January 12, 2020

Puerto Ricans Unable to Reach Earthquake Shelters Say They’re Getting ‘No Help from Government’
PONCE, PUERTO RICO—Squinting at the blistering sun, Jeanette Fontánez looks overheated and exasperated. “We can’t live in our houses because they’re cracked,” she tells The Daily Beast. “We need soap, mattresses, tents, water, supplies—a little bit of everything, because there’s a lot of us here.” But as of Saturday afternoon, government officials and agencies had yet to arrive to where the 49-year-old Fontánez has sought refuge: In a public park within walking distance from her home, which she says is unsafe to be inside. “We’ve been here since Tuesday,” says Fontánez, who was there with her 9-year-old daughter. Families are spread throughout the park, some set up near parked cars, other stationed under tarps. ‘You’re Never Prepared For This’: Puerto Rico Reels From Fresh Quake NightmareFontánez is one of an estimated 2,000 Puerto Ricans displaced by an unrelenting streak of earthquakes in the island’s southern region beginning Dec. 28 and culminating, at least so far, in Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude event, followed by subsequent tremblors and then, on Sunday morning, an unexpected jump to 5.9. Electrical outages are widespread in the area. Some residents are also without water service.Many families are living within sight of their rattled homes without stepping inside, much less sleeping in them. The constant shaking has compounded fears of being indoors even for those whose houses bear no noticeable ruptures. And the recently restored electricity departed again with Sunday morning’s quake. Saturday, an LGBT-led caravan of volunteers arrived to serve meals and hand out water, sanitary wipes, diapers, and other supplies. It was only the second time donations were disbursed at the park, Fontánez says. The supplies they have received may have been surplus items from well stocked shelters being supplied by Puerto Rican authorities, politicians, NGOs, and other groups. But little of that is so far making its way to smaller encampments, like the one in La Luna, says Fontánez. Her appeal is echoed by the families of Barrio Macaná in Guayanilla, another hard-hit municipality, and one where more than 50 percent of residents live below the poverty line. The neighborhood is only about a mile from the downtown area, but many residents lack transportation, and physically, the hilly trek is challenging for a person carrying supplies. These residents need the aid to come to them, says army veteran Diego Cruz, 59. Cruz is among a group of about 10, comprised of immediate and extended family of separate homes who’ve banded together. This includes three minors, plus an 81-year-old man with a leg amputation whose dilapidated wheelchair badly needs replacing. “If you’re going to help and you’re going to an encampment that you know is already being given supplies, everything they need, then I don't understand,” Cruz says. “What about the people outside that need things, like us? There are people who can't get down [there].”(Representatives of the municipalities of Ponce and Guayanilla dd not return requests for comment for this story.)One home among the group’s is especially unsound, Cruz notes, showing The Daily Beast a long, vertical split in the cement on the structure’s rear wall, and an apparently unsturdy foundation beneath. At night, the front area of the house—a shared patio between two homes —becomes one big outdoor bedroom, complete with makeshift beds of mattresses atop cinder blocks. As noted in the mission statement of Maria Fund, a nonprofit created to cull funding specifically for local, grassroots organizations in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria, it’s the “vulnerable communities” that “are too often underserved by relief agencies.” To offset this problem, donations to the overall fund are diffused to an island-wide network of collectives and groups — like La Brigada Solidaria del Oeste (Western Solidarity Brigade), various Centros de Apoyo Mutuo (Centers for Mutual Support), and others — that are more familiar with the needs of local populations.Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, a nonprofit advocating for the legal rights of low-income communities, is another Maria Fund recipient. The group has organized a petition on Change.org  calling on Governor Wanda Vazquez to provide free transportation to shelters and to establish more shelters in unaffected structures in the northern part of the island, away from the earthquake epicenters. Executive Director Ariadna Godreau tells The Daily Beast that the government has not adequately addressing long-term displacement, and is repeating the same mistakes seen post-Maria.“The government is preparing as if this is the normal state for refugees: portable bathrooms, portable beds,” she says. “Nobody’s thinking about how to solve the issue of temporary housing, nobody’s thinking about transitional housing. They are trying to make displacement the new normal for these people, who are entitled to housing.” Issues around protocol — hygeine, sexual violence, and other risks — in the unofficial camps is another concern expressed by Godreau. Those camps are ultimately the government’s responsibility too, she says. “The governor said yesterday at a press conference that people don’t want to move. But some people don’t want to move because they don’t have the alternative, or don’t have the transportation.” Displaced Puerto Ricans post-Maria spent months in shelters and, Godreau says, were ultimately pressured out by FEMA and government authorities. “They told them you have two options: The shelters are closing… or you have to move to the U.S. That is forcibly displacing people,” she says.If residents hoped the swarm of earthquakes was tapering off, Saturday’s 8:54 a.m. jolt, which was felt throughout the island, likely renewed anxieties about the duration of this already lengthy natural disaster. Aftershocks have continued since.More than $18 billion in disaster relief funds allocated for Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, in which upwards of 4,000 people died (many of them post-storm), is still being withheld by the Trump administration.Four deaths total—direct or indirect—have been reported so far in connection with the earthquakes. Low-income populations, the elderly, young children, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are most at risk after any natural disaster. “We’re thankful, because if the cell phones weren't working, nobody would get here,” Cruz says. “Through phone calls and reaching out, that's how people have gotten here. We've had help from different people, but no help from the government.” . 
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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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