May 02, 2023
Marcos Makes Mark on Foreign Policy in Push for Closer U.S.-Philippines Ties
Before becoming president of the Philippines, warned that “if you let the U.S. come in, you make China your enemy.” But as he sat at the White House on Monday, feted him as a top ally, saying there was no better partner that Washington could have. Mr. Marcos — in office for not even a year — has emerged as one of the Philippines’ most transformative foreign policy presidents, switching from a diplomatic tightrope to a Washington in the intensifying rivalry with China. Soon after his inauguration in June, Mr. Marcos welcomed a succession of visits by several top-level American officials. Defense officials began briefing Mr. Marcos about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the parallels of a potential similar attack by China on Taiwan, which sits across a narrow waterway from the Philippines. Then, in January, Mr. Marcos announced that the United States would in the Philippines. Last month, the Philippines hosted the between the two countries. “The surprising thing, for me, is the pace and the acceleration,” said Aries Arugay, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “I would not have anticipated me saying this last year, but I think in terms of the foreign policy front, he is giving the right cues.” Mr. Marcos, known by his boyhood nickname, Bongbong, has the electorate’s backing. Surveys have shown that most Filipinos consider China to be a pressing threat and want the Marcos administration to work more closely with the United States to resist Beijing’s territorial pressure and improve its security forces. Mr. Marcos’s approval rating stands at 78 percent, according to a March survey conducted by Pulse Asia, a polling company. Analysts say that another factor driving Mr. Marcos’s outreach is his personal desire to rehabilitate his family name, one that for decades was seen as a byword for excess and greed. The Marcoses are accused of from the government before in 1986, when the peaceful “ toppled Mr. Marcos’s father, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. The family returned to the Philippines shortly after the . Since his election, the younger Mr. Marcos has embarked on 10 international trips that his administration says have drummed up investments, even though the opposition has questioned the usefulness of these visits. “The context here is that, for the longest time, the Marcoses have not been given access to the international space,” said Cleve Arguelles, the chief executive of WR Numero Research, a polling firm in the Philippines. “If you have this kind of ‘restorationist’ president, meaning restoring the reputation and the glory of the Marcos family, I think that plays into the decision of how foreign policy choices are made.” Despite his new popularity, Mr. Marcos remains a polarizing figure. On Monday, a group of left-leaning political activists gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila to protest Mr. Marcos’s meeting with Mr. Biden. “We fear that more of our sovereignty will be bartered off in exchange for secondhand equipment and promises of MILITARY aid,” said Renato Reyes, the leader of the group, Bayan. Even as recently as last year, it was unclear what kind of reception Mr. Marcos would receive in the United States. He faces an outstanding contempt of court order in HAWAII for refusing to disclose where his family’s wealth is hidden, resulting in damages that cannot be paid in a class-action lawsuit filed for Human Rights abuses under his father’s rule. Soon after Mr. Marcos’s election victory, Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, said that “historical considerations” could pose “challenges” to the Biden administration’s engagement with Mr. Marcos. There are fears that Mr. Marcos could follow in the autocratic footsteps of his father, who was still supported by past American presidents before his fall. To his detractors, he is a historical revisionist whose sole aim is to whitewash his family’s tarnished legacy; he is accused of to win the election; and human rights activists say he has done nothing to address the abuses committed by his father and his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. For these Filipinos, watching the meeting between Mr. Marcos and Mr. Biden was surreal. “There’s a lot of historical vertigo for folks who pay attention to Philippine politics, but also Filipinos themselves,” said Adrian De Leon, a Filipino writer and historian at the University of Southern California. “It was just less than 50 years ago that the father of the current president of this administration was being condemned publicly by a lot of prominent members of the U.S. government, Biden himself included. And here we have him courting the son.” Mr. De Leon said he found it particularly disturbing “the swiftness with which, history is not just forgotten, but actively lobotomized.” In 1986, Mr. Biden, then a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Ronald Reagan’s “waffling statements” on the elder Marcos, who had imposed a 14-year period of martial law resulting in the arrests and torture of thousands. “We cannot afford to choose between our interests in the Philippines. We have important military installations there and we have a commitment to the survival of democracy,” Mr. Biden said to the Senate, according to the Congressional Record. “The two are inseparable.” Representative Susan Wild, Democrat of Pennsylvania, has proposed legislation to suspend military aid to the Philippines until it improves its human rights record. She said she has pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeatedly to raise the issue of human rights with Filipino officials and has “been assured more than one time that the Biden administration takes it very seriously.” Mr. Marcos, 65, got an early taste of politics from his father. As a child, he met two of China’s transformative leaders, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and Gen. Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator. Mr. Biden noted that the last time Mr. Marcos was in the White House was when he accompanied the elder Marcos in a meeting with former President Reagan. Until last year, it was never clear where Mr. Marcos personally stood on the United States, given his family’s history. But by inclination and background, he has demonstrated that he is pro-Western in his leanings. He went to Oxford University in England. He enjoys watching Formula 1 and loves rock music, particularly Eric Clapton and the Beatles. He also loves cooking for his family and makes a mean gumbo, according to Matthew Marcos Manotoc, Mr. Marcos’s nephew and the governor of Ilocos Norte, the stronghold of the Marcos family. Before last year’s visit to New York in September, Mr. Marcos had not set foot in the United States for 15 years, saying he could not “take that risk” of potential jail time. Robert Swift, the lawyer who launched the class action suit against the Marcoses, said that he is awaiting a verdict from a New York court on a possible redistribution of $40 million worth of funds belonging to the elder Marcos and that he was optimistic about getting another payout for the victims. Mr. Swift said that “the United States government can do better by human rights victims.” “But the story of the last 50 years is that the United States will support dictators so long as they are friendly dictators,” he said, “and that they will let them do what they want in their home countries without the U.S. interfering.” Jason Gutierrez and Camille Elemia contributed reporting.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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