January 28, 2020

Dont talk about history: how Jared Kushner crafted his Middle East peace plan
Trump calls his son-in-law’s proposals – which will be presented Tuesday – the ‘ultimate deal’ for Israel and PalestineWhen Jared Kushner took on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alongside his many other official duties – promoting American innovation, arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the US opioid crisis – he decided to begin with a blank slate.“He said flat out, don’t talk to me about history,” said Aaron David Miller, a US peace negotiator for previous administrations who was consulted by Kushner. “He said, I told the Israelis and the Palestinians not to talk to me about history too.”This was a daring approach to a conflict and region steeped in every bitter turn of history. During one of a handful of meetings, Miller reminded the president’s son-in-law of William Faulkner’s observation: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”.Kushner decided to deal with the problem of history intruding on talks by engineering a proposed settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis without negotiations or even really talking to one of the parties.“I think Jared has a real conviction that he’s the Frank Sinatra of the peace process. He’s going to do it his own way,” said Miller.The result is the “ulitmate deal”, as Donald Trump described it, that the president is expected to formally present to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House on Tuesday. But enough details have leaked for the proposals to be widely scorned as favouring Israel by opening the door to its annexation of large parts of the occupied territories and giving it almost total control of Jerusalem.Trump appointed Kushner, a developer who is married to the president’s daughter Ivanka, to oversee the US’s policy on Israel and Palestine even though he has no experience of Middle East diplomacy.A lack of experience in Middle East negotiations is not necessarily a hinderance to trying to forge a peace agreement – and might be an asset compared to those who lost their way in the weeds of positioning of checkpoints and access to Gaza. George Mitchell was relatively unexperienced in Northern Ireland before playing a crucial role as the US envoy in building peace.But Kushner’s appointment raised eyebrows because it appeared to be based on little more than who he married, although Trump called him a “natural talent”. It didn’t help that it wasn’t even going to be his full time job but tacked on with a lot of other tasks. But perhaps the key was that Kushner has close family ties to Netanyahu who is facing an election in March.The make up of Kushner’s team was an early clue to where it the process was headed. It included David Friedman, a lawyer with close ties to the Jewish settler movement in the occupied territories who Trump appointed as US ambassador to Israel. Friedman has questioned the need for a Palestinian state and likened members of a liberal US Jewish group to Nazi collaborators for their criticism of the Israeli government’s actions.The Trump administration then alienated the Palestinians with a series of actions in Israel’s favour including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and slashing funding for Palestinian refugees. Kushner toured Middle East capitals seeking to get the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and Egypt’s authoritarian president, to pressure the Palestinian Authority into going along with the White House plan.Among those wooed by Kushner was the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, which goes some way to explain – alongside arms deals – why the Trump administration has let him off the hook over the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.> Jared has a real conviction that he’s the Frank Sinatra of the peace process. He’s going to do it his own way> > Aaron David MillerMiller was sceptical of the process even before the administration soured relations with the Palestinians.“I said to Jared you’re not going to fix this because the problem is not the United States. You can make it worse but you’re going to have a hard time making it better because what needs to be done can’t be done by the United States. It requires fundamental decisions by the Israelis and Palestinians. Neither side is prepared to make them. They lack leaders who are capable of making them,” he said.Miller, who met with Kushner a handful of times and describes him as very respectful, said the president’s son-in-law has indeed made it worse. But he concluded that the process has not been driven by a desire for a negotiated settlement so much as to bolster the prospects of Netanyahu’s re-election – because that helps Trump’s prospects of holding onto the White House.“It is tethered to a set of political and personal objectives which in my judgment have little or nothing to do with creating a realistic and sustained negotiating process,” he said.Miller noted that Kushner will be running Trump’s re-election campaign and that a plan that helps get Netanyahu re-elected by giving Israel a green light to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank will in turn help the president not least with the Christian evangelical vote which is very supportive of the Jewish state.“I told Jared you’re going to put out a plan that meets the needs or requirements of only one side. And I said that’s a serious problem because American credibility and integrity is also on the table. Not just American politics and re-election of Donald Trump,” he said.
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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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