January 10, 2020
It is “highly likely” the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed near Tehran killing all 176 people on board was shot down by a missile, Western leaders have declared, pointing the finger of blame at Iran.
What We Know About The Iran Plane Crash And The New Video
US president Donald Trump framed the tragedy as a mistake but dismissed Iran’s initial claim that it was a mechanical issue with the plane.
“Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.” he said, noting the plane was flying in a “pretty rough neighbourhood”.
Here’s everything we know so far...The accusationCiting multiple sources, the leaders of the UK, US, Canada and Australia have said evidence suggests it was an Iranian surface-to-air missile that brought down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 on Wednesday just outside Tehran.
Boris Johnson said there was now a “body of information” to support the claim but did not offer specifics but details of the US evidence have emerged.
Reuters reports that data showed the plane was airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected.That was quickly followed by an explosion in the vicinity of the plane, a US official told the news agency. Heat signature data then showed it on fire as it went down. Heat signatures are infrared emissions detected by US military satellites.
There is no evidence as yet to suggest it was intentional. The airliner could have been mistaken for a threat, said four US officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
Iranian air defences would have been on high alert at the time – just hours after it launched missiles at two US bases in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani.
In social media posts, ordinary Iranians voiced anger at their authorities for not closing the airport after Iran’s missile launches, Reuters reports. Scores of those on board were Iranians with dual nationality.The new videoOn Thursday, a video surfaced on social media that appears to show a missile-like object exploding in the skies over Tehran. 
The location at which the footage was filmed has been verified by investigative site Bellingcat and The New York Times, and shows a fast-moving object rising before a fiery explosion.
An object, apparently on fire, then continues in a different direction.We are analyzing this new video supposedly showing a mid-air explosion. By our initial estimation, the video shows an apartment block in western Parand (35.489414, 50.906917), facing northeast. This perspective is directed approximately towards the known trajectory of #PS752. pic.twitter.com/nDvjRIkFU4— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) January 9, 2020The missileThe weapon at the centre of the accusation is the Tor, also called the SA-15 Gauntlet by Nato. It is a short-range “point defence” system that integrates the missile launcher and radar into a single tracked vehicle.
To attack a target, the Tor operator must identify it on the radar screen and direct the missile to launch.A former European air defence officer, who now works on missile defence technology, said that ideally, flight plans and transponder codes of all scheduled civilian flights would be shared with military units stationed near an airport.
“Shooting down a hostile aircraft is easy,” the officer, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters.
“It’s identifying the aircraft and not shooting down friendlies that are the challenges.”The denialIran has flatly denied that the plane was hit by a missile and has called the latest reports “psychological warfare” against the country.
An initial report issued by Iran’s civil aviation organisation on Thursday said the three-year-old airliner, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after takeoff.It said the plane’s pilots did not make a radio call for help and that the aircraft was trying to turn back for the airport when it went down.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a statement: “All those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box.”The victimsOn Thursday Boris Johnson confirmed four Britons died in the plane crash, up from the earlier reports of three.
The three known British victims included engineer Sam Zokaei, from Surrey, Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi, from west London, and Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, from near Brighton.
In total 176 people were killed when the plane crashed moments after it left Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran at 6.10am local time (2.40am GMT) on Wednesday, bound for the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Canadians held candlelit vigils in several cities on Thursday to remember 63 citizens killed in the crash, which Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau called a “tragedy that shocked the world”.The investigationThe US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted an invitation from Iran to take part in its investigation into the crash.
The NTSB confirmed it would take part in the probe after an Iranian official told Reuters of the agreement.
Canada, which had dozens of passengers onboard, has also assigned an expert, while a team from Ukraine held discussions in Tehran on Thursday.But the prospects of a thorough investigation were dealt a blow when images of bulldozers clearing the crash site emerged in Iranian TV.CBS crew just visited the #Ukrainian airlines crash site west of Tehran. Nine am local time. Virtually all pieces of the plane were removed yesterday - say locals. Scavengers now picking site clean. No security. Not cordoned off. No sign of any investigators. pic.twitter.com/hhNJyokhjq— Elizabeth Palmer (@elizapalmer) January 10, 2020The prospect of warIt was not immediately clear how the US and its allies would react although the leaders of those countries have all been keen to stress the tragedy was likely accidental.
Despite efforts by Washington and Tehran to step back from the brink of possible war, the region remained on edge after the killing of Gen Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes. US troops were on high-alert.
Late on Thursday, the US House approved a measure that aims to bar any further military action against Iran without congressional approval. However, the resolution approved by the Democratic-majority House is nonbinding and no similar measure could pass the Republican-controlled Senate.Related... PM Says ‘Body Of Information’ Indicates Iran Missile Shot Down Ukrainian Plane Ukraine Investigators 'Want to Search Iran Plane Crash Site For Missile Debris' US And Iran Relations Have Been Tense For Decades. Here’s Why
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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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