January 02, 2020

Australia Faces Extinction but its Leaders Still Don’t Want to Know
“The whole town is on fire! Head for the beaches!”But wait…aren’t those fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge?Such are the mixed signals as Australia proves, once more, that living at the front line of climate change—i.e. half the place seems to be on fire—hasn’t taught its politicians anything.In Mallacoota, a coastal resort in southeastern Australia, the fires came in the night and 4,000 people fled for safety to the beach. Volunteer firefighters formed a last line of defense. At 8 a.m., one resident said, “It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring…we were terrified for our lives.” Ash was raining on the beach.  At the same time the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was facing calls to call off one of the city’s most famous events, the New Year’s Eve firework display launched from Sydney Harbour Bridge. Bush fires were ringing the city to the west, casting a pall in the sky, but she refused: The display would “give hope to people at a terrible time.”A look at the current fire map shows the whole continent of Australia ringed with flame. This is the driest continent on earth, and it is now being cooked by global warming. After the driest spring on record it has had the hottest day, with average highs across the whole country above 107 degrees. As the apocalypse closed in on Mallacoota the prime minister, Scott Morrison, was AWOL: At first his office denied he was on holiday in Hawaii but when a picture emerged of him there, drinking beer with tourists on a beach, he was forced to head back home.In New South Wales, the state that includes Sydney, nine million acres have been burned up since November, and 900 homes destroyed.As well as being hot and dry, much of Australia is also largely flat. Alice Springs, a legendary town in the interior, is an exception, at 1,800 feet above sea level. Last week the temperature reached 113 degrees. “That’s pretty insane” said Dr Andrew Watkins, head of long range forecasting at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.Australia’s politicians seem to have no learning curve. Morrison, declaring that this was no time to discuss climate policy, said “We have been through these terrible disasters before, and we have come through the other side.”Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said climate concerns were being stoked by “raving inner-city lefties.”Australia remains heavily committed to coal-fired power stations and has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates. In fact, the 2020 World Climate Change Performance Index, just released, ranks Australia last of the 57 countries it monitors for their climate policies and said that it was actually going backwards under Morrison’s Conservative government. But the opposition Labour party has also been attacked for pro-coal policies. There is a bone-headed zealotry to climate denial in Australia. Morrison has even gone as far as suggesting that environmental protest groups should be outlawed if they stage demonstrations. Nonetheless there have been no Trump-style purges of scientists from government departments. Dr. Watkins, the long range forecaster, has explained that a warming of the atmosphere over Antarctica is exacerbating the Australian droughts: “There is nothing left to evaporatively cool the air.”At the same time, Australia is actually planning increases in fossil fuel production that would mean that by 2030 Australia, with 0.3 percent of the global population, will be responsible for 13 percent of the globally generated greenhouse gases.One of the people pushing this program is Gina Rinehart, the 65 year old chairman of a mining and extraction conglomerate with a net worth of $14.8 billion. With her coal mines producing more than 60 million tons a year, Rinehart has opposed carbon pollution taxes and has sponsored trips to Australia by climate change denier Christopher Monckton, a right wing British politician who is also an advocate for quack cures for multiple sclerosis, herpes and flu. In 2012 Rinehart complained that Australia’s workforce was not competitive enough and cited African workers as a shining example: “Africans want to work and are willing to work for less than two dollars a day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.” Julia Gillard, who was then prime minister, responded: “It’s not the Australian way to toss people two dollars and then ask them to work for a day.”The magnetic physical beauty of Australia is based, literally, on its fragility. The continent lives very close to the fine line between supportable life and extinction. When you drive into the outback, as I have done, and into the endless flatness of red desert, and eventually come to a small road town, it’s evident that this outpost of life can have no physical roots  it sits directly and rudely on the earth’s crust.There is something gloriously defiant in the apparition, like a mirage that has suddenly become solid. A tin-roofed motel, a bar, a small school house, a few hundred people making a barely viable but happy life—and, usually, boasting one incongruous, well irrigated little piece of England, a soft, green cricket pitch.This is in miniature a diagram of how the whole country was built, from Sydney to Alice Springs—creating a fragile hold on a knowingly precarious basis. To endure, it needed a compact between the settlers and the hard face of nature. This was understood by the original inhabitants. Aboriginal culture worked out its own successful model of sustainable life.But no such compact has been made or even suggested by Australia’s current political and industrial axis. There is something unique at work here, an ingrained cowboy hubris that is depressing to see—a kind of resurgent warrior philistinism in denial of irrefutable science.Nobody has better defined this species than the great Australian satirist Barry Humphries. No, not his best-known creation, the terrifying, ball-breaking matriarch Dame Edna Everage.I’m talking about the Honorable Les Patterson, the grandly titled Australian cultural attaché to the Court of St. James, whose job specification is to promote Australia as a place “with more culture than a penicillin factory” and as a “thinking organism.” In this bibulous vulgarian, leering with unbridled testosterone and misogyny, Humphries identifies and impersonates a type—not a stereotype—that lives on in the country’s political class.Nonetheless it would be an act of gross hypocrisy to see their behavior only as an Australian aberration. The country’s obtuse political leaders set an example that other reactionary regimes in countries as varied as Brazil and Poland, are all too ready to emulate as they, too, protect their fossil fuel interests. And then, of course, there is us. Our continent has far greater ecological resilience than Australia, but our stewardship of it is just as careless as theirs. Under Trump’s calculated demolition of science-based regulations America is on the same path to the apocalypse. It’s simply happening a lot more slowly.
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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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