January 29, 2020

Dems Hope Team Trump’s ‘Absurd’ Arguments Give GOP Pause
For months, Democrats have argued President Trump should be removed from office because he put his personal political interest over the national interest. And for a few minutes on the Senate floor on Wednesday, a defender of Trump’s offered a remarkable response: that’s not possible—because they’re the same thing.“Every public official I know believes his election is in the public interest,” ventured Alan Dershowitz, the ex-Harvard Law professor who has joined Trump’s defense team. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” “Everybody has mixed motives,” Dershowitz continued, “and for there to be a constitutional impeachment based on mixed motives would permit almost any president to be impeached.”Democratic senators sitting and taking in the professor’s argument were stunned. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who had been leaning back in his seat, sat up straight and looked around at his neighbors, mouthing something to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who had an incredulous expression on his face. Nearby, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) gave a disgusted flick of her wrist and a distressed Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) stretched out his arms pleadingly.Gillibrand later told The Daily Beast that Dershowitz’s argument was “absurd.” “I mean, it was beyond recognition as a legal argument,” she said. “I think it made their case laughable.”Approached later that evening, Dershowitz reiterated his earlier comments about “mixed motives,” telling The Daily Beast that it’s not impeachable for a politician to act with re-election in mind if he is also acting in the “public interest.”The remarks caused a brief stir, but were ultimately consumed by the forward motion of a trial that seems increasingly likely to deliver a swift verdict in favor of Trump. Democrats said they could only hope it gave pause to the senators weighing an acquittal or a vote later this week to block new witnesses and documents from consideration.Whether it matters, said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), is “mostly in the hands of folks who should be more alarmed and concerned about the idea of an all powerful president who they are about to seriously consider exonerating.” If the argument bothered Republicans, some did not let it show. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) conceded that Dershowitz has “probably made stronger arguments.” When approached by reporters during a break in the trial, Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) appeared to struggle to answer questions about Dershowitz’s claims. At one point a reporter repeated what Dershowitz said on the Senate floor and Young disputed it, saying “I don’t think that’s what he said.” Young immediately tried to turn the conversation from Dershowitz to the Bidens. In a muddled statement, Young argued that Dershowitz’s claims were somewhat valid because the president was trying to investigate corruption, even if it had to do with a major political rival.“It gets back to the whole question of the Bidens,” Young told reporters. “That's what was being referred to in terms of — is there corruption in Ukraine? And were the Bidens completely clear of it?”After spending the start of the week battling to keep up with bombshells about the content of ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book—which reportedly contains confirmation of the quid-pro-quo Trump sought on Ukraine—the Senate GOP has shown increased resolve to block testimony from Bolton and other witnesses, setting them up to conclude the trial as early as Friday.The question-and-answer portion that unfolded Wednesday afternoon, which allowed senators to pose written questions for the White House counsel and the Democratic managers, was the first chance for them to raise issues and substantively participate in the trial.Both parties seemed to approach the day largely as an opportunity to tee up either the White House or the House managers to return to key points or refute the other side’s. Tellingly, though, the Democrats’ first question—posed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—was a set-up to hammer home his only point these days: could the Senate render a real verdict in the trial without hearing from Bolton? Republicans stifled some exasperated chuckles as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came to the dais and affirmed that, no, the Senate could not do so. After lobbing questions that allowed Team Trump to attack the House’s impeachment process, the GOP used question time to echo talking points repeatedly voiced by Trump and his allies—namely, the involvement of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in a Ukrainian energy company, and the motives of the anonymous whistleblower whose account sparked the impeachment inquiry.Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked, for example, a question that raised reporting from some media outlets who have alleged an identity for the whistleblower and claimed that the person had political ties to Biden.And Sens. Cruz and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both posed another Biden-related hypothetical to House managers: if President Obama had evidence that Mitt Romney’s son was being paid $1 million by a corrupt Russian company, and Romney had acted to benefit that company, would Obama have had the authority to request an investigation?When Chief Justice John Roberts asked the question out loud to the room, several senators could be heard chuckling. Some shook their heads. Graham looked back at Romney in the chamber, smiled, and nodded his head.Schiff responded to Graham’s question by saying that the question itself was flawed because the comparison was not one-to-one. But he said it would be improper for any president to call for a foreign power to investigate their political rival. "The reality is, for a president to withhold military aid from an ally... to target their political opponent is wrong and corrupt. Period," Schiff said.The questions seemed to offer some of the only glimpses into the calculations of the tight-lipped swing senators who could either prolong or end the trial this week. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski asked a question to the White House: did they recall Trump ever mentioning concerns about the Bidens and Ukrainian corruption before Biden entered the Democratic primary in 2019?“I can’t point to something in the record,” answered Trump attorney Patrick Philbin. 
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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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