The race goes on: Next victory for Geiger

After winning the individual jumping on Saturday, Karl Geiger also wins the jumping on Sunday. Geiger thus keeps the yellow jersey of the World Cup leader. The other German jumpers missed the top 10.

Karl Geiger has proven his top class with the first double victory of a German ski jumper in almost five years. One day after his first victory of the season, the vice world champion also won the second competition in Val di Fiemme ahead of Stefan Kraft (Austria). The last two DSV victories in a row were achieved by former world champion Severin Freund in March 2015 in Oslo.

Geiger flew on the rarely used normal hill at 107.0 m and 103.5 m, with 285.2 points he was the equivalent of two and a half metres ahead of Kraft (280.5) and extended his lead in the overall World Cup. Third was tour triumphant Dawid Kubacki from Poland (278.2). Even a messed up landing in the first run, when he stayed only half a meter below the 17-year-old hill record, could not stop Geiger.

In the overall World Cup, Geiger is ahead of Kraft (699) with 819 points and the Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi (655), who did not manage to get past 25th place on Sunday.

Stephan Leyhe (Willingen) in 13th and Pius Paschke (Kiefersfelden) in 18th place, however, fell short of expectations. Youngster Luca Roth (Meßstetten) scored one more World Cup point in 30th place. Constantin Schmid (Oberaudorf), who had celebrated the best result of his career on Saturday in fifth place, missed the second run in 34th place, as did Martin Hamann (Aue/41st).

Russian warship almost collides with US destroyer

Threatening clash in the Middle East: A Russian warship approaches a US destroyer and refuses to evade. The ships are coming dangerously close.

On Thursday, there was a threatening clash in the Middle East: A Russian warship aggressively approached a US naval destroyer and evaded at the last moment. The US television station CNN had first reported on the incident. How menacingly close the two ships came, you can see in the video above.

According to the US Navy, the USS Farragut was in the North Arabian Sea as an aircraft carrier’s escort when the Russian ship approached. According to an official statement, the Americans sounded five warning tones, prompting the Russian ship to change course. This was in accordance with international rules. However, the Russian crew did not react at first and maintained their course at full speed. The naval unit to which the USS Farragut belongs published two videos of the incident on Twitter.

Only after direct radio contact had been established between the bridges of the two warships did the Russians turn away, CNN reports. The Russian ship had approached the stern of the US destroyer up to almost 55 meters.

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According to the statement of the US Navy, the risk of collision was high, especially due to the initial refusal of the Russians. The armed forces now remained “vigilant” and were “prepared to react professionally”.

Hundreds of US tanks roll through Germany

With 20,000 soldiers, it is the largest US troop transfer to Europe in 25 years: Germany becomes the central hub in the “Defender Europe” exercise – with hundreds of tanks on roads, rails and water.

In Europe and the USA, the final phase of preparations for a massive show of strength has begun: US forces are rehearsing with NATO partners to deploy enormous forces in a short time for a war in Eastern Europe. A large part of the war material comes from the USA and is transported right across Europe – with Germany as the central hub.

Next week, the military will discuss details in a Berlin barracks. But much is already known. The exercise may lead to disruptions in many parts of Germany – and is a challenge for the Bundeswehr.

When will there be disruptions? The exercise will start in January. The main deployment period of the US forces in Europe runs from February to May. From the USA alone, there are 8,600 wheeled vehicles and more than 1,100 tracked vehicles. However, the majority of these will not be moved east until April and May. During the Easter holidays (Easter Sunday is 12 April), the situation is expected to remain quiet. On the roads, transports are to be on the move mainly at night, so that there are few disturbances. From mid-May onwards, the return transport will begin. It should be completed in July. Military convoys will be on the road again then – but not so many vehicles in a short time.

How do material and soldiers get to Europe?

For relocations, machines will land at the airports in Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg and Ramstein, according to State Secretary of Defence Peter Tauber. Bremen could be added. Only a fraction of the material will arrive by plane. Battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, howitzers and other equipment will be delivered by ship. From the ports of Antwerp, Vlissingen and Bremerhaven, the journey will later continue through Germany.

How is the traffic in Germany?

Some of the material is transported further by water. The inland ports of Duisburg, Bremen and Krefeld are planned for this. The heavy equipment will be transported mainly by train. But there will also be a lot of military on the roads. Three large axles are planned in Germany: From Düsseldorf it will continue on a northern route via Hanover and Magdeburg to Frankfurt/Oder. The southern route from Dusseldorf will lead via Mannheim, Nuremberg and Dresden to Görlitz. In addition, convoys are planned from Bremerhaven in a north-south direction along a connection Hanover – Frankfurt/Main – Mannheim.

Can the structures cope with this?

The preparations go back a long way: fixed routes were checked to see whether they were designed for the heavy loads. Tanks and other large US Army equipment were inspected, weighed and measured in Mannheim by the Bundeswehr Logistics School. The exercise was also the occasion throughout Europe to renovate or reinforce structures accordingly. However, the military experts do not rule out the possibility that the heavy equipment could also cause damage.

Where will the exercise take place?

The exercise covers ten countries, focusing on Poland and the Baltic States. Within the larger scenario, there are also other exercise scenarios and locations in Germany. In Grafenwörth in Bavaria and at the Bergen training area in the Lüneburg Heath, combat will also be practised. Part of “Defender Europe” will also be the handling of additional attacks in cyberspace. New equipment and common secure communication will be tested. A total of 37,000 soldiers from 18 countries will practice. In addition to the 20,000 US soldiers from the USA, 9,000 are already stationed in Europe.

Is all the material being shipped from the USA?

No. In addition, the US Army also takes out war material that is usually kept in huge guarded warehouses. From a total of four so-called “Army Prepositioned Stocks” 13,000 vehicles and containers are to be brought in. In Germany there are such warehouses in Dülmen, Miesau in the Palatinate and temporarily in Mannheim. Within 96 hours, the material is to be complete with the combat units. An armoured brigade of the National Guard will receive M1 tanks as well as Paladin howitzers from European storage locations of the US Army for the exercise.

“Trump’s plan is working”

Donald Trump wants to force a regime change in Iran. But with new sanctions and the killing of top general Soleimani, hardliners in particular are being strengthened. Many Iranians feel cheated.

After the targeted killing of top general Ghassem Soleimani, a military conflict between Iran and the USA seemed to be on the horizon – this is now off the table for the time being after mutual signals of détente. In the Islamic Republic itself, however, the US drone attack is still having a strong impact. Many continue to talk of retaliation and blood, diplomacy has become a dirty word for some. After seven years of political absence, the hardliners and arch-conservative forces that were opposed to President Hassan Ruhani’s reform course from the outset are now back in control. The reformers, on the other hand, are at a loss.

This trend is unlikely to be changed by the spontaneous protests that broke out following the apparently accidental shooting down of a passenger plane with 176 mainly Iranian fatalities. The demonstrators are outraged by the Revolutionary Guards responsible for this and also by the leadership clique of the regime, which is controlled by Islamic clergymen, because they only admitted the fatal shooting after days of denial.

Presidential election next year

But the few hundred demonstrators do not currently represent the political majority in the state with its 80 million inhabitants. Parliamentary elections are already taking place in February, and renowned reformers have not even taken part. Observers therefore expect a clear victory for the reform opponents. An expected coalition of hardliners and arch-conservatives in parliament could then have a strong influence on the outcome of next year’s presidential elections. Their top candidate, whoever it may be, is already considered the favourite for the presidential post. A political scientist in Tehran therefore sums up: “The plan of (US President Donald) Trump and his people to force a regime change in Iran has worked – just in the wrong direction.

This all looked very different when President Ruhani took office in 2013. He promised reconciliation with the West, and two years later, with the Vienna nuclear agreement, he implemented this promise. Politically and economically, the God-state was on the way to international reintegration. Much was also to change in domestic politics, especially after the reformers’ good results in the 2016 parliamentary elections. Even political prisoners were to be released and more freedom of opinion and of the press was to be allowed.

“But then came this trump,” says the former Iranian ambassador in Berlin, Ali Madshedi, looking back today. First the Republican arranged for America’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, then draconian sanctions. The oil-rich country was suddenly plunged into a severe political and economic crisis, and the currency was worth only half as much in a very short time. The president’s moderate course was quickly ridiculed by critics – and also by his own supporters.

“Credibility has no meaning anymore”

The situation is also bad with regard to the nuclear deal that was worked out over the years to keep Iran away from nuclear weapons and guarantee the country’s economic development. He was the pride of Ruhani and his chief diplomat Mohammed Dschawad Sarif. Now, after the USA’s turning away and the recent escalation, Iran no longer wants to comply with the technical requirements, especially not with the limitation of uranium enrichment. “The deal is virtually in the intensive care unit,” says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. In fact, the agreement now only exists on paper. The remaining partners – China, Germany, France, Great Britain and Russia – support the deal, but are unable to implement it without the US. “With political support alone we can’t buy anything,” Ruhani explains the de facto withdrawal.

Another disappointment over the weekend was the admission that Iran was responsible for the shooting down of the Ukrainian passenger plane, which came as a surprise to many. The Iranians feel betrayed by Ruhani’s government, which talked for days about a technical defect and vehemently denied the shooting down of the plane. “Credibility no longer has any meaning with this government,” an angry Iranian wrote on Twitter.

The political scientist sees the conservative forces in charge in the face of the disappointment that has accumulated over the years. “The frustration of the Iranians will already show itself next month,” he predicts. According to polls, only around 20 percent of citizens are likely to take part in the parliamentary elections on February 21, but they will probably come mainly from the hardline camp. Many who hope for fundamental change are likely to stay at home. “If only faces change and not the political

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