January 27, 2020

Team Trump Settles on Its Impeachment Defense: A Healthy Dose of Lib Triggering
The Senate impeachment trial hadn’t been in session for an hour on Monday before the man famous for his drive to impeach Bill Clinton was lecturing senators on the solemn nature of impeachment and bemoaning the politicization of the process. “Like war, impeachment is hell—or at least, presidential impeachment is hell," said Kenneth Starr, the special counsel who investigated Clinton for years and is now serving as part of President Donald Trump’s defense team. His words carried not a whiff of irony. “Instead of a once-in-a-century phenomenon, which it had been, presidential impeachment has become a weapon to be wielded against one’s political opponent.” The combination of the declaration and the person making it seemed to stun Democrats in the chamber. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) looked up from his notes and glanced around at his colleagues as if to see if they too were in disbelief.It was appropriate that the second day of the White House’s defense of the president began with a bit of shock and awe. After all, the proceedings appeared designed not only as a vigorous challenge to the case laid out by House impeachment managers, but also an elaborate troll aimed at triggering them and the Senate’s Democratic jurors. By the end, at least one GOP senator had seemed to concede that the entire spectacle hadn’t been about defending Trump at all, but, rather, damaging a leading Democratic rival to Trump on the eve of a contentious primary season.“I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told reporters. “Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?”Biden Calls for Impeachment Investigation of Trump for ‘Abuse of Power’Well before then, the mood was highly charged, as Democrats who entered the chamber were already buzzing about breaking revelations in the New York Times detailing ex-Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton’s account of the president’s scheme to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.  In addition to Starr’s lamentations, Trump’s team of attorneys threw out a number of topics seemingly designed to make Democrats’ blood boil—and delight the president and his supporters. One of the first things mentioned by the president’s counsel Jay Sekulow, for example, was pens. Specifically, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to hand them out to lawmakers during the December signing of articles of impeachment—a common practice with significant legislation—has become proof beyond doubt among the pro-Trump internet that Democrats’ talk about the sadness and solemnity of impeachment was bunk.There were also, on Monday, discussion of the so-called “basement bunkers” where Democrats allegedly held the impeachment depositions without Republican participation (in reality, more than 45 House Republicans were permitted to attend and ask questions). Trump attorney Patrick Philbin at one point declared House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) a  “fact witness” in the matter of the Ukraine scandal as Schiff sat just feet away, stone-faced.Then came White House lawyer Jane Raskin’s  lengthy, back-handed defense of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani, whom she described  as “a minor player” in the scandal; “that shiny object designed to distract you” who had, in the end, been right more often than Schiff. “The score,” said Raskin. “Rudy Giuliani, four. Adam Schiff, zero.”   ‘Fox & Friends’ Desperately Tries to End Unhinged Giuliani Interview, Repeatedly FailsAs the day wore on, Trump’s lawyers turned the Senate floor into a corruption trial for former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, Hunter, and Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Hunter’s involvement on the company’s board is relevant to the impeachment at hand in the Senate only in that Republicans charge that the story validates Trump’s stated desire to get to the bottom of corruption in Ukraine. The Biden part of the presentation was no surprise: Sekulow telegraphed the attacks last week. And Republicans largely seemed to delight in the spectacle. “I'm sure it's very hard for them to listen to all of these facts that the managers left out,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND). But when it was folded into a case for why former President Barack Obama should be impeached, it became too much for some Democrats to take seriously. And as Eric Herschmann, another member of the president’s team, spoke, Democratic senators—who had sat largely expressionless throughout the day— tittered at the analogy drawn between Trump and President Obama’s 2012 “hot mic” moment with then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, during which Obama said he’d have more “ flexibility” on issues like missile defense after winning re-election.  Leaving the Senate floor afterward, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) described the presentation as “a campaign ad, oppo research, and a little bit of owning the libs, just for yuks.” “They can’t help themselves,” he added.Beyond the political point-scoring, however, was some substance too. The president’s legal team spent time laying the legal foundation for their case that Trump should be acquitted, which leans hard on two claims: that the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reveals no quid pro- quo, and that any other evidence to that point is based on unreliable hearsay. Philbin, a member of the defense team who has impressed Capitol Hill Republicans, argued that House Democrats ran roughshod over law and precedent in pursuing Trump’s impeachment.The Trump team’s final presenter, Harvard Law professor and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, took a GOP argument—that Democrats’ articles of impeachment are weak because they do not allege crimes—to its logical extreme."Purely noncriminal conduct, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” said Dershowitz, “are outside the range of impeachable offenses."As Trump’s legal team worked the Senate, outside the chamber his allies were busy trying to dull the impact of the explosive Times report on Bolton’s forthcoming book, which details how Trump himself linked Ukrainian aid to an investigation into the Bidens. Victoria Toensing, an informal legal adviser to Trump, posted to Twitter, “It matters NOT AT ALL what @realDonaldTrump told John Bolton. We do not prosecute people for thoughts or words. Only for conduct.”Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney whose role is at the center of the Ukraine saga that led to Trump’s impeachment, messaged The Daily Beast on Monday evening that “of course” he agreed with Toensing’s analysis, but added that “I am sure Backstabber Bolton is not telling the truth. What POTUS said when he was unknowingly tapped [sic] is definitive: ‘no quid pro quo.’”Privately, numerous senior administration officials and Trump associates began to rally around a simple explanation for what was going on—that Bolton was merely a liar out to make a quick buck. Four White House officials who spoke to The Daily Beast since Sunday each independently denounced Bolton as a habitual double-crosser and notorious “rat” and “leaker,” an allegation he has emphatically denied in the past.All of which created a scene odd enough to match the moment: Democrats pining for a longtime GOP nemesis to come testify before them, Republicans—many of whom had been supported by Bolton in the past—acting as if he was suddenly persona non grata, and the president’s  legal team simply ignoring the bombshell he’d set off.  “This was out-of-body surreal,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said. “The rest of America is talking about John Bolton, and not a single mention of him in this chamber.”
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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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