Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson dies

Michael Jackson: talented, troubled voice of pop

Michael Jackson
Jackson was one of the most innovative songwriters of his era

Pop star Michael Jackson, whose life and career were the stuff of both popular music record books and tabloid television, died Thursday afternoon at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after being rushed by ambulance from his rented Holmby Hills home. He was 50.

Paramedics responded to a call at about 12:30 p.m. and tried to resuscitate Jackson at his home for almost 45 minutes, then rushed him to the hospital, where doctors continued to work on him.

"It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known," his brother Jermaine said.

Police said they were investigating, standard procedure in high-profile cases.

Fans began to gather outside the hospital soon after the news broke on the Web site and then in other media outlets. TMZ first quoted Mr. Jackson's father, Joseph, as saying his son was not doing very well. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Jackson's death was confirmed by the family. As the day wore on, the throng of fans outside the hospital grew.

The death of Michael Jackson brought a tragic end to a long, turbulent and often bizarre career, marked by legal and financial problems, charges of child molestation and failed comeback attempts. At times, it seemed as though everything Mr. Jackson did became fodder for the media, from his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, to the photograph of him dangling one of his children over a balcony, to his plastic surgeries.

Born in Gary, Ind., on Aug. 29, 1958, the seventh of nine children, all of whom were famously pushed into performing by Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker.

Once the Jackson 5 was launched, Michael Jackson became an immediate sensation. The group included older brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon, but young Michael was the star. After the group racked up hits such as "I Want You Back" and "ABC," Mr. Jackson eventually moved off on his own, building a career that peaked with the release of "Thriller" in 1982. That album still holds the title of the best-selling album of all time, with 28 million copies sold in the United States and 50 million worldwide.

Mr. Jackson was often credited with breaking the race barrier on MTV with his innovative videos for the singles "Billie Jean" and "Beat It." When "Thriller" earned him a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, Mr. Jackson appeared at the ceremony wearing his signature white sequined glove and with Elizabeth Taylor as his date.

But as time passed, he became an increasingly freakish and sometimes reclusive figure. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower and smaller, and he often appeared in public in heavy makeup or hiding his face behind scarves. He surrounded himself with children at his opulent Neverland ranch and kept a chimpanzee named Bubbles as a companion.

In 2005, he was found not guilty on charges he had molested a 13-year-old boy at Neverland two years earlier. The trial, like so much of Mr. Jackson's public life, was a media circus.

His financial struggles necessitated the near-sale of Neverland and much of his personal memorabilia.

Mr. Jackson was scheduled to perform an unprecedented 50 shows in London, his first public performances in eight years. The first was set for July 13, and he was in rehearsal in Los Angeles for the concerts.

The London concerts, for which 750,000 tickets had been sold, were planned as a way to reverse his fortunes. Press reports said the singer hoped the concerts would serve as a trial run for a lengthy world tour, new album, Michael Jackson museum and Las Vegas stage show, as well as helping to erase his huge financial problems.

Mr. Jackson, however, had publicly protested that he was not physically ready for the shows and the opening dates had already been pushed back.

Earlier this month, Mr. Jackson reportedly told a group of fans outside his Burbank rehearsal studio, "I'm really angry with them booking me up to do 50 shows. I only wanted to do 10, and take the tour around the world to other cities, not 50 in one place. I went to bed knowing I sold 10 dates and woke up with the news I was booked to do 50."

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The King of Pop

1958: Michael Joseph Jackson is born Aug. 29 in Gary, Ind. He is the seventh of nine children.

1966: His father, Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker and guitar player, organizes the Jackson 5. The group comprises Michael and brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon.

1969: The Jackson 5 signs with Motown and scores its first hit a year later with "I Want You Back."

1972: Michael Jackson releases his first solo album after recording 14 albums with the group. His first hit is "Ben," a song about a rat from the cult film "Willard."

1976: The band leaves Motown for Epic Records, changes its name to The Jacksons.

1978: Jackson makes his film debut as the Scarecrow in "The Wiz."

1979: Releases "Off The Wall." Produced by Quincy Jones, the album heralds his arrival as an adult star.

1982: "Thriller" is released.

1983: Jackson debuts his signature "moonwalk" during a Motown television special.

1984: He reunites with his brothers in the Jacksons. Hair catches fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. Co-writes the charity anthem "We Are the World."

1986: Stars in the 3-D Disney park film "Captain EO," directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas.

1987: Releases "Bad." Also attempts to buy the bones of the so-called Elephant Man, John Merrick.

1988: Jackson puts out his autobiography, "Moonwalk." Has surgery to add cleft to chin. Moves into Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County).

1991: "Dangerous" released on a new recording contract with Sony. The album sells 7 million copies.

1992: Named "highest paid entertainer" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

1993: He appears on "Oprah," claiming he suffers from vitiligo, a condition that makes his skin lighter. A lawsuit claims he molested a 13-year-old boy at Neverland, but the victim refuses to testify so no criminal charges are filed. Jackson cancels his world tour and announces he is addicted to painkillers.

1994: The molestation lawsuit is settled out of court. Jackson secretly marries Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley.

1996: Presley and Jackson divorce. The singer marries nurse Debbie Rowe, who is already pregnant.

1997: Rowe gives birth to a boy, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., also known as Paris Michael I. The Jackson 5 are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1998: Rowe gives birth to a girl, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson.

1999: Rowe and Jackson are divorced.

2001: Jackson releases "Invincible," which sells 2.1 million copies. He is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.

2002: Accusing Sony Chairman Tommy Mottola of racism, Jackson tries to leave the label. His third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, a.k.a. "Blanket," is born to a surrogate mother. Jackson later dangles him from a fourth-floor Berlin hotel balcony.

2003: Jackson admits having sleepovers with young boys on the television documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." He is arrested on child molestation charges by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, facing 20 years in prison.

2004: Jackson pleads not guilty on the molestation charges.

2005: Acquitted of all charges, Jackson moves to Bahrain.

2008: Promoters announce plans for 50 Jackson concerts at London's O2 Arena, which sell out instantly.

2009: Jackson dies on June 25.

BBC News - Chicago Tribune - Newsday - TIME

Monday, 22 June 2009

"It's time to roll up your sleeves" says President Barack Obama

Barack Obama today sent a message to supporters about the kick off of United We Serve calling on people to volunteer to be part of this effort.
Dear Friend,

Last week, I announced United We Serve – a nationwide call to service challenging you and all Americans to volunteer this summer and be part of building a new foundation for America.

And when I say “all,” I mean everyone – young and old, from every background, all across the country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.

Today, for the official kick off of United We Serve, members of my administration have fanned out across America to participate in service events and encourage all Americans to join them.

The First Lady is rolling up her sleeves and getting to work too. But before she headed out today, she asked me to share this message with you.

A Message From The First Lady
Our nation faces some of the greatest challenges it has in generations and we know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get us back on track.

While Michelle and I are calling on every American to participate in United We Serve, the call to service doesn’t end this fall. We need to stay involved in our towns and communities for a long time to come. After all, America’s new foundation will be built one neighborhood at a time – and that starts with you.

Thank you,
President Barack Obama
Today starts the United We Serve Kick-Off!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Moving U.S. from carbon energy to clean power

The American Clean Energy and Security Act begins to lay the groundwork for a future powered by the wind and sun. America needs this bill to maximize job creation, invest in the skills of our workers and the long-term economic prosperity of our country, and significantly reduce the pollution that has been caused by fossil fuel industries for decades.
University of Massachusetts economists estimate that investing $100 billion in clean energy and green infrastructure over two years would generate 235,198 jobs here in California. Between the $80 billion in the president's economic recovery plan and funding in his budget, we're on track to do even more.
To deliver on the promise that clean energy holds to transform our economy, the House of Representatives should strengthen the act in these ways:
  • Increase the clean energy standards to 30 percent by 2020, combine renewable energy and energy efficiency to deliver more clean energy jobs to the U.S. economy more quickly.
  • Restore authority to the EPA to regulate carbon emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act.
  • Reduce incentives to polluting industries to supplement programs that create green jobs and train workers to fill them.
There may be efforts to roll back the target for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. The bill's science-based standards aim to reduce U.S. global warming pollution by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and achieve an additional 10 percent reduction through agreements to prevent tropical deforestation, for a total reduction of 27 percent by 2020. By 2050, the bill would reduce emissions by 83 percent. We are urging Congress to oppose any effort to weaken the pollution reduction targets.
Congress needs to hear from people who are ready to repower America - to move away from the polluting energy sources of the past and toward the clean energy technologies of the future.
The author of this article, Representative Michael Honda is a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. Actress Amy Smart serves on the boards of the Environmental Media Association and Heal the Bay.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Obama Announces US$467M in Stimulus Funding for Geothermal and Solar Energy Projects

President Barack Obama announced that more than US $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act could be used to expand development, deployment and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.
The Recovery Act makes a US $350 million investment in geothermal technology. Recovery Act funding will support projects in four areas: geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems or EGS research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment and Classification System..

Secretary Chu delivers addresses a Nobel Laureate Symposium on Energy and Climate Change at St. James Palace in London.

Geothermal demonstration projects will recieve $140 million. Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology Research and Development will get $80 million. EGS makes use of available heat resources through engineered reservoirs, which can then be tapped to produce electricity. While the long-term goal of EGS is to generate cost competitive clean electricity, enabling research and development is needed to demonstrate the technology's readiness in the near-term.
Research into innovative exploration techniques will get $100 million. Finally, a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System be see $30 million invested. DOE will support the development of a nationwide data system to make resource data available to academia, researchers, and the private sector. Finally, DOE will support the development of a geothermal resource classification system for use in determining site potential.
Solar energy will see a $117.6 million investment. Photovoltaic technology development will account for $51.5 million and another $40.5 million will be used for deployment. Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers. Finally, CSP technology research and development will get $25.6 million. This work will focus on improving the reliability of concentrating solar power technologies and enhancing the capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to provide test and evaluation support to the solar industry.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Energy Risk - Democracy at Work

Political science teaches compromise as art form. And nowhere is that tenet clearer than with the carbon constraint bill now debated by Congress.

It's one thing to have principles. It's another to pass legislation representative of those ideas, especially in a body comprised of 536 strong-willed individuals. With control of the White House and a majority in both chambers, the Democrats undoubtedly rule. But the party is certainly not homogeneous as its members represent varied interests throughout geographically diverse areas. As such, they rally behind their leaders only after they serve their constituents.

Legislation will therefore reflect that reality.

That's why the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has softened its approach to carbon reductions and why the utility sector has become less "combative." It's not a function of slick lobbyists weaning their way into political coat pockets.

It's a lesson in how democracies work.

Simply, special interests have a right to petition their government and to explain their viewpoints, resulting more palatable bills to all sides.
Waxman, a seasoned representative who holds strident views, believes that man-made greenhouse gases are the single biggest contributor to global warming and therefore wants to mandate caps on such emissions. The early phases of his legislation gave a nod to the utility industry but overall, it swung for the fence.
Democrats on his committee, however, have agreed to concessions by which such releases must be trimmed from 20 percent to 17 percent from 2005 levels and all by 2020. They will also cut their target of forcing utilities to generate 25 percent of generation from renewable energy sources to 15 percent by 2020. That allowance, though, would be made up in part by requiring eight percent gains in energy efficiency by the same time. The overall goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas component, by 80 percent by 2050 still holds. The move mollifies a utility industry that has long winced at mandatory reductions in carbon emissions. While the conciliation is less than what such companies would have hoped, they generally say that a slower timetable will allow the technology to catch up with the demands. It still says that consumers will end up paying thousands more each year.
"We want to reduce our carbon dioxide by 80 percent by 2050. So, okay, that means Americans by then instead of 20 tons would be putting out about four tons a year, and so you ask yourself the question: When did we last emit about four tons of carbon dioxide a year? And the answer is, when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock."

First Step

Environmentalists look at it differently. Some groups want lawmakers to start from scratch, saying that the industrial lobbyists have watered down the measure. A grassroots coalition of 130 community and green organizations called the says that compromises by the U.S. House Energy Committee cause the bill to "fall short."
The group goes on to say that the American people expressed themselves during the 2008 elections and did so in an unambiguous way. But the activists maintain that those calls have been waylaid by "corporate polluters" that have spent $80 million lobbying Washington in 2009 alone. ExxonMobil, for example, spent $9.3 million.
Among the steps that the group says should be implemented are a 15 percent increase in energy efficiency standards at utilities, 25 percent reductions in carbon emissions by 2025 and the removal of any federal monies for the purposes of building "clean coal" projects that it says are meant to get the coal industry on board. Meanwhile, the green group wants either a carbon tax or an auction of all carbon credits so that the cuts can start immediately and avoid perpetuating the problem by giving away billions of dollars in free credits. They also take issue with the provision that puts a halt to new coal plants until the technologies to allow them to be carbon-free become commercial, noting that the bill currently exempts 45 coal plants that are in various stages of permitting or approval.
"While we remain hopeful that Congress will do the right thing on energy and climate, we are not prepared to 'give away the farm' just so that we can say that we helped to get legislation passed. There are some costs that are too high to pay when it comes to the environment, clean air and clean water. We urge Congress to either fix the Waxman-Markey bill or dump it and start over."
The organization feels that its stance is undermined by some of its peers that are willing to bend so that the process gets underway. They include the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center and the Environmental Defense Fund, which collectively feel that the revised bill lays a "critical foundation" that will spur investment in clean energy and thereby create millions of new jobs.
"Just four months into the new Administration and Congress, businesses, labor, and environmental advocates are working together to unleash American innovation and make a clear break from the past."
Despite the clear Democratic majority in both chambers, the moderates actually hold the power. Any greenhouse gas reduction measure must therefore become more tenable to that group that also has close ties to industry. It's a first step but one that might end up making a world of difference.
LinkedIn Group
Xing Group
Ecademy Club
Google Coop
Search Engine