January 07, 2020
The unfolding crisis in the Middle East has continued to escalate as the world waits to see how Iran will respond to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike last week. 
Iran Latest: US Braced For ‘Severe Revenge’ As Crisis Escalates
UK and European allies have called for calm as Iranian officials threaten to “set ablaze” American interests in the region.
Here’s everything you need to know about the developments of the last 24 hours. Iranian officials promise retaliation The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has threatened to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States but gave no hint of where this might be.
Speaking on Tuesday at the funeral of Soleimani in the town of Kerman, Hossein Salami’s vow mirrored the demands of top Iranian officials – from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to others – for “severe revenge” against America. 
Salami praised Soleimani’s exploits and said as a martyr, he represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies.
“We will take revenge. We will set ablaze where they like,” he said, drawing cries of “Death to Israel!” from the crowd.
In a further development, Iran’s parliament on Tuesday passed a bill that designates all US forces as terrorists.
The bill states: “Any aid to these forces, including military, intelligence, financial, technical, service or logistical, will be considered as cooperation in a terrorist act.”US on high alert but unsure what to expectThe next chapter of the crisis is largely in the hands of Iran as the US awaits its response to the killing of Soleimani. 
While officials say American intelligence isn’t clear on whether Iran’s latest military moves are designed to bolster Tehran’s defences or prepare for an offensive strike, the US is continuing to reinforce its own positions in the region, including repositioning some forces.US officials have initiated a heightened state of military readiness as they prepare for a possible “tit-for-tat” attempt on the life of an American military commander.
One official said the US anticipated a “major” attack of some type within the next day or two, PA Media reported.
According to a report on Tuesday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iran has worked up 13 sets of plans for revenge for Soleimani’s killing.
The report quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that even the weakest among them would be a “historic nightmare” for the US.Britain treads a careful diplomatic pathBoris Johnson finds himself joining with French and German allies in calling for calm in the region, whilst attempting to maintain good relations with the Trump administration ahead of talks with the US on a post-Brexit trade deal.
The PM and foreign secretary Dominic Raab have said the UK would not “lament” the passing of Soleimani but have made it clear that Trump’s threat to target Iranian cultural sites would be a breach of international law.
The PM has briefed senior ministers on the situation in Iraq at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet, Downing Street said on Tuesday.
The spokesman said they agreed Soleimani had been responsible for “disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region and posed a threat to all our interests”.
The spokesman said a more “substantial“ discussion would take place at the National Security Council later on Tuesday.
Raab is travelling to Brussels for talks with his European counterparts on the situation.The United Nations The US has denied a visa to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that would have allowed him to attend a long-planned United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday.Under the 1947 UN “headquarters agreement”, the US is generally required to allow access to the United Nations for foreign diplomats but Washington says it can deny visas for “security, terrorism and foreign policy” reasons.
The Security Council meeting would have given Zarif a global spotlight to publicly criticise the United States for killing Soleimani.The situation in IraqThe strike that killed Soleimani was conducted in Iraq where the US continues to have a large military presence.
Iraq has urged the UN Security Council to condemn the air strike as a “flagrant violation” of the terms of the American forces’ presence in the country and the Iraqi parliament voted over the weekend to force them to leave.
Senior Pentagon leaders were forced to reaffirm the US has no plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, when a draft letter from a senior military officer surfaced that appeared to suggest plans for withdrawal were under way.Deadly stampedeForty were killed and hundreds injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession for Soleimani in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday.The big winnersThe threats of retaliation coming out of the US and Iran over the last 24 hours were enough to spook markets into taking a knock by closing time on Monday, but there were some beneficiaries of the chaos.
Shares in oil and defence companies enjoyed a healthy boost on the uncertainty with oil firm BP up 10.05p at 504.1p, BAE Systems up 7.8p at 588.6p, and energy services company John Wood Group up 14.8p at 407.9p.Related... Cultural Sites Should Never Become Targets. Trump Should Know Better After The Iraq War '32 Dead After Stampede Breaks Out' At Funeral Of Qassem Soleimani – Iran State TV
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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