Sunday, May 16, 2021

April 10, 2021  KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate the area closest to a volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent raced to get clear Saturday, a day after it erupted with an explosion that shook the ground, spewed ash skyward and blanketed the island in a layer of fine volcanic rock.

The eruption Friday of La Soufrière — its first large one since 1979 — transformed the island’s lush towns and villages into gloomy, gray versions of themselves. A strong sulfur smell was unavoidable Saturday and ash covered everything, creeping into homes, cars and noses, and obscuring the sunshine that makes the island so popular with tourists.

Chellise Rogers, who lives in the village of Biabou, which is in an area of St. Vincent that’s considered safe, said she could hear continuous rumbling.

“It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time,” she said. “(It’s the) first time I am witnessing a volcano eruption.”

Scientists warn that the explosions could continue for days or even weeks, and that the worst could be yet to come.

“The first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give,” Richard Robertson, a geologist with the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, said during a news conference.

About 16,000 people have had to flee their ash-covered communities with as many belongings as they could stuff into suitcases and backpacks. However, there have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the initial blast or those that followed. Before it blew, the government ordered people to evacuate the most high-risk area around the 4,003-foot (1,220-meter) volcano after scientists warned that magma was moving close to the surface.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said on local station NBC Radio that people should remain calm, be patient and keep trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus. He said officials were trying to figure out the best way to collect and dispose of the ash, which covered an airport runway near the capital of Kingstown, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south, and fell as far away as Barbados, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) to the east.

“It’s difficult to breathe,” the prime minister said, adding that although the volcano was venting less, a big plume of ash remained. “What goes up, must come down.”

Although Gonsalves said it could take up to four months for life to return to normal, he’s confident it will.

“Agriculture will be badly affected, and we may have some loss of animals, and we will have to do repairs to houses. But if we have life and we have strength — we will build it back better, stronger, together,” he said.

People who didn’t heed the initial evacuation order hurried to do so Saturday. At least a few ash-covered evacuees escaped in small boats and headed to other parts of the main island, which makes up 90% of the country’s total land.

About 3,200 people took refuge at 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships stood ready to take other evacuees to nearby islands, with a group of more than 130 already taken to St. Lucia. Those staying at the shelters were tested for COVID-19, with anyone testing positive being taken to an isolation center.

Nearby nations, including Antigua and Grenada, also offered to take in evacuees.

On Saturday, some people swept outside their homes and taped their doors and windows shut in the hopes of keeping out the ash.

“We’re hearing rumbling from here and witnessed the lightning flashes last night,” said Rukersha Jackson, a 22-year-old marketing specialist who lives with her family a little outside the mandatory evacuation zone. That zone covers the northern third of St. Vincent and is on the opposite side than Kingstown, where most of the country’s more than 100,000 people live.

The ash has forced the cancellation of several flights, and poor visibility limited evacuations in some areas. Officials warned that St. Lucia to the north and Grenada to the south could get light ashfall, though most of it was expected to head northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

Although the ash can seem scary, it won’t harm healthy people in the short term, said Claire Horwell, a professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom who will be analyzing the ash emitted by La Soufrière. She recommended that people wear face masks, long sleeves and pants to avoid irritation.

“Volcanic ash looks really scary, and it is really terrifying to people who have never been exposed to it before, but for most healthy people, it is more of a nuisance,” said Horwell, who is also director of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network.

However, she warned that the ash and gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, could affect asthmatics and others with chronic health conditions.

La Soufrière last had a sizable eruption in 1979. An eruption in 1902 killed roughly 1,600 people.

The volcano had a minor eruption in December, which led regional experts to fly in to analyze the formation of a new volcanic dome and changes to its crater lake, among other things.

The eastern Caribbean has 19 live volcanoes, including two underwater near Grenada. One of those, Kick ’Em Jenny, has been active in recent years. But the most active volcano of all is Soufrière Hills in Montserrat. It has erupted continuously since 1995, razing the capital of Plymouth and killing at least 19 people in 1997.

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Entertainment

May 10, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Amid growing pressure on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association from studios, stars and large swaths of the film industry, NBC said Monday that will not air the Golden Globes in 2022, putting in doubt the viability of one of Hollywood’s oldest and most-watched award shows. Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch Monday that Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision.

May 9, 2021 RAVENNA, Italy (AP) — Maestro Riccardo Muti has once again reopened the Italian musical season in his adopted hometown of Ravenna after another — and if all goes well perhaps final — round of pandemic closures. With a purposeful nod and flick of his baton, the 79-year-old conductor on Sunday ended what has been an unexpectedly long silence in Italian theaters, enrapturing a socially distanced and masked audience with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s first live performances since the fall — back-to-back evening concerts of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms. The concerts launched a three-stop Italian tour by the Vienna Philharmonic to celebrate 50 years of ties with the conductor and served as a precursor to the summertime Ravenna Festival, this year celebrating the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.

May 9, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — It will come as little surprise to its legion of fans that the first professional musical to be mounted in the U.S. during the pandemic was “Godspell.” The Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts put on a production in August with plexiglass partitions between the actors and temperature checks for the audience. Why “Godspell”? Its message of hope and love. ″‘Godspell’ just felt like the one,” says the Berkshire Theater Group’s Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire. “All of a sudden the story of ‘Godspell’ and what it’s about became more important.” The John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz musical is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, a golden milestone for a show with roots in the hippie era but which can still speak to those on TikTok.

May 9, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — A new album from DMX will be released later this month. DMX’s longtime producer and collaborator, Grammy winner Swizz Beatz, announced on Monday that “EXODUS” will feature new material and drop on May 28. “My brother X was one of the most pure and rare souls I’ve ever met. He lived his life dedicated to his family and music. Most of all, he was generous with his giving and loved his fans beyond measure. This album, X couldn’t wait for his fans all around the world to hear and show just how much he valued each and every single person that has supported him unconditionally,” Swizz Beatz said in a statement. The posthumous album will be released on Def Jam, where DMX released most of his albums and made music history. The Grammy-nominated performer’s first five albums all debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart. His hits include “Get at Me Dog,” “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” “Party Up (Up in Here)” and “X Gon’ Give It to Ya.”

Business News

May 12, 2021  LEMMONS, N.C. (AP) — The nation’s largest fuel pipeline restarted operations Wednesday, days after it was forced to shut down by a gang of hackers. The disruption of Colonial Pipeline caused long lines at gas stations in the Southeast due to distribution problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of gas stations. Colonial initiated the restart of pipeline operations late Wednesday, saying in a statement that “all lines, including those lateral lines that have been running manually, will return to normal operations.” But it will take several days for deliveries to return to normal, the company said.

May 10, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s consumer watchdog is signaling a more aggressive approach toward the financial services sectors after a few years of being on a tight leash. Under President Biden, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has rescinded or scaled back a number of policies put in place by the Trump administration. And the bureau is staffing up in anticipation of taking a more active role in regulation and enforcement, as it did during the Obama administration. This is all being done without the CFPB having a permanent director, an important position since the bureau’s authority comes from the director who is answerable only to the president. Dave Uejio, a long-time career employee of the bureau, has been the bureau’s acting director since Trump’s appointee Kathy Kraninger resigned the day Biden was sworn into office.

May 10, 2021  STOWE, Vt. (AP) — Eduardo Rovetto is hoping the state of Vermont’s reinstated requirement that people who are collecting unemployment benefits must seek work to qualify will help him hire enough staff for his restaurant in the resort town of Stowe. After more than a year of coronavirus restrictions on his business, Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge, he’s expecting a breakout summer tourism season. But like employers across the country, he’s worried he won’t have enough workers. “We’ve been getting many excuses as to why not to return,” said Rovetto, who is offering a signing bonus of up to $600 to try to add 15 to 20 employees who agree to stay through the middle of October. “Obviously, it was a legitimate one with COVID, but, you know, I think that’s getting used less and less now. The vaccines are free; they are out there for anyone.”

Fashion News

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