Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: US author, poet and activist dies aged 86

Poet, author and activist Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86.
One of America's leading literary voices, she made her name with the 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
It was the first of seven volumes of autobiography that traced her life from a childhood of abuse and oppression in the Deep South in the 1930s.
Her family said: "She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace."
In a statement on Facebook, they said she passed away quietly at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at 08:00 EST (12:00 GMT).
"Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belaboured by a loss of acuity or comprehension," they said.
Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings dealt with the racism and family trauma of Angelou's upbringing
"The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love."
A statement from Wake Forest University, where Angelou had been professor of American studies since 1982, said: "Dr Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world."
Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted one of Angelou's quotes in tribute: "'If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.' Maya Angelou - who was utterly amazing."
Civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jacksonwrote: "The renaissance woman has made a peaceful transition. She acted, sang, danced & taught She used poetry as a road for peace."
Raised by her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, Angelou wrote about being raped by her mother's boyfriend at the age of eight. After she told her family what had happened, the boyfriend was killed.
"I thought my voice had killed him, so it was better not to speak - so I simply stopped speaking," she said. She remained mute for five years, but read voraciously.
Angelou later became a singer, a dancer, cocktail waitress, prostitute and an actress before beginning her writing career.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which dealt with the racism and family trauma of her upbringing, spent two years on the US best-seller list.
Her career had many outlets, straddling television, theatre, film, children's books and music.
Through her writing and interviews, her strength and eloquence as a role model for those seeking to overcome inequality and injustice won her many admirers.
Angelou was also a prominent civil rights activist and a friend of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
President Obama and Maya AngelouBarack Obama gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011
Her poetry collections included Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), And Still I Rise (1978), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987) and I Shall Not Be Moved (1990).
Her poem On the Pulse of the Morning, written for US President Bill Clinton's first inauguration, struck a nerve with the nation and sold more than a million copies in the US.
She was also commissioned to write poems to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995 and remembered Nelson Mandela in a poem for the US State Department last year.
The National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian award, were among her honours.
Continuing to act as well as write, she appeared in the groundbreaking 1977 TV drama Roots and earned a Tony Award nomination in 1973 for her performance in the play Look Away.
She wrote the 1968 TV series Black, Blues, Black and became the first African-American woman to have a feature film adapted from one of her stories when her screenplay Georgia, Georgia was made in 1972.
Angelou directed the film Down in the Delta, won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums and received an honorary National Book Award in 2013.
In her final Facebook post on Monday, she said an "unexpected medial emergency" had forced her to cancel an engagement.
Did you know or work with Maya Angelou? Did her work have a significant impact on you? Send us your memories by using the subject Maya Angelou.
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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dr. Dre is set to become Hip-Hop's first BILLIONAIRE.

This is Why Apple’s Willing to Pay $3.2B For Dr. Dre’s ‘Beats’Apple, takes a bite out

The era of digital downloads is coming to an end and Apple is still without its own streaming music product. That's why it looks poised to buy Beats for $3.2 billion, which would be its biggest acquisition everWhy would Apple want to buy Beats Electronics?

It’s a question many tech observers have been asking since theFinancial Times reported Thursday that the Silicon Valley behemoth is “closing in” on a $3.2 billion acquisition of the “high quality” headphones maker founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop artist Dr. Dre.
The FT suggested that Apple might be interested in Beats in order to recharge its “cool” factor at a time when streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and Rdio have become increasingly popular with young people.
Apple’s iTunes service long dominated digital music sales, but the company never quite figured out how to present a streaming music product. Apple’s flagship music brand iTunes has been criticized over its user interface — so it makes sense that the company would be eager for outside help.
At $3.2 billion, the Beats deal would be more than three times larger than any acquisition in Apple’s history.
Apple can definitely afford the transaction — it’s sitting on more than $150 billion in cash and investments — but the company has traditionally preferred to build from within. Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs was fiercely proud of that fact. Unlike other tech giants, Apple has never made an acquisition larger than $1 billion.
Until now, perhaps.
Bolt-on acquisitions are in vogue in the tech world these days: Recent examples include Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsAppand Oculus (not to mention Instagram), as well as Google’s purchase of Nest and Waze, and Yahoo’s Tumblr buyout.
Dr. Dre, a musician and producer who co-founded the seminal Compton, Calif.-based hip-hop group NWA, has said that he was inspired to create Beats by the poor sound quality in many headphones. He teamed up with legendary producer Jimmy Iovine, a veteran music industry executive, to launch a brand that has proved remarkably popular.
“I knew people were going to dig it, but I didn’t know it was going to be this big,” Dre told TIME in a recent interview. “I didn’t know it was going to be at this magnitude. I know that people really care about the way their music sounds. So did I know it was going to work? Yeah, but I had no idea it was going to be this massive.”
For Apple, the streaming music service that Beats recently launched may be the most attractive part of the deal. Apple revolutionized digital music with the iPod and iTunes, but the company has yet to find a new formula to challenge Spotify, the streaming music darling of the moment.
“This is a reactive move — at best,” writes veteran tech journalist Om Malik. “Steve Jobs’ Apple would have pushed to make something better, but even he struggled to come to terms with the Internet and Internet thinking. That hasn’t changed.” (TIME’s Harry McCracken also poses some good questionsabout the deal.)
Subscription services are growing faster than any other area of the music industry. Music subscription revenue increased by 50% to $1.1 billion in 2013, according to a report by IFPI, the global music industry association, cited by my colleague Eliana Dockterman. Downloads fell 2% last year, in the first annual decline since Apple launched the iTunes store in 2003.
Spotify is valued at more than $4 billion, and the Swedish company is among the most high profile candidates likely to go public over the next few years. A Spotify IPO would likely blast the company’s market value into the stratosphere, so it would make sense for Apple to make a run at the company now.
But why has Apple been unable to develop a credible streaming music service internally? After all, the company has a multitude of talented software and hardware engineers.
Three reasons.
First, Apple was late to the streaming music game, perhaps because its iTunes franchise was built around buying individual music tracks. Simply put, the iTunes business model is not about streaming music.
Second, Apple’s specialty is hardware and software design, not media. The company has run into trouble in its negotiations with big media companies.
Third, Apple CEO Tim Cook is an operational wizard — and a genius at managing Apple’s supply chain and inventory — but he’s not a product visionary like Jobs.
Cook failed to anticipate that music streaming would become the new industry business model. As a result, Apple simply wasn’t set up to launch a successful streaming service of its own. And it’s not because Apple didn’t have the resources or Los Angeles connections to secure the necessary rights. It’s because the company failed to anticipate a major consumer entertainment trend.
“The age of digital downloads is basically over,” Aram Sinnreich, a media professor at Rutgers University who studies the intersection of technology and music, told Bloomberg. So now, Apple reportedly wants to buy Beats for $3.2 billion.
This situation raises a now-familiar question: What’s up with innovation inside Apple? The company makes the best consumer hardware and software in the world, but it hasn’t launched a new product category since the iPad launch in 2010. Incremental improvements to the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac computer line have been impressive, but what’s next?
One possible explanation for Apple’s interest in Beats might be the booming “wearable computing” space. After all, Beats’ signature product is the high-bass headphone unit. If Apple can incorporate the Beats product into its wearable computing system — think Internet connected headphones — then the deal could pose a threat to Google, Facebook, and other companies that are forging ahead on smart glasses and watches.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Nigeria Under Jonathan, Squandered Oil Wealth, and Breeds Corruption Says Hillary Clinton

Nigeria Under Jonathan, Squandered Oil Wealth, and Breeds Corruption Says Hillary Clinton

Goodluck Jonathan,
Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State in separate events in New York City said the Nigerian government under President Goodluck Jonathan, squandered its oil resources, and indirectly helps corruption to fester in the troubled country.
Clinton spoke with ABC-TV’s Robin Roberts on American national television, and also at a public function organized by the International Crisis Group. Later, the former Senator and First Lady made other critical remarks concerning Nigeria at a philanthropy parley, as she was widely quoted by several American media outlets, including CNN.

Clinton stated the following position in the New York events she attended, challenging the credibility and quality of the country's leadership under President Jonathan's watch.

"The seizure of these young women by this radical, extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism, and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria,” Clinton told ABC-TV. “The government of Nigeria has been, in my view, somewhat derelict in its responsibility toward protecting boys and girls, men and women in northern Nigeria over the last years,” she said.

“The Nigerian government must accept help – particularly intelligence, surveillance and recognizance help – their troops have to be the ones that (are) necessary, but they could do a better job if they accept the offers that are being made. Nigeria has made bad choices, not hard choices," Clinton said, parroting the name of her forthcoming memoir.

"They have squandered their oil wealth; they have allowed corruption to fester, and now they are losing control of parts of their (own) territory because they would not make hard choices,” she went on to say.

"The Nigerian government has failed to confront the threat, or to address the underlying challenges. Most of all, the government of Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens and ensuring that every child has the right and opportunity to go to school,” she said in her address to the function organized by the International Crisis Group.

"Every asset and expertise should be brought to bear. Everyone needs to see this for what it is, it is a gross human rights abuse, but it is also part of a continuing struggle within Nigeria and within North Africa,” she added forcefully.

Clinton, often mentioned as the leading Democratic Party candidate in the upcoming 2016 U.S. Presidential election cycle, has not yet announced whether she will run for the White House. Yet, comments from the respected former U.S. Secretary of State do carry political weight beyond American borders.