Iran has nearly fulfilled its promise, attempting to seize a UK oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had made threats towards the UK, saying there would be “consequences” for their seizing of an Iranian oil tanker last week. Five gunboats attempted to make good on that promise only hours later, reports Reuters.
“I remind this to the Britons,” Rouhani said during a government meeting. “You are the ones initiating insecurity, and will come to realize its consequences in the future.”
According to Fox News, “Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defence official told Fox News.”
It appears the British warship had been anticipating such a development, as it trailed along only 5 miles behind the tanker and was able to quickly react to the presence of the Iranian gunboats. No shots were fired during the conflict.
Navy Captain Bill Urban said that the US was also aware of the incident, adding “Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity.”
As UPI reports, “The attempted seizure Wednesday is the latest conflict to occur in the Persian Gulf following attacks on several tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, where some 20 percent of the world’s oil transits, in the past two months.”
The failed commandeering of the UK vessel comes as retaliation for a similar action against Iran last week. Last Thursday, an Iranian oil tanker bound for Syria was seized by the British Royal Marines for violating EU sanctions. It was then impounded in British territory in Spain.
“Panama’s Maritime Authority said on Thursday that Grace 1 was no longer listed in Panama’s international boat registry as of May 29”, CBC reports; thus, making its travel route illegal as per EU’s maritime sanctions.
However, given current tensions between Iran and the US, the decision to seize Iranian oil can be viewed as a bold if not radical move, one that obviously seems to have escalated foreign relations between the two countries.
Furthermore, “Spain’s acting foreign minister said the seizure of the ship – Grace 1 – was at the US’s request,” the BBC reports, not at the request of the EU, regardless of what sanctions exist.
The decision last week represented a big change in relations between the EU and Iran. As Reuters points out, “While the European Union has banned oil shipments to war-torn Syria, a close ally of Iran, since 2011, it had never seized a tanker at sea. Unlike the United States, Europe does not have broad sanctions against Iran”.
The decision to seize the tanker immediately sparked outrage in Tehran, prompting an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman to call the seizure a “form of piracy.”
“Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to voice “its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure” of its ship,” CBC reports. “The diplomatic gesture lifted any doubt over Iran’s ownership of the vessel, which flies a Panama flag and is listed as managed by a company in Singapore.”
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs John Bolton, who has been pushing for escalation and conflict to emerge between the US and Iran, took to twitter to celebrate the seizure:
Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.
Conversely, many anti-war activists and commentators condemned the UK’s decision, agreeing with the Iran Foreign Ministry’s “piracy” claim.
All of these recent developments come in the wake of American concerns over Iranian nuclear capabilities. When Trump decided to abort the possible airstrikes on Iran following Iran’s decision to take down an American drone, Trump pursued an economic route of retaliation instead, targeting Iranian trade, much of which involves oil, to pressure Iran to accept increased nuclear sanctions.
While this decision has had an immediate economic effect, it has not deterred Iran from pursuing its own interests.
“Iran has said it wants to keep the nuclear deal alive but cannot do so indefinitely unless it receives some of the promised economic benefits. In the past week, it announced it had accumulated more low-enriched uranium than allowed under the deal and says it will refine uranium to a greater purity than the deal allows from July 7,” CBC reports.
In response to the UK’s seizure, Iran threatened to seize an oil tanker of its own, promising a tit-for-tat relationship amidst rising tensions. “Iran should seize a British oil tanker if an Iranian tanker detained off Gibraltar earlier this week is not released immediately, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said in a tweet last Friday,” Reuters reports.
Given the current state of affairs, it looks like tensions between Iran and Western countries will continue to escalate as more complications emerge out of tit-for-tat politics. Clearly, Iran will not back down on its promises, and neither will Western countries.
Bombardier has lost US$1.6 billion according to a report of 2019. The Quebec-based aerospace company announced on Thursday that it will be leaving the commercial aviation business.
This comes after years of government subsidies in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the blocking of disclosure of how much they’re actually receiving in taxpayer money, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
Bombardier is attempting to pay back a multi-billion dollar debt by reorganizing its business. One such change was to sell its remaining stake in the A220 program (formally known as the C series) to Airbus. The commercial jet program is now 75 percent owned by Airbus with the Quebec owning the other 25 percent, although they won’t be putting any new money into the program, according to CBC.
Airbus will pay $591 million to Bombardier to acquire the work package production capabilities for the A220 and A330 projects. This will relinquish Bombardier from having to make the $700 million investment into the commercial jet program.
Airbus claims the new deal will secure a total of 3,300 jobs in Quebec, including a three-year guarantee of employment for the 360 people who currently work at Bombardier’s plant in Ville Saint-Laurent. Those employees are responsible for constructing the plant’s cockpits and will be transferred to Mirabel, Quebec, after said time period.
Quebec’s $1.3 billion investment in the project back in 2016 wasn’t enough to save them, as planes sales were initially slow, forcing Bombardier to sell a controlling stake of the program to Airbus in 2018 for $1.
“They have cashed out of the C series,” analyst Alexander Robert Medd of Bucephalus Research said of the company, “and now it appears the train business is up for sale. Alstom may be the only bidder.”
French multinational rail transportation company, Alstom, announced they are preparing to make an offer to acquire Bombardier Transportation, which includes their business of making rail and subway cars according to French TV station BFM.
Alstom is rumoured to value the deal around $7.6 billion, however Alstom has yet to confirm this figure.
On Wednesday, Tomeka Hart revealed herself as the foreperson on the jury that was responsible for convicting Roger Stone—a former Trump adviser. Hart’s past was brought to attention when she revealed this information according to Fox News.
It was revealed by independent journalist Mike Cernovich that the former Memphis City School Board President has a history of Democratic activism and anti-Trump posts on social media. Hart is also a failed Democratic candidate.
Hart had actually made posts about Stone’s case on social media. She has called Trump and his supporters racists after showing her support for Robert Mueller’s investigation—the investigation that eventually ended up with the prosecution of Stone. Stone may face many years in prison.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Hart gave her appreciation for the prosecutors, “I have kept my silence for months. Initially, it was for my safety. Then, I decided to remain silent out of fear of politicizing the matter.”
“But I can’t keep quiet any longer. I want to stand up for Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis – the prosecutors on the Roger Stone trial.” All four have since withdrawn.
“It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice. For that, I wanted to speak up for them and ask you to join me in thanking them for their service,” said Hart.
OAN’s Jack Posobeic revealed Hart’s testimony in court as a prospective juror. Hart had stated that she had no recollection of Roger Stone, but in reality, she “mocked Roger Stone’s arrest.” As Posobeic notes, this possibly constitutes perjury.
There were other questionable jurors involved in the case such as Seth Cousins who was a donor to Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate.
When speaking of how the case was conducted, President Trump called it “ridiculous” and an “insult to our country.” A new trial could be a possibility for Stone’s team as new information arises. If Hart responded incorrectly to questions about her social media activity, it would help their case.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Hart “stands with the prosecutors.”
A supporter of Bernie Sanders has attempted to burn down a GOP office in Eureka , California, according to the local ABC affiliate.
The Bernie supporter was arrested on a series of charges. He served just one day in jail before he was released back into the public on bail.
On February 8, in the early hours of the morning, police officers responded to a call about a man smashing windows. When the police arrived, they found the man on the Boardwalk. After this, however, he quickly fled on his bicycle which was plastered in Bernie stickers.
The man also stole a “Trump” political flag after he illegally entered the building. After breaking in, the man also threw a liquid chemical that the police determined to be flammable.
The Bernie supporter was soon found by the police and send to jail in lieu of a $25,000 bail. The man has now been released and is back on the streets.
The number of coronavirus deaths has reached over 1,300 globally. Hubei stated on Thursday, that the province had a record spike in fatalities due to the epidemic, according to CNN.
On Thursday morning, 242 deaths along with 14,840 cases were announced by Hubei authorities. This is the largest jump the virus has caused in a single day with close to ten times as many cases recorded as the day before.
The spike was explained by the government as being caused by changes in the diagnosis of the virus. They noted that the total number of cases now involves “clinically diagnosed cases.” These are cases where the patients show coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms but have not yet been tested for the virus or died before being tested.
The number of patients that have been hospitalized in Hubei is now approximately 34,000, with around 1,400 of those patients in critical condition. It is reported that 3,441 patients have made a full recovery and been released from the hospital.
The virus has now infected over 60,000 people globally. Most of the cases have been reported in China—about 59,800 of them.
China’s National Health Commission has now reported the death toll in China at 1,367. There have only been two reported deaths outside of the country.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) officials, expanding the definition of what can be considered a case of the virus was an essential step.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the director of WHO’s Infection Hazards Management, Dr. Sylvie said, “When the situation is evolving, you change your definition just to make sure you can monitor the disease accurately, and this is what they have done recently — change the case definition to incorporate more cases that were not in the initial case definition, but also integrate cases that are both asymptomatic or with little symptom.”
The Government of Canada has reported 7 cases so far with three in Ontario and 4 in B.C.
In the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that their country “can and should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold.”
Health officials in the UK have also given warnings as a case was reported in London on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “This outbreak could still go in any direction. We have to invest in preparedness.”
Tedros also noted that the more well off countries should help countries with less advanced health care as an outbreak in those areas could “create havoc.”