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Iran Shoots Down Ukraine Boeing 737 « Getting at the truth

Escape from Paradise, – Now being made into a movie!


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The book’s sensational reviews!

It took me two and a half evenings to complete your un-put-downable book…it is a unique contribution to the appreciation of a life in Singapore. Thank you for having written it. C. V. Devan Nair, former President of Singapore.

Bought the book from Select this weekend and can’t put it down! It’s a great read! And so nostalgic for me—the good old days! Glen Goei, writer and director of the Miramax film That’s the Way I Like It and who played the title role opposite Anthony Hopkins in the London production of M. Butterfly. Mr. Goei’s latest film is The Blue Mansion – Click for the trailer!

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ThunderBall Films is successfully putting together the movie production of Escape from Paradise and has received a new LOI (Letter of Intent) from actress Bai Ling who starred with Richard Gere in the film Red Cross.

This includes a commitment from a CPA firm who does tax credit financing in Ireland, a possible location to film, as part of the package needed for investors – along with the CPA firm’s commitment to apply for and finance the tax credits if ThunderBall does shoot in Ireland and what portion of the budget they would provide.
For inquiries, please contact John Harding at jbharding@gmail.com.

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Iran Shoots Down Ukraine Boeing 737

The US increasingly believes that Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday, according to multiple US officials. The working theory is based on continuing analysis of data from satellites, radar and electronic data collected routinely by US military and intelligence.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he suspected the crash was not due to mechanical issues, indicating that “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.” Asked during a White House event what he thought happened to the plane, Trump said, “Well, I have my suspicions.”

European security officials believe reports suggesting that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile in error are credible.

The timing of the crash has fueled speculation about its cause, coming just hours after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops in retaliation for the killing of its top general, also in Iraq. The exchange of attacks between Tehran and Washington on Iraqi soil was a dramatic escalation of tensions between the adversaries, and is raising fears of another proxy war in the Middle East.

The head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority is questioning the US allegation. Speaking to CNN, Ali Abedzadeh said, “If a rocket or missile hits a plane, it will free fall.”

“I don’t want to say that because other people have their suspicions,” Trump said, but added, “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side … not our system. It has nothing to do with us.” “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood. They could’ve made a mistake. Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question.”

Asked if he thought it was downed by accident, Trump said, “I don’t know. I really don’t know … that’s up to them. At some point they’ll release the black box.”

“Ideally they’d give it to Boeing,” he said, but said giving it to France or “some other country” would be fine, too.
“Something very terrible happened, very devastating,” he concluded.

One possibility being considered is that an Iranian missile unit saw something on their radar, thought they were under attack and fired.

The Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 came down just minutes after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday local time, killing all 176 people on board, including dozens of Iranians and Canadians. The Boeing 737-800 was headed for Kiev, where 138 passengers were expected to take a connecting flight to Canada. Ukrainians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans and British nationals were also aboard.

Investigation underway!

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization head, Ali Abedzadeh, said it would not hand the flight data recorders to Boeing or the United States after they were found on Wednesday.
One of the officials said the US is working closely with the Canadians on the intelligence.

Ukrainian officials on Thursday were considering terrorism, a missile strike and catastrophic engine failure as potential causes for the crash, as aviation authorities in Tehran said the jetliner was on fire before it came down.

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, said a meeting was taking place with Iranian authorities, where various causes behind the crash were “being studied,” including a theory that the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile, according to a statement on Facebook.

Conflicting claims about potential causes for the disaster began hours after the crash, when Iranian state media blamed technical issues and Ukraine ruled out rocket attacks. Within hours on Wednesday, officials in both countries had walked back those initial statements.

An initial report by the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization on the crash cites witnesses as saying the airliner was on fire while in the air and changed directions after a problem, turning back toward the airport. People on other aircraft at higher altitudes also saw the flames, Iranian officials say. Images of the wreckage show the plane torn to piece, its parts charred and strewn across a field.

This story is breaking and will be updated on this site.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s acknowledgement that it shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people, raises new challenges for the Islamic Republic both externally amid tensions with the U.S. and internally as it deals with growing discontent from its people.

The country demonstrated its incompetence and dishonesty by having its air-crash investigators, government officials and diplomats deny for days that a missile downed the flight, though a commander said Saturday that he had raised that possibility to his superiors as early as Wednesday, the day of the crash.

While its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard took responsibility, the same commander claimed it warned Tehran to close off its airspace amid fears of U.S. retaliation over Iran launching ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces. That retaliation never came, but the worries proved to be enough to allegedly scare a missile battery into opening fire on the Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines.

Wider tensions between Iran and the U.S., inflamed after Iran’s top general was killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike Jan. 3, have for the moment calmed. However, President Donald Trump vowed to impose new sanctions on Tehran and on Friday, his administration targeted Iran’s metals industry, a major employer. Meanwhile, thousands of additional U.S. forces remain in the Mideast atop of the network of American bases surrounding Iran, despite Tehran’s demands the U.S. leave the region.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cast doubt on Iran’s claim that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner on Wednesday.

DUBAI, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Iran’s religious rulers risk a legitimacy crisis as popular anger has boiled up at the way the state handled a passenger plane crash, which the military took three days to admit was caused by an Iranian missile fired in error.

Amid mounting public fury and international criticism, the belated admission of blame by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has squandered the national unity seen after the killing of the country’s most influential commander in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3.

Huge crowds had turned out on the streets of Iranian cities to mourn Soleimani’s death, chanting “Death to America”.

But since the Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed on Wednesday – an incident Canada and the United States said early on was due to an Iranian missile albeit fired by mistake – social media has been ablaze with criticism of the establishment. All 176 people on board the plane, en route from Tehran to Kiev, were killed.

That mood bodes ill for a parliamentary election in February, when Iran’s primitive religious rulers typically seek a high turnout to show their legitimacy even though the outcome will not change any major policy.

But instead they are now hearing more rumblings of discontent, after anti-government protests in November in which hundreds of people died.

“It is a very sensitive time for the establishment. They face a serious credibility problem. Not only did they conceal the truth, they also mismanaged the situation,” said a senior former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran’s backward clerics have swept aside challenges to their grip on power. But the kind of distrust between the rulers and the ruled that erupted in protests last year may now have deepened.

‘DEATH TO THE DICTATOR’

Video clips on Twitter showed protesters in Tehran on Saturday chanting “Death to the dictator,” a reference to Shia Religious Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Reuters could not independently verify the footage. It followed a welter of criticism in Iran.

Iran’s state news agency confirmed the protests.

The Guards issued an apology for shooting down the plane, saying air defenses were fired in error during a state of high alert. Iran had expected U.S reprisals after it retaliated for Soleimani’s killing by firing missiles at Iraqi bases where U.S. troops were stationed.

Iran’s supreme leader aging Shia Khamenei, may now find Iranians are not so keen to show their support.

BEDROCK SUPPORT

The dated clerical system in Iran has survived challenges in the pasts.

But Khamenei’s  support, the ignorant and religious poor and lower middle classes were among the first on the street in November in protests sparked by a hike in gasoline prices – a particularly sensitive issue where many rely on cheap fuel.

Protesters’ demands swiftly turned more political, including calls for their rulers to go, before authorities cracked down.

Social media was flooded with angry comments from Iranians, many complaining that the authorities had spent more time denying they were to blame for the plane crash than sympathising with victims’ families.

Alongside the parliamentary vote, the elections on Feb. 21 will also choose members of the Assembly of Experts, an out-of-touch Islamic clerical body that in future will be responsible for selecting a successor to 80-year-old doddering Khamenei.

Khamenei, who has no term limit, has been in office since the death in 1989 of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Islamic Shia fanatic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Trump Fights with Sanctions, not with Arms

The Trump administration warned Iraq that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American.

The U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York!

Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a huge cash problem in Iraq’s financial system. It is surprising that this hasn’t been done already. Why does America allow foreigners to use our banks.

Iraqi Parliament Votes to Expel U.S. Troops

Nevertheless. Abdul-Mahdi moved ahead with those plans this week, requesting the U.S. agree to talks to plan the safe withdrawal of American troops, according to an Iraqi description of a Thursday call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Why don’t we shut down our banks to Iran and pull out the troops.?

The warning regarding the Iraqi central bank account was conveyed to Iraq’s prime minister in a call on Wednesday, according to an official in his office, that also touched on the overall military, political and financial partnership between the two countries.

Spokesmen for the Iraqi prime minister, its central bank and its embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for comment. The U.S. State and Treasury Departments and the Federal Reserve Board declined to comment.

The Federal Reserve Bank in New York, which can freeze accounts under U.S. sanctions law or if it has reasonable suspicion the funds could violate U.S. law, said it doesn’t comment on specific account holders.

Mr. Abdul-Mahdi has said the departure of U.S. troops is the only way to avoid conflict in Iraq because the U.S. doesn’t trust the country’s security forces to protect its troops.

But there are questions over his authority to evict them, given his status as a caretaker prime minister. Among other potential obstacles are Kurdish and most Sunni leaders, who boycotted the session at which parliamentarians voted on the troop expulsion. The vote is the result of have the Iran-following Shia’s in the Iraqi government.

During the parliamentary debate, the speaker, a Sunni, urged Shiite lawmakers to be mindful of the potential backlash: “One of the steps the international community could take is to stop financial transactions with Iraq, and we would be unable to fulfill our commitments to our citizens at any moment,” Mohammed al-Halboosi said, based on a video of the proceedings.

The financial threat isn’t theoretical: The country’s financial system was squeezed in 2015 when the U.S. suspended access for several weeks to the central bank’s account at the New York Fed over concerns the cash was filtering through a loosely regulated market into Iranian banks and to the Islamic State extremist group.
Al Asad air base in Iraq, housing U.S. troops, was targeted Tuesday by missiles fired from Iran, the Pentagon said. Photo: Nasser Nasser/Associated Press

“The U.S. Fed basically has a stranglehold on the entire [Iraqi] economy,” said Shwan Taha, chairman of Iraqi investment bank Rabee Securities.

The prospect of sanctions has unsettled ordinary Iraqis, for whom memories of living under a United Nations embargo during the 1990s are still fresh. Pro-Iranian and other Shiite factions leading the charge to oust U.S. forces from Iraq have sought to reassure the public by telling them Iraq could pivot to China.

An adviser to the prime minister, Abd al-Hassanein al-Hanein, said that while the threat of sanctions was a concern, he did not expect the U.S. to go through with it. “If the U.S. does that, it will lose Iraq forever,” he said.

Besides the financial impact, many politicians, including some Shiites, worry that a U.S. withdrawal would allow Islamic State to re-emerge as a major threat. They also view the U.S. as a necessary counterweight to Iran, which has tightened its grip on the Iraqi government during Mr. Abdul-Mahdi’s premiership.

The U.S. is concerned that an exodus of American forces could allow U.S. currency to be redirected to Iranian accounts and to other adversaries, according to people familiar with the matter.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi asked the U.S. to send representatives to put in place a mechanism for the withdrawal of troops from the country. Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/Associated Press

The Trump administration’s sanctions campaign against Iran has squeezed the flow of U.S. dollars to the government in Tehran over the past year. The American dollar, the most traded currency in the world, is used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to pay its foreign proxies fighting against the U.S. and its allies in the region, including in Iraq, U.S. officials say.

Iranian-owned or controlled foreign exchange houses and banks in Iraq have been an important source of funding for Iran and its proxies active in the country, including those fighting against U.S. forces, U.S. officials say.

The New York Fed provides banking and other financial services for around 250 central banks, governments and other foreign official institutions, such as the account owned by Bangladesh from which North Korean agents were able to steal $81 million in 2016, U.S. officials have said.

When Iraq needs hard currency, its central bank can request a shipment of bills that it then distributes into the financial system through banks and currency exchange houses. While the country’s official currency is the dinar, U.S. dollars are commonly used.

The New York Fed doesn’t publicly disclose how much money it currently holds for Iraq’s central bank. But according to the Central Bank of Iraq’s most recent financial statement, at the end of 2018, the Fed held nearly $3 billion in overnight deposits. Shame on us for letting this happen!

Iran’s sole female Olympic medalist says she’s defected

Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, of Iran, celebrates after winning a bronze medal in women’s 57-kg taekwondo competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016.

Kimia Alizadeh, has announced that she’s permanently left her country for Europe.

“Let me start with a greeting, a farewell or condolences,” the 21-year-old wrote in an Instagram post explaining why she was defecting. “I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who they have been playing with for years.”

“They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me,” she wrote, adding that credit for her success always went to those in charge.

“I wasn’t important to them. None of us mattered to them, we were tools,” Alizadeh added, explaining that while the regime celebrated her medals, it criticized the sport she had chosen: “The virtue of a woman is not to stretch her legs!”
Reports of her defection first surfaced Thursday, with some Iranians suggesting she had left for the Netherlands. It was unclear from her post to what country Alizadeh had gone.

Iran arrests UK ambassador

Rob Macaire, who has been Britain’s envoy to the Islamic republic since March 2018, was arrested as he stopped at a barber shop for a haircut after attending a vigil for the victims of a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed in Tehran last week, the BBC reported.

Macaire left the vigil after it became a demonstration but was later accused by Iranian authorities of helping to incite the anti-government protest.

He was released after three hours but the arrest infuriated the British government.

“The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

“The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”

In a Twitter message, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus called Macaire’s arrest a violation of the Vienna Convention, which she said the Iranian regime “has a notorious history of violating.”

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