January 22, 2020

Our future is not assured: Schiff issues stark warning at impeachment trial
Congressman describes moment of historic national crisis as Republicans – who rejected fresh witnesses – claim they heard nothing newStriving to make himself heard across partisan lines, the lead impeachment prosecutor filled his opening argument against Donald Trump on the Senate floor on Wednesday with invitations, warnings and appeals designed to win Republican backing for a substantial trial.Using flowing evocations of constitutional history, the global promise of US democracy, and the stakes should it all be allowed to slip, Democrat Adam Schiff framed his story of Trump’s wrongdoing as a national crisis demanding a non-partisan remedy.“I don’t think the impeachment power is a relic. If it is a relic, I wonder how much longer our republic can succeed,” said Schiff. “If we don’t stand up to this peril today, we will write the history of our decline with our own hand.”But ahead of the trial’s second full day, Republicans signaled no newfound curiosity about the case against Trump, who was impeached last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with an alleged scheme to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations of his political rival Joe Biden.Republicans complained on Wednesday that the trial had not revealed any new evidence against the president. Less than 24 hours earlier, those same senators had voted four consecutive times against hearing from new witnesses.“I didn’t hear anything new today,” said Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.“I haven’t heard any evidence in there that the president’s done anything wrong,” said Josh Hawley of Missouri.With the parties so firmly ensconced in unique echo chambers, four months into the impeachment process, the likelihood that one argument – or one piece of evidence, or snippet of testimony – would find a way through the partisan barrier seemed small.Schiff and his fellow impeachment managers would need to persuade about 20 Republican senators to achieve their stated goal of removing Trump from office. But a much more modest number – three or four Republicans – would be enough for Democrats to call witnesses to the floor who might change the course of the proceedings.“You are left with no choice but to demand to hear from each witness with firsthand knowledge” of Trump’s pressure campaign, Schiff said. “A fair trial requires nothing less.”The historic weight attending the trial, only the third of its kind in US history, was visible with the presence in the room of John Roberts, the chief justice of the US supreme court, and two tables of legal teams cramming the Senate well.The formality of the tableau was broken just once before a dinner break when a protester raised an incoherent cry in the balcony about abortion and Jesus Christ, to be quickly ushered out. “The Senate will be in order,” Roberts said, banging his gavel. “The sergeant-at-arms will restore order in the gallery.”Just after 1pm, Schiff stepped to a lectern between the tables to narrate the story of Trump’s wrongdoing. The managers would lay out their case in stages, he said, describing the details of “Trump’s corrupt scheme” in narrative form, with a factual chronology and video of past witness testimony, to move thereafter to a description of the constitutional framework for impeachment.At a break in the trial, the minority leader, Chuck Schumer, called Schiff’s performance “a tour de force”.“I think a good number of my Republican colleagues for the first time heard the argument against the president – powerfully, succinctly and completely– and I hope that can begin to change minds,” Schumer said.Polling released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center indicated public backing for the Democratic call for witnesses and found that 70% of respondents said Trump “definitely or probably acted unethically” while 51% said Trump “should be removed from office”.“We’re trying this case over two juries,” Schiff said. “The Senate and the American people.”But with the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, having succeeded the night before in winning approval for a speedy trial, the prosecutors have limited time in which to plant seeds of doubt in Republican minds about the conduct of the president.And the managers’ audience, visibly frustrated at the long hours of the trial, appeared at times to be on the verge of mild mutiny, openly flouting rules requiring them to remain at their desks and instead circulating in a cloakroom off the Senate floor. They drew no rebuke from Roberts.In a recurring rhetorical trope, Schiff highlighted the evidence missing from the case owing to Trump’s decision to defy subpoenas and block testimony, which prompted the obstruction of Congress charge.Describing a memo the US diplomat Bill Taylor wrote to the state department after military aid to Ukraine was suspended, Schiff said: “Would you like me to read that to you right now? I would like to read that to you. But I don’t have it.”On records of concerns filed by national security officials with in-house lawyers, Schiff said: “Would you like me to read you that record? I would like to read you that record. It’s there for the asking.“If you keep getting told to go talk to the lawyers,” Schiff quipped, “there’s a problem.”The seven House managers selected to present the articles of impeachment have about 16 remaining hours spread over two days to present their case to convict and remove Trump from office. Then the president’s team has its opportunity to rebut the charges. Trump is not expected to appear at his own trial and the Republican-controlled Senate is forecast to acquit the president.Some moderate Republican senators have expressed discomfort with rushing the proceedings, but none voted with Democrats on several motions on Tuesday that would have cleared the way for new witnesses and testimony.Ahead of the opening arguments, the White House yielded an opportunity to force a vote in the chamber on dismissing the charges against the president. Republican senators said there was not enough support among their caucus to bypass a trial.McConnell was forced to make last-minute changes after moderate Republicans expressed dissatisfaction. On Wednesday, Schiff warned that democracy was on the line. “Our future is not assured,” he said.“A fair trial, with impartial consideration of all of the evidence against the president, is how we keep our republic.”
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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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