previously dismissed the investigations into him as a “witch hunt”.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted on corruption charges, the country’s attorney general has announced.

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