August 16, 2020

The Russia-Obsessed Media Does Its Best to Ignore Clinesmith’s Guilty Plea
As news broke Friday that John Durham’s criminal probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation had resulted in a former FBI lawyer being charged with doctoring FISA evidence used against the Trump campaign, the formerly Russia-obsessed mainstream media did its best to look the other way.Kevin Clinesmith, who first worked on the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team and then under special counsel Robert Mueller — only to be fired in February 2018 after it was revealed he sent anti-Trump messages — will plead guilty to one count of making false statements. Clinesmith’s admission came after Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz faulted him in a December report for doctoring an email to state that former Trump-campaign national security adviser Carter Page was “not a source” for the CIA — when in fact the email from a CIA official stated the opposite.Clinesmith’s plea is not an indictment, but a “criminal information,” in which the defendant seeks to avoid being charged by a grand jury. As National Review's Andy McCarthy has pointed out, such a move is often made under a cooperation agreement, suggesting that Clinesmith could be working with Durham.Despite the plea’s status as the first major development in Durham’s investigation, the media barely batted an eye, abandoning the Russia saga after providing wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Flynn’s plea deal with Robert Mueller in December 2017.“I think really the most important thing right now is to stay humble, and keep your eyes and your ears open, in terms of what you think you understand about Mike Flynn in this scandal,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said in her opening monologue the night Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, pled guilty to lying to the FBI.But on her show Friday, Maddow, who breathlessly covered “Russia-gate” night after night for two years, totally ignored the Clinesmith news. And she wasn’t the only one. CNN's Anderson Cooper failed to cover the plea deal during his two hours of Friday-night programming. Cooper's colleague Don Lemon, who also covered the Russia probe and Flynn's plea relentlessly, couldn’t find time to cover Clinesmith's plea during his 10 p.m. time slot.Instead of ignoring the news altogether, Maddow’s colleague Chuck Todd reacted to the development by belittling Durham’s probe in general, wondering aloud whether the investigation is aimed at “creating confusion about investigating the investigators." MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann decided to challenge the news head on.Weissmann claimed on Twitter that Clinesmith’s altering of the email was not “material” to the indictment, because Durham did not say whether Carter Page had, in fact, been a “source” for the CIA in the court document. That Page provided information to the CIA, and was praised by the agency for doing so, is beyond dispute, whether Durham mentioned it in his indictment or not.> Clinesmith is charged with adding the words "not a source" to an email about Carter Page, but no where does the charge say that is false, i.e. that Page was a source for the CIA. Without that, how is the addition "materially" false? Compare with Barr's materiality std for Flynn.> > -- Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) August 14, 2020The attempt to compare the Flynn guilty plea to Clinesmith’s, however, does call into question the media framing of both stories.Elite political reporters and pundits focused their writing and broadcasting on Flynn’s guilty plea for months and jumped to far-reaching conclusions about what it meant for the future of Trump’s presidency. When Clinesmith’s plea was announced Friday, our opinion leaders and news gatherers collectively decided to fit the latest development into the framework they’d developed over the better part of two years, rather than revise their conclusions in the face of new facts.Take New York Times reporter Adam Goldman, who broke the Clinesmith story, for example.Goldman emphasized Friday that “prosecutors did not reveal any evidence in charging documents that showed Mr. Clinesmith’s actions were part of any broader conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump.” But in the 23rd paragraph, Goldman mentions that “Mr. Clinesmith had provided the unchanged C.I.A. email to Crossfire Hurricane agents and the Justice Department lawyer drafting the original wiretap application.”Taken together, the two statements raise serious questions. If Clinesmith “provided the unchanged” email to other FBI officials, those officials must have been aware that he doctored his email to the FISA court. In other words, when they received the un-doctored email proving that Page had long cooperated with the federal government and chose to say nothing, they became part of a “broader conspiracy.”Goldman proved much more willing to assign blame to a broad and nebulous group of actors when Flynn pled guilty in December 2017, calling the news “a politically treacherous development for the president and his closest aides.”Goldman went on to write that Flynn’s plea implied “that prosecutors now have a cooperative source of information from inside the Oval Office during the administration’s chaotic first weeks.” But a similar hypothesis about the far-reaching implications of Clinesmith’s guilty plea was not advanced in Goldman’s most recent report.Other outlets have engaged in similar efforts to downplay the seriousness of Clinesmith’s wrongdoing by framing the plea as a single act of unintentional malfeasance. The notion that the Crossfire Hurricane team accidentally failed to mention Page’s work for the CIA to the FISA Court is facially absurd. The CIA sent a memo to the team detailing the agency’s relationship with the former Trump aide before the FBI filed their first FISA application to surveil Page; the FBI didn’t mention it on that first application or their three subsequent application renewals.NPR’s justice correspondent Carrie Johnson headlined her report on the Clinesmith plea: “Case Linked To Alleged Abuse Of Surveillance Power.” The label “alleged” has been inaccurate since December 2019, when Horowitz released a report detailing “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” in the FBI’s FISA applications used against Carter Page. Johnson also reported that the former FBI lawyer had “allegedly doctored an email.” In the very next paragraph, she quotes — without a hint of irony — Clinesmith’s lawyer, who told her that “Kevin deeply regrets having altered the email."Johnson was not so timid when speculating about the implications of Flynn’s guilty plea: After quoting then-White House special counsel Ty Cobb, who argued that Flynn’s decision to plead guilty did not implicate additional officials, she explained that “Flynn's plea agreement and cooperation with Mueller would seem to signal the opposite — that the investigation has now reached into the Trump White House itself, and that it still has a long way to go before wrapping up.”The Associated Press’s 2017 article on Flynn took a similar angle, warning that the development “could be an ominous sign for a White House” and hypothesizing that “if the Trump transition made secret back-door assurances to Russian diplomats, that could potentially run afoul of the Logan Act” — without mentioning that no one has ever been successfully prosecuted under the law since its passage in 1799.But in their report on Clinesmith’s plea, the AP opted against commenting on what the development meant for the Russian collusion narrative and chose instead to comment on its utility as a prop that might “lift Trump’s wobbly reelection prospects” by exposing what the Trump Administration “see[s] as wrongdoing.”
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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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