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Iranian general killed by US in Iraq
A US drone strike – ordered by President Donald Trump – has killed the head of Quds Force, the elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. General Qasem Soleimani, a heroic national figure in his homeland, died while being driven at Baghdad Airport in neighbouring Iraq. The Pentagon, which blames Gen Soleimani for approving this week’s attack by protesters on the US embassy in Baghdad, says the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans”. The US would take “all necessary action to protect our people and our interests” around the world, it added.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says, in the short term, it might have the opposite effect, having “raised US-Iranian tensions to a new and dangerous level”. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, called the move “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”. He tweeted: “The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” Following the attack, President Trump tweeted a graphic of the US flag.
‘Weirdos and misfits’ welcome at No 10
They might be a good fit for some of your colleagues, but the terms “weirdos and misfits” are unlikely to feature in many job descriptions. However, that’s exactly who Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, reaches out to in a blog post calling for people with “odd skills” to apply to work in Downing Street, alongside more data scientists, software developers and economists. He says fresh blood is needed to address a lack of “deep expertise in specific fields” in the civil service. Dave Penman, of senior civil servants’ union the FDA, says recruitment is “on merit, not patronage”. He adds: “All senior civil service roles are already open to external competition, yet time and again, government’s failure to pay a market rate restricts the pool.” Forgotten who Dominic Cummings is? Remind yourself.
Last decade was second-hottest in 100 years
It’s been a record-breaking year for British weather, according to the Met Office. July saw the hottest day ever recorded in the UK (38.7C in Cambridge). London measured the warmest February day (21.2C), while the Scottish Highlands experienced the highest daily minimum temperature for February at 13.9C. Meanwhile, provisional figures suggest the Highlands also recorded a new December high of 18.7C. The National Climate Information Centre says 2019 brought down the curtain on the second-hottest decade in a century. Its head, Dr Mark McCarthy, says it’s a consequence of our warming climate and we can expect more extremes.
‘I tried a dopamine fast and it kinda sucked’
By Kirsty Grant, BBC Newsbeat
Dopamine fasting is a lifestyle trend, popular in the world’s tech centre Silicon Valley, which involves cutting yourself off from almost all stimulation for 24 hours. You can’t eat, or drink anything apart from water, or use the internet, your phone, your computer or TV (or any other screens or technology) during that time.
You can go for walks, meditate, think, and write a diary. I tried it out from 10pm on 16 December until 10pm the next day – after a medical check from our BBC in-house team. You do need to see your doctor before trying anything like this. Here’s what happened.
What the papers say
A variety of stories feature on front pages, with the i assessing the possibility of Northern being stripped of its rail franchise for a “disastrous track record”. The Times leads on No 10 chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ call for “weirdos and misfits” to work with him in Downing Street. Meanwhile, the Sun’s headline – “Help me, Boris” – sums up a plea from a British woman, convicted in Cyprus of lying about being raped, for the UK prime minister to press for a pardon.
Bushfires Australian navy rescues people from fire-hit town
Amazon Company ‘threatens to fire’ climate change activists
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran announces she is pansexual
Zambia Areas on brink of famine because of climate change
Pool tragedy Man who gave CPR says deaths were preventable
If you see one thing today
If you listen to one thing today
If you read one thing today
10:00 British Airways passenger Emma Langford, 47, who admits criminal damage and being drunk on board a flight to South Africa, is to appear at Isleworth Crown Court, west London.
10:00 Photocall for £2m lottery winners in Stockton-on-Tees, who found out their 15-year-old son was clear of cancer three days after hitting the jackpot.
On this day
1991 The Foreign Office expels eight Iraqi embassy officials from the UK following threats of attacks on Western targets.