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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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India rape and murder suspects shot dead ‘after trying to steal police guns’ | World News

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Indian police say four men suspected of raping and killing a female vet have been shot dead after they tried to snatch officers’ guns.

They were in custody and had been taken to the scene of the murder early on Friday for a crime reconstruction.

Police said the suspects died in “cross-fire” after they attempted to snatch the weapons.

Senior officer Prakash Reddy told reporters: “While the reconstruction and investigations were on, one of the accused signalled to the others and tried to escape.

“They then tried to snatch weapons from the guard and fired on the police. They were killed in the cross-fire.”

Two policemen were injured in the shooting.

The 27-year-old victim’s burned body was discovered by a passer-by in an underpass on Thursday last week in the town of Shadnagar, near Hyderabad.

She had left her scooter at toll booth for a medical appointment the night before.

The four men are said to have deflated her scooter tyre and taken her to a truck yard to help repair it – where the crime is believed to have taken place

The killing is one of a several high-profile cases to spark demonstrations in recent years
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The killing is one of a several high-profile cases to spark demonstrations in recent years

The case has caused a nationwide uproar in India.

Protests across the country called for a fast-track hearing and capital punishment for the men.

In parliament this week, one MP called for a public lynching of the accused.

Sky’s Neville Lazarus – in India – says the killing of the men has divided the nation, with many supporting the police but others saying they have become judge, jury and executioner.

The victim’s father told news agency ANI: “It’s been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this.

“My daughter’s soul will be at peace now.”

Rape and murder suspects in police van
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The suspects being transported in a police van last week

The victim’s sister said she was “very happy” and that the police’s action would serve as an example.

The killing of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, drew parallels with the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in 2012.

That crime sparked widespread protests and drew international attention to violence against women in India.

India is grappling with atrocities against women.

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau of India, there were 33,658 reported cases of rape and sexual assault in 2017.

Filtered down, that is 2805 cases a month or 4 such cases every hour.

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France strike: Protests turn violent as industrial action causes travel chaos | World News

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Police have been seen dragging and beating protesters as demonstrations in Paris turned violent.

Officers deployed tear gas and used pepper spray as demonstrators threw projectiles and firecrackers.

More than 180,000 union members took to the streets as part of a general strike across the country which led to widespread chaos.

Protesters are tear gassed during clashes with police
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Protesters are tear gassed during clashes with police

Thousands of protesters marched towards Place de la Nation into the evening.

French public sector workers began the walkouts on Thursday over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the nation’s pension system.

The president says the system is unfair and too costly. He wants a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.

The current system allows rail workers, mariners and Paris Opera House ballet dancers to retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.

Railway and airport workers, firefighters, teachers, truck drivers and medics are among those who joined the action.

Yellow vest protest groups, or “Gilets Jaunes”, who brought much of Paris to a halt last year, were also there.

A demonstrator lights a flare
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A demonstrator lights a flare
France strikes
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The industrial action across France is in protest against pension reform

The demonstrations began peacefully as protesters marched along the Boulevard de Magenta.

But the atmosphere shifted when protesters wearing black clothing and protective gear began smashing bus stops and store fronts near the Place de la Republique.

Police struggled to control a number of fires set by demonstrators in the area and had cordoned off the square by the early evening.

The action is expected to paralyse the nation for days, as flights, trains and buses face the biggest wave of industrial action the country has seen for decades.

There are no tickets available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it has cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.

A masked protester holds an umbrella
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A masked protester holds an umbrella

Airlines including Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France, while Air France has said up to a third of its domestic flights would be cancelled.

Signs at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport showed “cancelled” notices.

A number of P&O Ferries services from Dover to Calais were delayed due to the industrial action.

The firm advised people to check its Twitter page for updates.

The SNCF railway company earlier said it expected nine out of 10 high-speed trains to be cancelled and said its services were “severely disrupted”.

Most of the subway system in Paris is also affected.

Commuters in Paris got out their bicycles, turned to carpooling apps or worked from home to avoid the crush on the limited train and metro services.

A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
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A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
Police secure the area during a demonstration
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Police secure the area during a demonstration

All businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route in Paris were ordered to close for the day by police.

Hotels across Paris have reported receiving cancellations from tourists who have decided against travelling to France during the industrial action.

“For 30 years successive governments have tried to bring reform and fail because the unions cripple the country,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.

“People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed.”



Ghislain Coutard first encouraged protesters to wear yellow vests







‘Yellow vests’ founder speaks to Sky News

Elsewhere around France, thousands of red-vested union activists marched through cities from Marseille on the Mediterranean to Lille in the north.

Riot police in Nantes, western France, fired tear gas at masked protesters who hurled projectiles at them.

In Lyon and Marseille, thousands more protesters carried banners that read: “Don’t touch our pensions”.

A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
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A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike

Ghislain Coutard, who started the yellow vest movement, told Sky News on Wednesday the protests could lead to a “new beginning” for his country.

“For me, it’s make or break. This is either a new beginning or it’s the end,” he said.

The national strike across France comes as thousands of rail passengers in southern England face misery as a 27-day walkout until New Year’s Day by South Western Railway staff entered its fourth day.

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More than 140,000 killed by measles last year as number of cases rises | World News

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An “unprecedented global measles crisis” caused more than 140,000 deaths last year, with most of those who died under five years old, new figures reveal.

Cases of measles are continuing to rise after more than doubling in 2018 compared with the previous year, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Some countries which previously had high coverage rates or had eliminated the disease are seeing “devastating measles outbreaks” due to falling vaccination rates, Unicef said.

The charity added that although children in some areas are hard to vaccinate due to conflict or a breakdown in services, in other places some parents are not vaccinating their children “due to complacency, mistrust or misinformation about vaccines.”

Parents are being urged to vaccinate their children in places where vaccines are available, including the UK, while efforts are being stepped up in countries without ready access to the jabs.

The UK lost its measles-free status in August as cases rose sharply.

In 2017, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases in England was 259, but this more than tripled to 971 in 2018.

A further 532 cases were reported in England between January and June this year.

There has been a drop in vaccination rates for all nine vaccines given to children under the age of five in England, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.

Measles cases have been rising in recent years. File pic
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Measles cases have been rising in recent years. File pic

A charity leader has called the issue in the UK a “ticking time bomb” and said trust needs to be built with parents.

Liam Sollis, head of policy and advocacy at Unicef UK, said: “Vaccines are the safest and most effective preventative measures against highly infectious disease, but currently too many children are being put at unnecessary risk – with half a million children in the UK unvaccinated against measles.”

However, half of measles cases reported in 2018 were from five countries – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine.



MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 21:  University of Miami pediatrician, Judith L. Schaechter, M.D., gives an HPV vaccination to a 13-year-old girl in her office at the Miller School of Medicine on September 21, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, is given to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer. Recently the issue of the vaccination came up during the Republican race for president when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer "dangerous" and said that it may cause mental retardation, but expert opinion in the medical field contradicts her claim. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a presidential contender, has taken heat from some within his party for presiding over a vaccination program in his home state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)







What’s behind the fall in vaccination uptakes?

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed by measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo so far this year, while close to a quarter of a million have been infected.

In recent weeks, more than 53 people have died in a measles outbreak in Samoa, 48 of whom were children.

The country declared a state of emergency on 20 November and has been placed on lockdown to contain the disease.

A one-year-old child is given a vaccine in Seattle, US
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A one-year-old child is given a vaccine in Seattle, US

The director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the worldwide measles deaths an “outrage” and a “collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.”

It is estimated more than 19m children worldwide did not have the first dose of the measles vaccine by their second birthday in 2018.

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