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Jeremy Hunt urges Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe



Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

As Jeremy Hunt prepared to visit Iran for the first time, he warned the country against using innocent dual-national Britons as political prisoners.

The foreign secretary visited Iran on Monday to make a personal appeal for the immediate release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen. In April 2016, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested while she and her then four-year old daughter Gabriella were about to board a flight from Iran to the UK. Hunt asked Iran not to use Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual nationals for diplomatic leverage.

She was found guilty of spying and was awarded a five-year jail sentence. Ever since, she has denied the allegations. She was granted a three-day release from the jail in August and her appeal for extension was rejected. She suffered from a severe panic attack after returning to the prison. It was then that her family decided not to ask for anymore temporary releases because of the trauma she has to go through.

Prior to meeting Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, Hunt said, “More than anything, we must see those innocent British-Iranian dual-nationals imprisoned in Iran returned to their families in Britain. I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage.”

Hunt has promised Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe that he will do his best to for her release.

Hunt is also the first foreign minister of a Western country to visit Iran after the US imposed sanctions on Tehran. He is stressed on the UK-Iran relations amid the nuclear deal. The UK will remain committed to the nuclear deal, should Iran stays focused on its terms. He also discussed the efforts from Europe to keep the nuclear-related sanctions relief going.

“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearized Iran. It needs 100% compliance, though, to survive. We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does,” Hunt said.

The foreign secretary raised dire concerns over the UN’s report on Yemen that Iran has supplied weapons of mass destruction to Houthis in violation of security council resolutions.

On Monday, while taking a tour around the Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, Hunt said, “This is part of the world that is quite frankly a tinderbox. We want to move to peace in Yemen – that is our number one priority at the moment. We also have the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual nationals who are in prison who should not be. We want to get them home, so all these things have to be discussed.”


Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70



Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70

Renowned Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda, who spent his life running cars in speed, lost the race of life, on Monday. The racer survived 9 months after a lung transplant in August, and “passed away peacefully” at the age of 70, as confirmed by his family.

Born in Vienna in February 1949, the legendary Austrian was a motor racing legend. His most remarkable time goes back to when he took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and for McLaren in 1984.

Ferrari’s Formula 1 team said he would “remain forever in our hearts”.

People also remember Niki Lauda as the man who cheated death. A year after winning his first title, he suffered three-degree burns to his head and faced after a crash in the German Grand Prix on August 1, 1976. Inhaling the toxic gases after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring, the motor racer damaged his lungs.

His recovery from after the accident was miraculous, as the doctors had given him the last rites in hospital. Being the legend and a passionate racer, he returned to racing in just 40 days, still bandaged covering the burns on his face.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said, “We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1.”

Niki Lauda became known to the new generation of fans in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which set forth his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

After a legendary journey in motor racing and retirement, he became a successful entrepreneur in the business of airlines. Most recently, he became a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team.

Mercedes stated that the passing of their “irreplaceable” chairman “leaves a void in Formula 1”.

His family’s statement stated, “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straight forwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us.”

His ill health followed him into his years later, where he spent several years fighting for life. Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from his previous relationships.

The legend will forever be remembered by numerous people of mixed generations for his racing skills both on track and in life.

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Chelsea Manning: “Won’t Answer Subpoena”



Chelsea Manning

Former US Army Intelligence Analyst, Chelsea Manning, also known as Bradley Manning was released on Thursday from a prison in Northern Virginia. She served in the US army as Bradley Manning, and was seen in the news after she disclosed thousands of diplomatic and military secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She experienced imprisonment of 62 days on accusations of civil contempt as she denied to testify to a grand jury. Manning was released because the term of her Grand Jury ended, although her lawyers worried that she could be imprisoned again.

During her first interview with the media, after serving jail time, Chelsea Manning denied to accept another subpoena or to answer the questions of a new grand jury on May 16. Considering that she will not testify and will stick to her principles, her lawyers have asked the court to not sentence her again.

She was arrested and charged with imprisonment of 35 years in the military prison, after leaking diplomatic and military secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010. However, the former US president Barack Obama modified her sentence, after she completed seven years of her total term in 2017.

During her interview with Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources”, Manning said, “I think that we have a much stronger case in terms of like the legal objections, which the previous judge didn’t — refused to even hear. He refused to even hear or act on the motions. He just simply placed me in contempt and ignored our motions.”

“I think that the Eastern District of Virginia is now turned into a rubber stamp for all these different prosecutions. I think that ultimately what they really want is they want to go after journalists.”

“This administration clearly wants to go after journalists,” she added.
Earlier, US Prosecutors revealed that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks was charged discreetly by the US grand jury in March 2018 on the accusations of plotting with Manning to bypass the military computer system.

Comments of Chelsea Manning come into light during the argument, if the accusations of US prosecutors on Assange can be considered as an assault on the freedom of press.

After denying to testify in front of a new grand jury, it might be possible that Chelsea Manning will be arrested soon enough. Also, after her sparking interview with Stelter, it might be possible that her message against the Trump administration reaches many people and they might come in her support, avoiding further assault on the Freedom of Press.

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Is Saudi Using the “Sabotage Attack” as a Defense Strategy or Tool?



Attack on Two Saudi Oil Tankers: A Strategy in Disguise

Two vessels of Saudi Arabia, which were on their way to cross into the Arabian Gulf, have become a victim to “a sabotage attack” in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Sunday. However, the Kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih confirmed the news on Monday, stating that two of their oil tankers were damaged in attacks that wrecked the vessels off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah.

As per the reports, one of the two tankers was on the move to get loaded with Saudi crude oil at the port of Ras Tanura. Besides, it was to be delivered to the state-owned oil beneficiary Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States.

The attack came amidst the soaring tensions at the Persian Gulf, due to the US-Iran rift. Although the tankers were not identified, the blame has shifted slightly towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the US and its Arab rival are tangled in a conflict, chances of attacks are also high.

Considering that, the Trump administration deployed warships and bombers at the Persian Gulf.

While the relations between the Kingdom and Iran are similar, the attack on Saudi’s oil tankers is also being associated to Tehran.

On the other hand, the Foreign Ministry of Iran called for clarification on the incident and to Saudi’s claim that its vessels were targeted in a “sabotage attack”. On Monday, the Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that more details should be provided about what exactly happened, as he expressed his concerns over the matter.

Moreover, state-run IRNA news agency also quoted Mousavi as cautioning against any “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners” to undermine the region’s stability and security.

As per the statement of Saudi’s Energy Minister Falih, there were no casualties or oil spill, but it did cause a significant damage to the structures to the two vessels. Besides, no details on the nature of the sabotage were provided.

On one hand the Kingdom has no specific details on the so-called “sabotage attack” on its oil tankers, and on the other it is subtly targeting its long-time enemy, Iran, by putting the blame of unproven attacks on it.

As the story draws, it could be perceived that Saudi Arabia is trying to assist its western ally, the United States, by bring its rival in the picture without any proves. Moreover, the Kingdom could possibly be using the “two vessels” loading oil to bury down the story of the vessel spotted at the French coast to load weapons, which were supposed to be deployed in Yemen war.

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1 killed and 8 injured after two students opened fire in Colorado School



Colorado school shooting

Two high school students opened vacuous firing at students of a Colorado community school, killing at least one and injuring eight others.

According to the Douglas County sheriff officials, the 18-year-old Devon Erickson and a juvenile student rushed into the classrooms of STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on Tuesday afternoon, causing havoc in the corridors.

Within a few minutes, the suspects were engaged and taken into custody by the Douglas County sheriff officials.

Eight victims, of age 15 and older, received treatment at local hospitals, including two who were in critical condition. At least four other victims were released the same day. No employees or teachers were injured in the shooting, authorities have confirmed.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock said that the motive behind shooting was unclear, and the officials have not received any information about someone being particularly targeted by the juvenile shooters.

The FBI and Denver’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were rendering assistance in the investigation.

In an official statement, the White House said that the tragic incident was reported back to President Donald Trump, and he is monitoring the situation.

“Tragically, this community and those surrounding it know all too well these hateful and horrible acts of violence,” Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, said. “We offer our full support to local law enforcement and first responders and thank them for their heroism.”

The STEM School and other nearby schools were completely evacuated and locked-down for many hours, as stated by the Douglas County School District.

Over 1,850 students in elementary, middle, and high school have been enrolled in STEM School, according to its website.

STEM School is situated close to the Columbine High School, where 13 people were shot dead by two students on April 20, 1999. The incident was so far the worst in US’s history.

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41 killed as Russian aircraft crash-lands in Moscow



Moscow Aeroflot crash landing

On Sunday, a Russian passenger plane, Aeroflot, crash-landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, killing at least 41 people, including two children. The plane belched out black flames right after a turbulent touch-down. After the Aeroflot flight SU 1492 halted, passengers were evacuated with the help of emergency slides on the forward doors.

According to the reports, the Aeroflot flight was scheduled to depart from Moscow for Murmansk, when an emergency in the cockpit forced it to get back. As per a Russian news agency, the pilot was losing contact due to a lightning strike.

As determined by the data from flight tracker Flightradar24, the aircraft took off at 6 pm local time, and within 30 minutes the alarm was raised.

The accident was captured in a video in which the speedy plane can be seen approaching the runway before colliding with the ground, and bouncing back before touching down on runway again and catching fire.

There were 73 passengers and five crew members on board, out of which only 37 people could survive. Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee informed that five of the survivors are currently receiving treatment in hospital.

The Russian jet manufacturers

Sukhoi, a division of the United Aircraft Corporation, has a niche in manufacturing military and fighter jets. Its passenger aircraft, the Sukhoi Superjet 100, operated by Russia’s Aeroflot Airlines had to cancel its flight to Astrakhan, Russia, and come back to Moscow due to some issues with the undercarriage.

In 2018, another case was recorded of an Aeroflot-operated Superjet 100 plane where the defect had to be fixed in Minsk. Surprisingly, the aircraft model obtained the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate in 2012, along with other safety certificates from several aviation authorities.

The investigation for Aeroflot flight SU 1492 crash is underway, and Russia’s Investigative Committee is yet to provide an official cause for the accident.

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