October 05, 2019

2nd Official Is Weighing Whether to Blow the Whistle on Trumps Ukraine Dealings
WASHINGTON -- A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistleblower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter.The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistleblower, whose complaint that Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistleblower, one of the people said.The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, briefed lawmakers privately Friday about how he substantiated the whistleblower's account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official is considering filing a complaint.A new complaint, particularly from someone closer to the events, would potentially add further credibility to the account of the first whistleblower, a CIA officer who was detailed to the National Security Council at one point. He said that he relied on information from more than half a dozen American officials to compile his allegations about Trump's campaign to solicit foreign election interference that could benefit him politically.Other evidence has emerged to back the whistleblower's claim. A reconstructed transcript of a July call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released by the White House also showed Trump pressuring Ukraine. Trump appeared to believe that its release would quell the push for impeachment, but it only emboldened House Democrats.Because the second official has met with Atkinson's office, it was unclear whether he needs to file a complaint to gain the legal protections offered to intelligence community whistleblowers. Witnesses who speak with inspectors general are protected by federal law that outlaws reprisals against officials who cooperate with an inspector general.Whistleblowers have created a new threat for Trump. Though the White House has stonewalled Democrats in Congress investigating allegations raised in the special counsel's report, the president has little similar ability to stymie whistleblowers from speaking to Congress.The Trump administration had blocked Atkinson from sharing the whistleblower complaint with lawmakers but later relented.Trump and his allies have taken aim at the credibility of the original whistleblower by noting that he had secondhand knowledge. The president has also singled out his sources, saying that they were "close to a spy.""I want to know who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information because that's close to a spy," Trump told staffers at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now."Atkinson has identified some indications of "arguable political bias" that the whistleblower had in favor of a rival candidate. But the inspector general said that the existence of that bias did not alter his conclusion that the complaint was credible.Still, testimony from someone with more direct knowledge of Trump's efforts to use U.S. foreign policy for potential political gain would most likely undermine conservatives' attacks on the CIA officer's credibility.The House Intelligence Committee has taken the lead on the investigation into the whistleblower's claims as part of the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his powers by using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal interests. Committee aides had sought to interview the whistleblower last week but have yet to sit down with him and it was unclear how soon they could.Democrats looking to keep up the momentum of their impeachment inquiry are seeing more results than they have in their examination of the findings of the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's election interference and Trump's efforts to impede investigators. Though Mueller laid out stark examples of Trump trying to interfere with the inquiry, the White House has fought Democrats' pursuit of eyewitness testimony.House Democrats have moved more quickly in scrutinizing Trump's use of power to solicit potential foreign help in his 2020 reelection campaign.Late Thursday, they released explosive texts exchanged by State Department officials and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about pressuring the Ukrainians to commit to conducting the investigations that could help Trump politically.In one exchange, the Americans sought to have Zelenskiy issue a statement promising to investigate a Ukrainian natural gas company where Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, sat on the board.But the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., raised concerns about the White House's decision to freeze $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine, tying it directly to the campaign to pressure the Ukrainians to develop dirt on the president's political opponents."As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor wrote on Sept. 9 to Kurt D. Volker, the State Department's former special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union.The texts show a dispute among the men about whether the president was trying to use the security aid or a White House meeting with Zelenskiy as leverage -- a charge at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.Trump has denied that he held up the aid as a quid pro quo. "Listen to this: There is no pro quo," he told reporters Friday on the South Lawn of the White House in response to questions about the texts.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company
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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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