World News Briefs For Thursday, 9 Jan 2020
Hello Australia!! - The US and Iran back away from the abyss, but did they ever want to go there to start with? - Iran stonewalls a deadly plane crash investigation - The Queen is quite cross over Prince Harry's and Meghan's new plans - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
Tehran is under growing international pressure to explain the crash of a Ukrainian passenger jet with 176 people on board, which happened just after take off and during its missile attack on two US air bases. A state-run Iranian media outlet released video purporting to show Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 rapidly descending in flames, followed by a small explosion, and then a large blast upon impact at Khalaj Abad. Tehran says the Boeing 737-800 - not the MAX 8 model that had been grounded because of two deadly crashes, but the earlier, workhorse model used around the world - experienced engine failure. But the government is also refusing to release the recovered "black box" flight data and cockpit voice recorders to Boeing or to US or international aviation investigators.
So, did Iran accidentally shoot down a passenger plane? A lot of countries want to know: Ukraine's foreign minister said 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, and 11 Ukrainians were on board the plane that was en route from Tehran to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "deepest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones in this tragedy". The crash is one of the worst aviation disasters involving Canadians.
If Iran did accidentally shoot down the plane, it would have been one of the only one of its missiles that hit its mark. Iran appeared to have launched up to 16 missiles at the US military targets yesterday, four of which crashed long before reaching the Al-Assad air base west of Baghdad or the Erbil base in the semi-autonomous Kurdish north. The US and Iraq says no personnel were hurt, and the US released satellite photos showing missile damage to some very small and unimportant-looking outbuildings at the bases, as if the Iranian missiles bypassed the barracks and hangars and went right for the tool shed.
And after it was all over, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif put out a tweet saying Iran had "concluded" its revenge for the US airstrike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani a week earlier. Hours after that, Donald Trump announced that the US wouldn't respond to the Iranian missile attack, and told a bunch of lies during the announcement. And the world sat back and asked, "WTH just went on for the last week?"
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with the surprise announcement that they "intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent", and will spend much of their time in North America from now on. This follows what many consider to be a stunning amount of racism from the British tabloids and a lack of support from the Royal family. BBC royal reporter Jonny Dymond says "no other member of the royal family was consulted" before the Sussexes released their personal statement, and the Queen was not pleased. Buckingham Palace responded as if the matter was not settled: "Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through".
Hundreds of thousands of unionized workers and students took to the streets of cities across India for a strike to demand a rise in the minimum wage and to protest the privatization of natural resources. Many students are also boycotting classes in solidarity with violent attacks on students at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, who blamed the attack on a right-wing student group linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.
With a terse, two-sentence letter, Argentina's new Leftist government of President Alberto Fernandez yanked the credentials from the Venezuelan ambassador of US-backed opposition figure and self-appointed "president" Juan Guaido. This is a complete reversal of former right-wing President Mauricio Macri's policy of ignoring the democratically-elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Macri had only recognized the opposition's "ambassador" Elisa Trotta Gamus last year, during the failed attempt to overthrow Maduro.