October 01, 2019

Barr Went to Rome to Hear a Secret Tape from Joseph Mifsud, the Professor Who Helped Ignite the Russia Probe
Mandel Ngan/GettyROME–When Attorney General William Barr showed up at the U.S. embassy’s Palazzo Margherita on Rome’s tony Via Veneto last week, he had two primary requests. He needed a conference room to meet high level Italian security agents where he could be sure no one was listening in. And he needed an extra chair for U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut who would be sitting at his right hand side. Barr was in Rome on an under-the-radar mission that was only planned a few days in advance.  An official with the embassy confirmed to The Daily Beast that they had to scramble to accommodate Barr’s sudden arrival. He had been in Italy before, but not with such a clear motive. Barr and Durham are looking into the events that led to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and suddenly all roads were leading to Rome. The Daily Beast has learned that Barr and Durham were especially interested in what the Italian secret service knew about Joseph Mifsud, the erstwhile professor from Malta who had allegedly promised then candidate Donald Trump’s campaign aide George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The Italian Justice Ministry public records show that Mifsud had applied for police protection in Italy after disappearing from Link University where he worked and, in doing so, had given a taped deposition to explain just why people might want to harm him. A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Beast that Barr and Durham were played the tape. A second source within the Italian government also confirmed to The Daily Beast that Barr and Durham were shown other evidence the Italians had on Mifsud. Ever since Robert Mueller concluded his probe in March 2019, Barr has worked to blunt its impact—and investigate the investigators behind it. Barr assigned Durham to look into the Mueller probe’s origins. And the Attorney General’s name is listed in the whistleblower complaint about the July 25 call Trump made to the Ukrainian president to pressure him into investigating political rival Joe Biden. According to the complaint, Barr was directly involved in the president’s attempt to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The minutiae of his involvement are feeding a scandal gripping Washington that changes by the nano-second. Inside the Call: How Trump Pushed Ukraine to Probe BidenThe U.S. Department of Justice did not return numerous emails and calls for clarification about Barr, Durham, and Mifsud. But they did issue a statement on Monday confirming that the American legal team had been in the eternal city. “As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” Kerri Kupec, the Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement. “Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials.” The Italian intelligence community had Mifsud on their radar for some years before he got involved in the Trump campaign’s troubles. His affiliations with both the Link University of Rome and London Center of International Law Practice—both often affiliated with western diplomacy and foreign intelligence agencies—made him an easy target. So did the slew of apartments he owned in Malta that are allegedly tied to a racket involving Russians buying Maltese passports for cheap. Rich Russians Still Buying Passports in Racket Daphne Caruana Galizia Died ExposingWhat Mifsud did or didn’t know about Clinton’s emails is still murky; what Barr and Durham were privy to is even less clear. Papadopoulos has distanced himself from the professor, tweeting just this week that he “exposed Mifsud’s connections to Italian intelligence” even though the Italians were watching him long before they parted ways.Mifsud met Papadopoulos through his Italian wife Simona Mangiante, a lawyer and part-time lingerie model who had hoped to launch her acting career with a role playing French femme fatale Brigitte Bardot in an American film. Mangiante told The Daily Beast last year that she met the professor doing some legal consulting for one of his classes. His ties to Russia seemed potentially useful to her husband, who was then an integral part of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisory panel at the time. Before he disappeared, Mifsud said he had met Papadopoulos “three or four times,” helping to facilitate connections between “official and unofficial sources” in Italy, Russia, and Ukraine. He denied any wrongdoing but went into hiding–either on his own or through the Italian protective services—in 2017 and has only been seen in sporadic photos since.  Several mainstream Italian newspapers on Tuesday reported that Mifsud is cooperating with Barr and Durham’s investigation and some even suggested he met them in person in Rome last week. The Daily Beast reached Stephan Roh, Mifsud’s Swiss lawyer, by phone Tuesday who said he hadn’t seen his client “for quite some time” but that he “doubted” he would show his face in Rome. The sources in Rome who confirmed that Barr and Durham came to learn more about Mifsud also told The Daily Beast that they expected Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet the same intelligence agencies on his state visit that began Tuesday. Pompeo is meeting the Italian president, the prime minister, and the Pope while in Rome. His official mandate is to discuss Libya, China trade, and sanctions on Russia, which Italy does not support. Pompeo will also be spending time with the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Callista Gingrich and her husband Newt. The Secretary of State is giving a keynote address at one of the ambassador’s events on religious freedom at the Vatican, and has arranged some free time for a private viewing of the ancient Roman colosseum. He will briefly visit the Umbrian hamlet of Valle Peligna, where his grandfather is from and where, perhaps coincidentally, Madonna’s Italian family also has roots. He is then heading to Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Greece before returning to Washington.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
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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
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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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