Reviving decades-old cries of "Death to America," Iran on Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed as tensions remain high over the country's collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.
Demonstrators gathered in front of the former U.S. Embassy in downtown Tehran as state television aired footage from other cities across the country.
This year's rallies come as Iran's regional allies in Iraq and Lebanon face widespread protests. The Iranian Consulate in Karbala, Iraq, a holy city for Shiites, saw a mob attack it overnight. Associated Press video showed a fire burned its gate as demonstrators threw gasoline bombs and climbed its walls, some waving an Iraqi flag. Iranian media only reported a "protest outside" of the diplomatic post, adding that things had returned to normal.
The main event in Tehran on Monday is rally by hard-liners at the former embassy and an address by Iranian army commander Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi. Demonstrators at other rallies on Monday also cried: "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"
A billboard at Tehran's Vali-e Asr Square, often used by hard-liners to highlight their political views, showed people waving flags from around the world and cheering as an American flag burned. A caption on it read: "We are the superpower."
What exactly led to the 1979 takeover of the embassy remained obscure at the time to Americans who for months could only watch in horror as TV newscasts showed Iranian protests at the embassy. Popular anger against the U.S. was rooted in the 1953 CIA-engineered coup that toppled Iran's elected prime minister and cemented the power of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The shah, dying from cancer, fled Iran in January 1979, paving the way for the country's Islamic Revolution. But for months, Iran faced widespread unrest, ranging from separatist attacks, worker revolts and internal power struggles. Police reported for work but not for duty, allowing chaos to unfold, including for Marxist students to briefly seize the U.S. Embassy.
In this power vacuum, then-President Jimmy Carter allowed the shah to seek medical treatment in New York. That lit the fuse for the Nov. 4, 1979, takeover by Islamist students, who initially planned a sit-in at the embassy.
But the situation quickly spun out of their control.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the long-exiled Shiite cleric whose return to Iran sparked the Islamic Revolution, gave his support to the takeover. He would use that popular angle to expand the Islamists' power.
Some hostages would be released as the crisis unfolded, while several others who escaped the embassy and found safety with Canada's ambassador, left Iran via a CIA-planned escape — dramatic moments that were recounted in the 2012 film "Argo."
Another 52 American hostages would be held for 444 days until the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, when they were freed.
Germany's governing coalition has delayed a decision on a pension reform that has become a central ideological battleground, adding to questions over how long the government will last.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Union bloc leads a bad-tempered coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.
The two sides are struggling to find a compromise on a project to top up the pensions of low-paid people who have worked for at least 35 years. The Social Democrats say such payments should be made without means-testing, which the Union insists on.
A meeting scheduled for Monday to seal a compromise was delayed until Sunday. Social Democrat secretary-general Lars Klingbeil told ZDF television the coalition must agree on the project imminently and indicated that keeping the coalition going will otherwise be "a great deal more difficult."
Sister Brigitte Queisser walks slowly along the decaying remains of the Berlin Wall, its rusty rebar reinforcement exposed where the concrete has crumbled away. The 77-year-old pauses to catch her breath, opens a gate and steps from the former democratic West Berlin into what used to be the communist East.
What is a simple step today was a monumental feat for those who tried to escape Soviet-controlled East Berlin during the nearly three decades that the wall divided that part of the city from its free, western side. Some attempts were meticulously planned for months, others brazen and spontaneous.
Many succeeded flawlessly. But as a deaconess of the Lutheran Lazarus Order, Sister Brigitte witnessed first-hand the consequences for those who weren't able to pull it off quite so smoothly.
Directly across the street from the wall, on Bernauer Strasse, her order ran a clinic that provided immediate help to those who were injured trying to get through the barrier, with its watch towers and armed soldiers. The sisters also took care of burying those who died seeking freedom.
"Families were torn apart, people couldn't move freely from one neighborhood to the other anymore, many died trying to run away to the West," she said. As she thought back to those hard times, Sister Brigitte touched the silver cross dangling from a long necklace over her dark-blue habit.
"It was a nightmare," she said.
As Germany prepares to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall next month, it also commemorates those who were arrested, injured or died as they sought to escape by tunneling under the wall, swimming past it, and climbing or flying over it. At least 140 people died trying, according to the latest academic research.
The first iteration of the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, billed by East German leader Walter Ulbricht as an "anti-fascist protective wall" intended to keep his country secure. In reality, it was built to keep its citizens from fleeing to the West.
It stood for 28 years, until Nov. 9, 1989, a sinister presence that was seen as the front line and a symbol of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Lazarus deaconesses were at the heart of it, their residence and clinic on Bernauer Strasse cut off from the order's cemetery by the wall itself.
"We took care of everybody in our first-aid station who was somehow injured," remembers 84-year-old Sister Christa Huebner. "Dead or alive, cut open, fractured, everything — we made sure they received first aid and also checked whether they had to be hospitalized."
Many of the sisters worked as nurses in the hospital. From its windows overlooking the wall, they witnessed daredevil escapes.
"I saw young men jumping from the roofs on the other side into the nets of the West Berlin firefighters; other men roped down on clothes lines and came to us with their hands all bloody," Sister Christa said as she reminisced about those turbulent years while sitting with a handful of other retired women from her order in the mother house, which is still in the same complex where the clinic used to be.
"One time I saw how a manhole cover on the street opened from below and two people climbed out — they'd escaped underground through the canalization."
"But there were also those who weren't so lucky," she added. "We took care of those who died as well."
Cut off from the order's own graveyard, the sisters had to find a different burial place.
"Our graves were part of the death strip," said Sister Brigitte. "We couldn't take care of the graves any longer, police were patrolling there day and night."
Today, the deaconesses can again access their own cemetery and visit the graves of their sisters.
Standing under an old linden tree, Sister Brigitte looks at the marble gravestones marking the resting spots of her late companions. The faint sounds of school and tourist groups visiting where the wall used to stand tall drift over from Bernauer Strasse, now a major tourist attraction.
"I often thought, 'God, can you please take away this wall,'" Sister Brigitte says. "When it finally happened, it was like a fulfillment — but at the same time it was also beyond comprehension."
She added: "It was a miracle."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved the construction of a new toll highway, which is to become part of the Europe-Western China transport corridor, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov was quoted as saying Friday.
According to Akimov, the construction of the toll highway between Moscow and Kazan, the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan on the Volga River will begin in 2020, and the entire highway will be built by 2027.
He said that from the beginning of 2020, work will begin on the construction of 145-km-long new high-speed sections between Moscow and Vladimir, the capital of a region neighboring the Moscow region from the east.
According to the Russian Transport Ministry, transporting cargo along the Europe-Western China highway at 8,500 km in length will take some 10 days.
This compares to 14 days by the 11,500-km-long Trans-Siberian Railway and 45 days by the 24,000 km sea route through the Suez Canal, a ministry statement said.
Nigel Farage, the minor-party leader who played a major role in Britain's decision to leave the European Union, is trying to throw his weight around again in the U.K.'s Brexit-dominated election.
Farage on Friday piled the pressure on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying his Brexit Party will run against Johnson's Conservatives across the country in the Dec. 12 early election unless Johnson abandons his divorce deal with the EU.
Farage's party, which was founded earlier this year, rejects Johnson's Brexit deal, preferring to leave the bloc with no agreement on future relations in what it calls a "clean-break" Brexit. It holds seats in the European Union's legislature but has none so far in Britain's Parliament.
Launching the Brexit Party's election campaign, Farage said Johnson's deal "is not Brexit" because it would mean continuing to follow some EU rules and holding years of negotiations on future relations.
"Boris tells us this is a great new deal. It is not. It is a bad old treaty. And simply, it is not Brexit," Farage said.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs in the election that is coming more than two years early, with winners to be chosen by Britain's 46 million voters.
If the Brexit Party runs in only a small number of seats, that would help the Conservatives, who are vying with Farage for the support of Brexit-backing voters.
Farage spoke a day after U.S. President Donald Trump barged into the British election campaign, urging his friend Farage to make an electoral pact with Johnson's Conservatives. Trump told Farage on the Euroskeptic politician's own radio phone-in show Thursday that he and Johnson would be "an unstoppable force."
Trump also undermined Johnson by claiming that "certain aspects" of the prime minister's EU divorce agreement would make it impossible for Britain to do a trade deal with the U.S.
The ability to strike new trade agreements around the world is seen by Brexit supporters as one of the key advantages of leaving the EU. Most economists, though, say trade deals with the U.S. and other countries are unlikely to compensate for Britain's reduced commerce with the EU, which currently accounts for half of U.K. trade.
Forecasters say a no-deal Brexit would have an even more severe effect on the U.K. economy and would hurt EU nations as well.
Purist Brexiteers such as Farage dislike the Brexit agreement struck by Johnson — as they did a previous effort by his predecessor Theresa May —because it keeps the U.K. bound by EU rules and financial obligations for up to three years while a new trade relationship is negotiated. The terms would also see Northern Ireland bound by EU trade and customs rules indefinitely to avoid checks on the border with EU member Ireland that could undermine both the regional economy and peace in Northern Ireland.
Farage, who played a key role in the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the EU, said if Johnson agreed to abandon his deal, the Brexit Party would form a "non-aggression pact" with the Conservatives, standing aside from running against them in many areas.
"I believe the only way to solve this is to build a 'leave' alliance across this country," Farage said. "If it was done, Boris Johnson would win a very big majority."
Farage warned that if Johnson rejects the offer, "we will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales."
He said Johnson needs to make up his mind before the nominations for candidates close on Nov. 14.
Johnson, however, has already ruled out an electoral pact with Farage.
"We are not interested in doing any pacts with the Brexit Party or indeed with anybody else," Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said Friday. "We are in this to win it."
The prime minister sought this early election to break the political impasse over Britain's stalled departure from the EU.
Johnson had promised for months that the U.K. would leave the 28-nation bloc on the scheduled date of Oct. 31 "come what may." He struck a divorce deal with the EU last month, but Parliament blocked his plan to rush it into law in a matter of days. Amid the impasse, last week the EU granted Britain a three-month Brexit delay, setting a new Jan. 31 deadline.
Johnson accuses opposition politicians for the failure to leave the EU on Thursday.
While the Conservatives have a wide lead in most opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.
The Brexit Party also poses a threat to the main opposition Labour Party in traditionally Labour-supporting post-industrial areas of Wales and northern England, which voted in 2016 to leave the EU.
On the other side of the divide, the centrist Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit, are wooing pro-EU supporters from both the Conservatives and Labour in Britain's big cities and liberal university towns.
Left-of center Labour, which has its own internal divisions over Brexit, is trying to shift the election battleground onto more comfortable domestic terrain: the rising inequities in Britain. Labour is hoping that voters want to talk about health care, the environment and social welfare — all of which saw years of funding cuts under Conservative governments — instead of holding more debates on the seemingly endless topic of Brexit.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party is running on a pro-independence, anti-Brexit platform, said if the Conservatives won, "you'll have Nigel Farage and Donald Trump pulling Boris Johnson's strings."
"A Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson coalition would be scary," she said. "I know Halloween was yesterday, but it's the kind of Halloween monster that no one in Scotland wants to see."
A majority of Scottish voters backed staying in the EU in the 2016 referendum.