January 11, 2020

Analysis: Iran regime could pay a heavy domestic price for Ukraine Airlines jet disaster
Most democratic governments would fall immediately if they were found to have shot down a civilian airliner and then tried to cover it up. Iran, however, is not a democracy, and despite Saturday's humiliating admission that it did, in fact, shoot down Ukraine Airlines flight PS752, there is little chance of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or his acolytes stepping down. Instead, the strategy appears to be blame low-level officials for the tragedy. According to President Hassan Rouhani, all those responsible for the "terrible catastrophe" will be identified and prosecuted, be it the military commanders who fired the fatal shot on Wednesday or the hapless media spokesmen who peddled denials for three days afterwards. Everyone, in other words, except Mr Khamenei - who, by virtue of his very title of Supreme Leader, is where the buck should surely stop. Still, having to perform such a rare act of public contrition may well inhibit Iran from further retaliation over America's assassination of General Qasem Solaimani. What is more, this dreadful and hugely embarrassing episode may also ruin what remains of the regime's credibility with its own people.   Where Flight PS752 disappeared from the radar in Iran Iranians have long been used to their rulers peddling lies and state propaganda. But for them to be caught out telling such a whopper in public fashion is almost unprecedented. After all, if they can fib to the world about manslaughtering 167 innocent people, what else have they been covering up? As Siamak Ghaesmi, a Tehran-based economist, put it to the country's leaders in an Instagram post: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure." Already, the regime has tried to create a degree of wriggle room for Mr Khamenei by claming that while Iran's armed forces had known that a missile had hit the plane "minutes after the incident", he had not been informed until Friday night. Flight recorder recovered from Ukranian airliner Credit: Wana/Reuters That though, simply underlines the government's own dysfunctionality. Why was the Supreme Leader kept in the dark about such a key piece of information? And are Iran's missile defence forces really so inept that they can't distinguish between a marauding US B52 bomber and a civilian plane leaving their own airport? The question now is whether the fiasco may also re-galvanise Iran's opposition movements into taking to the streets again. Last November, the government raised fuel prices massively to offset the drain on its coffers caused by Donald Trump's sanctions on oil sales. It sparked huge anti-government protests, which the security forces eventually snuffed out by shooting dead up to 1500 people, a massacre not much short of Tiananmen. Yet no amount of brutality can stop ordinary Iranians' weariness at being impoverished by international sanctions and hugely costly military adventures abroad. In the past decade, Iran's Revolutionary Guard have expanded their network of proxies all over the Middle East, waging majors in Syria and Yemen and continuing to meddle in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. As The Telegraph reports today, Tehran's agents have even been trying to set up terror cells in the Central African Republic - 3,000 miles from Persia, and a world away from the concerns of ordinary Iranians. What forced Flight PS752 to crash in Iran Can the regime really continue to afford do that, when its own people are struggling to afford food for the table? After all, it is now also facing the prospect of a massive compensation pay-out from both Ukraine and Canada over the deaths of those killed on Flight PS752. Whether Iranians will now return to the streets to protest, only coming days will tell. Either way, though, the regime may have finally twigged that it is time to focus less on killing "enemies" abroad, and more on the welfare of its own people.
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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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