January 17, 2020

Republicans Melt Down as Evidence of Trump’s Guilt Piles Up
If you doubt Republicans are facing immense pressure these days, consider Sen. Martha McSally’s behavior. Asked by respected, mild-mannered CNN reporter Manu Raju if she would consider new evidence during the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, the vulnerable senator from Arizona snapped back: “You’re a liberal hack—I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.”Regardless of whether new post-House impeachment revelations are introduced in the Senate trial, the drip-drip-drip has created a lose-lose proposition for Republicans who face tough electoral crosswinds in 2020. They can defend the indefensible, or they can risk invoking the wrath of their president. (Clearly, McSally has decided her best bet is to avoid the latter.)But as evidence mounts, McSally also risks alienating Arizonans who elected a maverick named John McCain and aren’t looking to send a Trump toady to Washington. Kellyanne Conway Melts Down Under Grilling by Fox NewsAs the Senate heads toward the formal impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, text messages and documents provided by Lev Parnas, as well as a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showing that the White House broke the law by withholding funds from Ukraine, cast a pall over Republican efforts to pretend this is merely a witch hunt. Of course, Republicans who do not face these crosswinds have different incentives. Trump can lose the popular vote and still win the Electoral College, by narrowly holding Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by the skin of his teeth. He does that, potentially, by holding his base. But that would be cold comfort for Republicans trying to hold Senate seats in places like Maine (Collins) and Arizona (McSally), and also states like Colorado and North Carolina. With a different leader, these vulnerable senators might be afforded the opportunity to subtly distance themselves from this president. But Donald Trump demands complete loyalty and attempts to walk the line between appeasing the Trump-loyal GOP base and wooing suburban swing voters are being made impossible by fellow Republican senators like Rand Paul, who, in the words of Politico, is “vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP incumbents” if they support procedural motions to allow for the calling of witnesses during Trump’s impeachment trial. “If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul said Wednesday. “If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.” With friends like these...For now, at least, the pressure campaign seems to be working. Partisanship is a powerful drug, and when the heat is turned up, more often than not, politicians revert to the safe confines of their base for protection. This explains why McSally, a vulnerable Republican who can’t afford to be seen as a Trump quisling, is suddenly acting… like Trump! It also explains why, presented with revelations of what might be rightly seen as blockbuster evidence that Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance by Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen in Ukraine, moderate Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ first reaction was to... blame Congress!Neither McSally nor Collins have, in the past, been considered particularly Trumpy. That’s why their defensive behavior is especially revealing. Despite the constant revelation of new, damning evidence as the impeachment trial kicks off, Republicans have cast their lot with this president and his base. This was recently driven home to me by the analysis of a man I once considered to be a straight-shooting, center-right journalist. Though largely subsumed by an avalanche of news about Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, the arrest of Michael Avenatti, and the final Democratic primary debate before the Iowa caucuses, a comment made by Fox News’ Brit Hume deserves more attention: “Let's assume… just for the sake of discussion, that John Bolton comes in and he says, 'Yeah, the president wanted the Bidens investigated and he withheld the aid for a time to try to get that done.’ I don't think very many Republican senators are going to say that they think Trump did that or that he's guilty of that."This, of course, was an amazing admission. Put aside the fact that Hume doesn’t seem outraged by any of this. His analysis (correct, I think), is that even if John Bolton (John Bolton!) testifies that Trump used the power and prestige of the presidency (not to mention our tax dollars) to extort the president of Ukraine into announcing an investigation into the Bidens, that most Republican senators wouldn’t believe it—or wouldn’t care. Now ask yourself, how does that analysis comport with the oath that senators took on Thursday, which states that “in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God”?Yeah...I suppose it’s possible that at least four Republicans will, in fact, vote to allow witnesses, and that one of those witnesses will reveal something that is so explosive that 20 Republicans, having taken that oath, are forced to finally, reluctantly, cut Trump loose. It just seems hard—almost impossible—to imagine what in the world could be so horrible. Martha McSally and Susan Collins are proof positive that even the “thoughtful” Republicans are so desperate to defend this president that they are taking a page out of his playbook of projection and prevarication. Trump corrupts! 
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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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