November 02, 2023
House rejects effort to expel Rep. George Santos, R-NY
WASHINGTON — Rep. George Santos easily survived a vote Wednesday to expel him from the House as most Republicans and 31 Democrats opted to withhold punishment while both his criminal trial and a House Ethics Committee investigation proceed. The effort to kick Santos out of the House was led by his fellow New York Republicans, who are anxious to distance themselves from a colleague infamous for fabricating his life story and accused of stealing from donors, lying to Congress and receiving unemployment benefits he did not deserve. But the resolution failed to gain the required two-thirds vote. Supporters could not even gain a simple majority, with the final vote being 179 for expulsion and 213 against. To succeed, numerous Republican lawmakers would have had to break ranks with newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, who has said Santos should get his day in court. Johnson, R-La., also recently told Fox News that if Congress is going to expel members because they are charged with a crime or accused of wrongdoing, “that’s a problem.” Some Democrats also voiced concerns about getting ahead of the Ethics Committee, which issued a rare memo the day before, citing the depth of its investigation with some 40 witnesses contacted and the issuance of 37 subpoenas. It also said the next steps of the committee’s investigation would be announced by Nov. 17. Congress has rarely resorted to the most extreme punishment at its disposal. The House has expelled only five members in its history — three during the Civil War and two after their convictions on public corruption charges. It would be groundbreaking for the House to kick out Santos before his case in federal court is resolved. Some Republicans, however, said they had seen enough of Santos. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said he believes in due process, but also thinks Santos misrepresented himself to New York voters and they never would have elected him if they had “known the true George Santos.” “We don’t need the Santos charade all the way through the 2024 election cycle. I think the Congress needs to take action now,” Womack said. The House floor debate over whether to expel Santos was undertaken strictly by members of the New York congressional delegation. On one side, Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler laid out their case for expelling Santos. “Mr. Santos is a stain on this institution and not fit to serve his constituents in the House of Representatives,” D’Esposito said. On the other side was Santos, who appealed to lawmakers to hold off on expulsion, saying that passing judgment without due process would engender mistrust. “I’m fighting tooth and nail to clear my name in front of the entire world,” Santos said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’m fighting by God’s grace.” The only Democratic lawmaker to speak during the debate was Rep. Dan Goldman. He said Santos should have been expelled in May when Democrats brought an expulsion resolution, and the only reason the New York Republicans were leading the effort now was because Santos “hangs like an albatross around the necks of every single Republican from New York.” “They don’t care any more about integrity or morality or the reputation of this institution than they did in May when they voted to protect Mr. Santos,” Goldman said. “They just care about their reelection in one year when they know that their support for George Santos is going to be a problem.” The New York Republicans laid out in their expulsion resolution the array of charges Santos is facing in federal court, saying the charges indicated Santos engaged in serious financial fraud throughout his 2022 campaign for the House. The resolution said he deceived voters regarding his biography and is “not fit to serve his constituents as United States Representative.” “Mr. Santos has said expelling him before he is formally charged and found guilty would create a new precedent in this body, one that could have negative consequences for generations,” LaLota said. “Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, I disagree. The consequences and precedents of not expelling him for his lies and fraud has the potential to do far more damage to this institution.” In May, Republicans under then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California sidestepped the Democratic-led effort to expel Santos. While 204 Democrats voted against a motion to refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee, House Republicans stood unified behind the effort that delayed action on Santos’ conduct. Johnson, who took the speaker’s gavel last week, made it clear he would prefer not to oust Santos at this point, despite the many charges against the congressman, as Johnson struggles to control a very slim majority. “He’s only been charged. He hasn’t been found guilty of anything. We have due process in America,” said GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who opposed the expulsion resolution. But in a sign that not everyone in GOP leadership shares that view, the third-ranking Republican, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, joined the New York Republicans on the floor last week when they introduced the resolution. Democrats were also more divided than they were during the previous expulsion effort against Santos. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., called it a complicated vote because she would like to wait for the committee to release its findings first. “If there is a report forthcoming, I think we owe it to ourselves to give ourselves a couple of weeks so that we are all operating off the same information,” she said. Lawler, one of the architects of the expulsion resolution, has argued that the House now has enough evidence to expel Santos, even if Santos’ criminal trial has not concluded. Lawler pointed to a guilty plea that the ex-treasurer for Santos made for a fraud conspiracy charge related to Santos’ campaign. “So you have now a conviction in this case, that very clearly lays out what he did and how he did it,” Lawler said. D’Esposito, the lead sponsor of the resolution, said he spoke with Johnson over the weekend about their efforts and the speaker did not ask him to pull the resolution. “He has been very clear that you need to do what you think is right and you need to do what you think is right for the people of New York,” D’Esposito said. Santos faces 23 charges in federal court. His trial has been scheduled for September next year. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. Also on Wednesday evening, the House voted to reject an effort to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Democrats called off an effort to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
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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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