December 09, 2023
New US aid for Ukraine by year-end seems increasingly of out reach as GOP ties it to border security
WASHINGTON — A deal to provide further U.S. assistance to Ukraine by year-end appears to be increasingly out of reach for President Joe Biden. The impasse is deepening in Congress despite dire warnings from the White House about the consequences of inaction as Republicans insist on pairing the aid with changes to America’s immigration and border policies. After the Democratic president said this past week he was willing to “make significant compromises on the border,” Republicans quickly revived demands that they had earlier set aside, hardening their positions and attempting to shift the negotiations to the right, according to a person familiar with the talks who was not authorized to publicly discuss them and spoke on condition of anonymity. The latest proposal, from the lead GOP negotiator, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., came during a meeting with a core group of senators before they left Washington on Thursday afternoon. It could force the White House to consider ideas that many Democrats will seriously oppose, throwing new obstacles in the difficult negotiations. Biden is facing the prospect of a cornerstone of his foreign policy — repelling Russian President Vladimir Putin from overtaking Ukraine — crumbling as U.S. support for funding the war wanes, especially among Republicans. The White House says a failure to approve more aid by year’s end could have catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and its ability to fight. To preserve U.S. backing, the Biden administration has quietly engaged in Senate talks on border policy in recent weeks, providing assistance to the small group of senators trying to reach a deal and communicating what policy changes it would find acceptable. The president is trying to satisfy GOP demands to reduce the historic number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border while alleviating Democrats’ fears that legal immigration will be choked off with drastic measures. As talks sputtered to a restart this past week, Democrats warned Republicans that time for a deal was running short. Congress is scheduled to depart Washington in mid-December for a holiday break. “Republicans need to show they are serious about reaching a compromise, not just throwing on the floor basically Donald Trump’s border policies,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday before Republicans made their counteroffer. But the new Republican proposal dug in on policy changes that had led Democrats to step back from the negotiations, according to the person familiar with the talks. The GOP offer calls for ending the humanitarian parole program that’s now in place for existing classes of migrants — Ukrainians, Afghans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. That idea had been all but dashed before. Additionally, those groups of migrants would not be allowed to be paroled again if the terms of their stay expire before their cases are adjudicated in immigration proceedings. GOP senators proposed monitoring systems such as ankle bracelets for people, including children, who are detained at the border and are awaiting parole. Republicans want to ban people from applying for asylum if they have transited through a different country where they could have sought asylum instead. GOP lawmakers also want to revive executive powers that would allow a president to shut down entries for wide-ranging reasons. Further, after migrant encounters at the border recently hit historic numbers, the GOP proposal would set new guidelines requiring the border to be essentially shut down if illegal crossings reach a certain limit. Lankford declined to discuss specifics after the Thursday meeting, but said he was trying to “negotiate in good faith.” He said the historic number of migrants at the border could not be ignored. The sheer number of people arriving at the border has swamped the asylum system, he said, making it impossible for authorities to adequately screen the people they allow in. “Do you want large numbers of undocumented individuals and unscreened individuals without work permits, without access to the rest of the economy?” Lankford said. The lead Democratic negotiator, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, did not quickly respond to the GOP proposal. Senators had made some progress in the talks before Thursday, finding general agreement on raising the initial standard for migrants to enter the asylum system — part of what’s called the credible fear system. The administration has communicated that it is amenable to that change and that it could agree to expand expedited removal to deport immigrants before they have a hearing with an immigration judge, according to two people briefed on the private negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Immigration advocates and progressives in Congress have been alarmed by the direction of the talks, especially because they have not featured changes aimed at expanding legal immigration. Robyn Barnard, director of refugee advocacy with Human Rights First, called the current state of negotiations an “absolute crisis moment.” She warned that broadening the fast-track deportation authority could lead to a mass rounding up of immigrants around the country and compared it to the situation during the Trump Administration. “Communities across the country would be living in fear,” she said. But Republican senators, sensing that Biden, who is campaigning for a second term, wants to address the historic number of people coming to the border, have taken an aggressive stance and tried to draw the president directly into negotiations. “The White House is going to have to engage particularly if Senate Democrats are unwilling to do what we are suggesting be done,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., at a news conference Thursday. The White House has so far declined to take a leading role in negotiations. “Democrats have said that they want to compromise. Have that conversation,” said White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre. After every GOP senator this past week voted not to move ahead with legislation that would provide tens of billions of dollars in MILITARY and economic assistance for Ukraine, many in the chamber were left in a dour mood. Even those who held out hope for a deal acknowledged it would be difficult to push a package through the Senate at this late stage. Even if senators reach a deal, the obstacles to passage in the House are considerable. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has signaled he will fight for sweeping changes to immigration policy that go beyond what is being discussed in the Senate. Also, broad support from House Democrats is far from guaranteed, as progressives and Hispanic lawmakers have raised alarm at curtailing access to asylum. “Trading Ukrainian lives for the lives of asylum seekers is morally bankrupt and irresponsible,” Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Ill., posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as part of a coordinated campaign by Hispanic Democrats. The unwieldy nature of the issue left even Lankford, who was one of the few senators optimistic that a deal could be reached this year, acknowledging the difficulty of finding an agreement in the coming days. “There’s just a whole lot of politics that have been bound up in this,” he said as he departed the Capitol for the week. “Thirty years it hasn’t been resolved because it’s incredibly complicated.”
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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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