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Stena Impero: How tensions reached this point and what happens next | World News

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Tensions between the UK and Iran show no sign of easing thanks to the latest drama in the Gulf, which saw a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Tehran as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz.

Prime Minister Theresa May will chair what should be her final Cobra emergency committee meeting to formulate a response, which could result in sanctions being issued.

Here is a timeline of how the situation unfolded.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas
Image:
Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the oil tanker off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas

Thursday

The Stena Impero, registered in the UK, was anchored at Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates.

It was reported to have left there at 12.20pm, bound for the Saudi Arabian industrial city of Jubail, with an expected arrival time of 1pm on Sunday.

The Stena Impero has been seized in the Strait of Hormuz
Image:
The Stena Impero has been seized in the Strait of Hormuz

Friday

The oil tanker, which has 23 crew from India, Latvia, Russia and the Philippines, was well on its way to its destination until its course shifted north towards the coast of Iran.

It had been passing westward through the Strait of Hormuz, and was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter at around 4pm UK time.

Some 40 minutes later, there was a similar course shift by the UK-operated, Liberian-flagged Mesdar.

That crew was allowed to continue their voyage a few hours later after the ship was boarded by armed guards.

The Stena Impero has been seen in satellite images. Pic: TankerTrackers
Image:
The Stena Impero has been seen in satellite images. Pic: TankerTrackers

Saturday

There was still no contact from the crew of the Stena Impero by the early hours of Saturday, but by sunrise it had emerged that the ship had been taken to the Bandar Abbas port in Iran.

Iranian agency Fars News said it had been involved in an accident with a fishing boat and failed to stop after a distress call was issued, but that version of events was dismissed by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He tweeted at 8am that Iran looked like it was choosing a “dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour”.



Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt MP has been in a Cobra meeting discussing what 'further measures' will be taken







Hunt tells Iran: ‘We need that tanker released’

The Iranian Guardian Council, a powerful constitutional watchdog, said the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker was in response to Britain seizing an Iranian tanker earlier this month.

Iran also released footage of the Stena Impero at Bandar Abbas, with all the crew said to be in “good health”.



Defence secretary Penny Mordaunt MP said the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker as a 'hostile and agressive act'







Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt: Seizure of tanker ‘is a hostile act’

Sunday

With the Stena Impero still being held, new audio was released of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Royal Navy both giving instructions to the ship before it was seized.

In the recording, an Iranian officer can be heard telling the vessel: “If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course to 360 degrees immediately, over.”









Tanker told: ‘If you obey, you will be safe’

Then a British officer from the HMS Montrose, patrolling the area, said: “This is British warship F236. I reiterate, that as you are conducting transit passage in a recognised international strait, under international law your passage must not be impaired, impeded, obstructed or hampered.

“Please confirm you are conducting transit passage in a recognised international strait.”

The Royal Navy later ask the Iranians: “Please confirm you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena.”

The Iranians then repeat their request for the tanker to turn around.









Armed Iranian troops storm British-flagged oil tanker

Monday

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee, where she will receive updates from officials and ministers – and discuss the maintenance of the security of shipping in the region.

It has been reported that consideration is being given to freezing Iranian assets.

Whatever is decided, the foreign secretary is expected to confirm details in an update to the Commons.

The ship's seizure has been seen as a major escalation. Pic: TankerTrackers
Image:
The ship’s seizure has been seen as a major escalation. Pic: TankerTrackers

What happens next?

Bob Seely MP from the foreign affairs committee said over the weekend that the situation constituted a “massive crisis” that was “going to get bigger”.

He said the “only long-term solution is an Iranian nuclear deal that gets the US back in it”, but that is an incredibly unlikely prospect as things stand.

Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed Iran for tensions in the Gulf and shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has warned the government not to be drawn into a potential conflict as the president’s “sidekick”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has also waded into the crisis by blaming the US, saying Washington wants to drag the UK “into a quagmire”.

The UK has said the seizure “constitutes illegal interference” but says it wants a diplomatic solution.

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Amazon wildfires: Full scale of rainforest devastation is impossible to tell | World News

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It was only after the wrath of world leaders was unleashed on Friday that the Brazilian president responded with meaningful action.

Initially, Jair Bolsonaro denied the very existence of the fires – and since then, Brazilians have listened to days of arguments about who had started them.

Now President Jair Bolsonaro has authorised the mobilisation of 43,000 troops to try and put them out.

An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019
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There have been tens of thousands of fires in the Amazon this year so far

Many of the military personnel are already based in the region, but all are now available for firefighting duties.

The emergency effort has been sanctioned for at least the next month. Six states – Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso have all asked for help.

Mr Bolsonaro is an outspoken right-wing leader who only assumed office in January. His style does win support with some, but he is also deeply unpopular with others.

This crisis means protests against him are growing. “We’re going back towards a military dictatorship,” one man told us as we filmed in Sao Paulo.

He may not admit it, but the president has been scorned by the accusation that he is to blame for the wildfires. Critics point to his environmental budget cuts and the way he has advocated “responsible exploitation” of the Amazon region.

The stern rebukes from European leaders and the withdrawal of funding by some countries from environmental projects in Brazil have prompted the military action.

Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on August 24, 2019
Image:
Maintaining the Amazon is vital for the world’s climate change goals

Mr Bolsonaro wants to be seen as taking charge of what he has described as “chaos”, but sending in Brazilian troops is only stage one.

Chile and Ecuador have pledged resources, US President Donald Trump has offered American support and the president’s ministers have said they are open to further international help.

It may well be needed: this is one of the hardest places on earth to fight wildfires – some of it is grassland, other parts remote dense rainforest where civilisation and the rule of law are often hundreds of miles away.

Right now, it is impossible to tell what will be lost in the time it takes to try and extinguish the flames. Indigenous people and a truly amazing diversity of wildlife and plants share this natural habitat.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts,Spotify,Spreaker

Environmentalists say the evidence shows this crisis is manmade – some fires may have been started accidentally but many will have been deliberately set. This is the dry season, fires do occur quite regularly.

Clearing land like this is illegal in Brazil, but it means opening up farmland that can then be exploited. The rainforest’s natural function of storing carbon and creating oxygen is a brilliant balancing act of nature – we all need to breathe – but it doesn’t make any money.

Regardless of the financial gains to be had through from clearing the rainforest, there is also a PR game at play here. One of his ministers said on Saturday: “President Bolsonaro’s concern is evident.”

It is certainly becoming more evident.

Nobody though wants to be the person who killed the rainforest. The president knows that and it’s one of the reasons why he’s acting.

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Amazon wildfires: Sending in the troops is only the first stage | World News

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It was only after the wrath of world leaders was unleashed on Friday that the Brazilian president responded with meaningful action.

Initially, Jair Bolsonaro denied the very existence of the fires – and since then, Brazilians have listened to days of arguments about who had started them.

Now President Jair Bolsonaro has authorised the mobilisation of 43,000 troops to try and put them out.

An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil August 24, 2019
Image:
There have been tens of thousands of fires in the Amazon this year so far

Many of the military personnel are already based in the region, but all are now available for firefighting duties.

The emergency effort has been sanctioned for at least the next month. Six states – Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso have all asked for help.

Mr Bolsonaro is an outspoken right-wing leader who only assumed office in January. His style does win support with some, but he is also deeply unpopular with others.

This crisis means protests against him are growing. “We’re going back towards a military dictatorship,” one man told us as we filmed in Sao Paulo.

He may not admit it, but the president has been scorned by the accusation that he is to blame for the wildfires. Critics point to his environmental budget cuts and the way he has advocated “responsible exploitation” of the Amazon region.

The stern rebukes from European leaders and the withdrawal of funding by some countries from environmental projects in Brazil have prompted the military action.

Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on August 24, 2019
Image:
Maintaining the Amazon is vital for the world’s climate change goals

Mr Bolsonaro wants to be seen as taking charge of what he has described as “chaos”, but sending in Brazilian troops is only stage one.

Chile and Ecuador have pledged resources, US President Donald Trump has offered American support and the president’s ministers have said they are open to further international help.

It may well be needed: this is one of the hardest places on earth to fight wildfires – remote dense rainforest where civilisation and the rule of law are often hundreds of miles away.

Right now, it is impossible to tell what will be lost in the time it takes to try and extinguish the flames. Indigenous people and a truly amazing diversity of wildlife and plants share this natural habitat.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts,Spotify,Spreaker

Environmentalists say the evidence shows this crisis is manmade – some fires may have been started accidentally but many will have been deliberately set.

Clearing land like this is illegal in Brazil, but it means opening up farmland that can then be exploited. The rainforest’s natural function of storing carbon and creating oxygen is a brilliant balancing act of nature – we all need to breathe – but it doesn’t make any money.

Regardless of the financial gains to be had through from clearing the rainforest, there is also a PR game at play here. One of his ministers said on Saturday: “President Bolsonaro’s concern is evident.”

It is certainly becoming more evident.

Nobody though wants to be the person who killed the rainforest. The president knows that and it’s one of the reasons why he’s acting.

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Continue Reading

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Breaking Bad: Netflix confirms movie will be released in October | Ents & Arts News

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The title for the new Breaking Bad film has been revealed, ahead of its arrival on Netflix in October.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie sees Aaron Paul return as crystal meth cook Jesse Pinkman, who has escaped from a Nazi meth gang and is “coming to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future”, according to the streaming service.

It is not clear whether Bryan Cranston will return as Walter White, a chemistry teacher who turns to drug dealing after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Cranston – who won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series four times in the role – revealed the project in November following reports that show creator Vince Gilligan was working on a script.

He told NBC at the time: “I honestly have not even read the script. I have not gotten the script, I have not read the script. So there’s the question of whether or not we’ll even see Walter White in this movie.”

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Pic: Netflix
Image:
A scene from El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Pic: Netflix

White was an ailing chemistry teacher when the series premiered in 2008, but over the course of its five-season run he transformed into a feared drug dealer known as Heisenberg.

The series finale in 2013 became one of the most-watched cable shows in US TV history, with plenty more glued to their screens in the UK.

Aaron Paul attends the New York premiere of Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
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Aaron Paul returns as crystal meth cook Jesse Pinkman

Gilligan has already co-created the popular spin-off series Better Call Saul, which is set before Breaking Bad and focuses on conman turned lawyer Jimmy McGill.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie will arrive on Netflix on 11 October.

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