January 06, 2020

Defenders of History Take Aim at Trumps Threat to Strike Irans Cultural Sites
WASHINGTON -- More than 2,300 years ago, the Persian capital of Persepolis was burned by a foreign warrior in a fatal blow to the empire and its rich heritage. The ruins of the ancient city, in modern-day southwest Iran, could now be on President Donald Trump's target list of 52 sites he has threatened to attack as tensions escalated between Washington and Tehran.Trump did not identify which places the United States might strike, as he warned on Twitter that he would order -- 52 in all, one for each American who was held hostage for the duration of the Iranian Revolution takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.But he said on Saturday that some of the sites were "very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.""Those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD," he added. "The USA wants no more threats!"On Sunday, Trump maintained the right to "quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner" should Iran strike any American person or target. Later that day aboard Air Force One, he told reporters flying with him back to Washington that "they're allowed to kill our people.""They're allowed to torture and maim our people," he added. "They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we're not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn't work that way."Even before those comments, the Iranians had reacted with fury. Earlier Sunday, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, shot back: "A reminder to those hallucinating about emulating ISIS war crimes by targeting our cultural heritage: Through MILLENNIA of history, barbarians have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments and burnt our libraries. Where are they now? We're still here, & standing tall."It was the latest salvo in the war of words that has threatened to spill over into military action since a U.S. military strike on Friday that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top security and intelligence commander, while he was visiting Iraq. The Trump administration has said the strike was necessary to thwart Soleimani's plans to attack Americans in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, although officials have not yet provided specific intelligence to back up that claim.Last week, pro-Iranian protesters rioted at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, trapping diplomats inside for two days and setting on fire some buildings on the compound's outer perimeter.In several interviews earlier Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo avoided directly answering whether the United States would attack cultural sites in Iran. He said on ABC's "This Week" that the United States would "behave lawfully" and "behave inside the system."But the targeting of cultural sites is against international law, and critics denounced Trump for his statement."I think this is the president using puffery, and trying to sound tough in a way that just reveals his ignorance," said Scott R. Anderson, a former State Department lawyer during the Obama administration who is now a national security law expert at Columbia University and the Brookings Institution.Anderson, who was the legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2012 and 2013, said the Pentagon had long recognized that strikes should only include targets of what he described as military necessity."So you can't just start shooting anything you want as a hostage target, like a cultural site," Anderson, who is also advising Pete Buttigieg's Democratic presidential campaign but was not speaking on its behalf, said on Sunday in an interview.The United States is a signatory to a 1954 international agreement to protect cultural property in armed conflict. Violating it with attacks on Iran's historical sites would represent a huge turnabout. The United States was among the harshest critics of the Islamic State's destruction of antiquities in Mosul, Iraq, and Palmyra, Syria, as well as the Taliban's obliteration of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001."The U.S. has taken a leadership role in the protection of antiquities from destruction and illicit trade, particularly in the Middle East," said Deborah Lehr, the chairwoman and founder of the Washington-based Antiquities Coalition. "It would be a shame to see that global goodwill disappear by the intentional targeting and the destruction of cultural sites."The International Criminal Court convicted an al-Qaida-linked extremist of war crimes in 2016 for destroying historic and religious artifacts in Mali. But the United States is not a party to the court, which is based in The Hague, the Netherlands.In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the United States from UNESCO, the cultural organization of the U.N. that is known to travelers for its list of World Heritage sites.Beyond official condemnation from across the world, other signatories to the 1954 convention could refuse to be enlisted by the United States for military actions against Iran, Anderson said. That could include withholding intelligence or refusing to let U.S. forces prepare for attacks on Iranian interests from bases in allied nations."There are real practical costs to this," Anderson said.By Sunday, under the hashtag IranianCulturalSites, a Twitter campaign cropped up in the form of history buffs taking verbal aim at Trump's threat. Among the sites cited as irreplaceable treasures -- not just for Iran, but also for antiquities preservation globally -- was Persepolis, parts of which still stand.Its ruins were among the first three Iranian sites to be placed on the UNESCO list, in 1979. Built in 518 B.C., the city was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was conquered and looted by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. but remains "among the world's greatest archaeological sites" for its evidence of ancient architecture, urban planning and art, according to UNESCO.It is "of the last standing massive archaeological complexes from ancient Persia," tweeted one user, who identified himself as Sergio Beltran-Garcia and listed architecture as an interest. "The Iranians and their cultural institutions have done a fantastic job in protecting it."Even some of the people closest to those taken hostage by Iran appeared to disdain Trump's threat."Here's a thought, maybe ask ex-hostages if they want to each be assigned to represent a military target that could kill many civilians, supposedly in their honor," tweeted Sulome Anderson, a journalist who is the daughter of Terry Anderson, a former Associated Press bureau chief who was kidnapped by Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1985 and held for six years.She signed her post, "Sincerely, Daughter of an American ex-hostage of an Iran-backed group."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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