December 20, 2023
Hamas leader visits Egypt for Gaza ceasefire and hostage release talks
The leader of Hamas has paid a visit to Egypt for talks on a new ceasefire in Gaza , part of a flurry of diplomacy aimed at securing a fresh truce and the release of hostages. Ismail Haniyeh, usually based in Qatar, typically only makes such interventions when progress seems likely. He last travelled to Cairo in early November before the announcement of a temporary ceasefire that turned into week-long pause that saw the release of around 100 of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas during their attack inside Israel on 7 October that killed 1,200 people. In response to that attack Israel has been bombarding Gaza from the air , alongside ground operations and a blockade that has left stocks of food, water, fuel and medical supplies running low. Health officials in the Hamas-run Strip say that 20,000 people have been killed since Israel's MILITARY operations began. A source briefed on negotiations in Egypt told Reuters that discussions centred around which of the hostages still held by Palestinian Islamist militants in Gaza – Hamas and other groups – could be freed in a new truce, and what prisoners Israel might release in return. Egypt and Qatar played a key role in mediating that previous truce. Israeli media reports say that Israel has presented a plan to mediators which could secure the release of some 30 to 40 hostages in return for a week-long ceasefire. This priorities the remaining women, as well as men who are elderly or in need of urgent medical care. It is thought they could be exchanged for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons on more serious offences than the Women and children released under the previous deal. Both Israel and Hamas are still poles apart in their public statements about a deal. Hamas rejects any further temporary pause and says it will discuss only a permanent ceasefire. Israel has ruled that out and says it will agree only limited humanitarian pauses until Hamas is defeated. The Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, said on Tuesday that Israel was ready for "another humanitarian pause, and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages". US President Joe Biden said later on Wednesday he did not expect an Israel-Hamas deal for the release of hostages held in Gaza to be struck soon. "We're pushing," Mr Biden told reporters during a trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his regular refrain that that the war would end only with Hamas eradicated, all hostages freed and Gaza posing no more threat to Israel. "Whoever thinks we will stop is detached from reality...All Hamas terrorists, from the first to the last, are dead men walking," he said in a statement. But international pressure has been growing for a fresh ceasefire and Israel has faced pressure, even from staunchest ally America, to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington expects Israel to shift its military operations to a lower-intensity phase during which there will be more targeted operations focused on the Hamas leadership and its infrastructure. "As that happens, I think you'll see as well the harm done to civilians also decrease significantly," Mr Blinken said. The Israeli military is trying to gain control of as much ground in Gaza as possible before the political pressure becomes too much and it has to slow down operations. Israel Channel 13 television claimed the military had twice in recent days found a recent hiding place in Hamas’s tunnel system of Yahya Sinwar, the militant group's leader in Gaza, but that he had fled just in time on both occasions. Since the last truce collapsed at the beginning of the month, the war has entered a more intensive phase, with ground combat previously confined to the northern half of the Gaza Strip now spread across the length of the territory. International aid groups say 85 per cent of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes and face dire conditions. Israel has called on residents to keep moving south, putting extra pressure on cities like Khan Younis and Rafah. There has been intense fighting around the centre of Khan Younis, which Israeli forces have partly stormed. In New York, The UN Security Council again delayed a vote on a new UN resolution on desperately needed aid to Gaza until Thursday. The US seeks to change the text's references to a cessation of hostilities in the Israel-Hamas war, and a clause about putting the United Nations in charge of inspecting trucks to ensure they are actually carrying humanitarian goods, which Israel opposes. Mr Blinken said that the US has engaged intensively and "in very good faith" in negotiations on the resolution, "so I hope we can get to a new place."
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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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