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March 17, 2023

That was close

Amid tensions from the war in Ukraine, declassified footage from the US military shows the moment a Russian jet crashed into a US drone on Tuesday off Ukraine, resulting in the drone crashing into the sea. TikTok has been banned on UK government minister’s phones, the news comes amid pressure from Washington for TikTok owner ByteDance to make the US side of the company separate from its current Chinese ownership. And finally, lead actress Michelle Yeoh said "dreams do come true," after Everything, Everywhere All at Once wiped the floor at the Oscars.

Dramatic declassified footage, released by the US military's European Command shows footage of the encounter between a US surveillance drone and Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea - US GOV/ GETTY/ BBC/ SKY NEWS

Russian aircraft crashes into US drone causing it to ditch into The Black Sea

On Tuesday, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with a US military drone over the Black Sea, rendering the drone "unflyable," and causing US officials to crash it into the sea, according to the Pentagon. The White House condemned the Russian plane's interception of the unmanned aircraft as "reckless.”

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet collided with a US military drone over the Black Sea, rendering the drone "unflyable," and causing US officials to crash it into the sea, according to the Pentagon.

The recent seems to be the most notable acknowledged confrontation between the United States and Russia since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.

This raises numerous questions and is a potentially hazardous situation. John Kirby, of the United States' National Security Council, has indicated that there have been other intercepts, even in recent weeks, but this event stands out as different. The Pentagon's Press Secretary, Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, declared that the Russian pilots' conduct was unprofessional and hazardous, with the pilots allegedly dropping fuel in the drone's path and colliding with it.

The video shows the camera of the MQ-9 Reaper drone pointed backward toward its tail and the drone’s propeller, which is mounted on the rear, spinning. Then, a Russian Sukhoi SU-27 fighter jet is shown approaching. As it draws closer, the Russian fighter jet dumps fuel as it intercepts the US drone.

In another portion of the footage, the Russian jet makes another pass. As it approaches, it again dumps fuel. The video from the drone is then disrupted as the Russian fighter jet collides with the MQ-9 Reaper, damaging the propeller and ultimately forcing the US to bring down the drone in the Black Sea. Russia has denied that a collision occurred.

When the camera comes back online in the footage, the view is again pointed backward, and the propeller is shown damaged from the collision. With the propeller damaged, the drone operators effectively flew the aircraft as a glider as it descended over the Black Sea, bringing it down in international waters southwest of Crimea.

On its way down, US officials told US news agency CNN, that the operators remotely wiped the drone’s sensitive software, mitigating the risk of secret materials falling into enemy hands before it crashed into the water.

According to the Pentagon, the whole incident lasted about 30-40 minutes.

According to General Ryder, there was no direct communication between the Russian and American military. US officials stated that the Russian Su-27 jets involved were "likely" damaged. General Ryder added, "I do know that the State Department is directly expressing our concerns about the incident to the Russian government."

What implications does this incident have for the future of American drone operations over the Black Sea and the crucial surveillance they provide to Ukraine? "If the intention is to deter or discourage us from flying or operating in international airspace over the Black Sea," stated Mr. Kirby in an interview with VOA, "then that message will fail because it will not happen."

British government ministers have been banned from using Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their work phones and devices on security grounds. - Stock Image/ GETTY/ CNN

UK ministers banned from using TikTok on government phones

British government ministers have been banned from using Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on their work phones and devices on security grounds. The government fears sensitive data held on official phones could be accessed by the Chinese government. Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said the ban was a "precautionary" move but would come into effect immediately.

The British government has prohibited its ministers from utilizing the Chinese-owned social media application TikTok on their work devices and phones due to security concerns. Officials are apprehensive that the Chinese government may access sensitive data on official phones. According to Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden, the ban is a "precautionary" measure and will take effect immediately.

TikTok has strongly refuted accusations that it provides users' data to the Chinese government. Theo Bertram, the app's Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy in Europe, informed the BBC that the decision seemed to be based "more on geopolitics than anything else." He added, "We asked to be judged based on facts rather than the fears people have."

The Chinese embassy in London stated that the move was motivated by politics "rather than facts" and would "weaken the international community's confidence in the UK's business environment."

Mr. Dowden suggested that he would not discourage the public from using TikTok but advised them to "consider each social media platform's data policies before downloading and using them."

Senior MPs had urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to follow the US and the European Union in prohibiting the video-sharing app from official government devices.

Nevertheless, government departments and individual ministers have embraced TikTok as a means of reaching out to younger people. TikTok has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with 3.5 billion downloads worldwide.

TikTok’s success stems from its simple video recording capabilities, as well as its algorithm's ability to deliver videos that cater to individual users' preferences. TikTok gathers a lot of data on users, including their age, location, device, and even typing habits, while its cookies track their activity on the internet.

US-based social media sites also engage in similar data gathering, but TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has faced allegations of being influenced by Beijing.

A similar story is taking place across the Atlantic as President Biden proposes a ban on the app, the first instance where a ban has been proposed during this administration.

During 2020, Donald Trump's attempt to ban TikTok, owned by Beijing's ByteDance, was thwarted by US courts.

In response, China accused the US of lacking evidence that TikTok posed a national security threat.

Wang Wenbin, of the Chinese foreign ministry, stated, "The US should cease spreading disinformation regarding data security, stop suppressing the relevant company, and create an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses to invest and operate in the US."\

TikTok, which boasts over 100 million US users, has already been impeded by the White House's decision to instruct federal agencies to uninstall the app from their devices and systems.

The eccentric sci-fi comedy dramas awards included best picture and other top awards in a triumphant night for the film - AP/ BBC/ GETTY

Everything, Everywhere cleans up the Oscars

‘Everything everywhere all at once’ cleaned up the floor at the Oscars, taking away 7 awards including Best Picture. Speaking as the first Asian best actress winner, Michelle Yeoh stressed the importance of representation, and "for people to see people like me on screen. I hope that I’m not the last, and this is just the beginning," she said, before she disappeared off to celebrate.

Everything Everywhere All At Once leads the field at this year's Academy Awards, with 11 nominations.

The madcap adventure follows a woman, played by Michelle Yeoh, who hops through the multiverses as different versions of herself.

Other best picture nominees include Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water and The Banshees of Inisherin.

The acting nominees include Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser and Britain's Andrea Riseborough and Bill Nighy.

For best supporting actor Ke Huy Quan, it's the ultimate comeback story who quit acting for two decades after he found roles drying up.Quan hit the big time at 12 years old, starring as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The following year, he was in the classic adventure film The Goonies.

Those roles, he later told PEOPLE magazine, made him think "that I was going to have this amazing career" - but the opportunities quickly fizzled out afterwards. There were few parts for Asian actors, and they were usually small and stereotypical.

He made the "very difficult decision" to move away from acting in the early 2000s, instead taking up assistant directing and stunt coordination. It was the success of Crazy Rich Asians - featuring a cast consisting almost entirely of Asian actors - that made him return.

Just two weeks after employing a new agent, he landed the role of Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

During his emotional acceptance speech tonight, he said his journey "started on a boat" and he spent a year in a refugee camp. "They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe this is happening to me," he said.

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