July 10, 2023
5 things to watch for at the NATO summit
Leaders of the 31 countries that comprise the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a two-day summit starting Tuesday, as Russia's war in Ukraine nears its 18-month mark. The meeting comes at a crucial moment in the conflict. NATO is seeking to bolster Kyiv with fresh munitions - including U.S.-provided cluster bombs - for its counteroffensive, and gauge the impact of June's aborted mutiny by Wagner Group head Yevgeniy Prigozhin on Russia's leadership and operations. But the alliance is also grappling with internal squabbling over Turkey's reluctance to approve Sweden's membership and whether to pave a path for Ukraine's eventual accession. Nevertheless, the assembled leaders - including U.S. President Joe Biden, still the alliance's most powerful figure - are eager to use this week's meeting to signal that the conflict in Ukraine has only strengthened NATO. Biden has also planned a high-profile climate meeting with Britain's King Charles III and a meeting with Nordic nations hosted by Finland, the alliance's newest member. Here's what to watch for as world leaders descend on Vilnius: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is scheduled to meet Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Monday ahead of the summit, as the Nordic nation makes a last-ditch effort to convince Ankara that it should be allowed to join NATO. Turkey has said its opposition stems from concerns that Sweden isn't doing enough to clamp down on Kurdish separatist groups that Ankara views as terrorist organizations. Erdoğan has also signaled his eagerness for a meeting with Biden - U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he expects the pair to talk at the summit - and to purchase American F-16 fighter jets for his military. Biden acknowledged that "Turkey is looking for modernization of F-16 aircraft" and suggested it could be part of a U.S. move to also strengthen neighboring Greece militarily. "It's in play," he said in a July 7 interview for CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. "It's not done." He renewed his support for Sweden to join NATO, adding, "I'm optimistic." While it's too late for Turkey and fellow holdout Hungary to ratify Sweden's membership before the summit, allies are holding out hope that the two sides can announce they have overcome the impasse. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sounded optimistic on Thursday, saying Sweden's membership is within reach and that it was possible to have a "positive decision" at the summit. A day later, Erdoğan said Turkey can't trust a country where "terrorists roam free in its streets." Ukraine will be a key topic, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy planning to participate in the summit. The 31 NATO countries are expected to offer Kyiv a promise of long-term support, which aims to deepen ties without immediately making it a member, given that the bloc's Article 5 security guarantees could draw allies into Russia's war against Ukraine. The United States announced an $800 million package Friday that includes controversial cluster munitions, which some NATO allies have outlawed over humanitarian concerns related to unexploded ordinance. Biden in a Friday interview with CNN said that Ukraine isn't "ready for membership in NATO," for reasons including Russia's ongoing assault on the country and NATO's Article 5 provisions. Zelenskiy has called for the summit to send clear signals in support of his country's membership, urging allies to provide a more concrete perspective beyond a 15-year-old statement that Ukraine will eventually join. The allies are grappling with how to address the question in the summit statement, with some eastern NATO members pushing for a more concrete path. Countries like the United States and Germany have wanted to focus instead on immediate assistance. One option could entail declaring Ukraine doesn't need a Membership Action Plan - a way to fast-track the country's membership when allies eventually decide to invite it to join. The Vilnius package will upgrade the formal status of NATO's relationship with Ukraine by establishing a new NATO-Ukraine Council, allowing the country to directly take part in broader discussions about the alliance's security and hold consultations with allies about its security concerns. NATO leaders are also expected to agree to a €500 million a year fund in nonlethal aid to help Ukraine modernize its military. On the sidelines of the summit, some allies are expected to pledge bilateral security assurances to Ukraine, committing to ensure its armed forces are well-equipped and well-trained in an effort to deter Russia from re-invading after the war ends. NATO leaders are due to sign off on a new defense spending pledge, making an enduring commitment to spend "at least" 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. The agreement extends the alliance's previous aspirational goal of targeting 2 percent and underscores vows to spend more following the Ukraine invasion. But many nations - including Luxembourg, Canada and Italy - are still struggling to comply with the old guideline. Only 11 of the 31 allies are expected to meet the 2 percent goal this year, according to estimates published by NATO on Friday. The alliance is also expected to sign off on three regional defense plans for the first time since the end of the Cold War, which spell out in detail how countries will defend territory if it comes under attack by Russia or terror groups. Leaders are also set to endorse a defense industry action plan, aimed at boosting defense production as Ukraine burns through artillery ammunition more quickly than allies can produce it. One of the biggest questions facing the assembled leaders in Vilnius is who will lead their group into the future, especially as the conflict in Ukraine threatens to drag on. Stoltenberg agreed last week to serve another year - his fourth extension in the top Job - despite previously stating publicly that he didn't seek to prolong his post. But neither top candidate to replace him - Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen or British defense chief Ben Wallace - appeared able to corral enough of a consensus to secure the job, and the United States ultimately refrained from publicly endorsing a candidate. Biden's top priority was maintaining unity within the alliance, according to a person familiar with the matter. Stoltenberg's return has fanned speculation that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, could be in line for the job after her term expires next year. Biden's visit to the U.K., his second in three months, is largely seen as a make-up trip after he declined to attend Charles III's coronation in May. Although Biden plans to visit 10 Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before traveling to Windsor Castle, he's expected to be on the ground for less than a day. During his royal audience, Biden and the British monarch are expected to unveil a dual effort toward a mutual passion - recruiting private companies to help fund projects that can reduce climate change. The British will be looking for Biden to firm up his commitment to a series of minor trade, MILITARY and technology agreements Sunak touted as the "Atlantic Declaration" while visiting the White House last month. Biden could also put Sunak on the spot by pressing for a solution to the stalemate over implementing power-sharing provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. Expect a firm pledge of military support for Ukraine, with the UK second only to the United States in providing arms and aid to the Ukrainians.
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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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