January 27, 2020

Arizona Republicans discriminated against minority voters, court rules
Ruling says Republican effort to restrict third-party ballot collection appeared to be part of effort to suppress black, Hispanic and Native American votes A federal court has ruled Arizona Republicans’ ban on mail-in ballots is illegal and unconstitutional, calling it intentionally discriminatory toward people of color, who already face increased barriers to voting.The ruling is a major victory for the Democratic party, which filed the suit, and will likely make it easier for minorities to get their ballots counted in the largely red state.Four years ago, Arizona Republicans made it a felony, punishable by prison time, for third-party groups to collect mail-in ballots during elections – a process often called “ballot harvesting.”Marginalized communities in the state may rely more on ballot harvesting, the court noted. Native Americans, for example, benefit significantly from third-party ballot collection efforts because just 18% of registered voters have mail service at home, and reservations can be far from polling stations. Some minority communities also have widespread distrust in the mailing system: in San Luis, a city that is 98% Hispanic, a major highway separates 13,000 residents from the nearest post office.“The adverse impact on minority communities is substantial. Without ‘access to reliable and secure mail services,’ and without reliable transportation, many minority voters ‘prefer instead to give their ballots to a volunteer’,” the court said. And Hispanics and Native Americans make up nearly 37% of the state’s population – promising to be a key demographic in this year’s presidential election.The ruling noted that the Republican effort to restrict third-party ballot collection appeared to be part of a longstanding effort to suppress black, Hispanic and Native American votes. Republicans passed a similar law in 2011, but abandoned the effort after a state election official admitted that the measure was designed to target voting activity in Hispanic areas.The court also struck down a separate state policy that required election officials to throw out ballots if someone voted in the wrong precinct. But voters faced some egregious challenges. At times they were directed to the wrong precinct, without being told their vote wouldn’t count, the court noted. And Arizona changes its polling locations with unusual frequency and rejected 38,355 ballots from people who voted in the wrong place between 2008 to 2016. (Minority voters were more than twice as likely than their white counterparts to cast a ballot out of their precinct.)Arizona has a long history of voter discrimination and until 2013 was required to submit any voting changes to the federal government for approval under a provision in the Voting Rights Act. But after the supreme court gutted that provision, Arizona was free to implement changes – like the discriminatory ballot harvesting ban – without federal oversight.Republicans have claimed that several of those changes, including the Arizona ballot harvesting ban, were created to avoid voter fraud. But voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States, and there was no evidence it was connected to ballot collection in Arizona.“No one has ever found a case of voter fraud connected to third-party ballot collection in Arizona,” the court wrote. “This has not been for want of trying.”
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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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