January 13, 2020

Rare volcanic lightning seen as huge numbers evacuated over fears of explosive eruption in Philippines
The Philippines is preparing to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people in the path of an active volcano amid warnings of an “explosive eruption” that could also trigger a deadly tsunami. More than 24,000 people have already been forced to flee their homes and take shelter in 75 evacuation centres since the Taal volcano suddenly spewed a plume of ash from its crater half a mile into the air on Sunday.  The volcano continued erupting throughout Monday as desperate residents left their homes and possessions behind. Ash blew across Manila, the capital city, closing down schools and offices as traffic came to a halt and hundreds of flights were grounded at the main international airport.  Lightning streak over Batangas as Taal Volcano continues its eruption on Sunday evening. Credit: Alamy  The lightning is caused by volcanic ash sparking static electricity  Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty Although one of the world’s smallest volcanoes, Taal, a tourist attraction that sits in a picturesque lake, is considered to be one of the most dangerous because of its high activity and its location in a densely populated area some 45 miles south of central Manila. Volcano Taal Locator Map The eruption began with an explosion of superheated steam and rock but as lava and broad columns of ash continued to belch out of the crater, they were illuminated by stunning lightning shows, in a little-understood phenomenon that has been attributed to static electricity.  Plantlife, buildings and cars in the immediate dangerzone were left covered in layers of ashen dust several centimetres thick and local roads were transformed into sludge as it mixed with rain. Among the evacuees was Thomas Barba, 53, who was eating lunch with his brother overlooking the volcano when they suddenly noticed mushroom-shaped smoke, followed by muddy rain.  Hundreds of thousands of people may have to be evacuated from the surrounding area Credit: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images They rushed through heavy traffic to warn their families to leave their home in the nearby village of Talisay.  “Around 8pm, we felt a 10-second tremor. The entire place was pitch black and the only lights visible were from the thunderstorm coming from the volcano. It was the kind of lightning that I’d only ever seen in an alien movie,” he said. “I heard a sound like pebbles were falling on the roof.” Terrified, the men fled on foot. “There were tree branches all over the streets, and mud everywhere. I felt like it was the end of the world,” said Mr Barba.  Residents look on as Taal volcano erupts Credit: Ezra Acayan Authorities raised the volcano alert level to four on Sunday, its second-highest level, saying an "explosive eruption" could happen in "hours to days,” but experts fear the volcano could keep erupting for months to come. This graphic explains why the volcano is so dangerous: Volcano Taal Threats The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it had recorded a total of 144 volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region between 1pm on Sunday and 4pm on Monday. In a statement, it said that the volcano continued to erupt with “weak sporadic lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity in the main crater that generated steam-laden plumes approximately 2km tall”. The institute said that short 500-metre lava fountains were emerging on the northern flank of the volcano, and reported heavy ashfall to the southwest. As well as the total evacuation of the volcano island and a 9-mile radius, it urged the public to take precautions against fine ashfall that could cause respiratory problems.  In Manila, masks sold out quickly and the public were urged to report overcharging. Some wore handkerchiefs across their faces as they breathed air tainted by the smell of sulfur.  The army and aid agencies sent vehicles and personnel to the worst-affected areas as the defence minister urged residents not to hesitate to leave.   Thousands evacuated in the Philippines as Taal Volcano threatens to erupt, in Pictures However, some residents could not move out of ash-blanketed villages due to a lack of transport and poor visibility immediately. “We have a problem, our people are panicking due to the volcano because they want to save their livelihood, their pigs and herds of cows," Mayor Wilson Maralit of Balete town told DZMM radio. "We're trying to stop them from returning and warning that the volcano can explode again anytime and hit them."  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights organisation, also called for items needed for relief operations for animals and said it was sending in teams. Residents in the town of Lemery attempt to carry on with everyday life as ash carpets the streets Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images Experts have warned that if the volcano erupts, ash carrying microscopic shards of glass, rather than lava flows, could create the biggest health hazard. It could potentially contaminate the air and water within a radius of more than 60 miles.  One of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, Taal has erupted more than 30 times in the past five centuries, most recently in 1977. An eruption in 1911 killed 1,500 people and one in 1754 lasted for a few months. The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface.
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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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