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Vladimir Putin
Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane in Syria
18 September 2018, 6:01 PM

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria’s seacoast was the result of a chain of tragic and chance circumstances.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said earlier that the aircraft was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems, but accused Israel of indirectly causing the incident, saying Israeli jets nearby had put the Russian plane in the path of danger.

The ministry threatened to retaliate over what it called a hostile act.

Putin’s comments, made after talks with Hungary’s prime minister in Moscow, appeared to somewhat defuse the situation though he said Russia needed to look further into what happened.

“It looks most likely in this case that it was a chain of tragic chance events, because an Israeli aircraft did not shootdown our aircraft. But, without any doubt we need to seriously get to the bottom of what happened,” Putin told reporters.

Putin said Moscow’s response would aim at securing the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria’s complex civil war in which various outside powers have backed opposing sides.

“As for retaliatory measures, they will be aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel and facilities in Syria. And these will be steps that everyone will notice,” Putin said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, was downed by anti-aircraft guns of Moscow’s ally, Syria, in a “friendly fire” incident.

But the ministry said it held Israel responsible because, at the time of the incident, Israeli jets were attacking Syrian targets and had only given Moscow one minute’s warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire.

“We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile,”Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television. “As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished.”

At a monthly UN Security Council meeting on Syria, US adviser on Syria, James Jeffrey, expressed “sorrow to our council partners Russia for the tragic loss of life …” “The unfortunate incident reminds us of the need to find a permanent, peaceful, and political resolution to the conflict.”

ISRAEL BLAMES ‘INACCURATE’ SYRIAN FIRE

In a statement the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) expressed sorrow at the deaths but blamed the Syrian government and its allies Iran and Hezbollah.

The IDF said the initial Israeli inquiry into the incident found “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian surface-to-air anti-aircraft fire “caused the Russian plane to be hit and downed”.

“The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air,” the statement said.

It added that by the time the Russian plane was struck, the Israeli jets were already back in their own airspace.

The Russian plane was “not within the area of the operation” carried out by the Israeli jets, it said. An Israeli diplomatic source said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to speak shortly with Putin. After the incident, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, that Moscow held Israel wholly responsible, Russian news agencies reported. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said its deputy ambassador in Moscow had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry but gave no details of what was discussed.

The Russian Ministry said the meeting was to do with the loss of the Russian plane.

Burt Reynolds relaxed in a chair
Hollywood star Burt Reynolds dies at 82
6 September 2018, 9:40 PM

Burt Reynolds, whose good looks and charm made him one of Hollywood’s most popular actors as he starred in films such as “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit” in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Thursday at the age of 82, The Hollywood Reporter said, citing his manager.

At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry, reeling off a series of box office smashes until a career downturn in the mid-1980s.

He rebounded in 1997 with a nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award for “Boogie Nights” and won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1990-1994 TV series “Evening Shade.”

With his trademark mustache, rugged looks and macho aura, he was a leading male sex symbol of the 1970s.

He appeared naked -reclining on a bearskin rug with his arm strategically positioned for the sake of modesty – in a centerfold in the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan in 1972.

Reynolds’ personal life sometimes overshadowed his movies, with marriages that ended in divorce to actresses Loni Anderson and Judy Carne and romances with others, including Sally Field and Dinah Shore.

Reynolds also generated attention for financial woes and his struggles with prescription pain medication. Reynolds cited director John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 “Deliverance” as his best film and said he regretted that the hoopla from his Cosmopolitan appearance detracted from the movie that made him a star.

He played tough-guy Lewis Medlock – opposite Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox – in the chilling tale of a canoe trip gone bad in rural Georgia.

He starred in dozens of films, also including “White Lightning” (1973), “W.W. and the Dixie Dance kings” (1975),”Hustle” (1975), “Nickelodeon” (1976) and “Semi-Tough” (1977).He was the top money-making star at the box office in an annual poll of movie exhibitors 1978 through 1982. Many of his films were set in the South. He often played a lovable rascal who outwits local authorities as in director Hal Needham’s 1977 crowd-pleasing action comedy “Smokey and the Bandit,” co-starring his girlfriend Field and Jackie Gleason,and its two sequels. Another of his better roles was that of former a pro quarterback who lands in prison and assembles a team of convicts to play the warden’s squad of brutal prison guards in 1974’s rollicking “The Longest Yard,” directed by Robert Aldrich.

He appeared in a supporting role 2005’s remake with Adam Sandler. Reynolds also directed several movies in which he starred, including “Gator” (1976), “The End” (1978), “Sharky’s Machine”(1981) and “Stick” (1985). While some of his performances were critically praised, others were ridiculed, particularly in the bloated action comedy “Cannonball Run II,” a sequel to his financial success “The Cannon ball Run” (1981).

He also starred in the notorious 1975musical flop “At Long Last Love,” a film so atrocious that director Peter Bogdanovich publicly apologized for making it. Reynolds turned down notable roles including Han Solo in “Star Wars,” which went to Harrison Ford; the title role in a James Bond film; and the astronaut in “Terms of Endearment” that Jack Nicholson turned into an Oscar-winning performance.

Business Confidence Index
South Africa’s BCI up in July
8 August 2018, 3:11 PM

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) says South Africa’s business confidence rose in July, with activity mainly supported by an increase in merchandise export volumes and retail sales as well as lower inflation.

SACCI’s monthly business confidence index (BCI) rose to 94 point seven in July from 93-point seven in June.

SACCI says there appears to be a return of confidence after a slump that followed the so called “Ramaphoria” period early this year.

Planning for Ronaldo might prove futile, says Morocco coach
20 June 2018, 1:51 PM

Even the best laid plans to limit the influence of Cristiano Ronaldo might not be enough for Morocco when they come up against Portugal at the World Cup in Moscow, coach Herve Renard said on the eve of the Group B game.

Morocco are looking for an upset win over the European champions at the Luzhniki Stadium to realistically keep alive their interest in the tournament but mindful that the genius of the Portugal captain could send them towards an early exit.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s opening 3-3 draw with Spain, while Morocco lost 1-0 to Iran who top the group.
Even if you conjure up the best plans to halt Ronaldo, he will find a way to break free. He always makes the difference, at the minimum to put his side on the right track and at best to win the game for them,” the French-born coach said on Tuesday.

“He’s absolutely outstanding, exceptional and we might not be good enough to keep him out. But we have to do our utmost to make him less exceptional tomorrow,” Renard added at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.
The Morocco coach might consider taking a leaf out of Iceland’s play book after they had up to three players at times harrying Lionel Messi and restricting his ability to play.
It was a ploy that played a large part in the surprise 1-1 Group D draw that Iceland forced against Argentina on Saturday.
Well if you have three players watching Ronaldo, what about looking after their other players?” asked Renard.
They have so many attacking players, we are playing against European champions tomorrow. Don’t forget in the final of Euro 2016 against France, Ronaldo went off early in the game through injury and his team mates were still able to take the title.
“Obviously he’s a major player and, together with Messi, the biggest star in this tournament.
What we need to do, is get a good night’s sleep and if this is the last time in our careers that we play against Ronaldo, we need to be as good as possible,” Renard said.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Spain on Friday underlined his superstar status and sparked the tournament into life.
Morocco, who conceded a stoppage time own goal to lose against Iran in their opener, cannot afford a second defeat.

Portugal and Morocco prepare for their second group match:

 

Belgium keep injured defender Kompany in World Cup squad
4 June 2018, 5:13 PM

Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez said on Monday he put Vincent Kompany in his line-up for the World Cup, retaining the Manchester City captain in his squad despite a groin injury but putting Laurent Ciman on standby for the tournament in Russia.

Martinez said that World Cup rules allowed the final squad to be named 24 hours before they kick off their campaign. Belgium play Panama on June 18 before facing other Group G opponents Tunisia and England.

The 32-year-old Kompany came off during Belgium’s friendly against Portugal on Saturday with an injured groin.

The four players cut are goalkeeper Matz Sels, defenders Christian Kabasele and Jordan Lukaku and striker Christian Benteke, whom he called an ‘impressive figure’ although he scored just three goals for Crystal Palace in the past season.

Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi will go as Belgium’s number nines.

Prior to the World Cup, Belgium on Wednesday (June 6) will play a friendly warm-up match against Egypt, a team Martinez called ‘very competitive’ with ‘probably one of the best defensive structures’ to take part in the World Cup.

 

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