US to take part in Iranian investigation into plane crash

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   393

Washington – The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States announced on Thursday that it had accepted an invitation from Iran to participate in its investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian aircraft amid speculations that an Iranian missile might have brought down the plane.

The federal agency said in a statement that the Iran Civil Aviation Organization has notified them that they could take part in the investigation of the plane crash that occurred near Tehran Thursday, in which all 176 people on board lost their lives.

“The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash,” said the independent US government agency tasked with investigating transport accidents.

Since the aircraft was a US-made Boeing 737-800, international regulations allow Washington to be a part of the accident investigation.

However, it remains unclear to what extent the NTSB representative will be able to play an active role in the probe, as US sanctions complicate cooperation with Iran, and the two countries have no diplomatic relations.

The NTSB announcement came hours after US intelligence sources told several media outlets that the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) Flight 752 could have been accidentally shot down by an Iranian missile.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later confirmed that his government had “evidence” indicating that the aircraft “was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile,” although he added it may have been unintentional.

The accident occurred shortly after the Middle Eastern country launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two US military bases in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

However, the Iranian authorities have denied that they had accidentally shot down the plane and claimed the accusations were a part of a psychological warfare campaign against Tehran.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said they welcomed the presence of experts from countries whose citizens have died in the tragic accident, and requested the Canadian prime minister and any other government to provide any information they had regarding the crash.

At least 63 Canadians, mostly of Iranian origin, were traveling on the plane bound for Kiev. The aircraft crashed shortly after take off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. EFE-EPA

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U.S. gov’t rescinds controversial rule on int’l students: federal judge

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

The U.S. government will rescind a new rule that could have denied international students their stay in the country if they only attend online courses in the coming fall semester, a federal judge in Boston, Massachusetts said Tuesday.

The ruling was issued on July 6 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stating that international students will have to take in-person classes to qualify for a visa, otherwise they will have to leave the country. The Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) then initiated lawsuits against the Trump administration on related issues.

The judge Allison D. Burroughs attended an online hearing together with lawyers from Harvard University, MIT and the government. She said that the agreement reached between the universities and the government would cause the July 6 ruling to be rescinded nationwide. (Reuters)

California shuts down again as U.S. coronavirus crisis expands

UNTV News   •   July 14, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday (July 13) ordered a massive retrenchment of the state’s reopening on Monday, shutting bars and banning indoor restaurant dining statewide and closing churches, gyms, and hair salons in hardest-hit counties.

Newsom’s move, which undoes weeks of reopening efforts in parts of the most populous U.S. state, comes as several rural counties are experiencing strains to their hospital systems, while cases mount in large metropolitan areas including Los Angeles and parts of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The surge in cases has also prompted two of California’s largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, to announce that they will be online only in the new term. In addition, neighboring Oregon is mandating the use of protective masks outdoors as local leaders around the United States scramble to curb a rising number of coronavirus cases nationwide.

The number of people hospitalized in California with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has risen by 28% over the past two weeks, with a 20% increase in those needing intensive care, Newsom said at a conference call with reporters in the state capital of Sacramento.

Statewide, 6,485 patients were hospitalized with coronavirus as of Sunday, with 1,833 of them requiring intensive care, according to state data. (Reuters)

U.S. withdrawal from WHO undermines global anti-pandemic cooperation efforts: officials

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The international community has criticized the U.S. decision to quit the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the move has posed negative influences on its own anti-pandemic efforts and also global cooperation.

The United States on Tuesday officially submitted its notification of withdrawal from the WHO to the UN secretary-general, following an announcement made in May. The move came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas over the past week.

The administration’s move to formally withdraw from WHO is short-sighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous, CEO of the United Nations Foundation Elizabeth Cousens said in a statement.

She said the WHO is the only body able to lead and coordinate the global response to COVID-19 and terminating the relationship undermines the global effort to beat this virus.

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said the “U.S. withdrawal from the WHO is a setback for international cooperation,” and called for global coordination which is necessary for fighting the pandemic.

“The U.S. withdrawal from WHO is a mistake. It is the public health authority for the world’s poorest and many will now see the U.S. as less reliable, diminishing its influence,” tweeted Tom Tugendhat, a UK Conservative Member of Parliament and also chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza made comments saying that the U.S. withdrawal decision is “serious and wrong”.

With regard to the U.S. move of pulling out from international organizations and treaties, Pascal Boniface, Founder and Director of French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), said its unilateralism inclination sabotages the current international mechanism.

“The move of withdrawing from international organizations has become a customary gimmick by the U.S. government. The U.S. pulled out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Paris Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” he said.

“We can say that the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO has reflected the overall attitude of the government, which broke the current international mechanism and multilateralism. It is to pursue unilateralism,” he added. (Reuters)

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