‘Star Wars’ picks director
Sci-fi and action filmmaker J.J. Abrams has been tapped to direct a seventh Star Wars movie expected to be released by Disney in 2015, Variety magazine reported on Thursday. After purchasing Star Wars creator George Lucas’ Lucasfilm for US$4 billion in October, Disney announced it was planning a new trilogy in the wildly popular sci-fi saga, which has raked in an estimated US$4.4 billion since 1977. Variety said Disney was close to finalizing the deal with the 46-year-old Abrams, the co-creator of the popular television series Lost, who is currently finishing work on Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams, who also writes and produces, directed Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009) and Super 8 (2011). Lucas — who created the saga and directed four of the six films to date — will serve as a creative consultant for the three new films, which are expected to come out every two to three years.
Equipment failure blamed
Investigators say equipment failure caused a Russian plane to crash in Moscow last month, killing five people. The Russian-made Tupolev Tu-204 belonging to Red Wings airline careered off the runway at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, rolled across a snowy field and slammed into the slope of a nearby highway, breaking into pieces and catching fire. The crash killed five of the eight crew members aboard the jet, which was returning to Moscow from the Czech Republic with no passengers on board. The Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee said on Thursday that the crash occurred because thrust reversers on the plane’s engines failed, even though the crew repeatedly tried to activate them. Panels on the plane’s wings designed to rise while landing and slow the aircraft down also failed to work.
Car bomb kills four
A suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kapisa Province yesterday, killing at least four civilians, officials said. “There was an insurgent attack on an ISAF convoy in Tagab District with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,” a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said. “Current reporting is that there were no ISAF fatalities or injuries. However, several Afghan civilians were killed.” Kapisa Provincial Governor General Mehrabuddin Safi said “four civilians are dead and several others are wounded.” A spokesman for Taliban insurgents Zabihullah Mujahid said in a text message to Agence France-Presse that 12 US troops had been killed and wounded. The Taliban regularly exaggerate their battlefield actions.