January 01, 2020

What Kim Jong Uns Latest Threats Say About His Trump Strategy
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, has long threatened to "find a new way" if the United States persists with sanctions. And when North Korea announced his "revolutionary" new way Wednesday, the strategy revealed both a defiance and a deep caution in confronting President Donald Trump.Kim vowed, in a lengthy policy statement, to expand his country's nuclear force, making vague threats to show off a "new strategic weapon" in the near future​ and "shift to a shocking actual action." He warned that North Korea would not be bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests.But he also moderated those threats by leaving out the specifics. Kim did not explicitly say that he was formally lifting the test moratorium or that he was terminating diplomacy. Instead, he said his efforts to expand his nuclear weapons capabilities could be adjusted "depending on the U.S. future attitude."It's a wait-and-see approach that leaves room for more negotiations.Analysts say that Kim is making a calculation against the backdrop of the political uncertainty in the United States, where Trump faces both a Senate impeachment trial and an election. The North Korean leader, they said, does not necessarily want to rush to strike a deal that could be overturned if Trump does not win a second term."Kim Jong Un continues to hedge his bets," said Jean H. Lee, a North Korea expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "I think we'll see Kim continue to find ways to provoke Washington as a way to gain the upper hand in future nuclear negotiations without directly challenging President Trump.​"As he waits, Kim can continue to play the role of tough guy, increasing the stakes in his nuclear brinkmanship. North Korea can expand its nuclear arsenal, produce more bomb fuel, build more nuclear warheads and improve its missile capabilities.Less predictable is whether or when Kim might deliver an infuriating message to Trump by testing a nuclear weapon or intercontinental ballistic missile.Such a test could precipitate another "fire and fury" response from Trump. When Kim last conducted such tests, in 2017, Trump threatened to "totally destroy North Korea," inciting fears of possible war.Tensions eased after North Korea declared a test moratorium in April 2018. And after Trump met with Kim in Singapore later that year, the president said the two "fell in love."That moratorium remains the best outcome Trump can cite from his on-and-off diplomacy with Kim -- one that the North Korean leader may be wary of yanking away too soon.By treading carefully, Pyongyang also avoids more economic pain. Launching a long-range missile would set off another round of United Nations sanctions, and such tests could also provoke China and Russia at a time when Kim strongly needs their help to blunt the pain of current internationals measures.Those sanctions required China, Russia and other countries to send North Korean workers home by late last month, depriving Kim's government of a key source of hard currency. North Korea also increasingly depends on Chinese tourists as an alternative source of income, and Kim has recently built a number of tourist zones to attract them.In his policy report this week, Kim acknowledged that his country's efforts at economic reform faced "grave problems" and were "not making visible progress," according to the state news media. He also reported "evil practices and stagnation" in key industries and criticized his economic officials for "merely shouting the slogan of self-reliance" while lacking leadership and "responsibility" to revamp the economy.Kim also indicated that he was preparing for a "protracted" standoff with Washington, exhorting North Koreans to accept it as "a fait accompli that we have to live under the sanctions." After 18 months of faltering diplomacy, he said he was convinced that his country should stick to "self-reliance" rather than embracing the "brilliant transformation" of its economy that Trump promised if Pyongyang abandoned its nuclear weapons.Kim also called on his people "never to barter the security and dignity" that the North's nuclear deterrent provided, "even though we tighten our belts."With that, he was essentially admitting that his previous approach with Washington has failed.In 2012, in his first public speech as the country's leader, Kim had promised that North Koreans would "never have to tighten their belts again." When he convened the party's Central Committee the following year, he declared the parallel pursuit of economic growth and a nuclear arsenal. And in an April 2018 committee meeting, Kim said that he had completed his nuclear force and could therefore now halt nuclear and ICBM tests and focus entirely on economic growth.Kim met Trump in Singapore two months later. But talks between the two broke down last February in Vietnam, and the two leaders failed to reach a denuclearization deal. Kim returned home empty-handed, without the sanctions relief that his country badly needed to achieve economic growth.That stasis led to the deadline set by Kim, who warned that the United States had until the end of 2019 to offer concessions. Pyongyang promised a "Christmas gift" if Washington did not make progress on lifting sanctions, making an implicit threat that North Korea might return to its old ways and end the self-imposed moratorium.But the deadline also showed how desperately Kim wanted economic relief. By shifting to a harder line, Kim was juggling an increasingly tricky balancing act."​Kim's long buildup to his New Year message has inadvertently made North Korea look constrained," said professor Leif-Eric Easley at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. "He tries to use China and Russia for financial benefit, but doesn't want to appear dependent or beholden. He pushes his military engineers to develop more sophisticated weapons, but has to consider the risks of tests failing. He wants to increase diplomatic pressure on South Korea and the United States, but knows a major provocation is likely to bring more sanctions upon his regime."On New Year's Day, Kim did not face his people with a nationally televised speech as he had done in previous years. Instead, the state news media carried his policy statement, which came after a four-day meeting of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, North Korea's highest decision-making body.Kim's new guidelines meant that "North Korea will give up denuclearization talks with the United States, accept a prolonged standoff and sanctions as reality, and strengthen its self-empowerment, including its nuclear and missile capabilities," said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at South Korea's Sejong Institute.And Kim does appear to be giving the hard-line military a more prominent role in his government, even if it is unclear when and whether he will test an ICBM.North Korea's state news media recently reported that he was expediting the development of new weapons technologies, such as solid-fuel missiles that are harder to intercept and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile."We should expect that elements of the regime favor tests of several new systems, which likely include new solid-fuel and intercontinental-range missiles, as well as new warhead designs," said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington."As talks stalled," Mount said, "these elements will have steadily gained in influence."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 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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