December 10, 2023
Rishi Sunak to be quizzed on Covid Eat Out scheme before facing critical Rwanda vote
News | Politics Rishi Sunak will face allegations his Eat Out to Help Out scheme fuelled the spread of Coronavirus as he appears before the Covid inquiry on Monday. The Prime Minister is expected to be grilled on whether he believed scientists were handed too much power, and whether insufficient consideration was given to the impact of lockdowns. His questioning by lead counsel Hugo Keith KC in west London on Monday morning will kick off a crucial week for Mr Sunak, as he faces a crunch vote on his Rwanda legislation on Tuesday. Tory MPs from both wings of Mr Sunak's bitterly divided party are due to convene ahead of the vote to discuss their verdicts on the Prime Minister's Rwanda legislation, in a major test for his leadership. WhatsApp messages shown to the Covid Inquiry have revealed Government scientists referred to Mr Sunak as “Dr Death, the Chancellor”, over concerns about his push to keep economic activity going while leading the Treasury during the pandemic. Cabinet minister Michael Gove defended Mr Sunak on Sunday, arguing there was no “public critique” of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme before its launch in August 2020. But Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, is said to have privately referred to the scheme to boost the restaurant industry as “eat out to help out the virus”. Sir Patrick Vallance, who was chief scientific adviser when the idea was introduced, said he and Sir Chris could not recall being consulted in advance about the scheme that cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Giving evidence to Baroness Hallett’s inquiry, Sir Patrick said the scheme was “highly likely” to have fuelled deaths. Michael Gove: Government 'not contemplating' early election if Rwanda plan fails Tories cannot govern while ‘fighting like rats in a sack’, says Keir Starmer Sunak’s Rwanda legislation given ‘50% at best’ chance of success Create a festive e-card of your precious pet to win Mr Gove argued the policy was announced a month before it was implemented and during this time it was “not the case that there was a public critique”. “It was an effective way of ensuring that the hospitality industry was supported through a very difficult period, and it was entirely within the broad outlines of rules about social mixing that prevailed at the time,” he told Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme. The plan formed part of Mr Sunak’s summer economic update on July 8, 2020, and provided 50 per cent off the cost of food and/or non-alcoholic drinks. Former deputy chief medical officer Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam said the scheme “didn’t feel sensible” because it was encouraging exactly what officials had been trying to stop in previous months. One of Sir Patrick’s diary entries recorded Dominic Cummings , who was Boris Johnson ’s chief adviser in Downing Street at the time, saying Mr Sunak “thinks just let people die and that’s OK”. It is understood that the inquiry has shared with its core participants an interview Mr Sunak did with the Spectator magazine in August last year. In it, Mr Sunak claimed he “wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-off” between the economic and social impacts of lockdowns and their benefits to suppressing the virus. He discussed the “problem” of handing power to scientists, adding: “If you empower all these independent people, you’re screwed.” Mr Sunak may also face questions over his WhatsApp messages, or lack of them. He has reportedly told the inquiry that “having changed my phone a number of times over the last three years” he no longer has access to the app. Lawyers representing bereaved families from the four UK nations will also question Mr Sunak, as will long Covid groups and the Trades Union Congress. The union’s assistant general secretary Kate Bell said: “The Prime Minister must come clean about why these decisions were taken – especially when senior government advisers were warning that people couldn’t afford to stay home when sick. “The failure to provide proper financial support was an act of self-sabotage that left millions brutally exposed to the pandemic.” Meanwhile, Mr Sunak is facing a major test for his leadership as Conservative MPs are set to meet at the start of this week to discuss his Rwanda legislation. The European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers will first hold a summit on the measure to revive the asylum policy with other factions on the Conservative right on Monday. Veteran MP Sir Bill Cash will present the findings of his so-called “star chamber” of lawyers, before they discuss how to vote on the Prime Minister’s Bill on Tuesday. But Sir Bill has already signalled that they do not believe the proposed law is fit for purpose to get the grounded £290 million scheme up and running, as it stands. Then the more moderate wing of One Nation Conservatives will hold a separate evening meeting in Parliament before releasing a statement on their judgment. Mr Sunak and top ministers including Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron have been engaging with MPs over the weekend in order to quell any rebellion. The Prime Minister has tried to find a middle ground, in response to the Supreme Court finding that plans to send asylum seekers who arrive on small boats to Rwanda are unlawful. But some on the right believe it does not go far enough in casting aside international law, while moderates have concerns about its legal impact and about ordering courts to deem Rwanda a “safe” country. Mr Sunak has told MPs the Conservatives must “unite or die”, but it is unclear whether they will heed his warnings, as some of his possible successors court limelight. Tuesday is the first opportunity for the Commons to vote on the legislation, in what is called a second reading. A government Bill has not been defeated at this stage since 1986. Far more common are defeats and amendments at later stages, but Mr Sunak only needs a rebellion of 28 Tories to see his majority destroyed as Labour will vote against it. A legal assessment for the Government has given it only a “50 per cent at best” chance of successfully getting flights to Kigali off next year. But Cabinet minister Michael Gove said on Sunday the Bill is “legally sound” and called it “tough and robust” while signalling an openness to possible improvements. However, a No 10 source echoed Mr Sunak by saying there is only an “inch” between the current policy and an overriding of elements of the European Convention on Human Rights, that he says would see the Rwandan government reject it. “This is the strongest possible piece of legislation to get Rwanda operational,” they added. MORE ABOUT 10,233 9,651
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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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