December 20, 2019

How Europe’s Top Christmas Market Could Swing an Election
(Bloomberg) -- Frequently named Europe’s best, the Christmas market in Croatia’s capital is bringing little festive cheer to the country’s president this year.The issue for Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic as she heads into elections on Sunday is a video of her handing a cake and singing ‘happy birthday’ to Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, who’s at the center of a scandal over preferential access at the city’s mulled wine and trinket stalls.Kitarovic, a former NATO executive, had been riding high on a carefully managed image as a globe-trotting diplomat. She was also the face of Croatia with her enthusiastic support during the national soccer team’s historic run to the World Cup final last year.But the storm over the market is turning the election into a close race.For the European Union’s newest member-state, even the whiff of murky dealings is bad. The Adriatic nation of 4.2 million people, which joined the bloc in 2013, is pushing to adopt the euro and has seen corruption concerns delay similar efforts in nearby Bulgaria.Other Balkan countries also targeting EU membership won’t benefit either.It’s not the first time Kitarovic has flirted with controversy. Previous instances include claiming Croatia’s World War II-era Nazi salute was just a historical greeting -- a position she later reversed -- and the appearance at her inauguration of a right-wing media personality convicted of paying prostitutes and using cocaine to do so.Then there’s the bizarre. Kitarovic has begun singing at some official meetings and was recently mocked on social media for vaguely claiming she’d stuck a deal with “some countries” for young Croats to earn 8,000 euros ($9,000) a month “via the internet.”“All this begs a question: Who is Kitarovic?” said Tvrtko Jakovina, a contemporary history professor at the University of Zagreb. “Is she a skilled international diplomat and fighter for women’s rights, as she presents herself abroad? Or is she someone who doesn’t know her country’s past and is friendly with characters who see laws as obstacles.”The latest headlines have hurt the 51-year-old incumbent, who’s polling only slightly ahead of ex-Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and right-wing newcomer Miroslav Skoro, a popular folk singer, before the first round of voting. A runoff is almost certain two weeks later.While the president’s role is largely ceremonial, defeat for Kitarovic could reverberate through the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who’s backed her strongly and would risk unrest from within the ruling Croatian Democratic Union.Plenkovic has enough on his plate as he tries to rein in a bulging bureaucracy, stem outflows of workers to richer EU nations and improve corruption that’s seen as the bloc’s fifth-worst in Transparency International’s latest annual survey.After years of stagnation, the economy is expanding at a steady 3%, below the pace of other eastern EU members.While vowing to continue beating the drum for Croatia abroad, Kitarovic has also created a “traveling office” so she can meet citizens in smaller towns back home. Milanovic, from the opposition Social Democrats, is pushing a more conventional center-left agenda, while Skoro is running on a nationalist platform.All three have promised things beyond the scope of the presidency.But it’s Kitarovic’s integrity, not her policy agenda, that’s come into question. And she’s doubled down on her support of Bandic, who’s fought graft accusations for much of his career, since the clip with him surfaced.If he’s convicted for alleged abuse-of-office, she said she’ll “bring him cookies in jail.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Andrew Langley, Balazs PenzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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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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