marți, 31 ianuarie 2012

Woody Harrelson, a white man that can jump

Woodrow Tracy "Woody" Harrelson (born July 23, 1961) is an American actor.
Harrelson's breakthrough role came in the television sitcom Cheers as bartender Woody Boyd.
Some notable film characters include basketball hustler Billy Hoyle in White Men Can't Jump, bowler Roy Munson in Kingpin, serial killer Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers, magazine publisher Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt, country singer Dusty in A Prairie Home Companion, bounty hunter Carson Wells in No Country for Old Men, zombie killer Tallahassee in Zombieland, blind piano player/meat salesman Ezra Turner in Seven Pounds, conspiracy nut Charlie Frost in 2012, a delusional man who believes that he is a superhero named Defendor in Defendor and Cpt. Tony Stone in The Messenger. For The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger, Harrelson earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.


His first movie had been Wildcats, a football comedy in 1986 with Goldie Hawn. Harrelson reunited and became friends with Wesley Snipes and starred with him in the box-office hit White Men Can't Jump and the box-office bomb Money Train.

In 1993 he had a starring role opposite Robert Redford and Demi Moore in the drama Indecent Proposal, which earned him a worst supporting actor Razzie Award. After that film's success, Harrelson played Mickey Knox in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers and Dr. Michael Raynolds in the Michael Cimino film The Sunchaser. In 1996, he starred in the comedy Kingpin alongside Randy Quaid and Vanessa Angel.

Harrelson's career gained great momentum when he starred in the Milos Forman film The People vs. Larry Flynt, in which he played Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. The film was a success and Harrelson's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Actor.

After that, Harrelson was cast in more serious film roles. He starred in the 1997 war film Welcome to Sarajevo and also in 1997 had a featured role as Sergeant Schumann in Wag the Dog. In 1998, Harrelson starred in the thriller Palmetto and played Sergeant Keck in The Thin Red Line, a war film nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1999.


Harrelson made other films such as The Hi-Lo Country and portrayed Ray Pekurny in the comedy EDtv. Also in 1999, he appeared as boxer Vince Boudreau in the Ron Shelton film Play It to the Bone.

Harrelson didn't appear in movies again until 2003 when he co-starred as Galaxia in the comedy film Anger Management. He appeared in the action film After the Sunset and the comedy She Hate Me.

In 2005, Harrelson was in The Big White and North Country. Also in 2005 he appeared as Kelly Ryan, husband of a contest-obsessed woman in the film The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Harrelson made two films in 2006, the animated film version of Free Jimmy and also A Scanner Darkly. In 2007 he played Carter Page III, gay escort of privileged Washington D.C. women, in the film The Walker.
In the Oscar-winning 2007 crime thriller No Country for Old Men, Harrelson had a small but key role as Carson Wells, a bounty hunter. The film won Best Picture and Best Director for Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Harrelson also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast, along with Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald.

Also in a movie released in 2007, Battle in Seattle, Harrelson played another key role of a Seattle police officer whose pregnant wife loses her baby during the WTO protests in 1999. The film, also starring Andre 3000 of the hip hop group Outkast, depicts thousands of people peacefully protesting the WTO's attempts to broaden gaps between rich and poor while publicly promising a bridging of the gaps. These protests go wrong when members of an anarchist group tear the city to pieces with the help of provocateurs. Harrelson's role goes from a law abiding and enforcing Officer of the law, to a grief-stricken eye-for-an-eye man with a badge to justify his actions.


In 2008, Harrelson appeared in several films, among them the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro and the Will Smith stark drama Seven Pounds.


In 2009, Harrelson received significant praise for his performance as Captain Tony Stone in The Messenger. In what many critics considered to be his best role, Harrelson was nominated for a Satellite Award, an Independent Spirit Award, a Golden Globe Award a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Harrelson has also won the Best Supporting Actor award in the 2009 National Board of Review award ceremonies and received accolades from various critics' societies.

Also in 2009, he co-starred in the horror comedy Zombieland, and is to reprise his role in its upcoming sequel. In Roland Emmerich's 2012, he played Charlie Frost, a man who warns of the end of the world. In 2010 he starred as the bartender and mentor in the futuristic western martial arts film Bunraku.In 2011, He stared as Tommy in the movie Friends With Benefits. He will also be playing Haymitch in the 2012 Hunger Games movie.

luni, 23 ianuarie 2012

Billy Idol, english punk rock musician, one of the first MTV stars

William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), better known by his stage name Billy Idol, is an English rock musician. A member of the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, Idol first achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band Generation X. He then embarked on a successful solo career, aided by a series of stylish music videos, making him one of the first MTV stars. Idol continues to tour with guitarist Steve Stevens and has a worldwide fan base.

Idol was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, the son of a salesman. He attended Tideway School in Newhaven, East Sussex. The name Billy Idol was inspired by a schoolteacher's description of Broad as "idle".

In 1958, when Idol was two years old, his parents moved to Patchogue, New York, on Long Island. The family returned to England four years later with Idol and a younger child Jane (who had been born in the US), settling in Dorking, Surrey. In 1971 the family moved to Bromley, south east London, where Idol attended Ravensbourne School for Boys. Idol (rather William Broad) also attended Worthing High School for Boys (later becoming Worthing College). In October 1975, Idol went to Sussex University to pursue an English degree and lived on campus (East Slope) but left after year one (1976). He then went on to join the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, a gang that travelled into towns where the band played.

Idol first joined the punk rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees (before the band had decided on that name) in 1976, but soon quit and joined Chelsea in 1977 as a guitarist. However, he and Chelsea bandmate Tony James soon left that group and co-founded Generation X, with Idol switching from guitarist to lead singer. Generation X were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC Television music programme Top of the Pops. Although a punk rock band, they were inspired by mid-Sixties British pop, in sharp contrast to their more militant peers, with Idol stating; "We were saying the opposite to the Clash and the Pistols.

They were singing 'No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones', but we were honest about what we liked. The truth was, we were all building our music on the Beatles and the Stones". Generation X signed to Chrysalis Records and released three albums and performed in the 1980 film, D.O.A., before disbanding. Idol moved to New York in 1981, and became a solo artist working with Steve Stevens, Phil Feit and Steve Missal. Idol's debut solo album, Billy Idol, was released in July 1982.

Idol's solo career began with the EP titled Don't Stop in 1981, which included the Generation X song "Dancing with Myself", originally recorded for their last album Kiss Me Deadly, and a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells' song "Mony Mony". In 1982, Idol became an MTV staple with "White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself". In 1983, in an effort to introduce Idol to American audiences not yet as familiar with him as those in the UK, Idol's label released "Dancing with Myself" in the US in conjunction with a music video directed by Tobe Hooper, which played on MTV for six months.

Idol's second LP, Rebel Yell (1983) was a major success and established Idol's superstar status in the United States with hits like "Eyes Without a Face," "Flesh For Fantasy", and the title cut. Idol also became very popular in Europe thanks to this album and its singles, particularly in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and later in the UK. Tracks from the album featured in the 1988 Hollywood comedy film Big, which starred Tom Hanks.

Idol released Whiplash Smile in 1986, which sold well. The album included the hits "To Be a Lover," "Don't Need a Gun" and "Sweet Sixteen". Idol filmed a video featuring "Sweet Sixteen" (which he also wrote) in Florida's Coral Castle. The song was inspired by the story of Edward Leedskalnin's former love, Agnes Scuffs, who was the main reason Leedskalnin built the structure over a period of decades, starting years after she jilted him the day before their scheduled wedding in their native Latvia. Stevens parted ways with Idol after Whiplash Smile. In 1986, Stevens appeared with Harold Faltermeyer on the Top Gun soundtrack. Their contribution was the Grammy winning instrumental, "Top Gun Anthem".


A remix album was released in 1987 called, Vital Idol. The album featured a live rendition of his cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony". The single topped the US chart in 1987.

In 1989, Idol appeared on stage with The Who as Cousin Kevin as part of the live version of Tommy, which was aired as an HBO special and released on home video and later as a DVD. In later years, Idol also stood in as a guest performer with The Who on "Bell Boy", a hit from their rock opera album Quadrophenia, and provided the lead vocals that were originally sung by the band's late drummer Keith Moon. On these brief appearances, Idol dressed in a full bell boy's uniform to reflect upon Moon's eccentricity on stage.

Idol was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which nearly cost him a leg on 6 February 1990 at the corner of Gordon Avenue and Fountain Avenue in Hollywood. He was hit by a car when he ran a stop sign while driving home from the studio one night, requiring a steel rod to be placed in his leg.[9] Shortly prior to this, film director James Cameron had chosen Idol to play the T-1000 character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and had drawn storyboards to resemble him, but the accident prevented Idol from accepting.


Charmed Life was released in 1990, and a video for the single "Cradle of Love" had to be shot. The song had been featured in the Andrew Dice Clay film, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Since Idol was unable to walk, he was shot from the waist up. The video featured video footage of him singing in large frames throughout an apartment, while Betsy Lynn George was trying to seduce a businessman. The video was placed in rotation on MTV. Idol and George recreated the opening of the video for the 1991 American Music Awards.[citation needed] Against his doctors' advice, he also managed to make appearances to promote Charmed Life.

Idol made a cameo appearance in the 1998 film The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler, in which Idol ultimately saved the relationship between characters Robbie Hart (Sandler) and Julia Sullivan (played by Drew Barrymore). Idol also had a small part in the movie The Doors, directed by Oliver Stone. Idol played Jim Morrison's drinking buddy, Cat. Idol also performed at Roger Waters' live concert The Wall Live in Berlin in 1990.
In 1993, Idol released Cyberpunk. Regarded as experimental, it was recorded in a home studio using a Macintosh computer, which was a new concept at the time. Idol recorded the album with guitarist Mark Younger-Smith and producer Robin Hancock. Special editions of the album were issued with a floppy disc which contained a screensaver. It was the first album which listed the e-mail address of the artist (idol@well.sf.ca.us, which is now inactive) in its booklet. In 1996, Idol appeared in a live version of The Who's Quadrophenia. He returned to the public eye in 1998, when he played himself in The Wedding Singer, in which "White Wedding" was also the title track. He was also considered for the role of the villain, Jacob Kell, in Highlander: Endgame, although ultimately Bruce Payne was cast. He also shared the stage with the band Third Eye Blind.
from a performance at Los Angeles station KROQ's 1993 Acoustic Christmas concert.
VH1 aired Billy Idol - Behind the Music on 16 April 2001. The Behind the Music series was popular, and each band or artist that was featured on that program usually gained a resurgence of interest after the show had aired. Idol and Stevens were no exceptions, taking part in a VH1 Storytellers show three days later. The reunited duo set out to play a series of acoustic/storytellers shows before recording the VH1 special. The acoustic tour was a success, and Idol eventually started adding new material into the show. Another Greatest Hits CD was issued in 2001, with Keith Forsey's "Don't You (Forget About Me)" appearing on the compilation. Forsey had originally written it with Idol in mind, but the singer turned it down and eventually the song was given to Simple Minds, who made it a hit in 1985. The album also includes a live acoustic version of "Rebel Yell", taken

In 2000, Idol was invited to be a guest vocalist on Tony Iommi's album. His contribution was on the song "Into The Night", which he also co-wrote. That year he voice acted the role of Odin, a mysterious alien character, in the animated fantasy film Heavy Metal 2000. In the 2002 NRL Grand Final in Sydney, Idol entered the playing field for the post-match entertainment on a hovercraft-type stage to the intro of "White Wedding", when he managed to sing only two words before a power failure ended the performance. "White Wedding" appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on fictional Classic rock radio station, K-DST.

miercuri, 18 ianuarie 2012

Succes 2011: Björn Ulvaeus, swedish songwriter, composer, musician, writer, producer, a former member of the Swedish musical group ABBA. He coproduced the film Mamma Mia!


Björn Kristian Ulvaeus (born 25 April 1945) is a Swedish songwriter, composer, musician, writer, producer, a former member of the Swedish musical group ABBA (1972–82), and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla, and Mamma Mia!. He coproduced the film Mamma Mia! with fellow ex-ABBA member and close friend Benny Andersson.
Prior to gaining international recognition with ABBA, Ulvaeus was a member of the Swedish folk-schlager band Hootenanny Singers, who had an enormous following in Scandinavia. While on the road in southern Sweden in 1966, they encountered the Hep Stars, and Ulvaeus quickly became friends with the group’s keyboard player, Benny Andersson. The two musicians shared a passion for songwriting, and each found a composing partner in the other. On meeting again that summer, they composed their first song together: "Isn't It Easy To Say", a song soon to be recorded by Andersson's group. The two continued teaming up for music, helping out each other's bands in the recording studio, and adding guitar or keyboards respectively to the recordings.

In 1968, they composed two songs together: "A Flower In My Garden", recorded by Hep Stars, and their first 'real' hit "Ljuva Sextiotal", for which Stig Anderson wrote lyrics. The latter - a cabarét-style ironic song about the 1960s – was submitted for the 1969 Swedish heats for Eurovision Song Contest, but was rejected; it was later recorded by diva Brita Borg. Another hit came in 1969 with "Speleman", also recorded by Hep Stars.

While filming a nostalgic schlager special for television in March 1969, Björn met eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter Agnetha Fältskog. Benny had himself met his future spouse, 24-year-old jazz and schlager vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad, only weeks before.

Björn Ulvaeus continued recording and touring with Hootenanny Singers to great acclaim while working as in-house producer at Polar Record Company (headed by future manager Stig Anderson), with Benny as his new partner. The twosome produced records by other artists and continued writing songs together. Polar artist Arne Lamberts Swedish version of "A Flower In My Garden" - "Fröken Blåklint" - was one of Björn & Bennys first in-house productions. In December 1969, they recorded the new song "She's My Kind Of Girl", which became their first single as a duo. It was released in March 1970, giving them a minor hit in Sweden (and by chance a top-ten hit in Japan two years later).



The Hootenanny Singers entered Svensktoppen, the Swedish radio charts, in 1970 with "Omkring Tiggarn Från Luossa", a cover of an old folk-schlager song. It remained on the charts for 52 consecutive weeks, a record which endured until 1990; the song was produced by Björn and Benny, and had Ulvaeus's solo vocal and Benny's piano.

After ABBA, Ulvaeus, together with Andersson, created the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla (based on The Emigrants novels by Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg), and Mamma Mia! (based on ABBA songs).

Together with Andersson, Ulvaeus was nominated for the Drama Desk Award in the category "Outstanding Music" (for the musical Chess), and for a Tony Award in a category "Best Orchestrations" (for musical Mamma Mia!). Original cast recordings of both musicals were nominated for a Grammy Award.
For the 2004 semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, staged in Istanbul thirty years after ABBA had won the contest in Brighton, Ulvaeus appeared briefly in a special comedy video made for the interval act, entitled "Our Last Video". Each of the four members of the group appeared briefly in cameo roles, as did others such as Cher and Rik Mayall. The video was not included in the official DVD release of the Eurovision Contest, but was issued as a separate DVD release. It was billed as the first time the four had worked together since the group split. In fact, they each filmed their appearances separately.

Ulvaeus also shared with Andersson "The Special International Ivor Novello Award" from 'The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters', "The Music Export Prize" from the Swedish Ministry of Industry and Trade (2008), and "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Swedish Music Publishers Association (SMFF).


The Swedish Tax Board accused Björn Ulvaeus of failing to pay 90 million kronor (US$12.8 million) in back taxes for eight years ending in 2005. They claimed that he "laundered" his music royalty income through institutions in several foreign countries. Ulvaeus paid the taxes as a precautionary measure during the 2½-year dispute. In October 2008, the county administrative court decided the case in Ulvaeus’ favour, ruling that he never owed any of the 90 million kronor

marți, 17 ianuarie 2012

Succes 2012: Wladimir Klitschko, the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO & Ring Magazine Heavyweight Champion. He is the longest reigning Heavyweight Champion in history for the IBF, WBO & IBO heavyweight titles


Wladimir Klitschko (born 25 March 1976) is a Ukrainian heavyweight boxer. Klitschko is the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO & Ring Magazine Heavyweight Champion. His older brother Vitali Klitschko is the current WBC Heavyweight Champion. Klitschko is the longest reigning Heavyweight Champion in history for the IBF, WBO & IBO heavyweight titles, both in measurements of defenses and time & the 7th longest reigning heavyweight champion of all time. As of 2011, Boxrec rates Klitschko as the number 2 pound-for-pound in the world. Ring Magazine currently rates Klitschko as the number six pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

Since 2005, Klitschko has been the dominant force in the heavyweight division, defeating a majority of the top heavyweights in the rankings. When Klitschko won the IBF title against Chris Byrd there were four separate heavyweight champions. Since then he has unified the IBF, IBO, WBO & WBA belts and defeated the WBA champion in recess. Following his win over Ruslan Chagaev, Klitschko was awarded the vacant Ring Magazine Heavyweight Title. He works behind a strong left jab and possesses one of the strongest right crosses in boxing.
Klitschko is a safety first fighter; however, he tends to methodically break down his opponents over a series of rounds. Emanuel Steward, Klitschko's trainer, has also pointed out that Klitschko's ability to hurt opponents late on in fights (Tony Thompson, Samuel Peter, etc.) is a sign of his power. He has gone on to say that he feels Klitschko is one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history.

Klitschko turned professional with Universum Box-Promotion in Hamburg under the tutelage of Fritz Sdunek.

He suffered his first setback after 24 bouts without a loss to journeyman Ross Puritty, who entered the bout with a record of 24–13–1. Wladimir Klitschko's coach, Fritz Sdunek, jumped into the ring and stopped the fight.



On 14 October 2000, in Cologne's Kölnarena (Germany), Klitschko won the WBO Heavyweight Championship from American Chris Byrd. Byrd had previously upset his elder brother Vitali (who pulled out injured during their bout). After five successful defenses of the WBO belt, Klitschko suffered an upset loss to Corrie Sanders. Sanders battered Klitschko for two rounds knocking him out on 8 March 2003, in Hannover, Germany.

Klitschko appeared with Lennox Lewis in the motion picture Ocean's Eleven. He is an avid chess player, kite-surfer, golfer, and humanitarian. Both Klitschko brothers have been involved in charitable activities dedicated to supporting the needs of children around the world. Both brothers have formed their own charities that contribute to children in need in Africa and South America. They won humanitarian awards for their "Fight For Peace" and "Sport for Good" projects in 2002 and 2007.

In 2002, the Klitschko brothers announced that they had agreed to work specifically for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which supports more than 180 projects in 87 countries. Klitschko is also a passionate golfer and was seen playing in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. The tournament was played over three courses in 2008 including St Andrews, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns in Fife and Angus. Klitschko was named curator of the Ukrainian pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Klitschko starred in the music video for Chris Cornell's song "Part of Me" in 2008, alongside rising dancer Carlos Kerr Jr. and Method Man.
Klitschko appeared with Lennox Lewis in the motion picture Ocean's Eleven. He is an avid chess player, kite-surfer, golfer, and humanitarian. Both Klitschko brothers have been involved in charitable activities dedicated to supporting the needs of children around the world. Both brothers have formed their own charities that contribute to children in need in Africa and South America. They won humanitarian awards for their "Fight For Peace" and "Sport for Good" projects in 2002 and 2007. In 2002, the Klitschko brothers announced that they had agreed to work specifically for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which supports more than 180 projects in 87 countries. Klitschko is also a passionate golfer and was seen playing in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. The tournament was played over three courses in 2008 including St Andrews, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns in Fife and Angus. Klitschko was named curator of the Ukrainian pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Klitschko starred in the music video for Chris Cornell's song "Part of Me" in 2008, alongside rising dancer Carlos Kerr Jr. and Method Man.

luni, 16 ianuarie 2012

Succes 2011: Vitali Klitschko, the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time

Vitali Volodymyrovych Klychko (born 19 July 1971) is a Ukrainian professional boxer and the reigning WBC Heavyweight Champion. He is a leader of the political party UDAR of Vitaliy Klychko and a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Congress of the Council of Europe. He previously held the WBO and WBC titles. Klitschko is the first professional boxing world champion to hold a Ph.D. Some experts cite him as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.
Klitschko is known for his powerful punches and exceptional chin. With a 88.89% knockout percentage rate, he holds the best knockout-to-fight ratio of any champion in heavyweight boxing history. He has never been knocked down in any professional boxing bout, and has also never lost a decision. His two losses have come via a shoulder injury during a fight and a deep cut above his eye, which did however result in TKO losses. His power and his possession of a Ph.D has led to his nickname, Dr. Ironfist.

Klitschko's younger brother, Wladimir Klitschko, is the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine world Heavyweight Champion. He was awarded Germany's highest civilian award, the Federal Cross of Merit, for his varied accomplishments. On December 2011, Ring Magazine rated Klitschko as the number ten pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Klitschko won the super heavyweight championship at the first World Military Games in Italy in 1995. Vitali won the silver medal at the 1995 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Berlin, Germany, where he was defeated by Russia's Alexei Lezin in the final. In his autobiography, published in Germany in 2004, the boxer revealed that he tested positive for a banned steroid in 1996. He attributed the presence of the drug to treatment of a leg injury but was dismissed from the Ukrainian boxing team and missed the Atlanta Olympics. His brother Wladimir moved up from heavyweight to super-heavyweight to take his place in the squad. His amateur record was 195–15 with 80 knockouts.


Klitschko began his professional boxing career in 1996, winning his first twenty-four fights by either early knockout or technical knockout (TKO). He and Wladimir signed with the German athlete-promotion company Universum. With both brothers holding Ph.D.s and being multilingual, their refined and articulate personalities made for mainstream marketability when they moved to Germany and Universum. In time, they became national celebrities in their adopted home country. In his 25th pro fight, on 26 June 1999, Klitschko won the WBO heavyweight title from Herbie Hide of the United Kingdom by a 2nd round knockout.

He successfully defended the title twice. He defeated Ed Mahone by knockout in the third round, and beat Obed Sullivan who retired after the ninth round.
Klitschko began campaigning for mayor of Kiev shortly after his retirement in 2005. He lost the 2006 mayoral election to Leonid Chernovetskyi but placed second with 26% of the vote, ahead of the incumbent Oleksandr Omelchenko. Klitschko campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and lead the bloc "Civic party" PORA-ROP (the parties PORA and Reforms and Order Party) in the simultaneously held local elections for the Kiev City Council. Analysts stated his relatively late entry into the campaign might have cost him votes. Still, Klitschko was elected as a people's deputy to the Kiev City Council since "Civic party" PORA-ROP won 14 seats in the 2006 election.

In the May 2008 Kiev local election he ran again and won 18% of the vote. Klitschko simultaneously led the Vitaliy Klychko Bloc that won 10.61% of the votes and 15 seats and again he was elected into the Kiev City Council. His campaign hired Rudy Giuliani as a consultant for the campaign. In 2008 he was also appointed to the Ukrainian delegation of the Congress of the Council of Europe.

Klitschko became the leader of the political party UDAR of Vitaliy Klychko in April 2010. During the 2010 Ukrainian local elections the party won representatives in (Ukrainian) municipalities and Oblast Councils (regional parliaments).
In October 2011 Klitschko announced that he would compete in the 2012 Kiev mayoral election.

joi, 12 ianuarie 2012

Lech Wałęsa, co-founder of Solidarność, the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995

Lech Wałęsa (born 29 September 1943) is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.


Wałęsa was an electrician by trade, with no higher education. Soon after beginning work at the Gdańsk (then, "Lenin") Shipyards, he became a trade-union activist. For this he was persecuted by the Polish communist government, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government, and he became a co-founder of the Solidarity trade-union movement. Arrested again after martial law was imposed and Solidarity was outlawed, upon release he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.

In 1990 he successfully ran for the 1989-newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transformation from a communist to a post-communist state, but his popularity waned. After he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, his role in Polish politics was diminished. His international fame remains, however, and he speaks and lectures in Poland and abroad on history and politics.

From early on, Wałęsa was interested in workers' concerns; in 1968 he encouraged shipyard colleagues to boycott official rallies that condemned recent student strikes. A charismatic leader, he was an organizer of the illegal 1970 strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard (the Polish 1970 protests) when workers protested the government's decree raising food prices; he was considered for chairman of the strike committee. The strikes' outcome, involving over 30 worker deaths, galvanized his views on the need for change. In June 1976, Wałęsa lost his job at the Gdańsk Shipyards for his continued involvement in illegal unions, strikes and a campaign to commemorate the victims of the 1970 protests. Afterwards, he worked as an electrician for several other companies, but was continually laid off for his activism and was jobless for long periods. He and his family were under constant surveillance by the Polish secret police; his home and workplace were always bugged. Over the next few years, he was arrested several times for participating in dissident activities.


Wałęsa worked closely with the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR), a group that emerged to lend aid to individuals arrested after 1976 labor strikes and to their families. In June 1978 he became an activist of the underground Free Trade Unions of the Coast (Wolne Związki Zawodowe Wybrzeża). On 14 August 1980, after another food-price hike led to a strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk—a strike of which he was one of the instigators—Wałęsa scaled the shipyard fence and, once inside, quickly became one of the strike leaders. The strike inspired similar strikes, first at Gdańsk, then across Poland. Wałęsa headed the Inter-Plant Strike Committee, coordinating the workers at Gdańsk and at 20 other plants in the region. On 31 August, the communist government, represented by Mieczysław Jagielski, signed an accord (the Gdańsk Agreement) with the Strike Coordinating Committee. The agreement, besides granting the Lenin Shipyard workers the right to strike, permitted them to form their own independent trade union. The Strike Coordinating Committee legalized itself as the National Coordinating Committee of the Solidarność (Solidarity) Free Trade Union, and Wałęsa was chosen chairman of the Committee. The Solidarity trade union quickly grew, ultimately claiming over 10 million members—more than a quarter of Poland's population. Wałęsa's role in the strike, in the negotiations, and in the newly formed independent trade union gained him fame on the international stage.


Wałęsa held his position until 13 December 1981, when General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law. Wałęsa, like many other Solidarity leaders and activists, was arrested; he would be incarcerated for 11 months at several eastern towns (Chylice, Otwock, and Arłamów, near the Soviet border) until 14 November 1982. On 8 October 1982, Solidarity was outlawed. In 1983 Wałęsa applied to return to the Gdańsk Shipyard as a simple electrician. That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was unable to accept it himself, fearing that Poland's government would not let him back into the country. His wife Danuta accepted the prize on his behalf.


Round-table negotiations, 1989Through the mid-1980s, Wałęsa continued underground Solidarity-related activities. Every issue of the leading underground weekly, Tygodnik Mazowsze, bore his motto, "Solidarity will not be divided or destroyed."[13] Following a 1986 amnesty for Solidarity activists,[14] Wałęsa co-founded the first overt legal Solidarity entity since the declaration of martial law—the Provisional Council of NSZZ Solidarity (Tymczasowa Rada NSZZ Solidarność). From 1987 to 1990, he organized and led the "semi-illegal" Provisional Executive Committee of the Solidarity Trade Union. In late summer 1988, he instigated work-stoppage strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard.

After months of strikes and political deliberations, at the conclusion of the 10th plenary session of the Polish United Workers Party, or PZPR (the Polish communist party), the government agreed to enter into Round Table Negotiations that lasted from February to April 1989. Wałęsa was an informal leader of the "non-governmental" side in the negotiations. During the talks, he traveled the length and breadth of Poland, giving speeches in support of the negotiations.[3] At the end of the talks, the government signed an agreement to re-establish the Solidarity Trade Union and to organize "semi-free" elections to the Polish parliament (semi-free since, in accordance with the Round Table Agreement, only members of the Communist Party and its allies could stand for 65% of the seats in the Sejm).


In December 1988, Wałęsa co-founded the Solidarity Citizens' Committee. Theoretically it was merely an advisory body, but in practice it was a kind of political party and won the parliamentary elections in June 1989 (Solidarity took all the seats in the Sejm that were subject to free elections, and all but one seat in the newly re-established Senate).Wałęsa was one of Solidarity's most public figures; though he did not run for parliament himself, he was an active campaigner, appearing on many campaign posters. In fact, Solidarity winners in the Sejm elections were referred to as "Wałęsa's team" or "Lech's team," as all those who won had appeared on their election posters together with him.

While ostensibly only chairman of Solidarity, Wałęsa played a key role in practical politics. At the end of 1989 he persuaded leaders of former communist-allied parties to form a non-communist coalition government – the first non-Communist government in the Soviet Bloc. The parliament elected Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister – the first non-communist Polish prime minister in over four decades.

Apart from his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, Wałęsa has received many other international distinctions and awards.

luni, 9 ianuarie 2012

King Michael of Romania, the last surviving head of state from World War II


Michael (Romanian: Maiestatea Sa Mihai I Regele Românilor, literally "His Majesty Michael I King of the Romanians", born 25 October 1921) was the last King of Romania, reigning from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930, and again from 6 September 1940, until forced to abdicate by the communists backed up by orders of Joseph Stalin to the Soviet armies of occupation on 30 December 1947. In addition to being the current holder of the dis-established throne of Romania, he was also a Prince of Hohenzollern until 10 May 2011, when he renounced this title.
A great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria by both of his parents, and a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, he is one of the last surviving heads of state from World War II, the others being the former King Simeon II of Bulgaria and the former King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.

Michael was born in the Foişor Castle or Peleş Castle, Sinaia, Romania, the son of Carol II of Romania (then Crown Prince of Romania) and Princess Elena of Greece. He was born as the grandson of the then-reigning King Ferdinand of Romania. When Carol II eloped with his mistress Elena "Magda" Lupescu and renounced 'temporarily' his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was declared the heir apparent. He succeeded to the throne upon Ferdinand's death in July 1927.

A regency, which included his uncle, Prince Nicolae, Patriarch Miron Cristea, and the country's Chief Justice (Gheorghe Buzdugan, from October 1929 on Constantin Sărăţeanu) functioned on behalf of the 5-year-old Michael during the 1927–1930 period.
In 1930, Carol II returned to the country at the invitation of politicians dissatisfied with the Regency, and was proclaimed king by the Parliament, designating Michael as Crown Prince with the title "Grand Voievod of Alba-Iulia". In November 1939, Michael joined the Romanian Senate, as the 1938 Constitution guaranteed him a seat there upon reaching the age of eighteen.

In September 1940, the pro-German anti-Bolshevik régime of Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu staged a coup d'état against Carol II, whom the Marshal claimed to be 'anti-German'. Antonescu suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and re-installed the 18-year-old Michael as King by popular acclaim. (Although the Constitution was restored in 1944 and the Romanian Parliament in 1946, Michael did not either subsequently take a formal oath or have his reign approved retroactively by Parliament.) Michael was crowned with the Steel Crown and anointed King of Romania by the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, Nicodim Munteanu, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest, on the day of his accession, 6 September 1940.Although King Michael was formally the Supreme Head of the Army and entitled to appoint the Prime Minister with full powers named 'Leader of the people' ("Conducător"), in reality he was forced to remain only a figurehead until August 1944.
In 1944, World War II was going badly for the Axis powers, but the military dictator Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu was still in control of Romania. As of August 1944, the Soviet conquest of Romania had become inevitable, being expected in a few months. On 23 August 1944, Michael joined the pro-Allied politicians, a number of army officers, and armed communist-led civilians in staging a coup against Antonescu, whereas it was recognized in the late 1970s that King Michael ordered his arrest by the Royal Palace Guard. On the same night, the new Prime Minister, Lt. General Constantin Sănătescu—who was appointed by King Michael—gave custody of Antonescu to the communists (in spite of alleged instructions to the contrary by the King), who delivered him to the Soviets on 1 September.

In a radio broadcast to the Romanian nation and army, Michael issued a cease-fire just as the Red Army was penetrating the Moldavian front, proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of the armistice offered by Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany. However, this did not avert a rapid Soviet occupation and capture of about 130,000 Romanian soldiers, who were transported to the Soviet Union where many perished in prison camps.Although the country's alliance with the Nazis was ended, the coup sped the Red Army's advance into Romania.The armistice was signed three weeks later on 12 September 1944, on terms the Soviets virtually dictated.

Under the terms of the armistice, Romania recognized its defeat by the USSR and was placed under occupation of the Allied forces with the Soviets, as their representative, in control of media, communication, post, and civil administration behind the front. The coup effectively amounted to a "capitulation", an "unconditional" "surrender". It has been suggested that the coup may have shortened World War II by six months, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
King Michael was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne. At the end of the war, King Michael was awarded the highest degree (Chief Commander) of the Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He was also decorated with the Soviet Order of Victory by Joseph Stalin "for the courageous act of the radical change in Romania's politics towards a break-up from Hitler's Germany and an alliance with the United Nations, at the moment when there was no clear sign yet of Germany's defeat," according to the official description of the decoration. He is the only surviving recipient as of 2011.
In March 1945, political pressures forced King Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government dominated by the Romanian Communist Party. Under the communist régime King Michael functioned again as little more than a figurehead. Between August 1945 and January 1946, during what was later known as the "royal strike," King Michael tried unsuccessfully to oppose the first communist government led by the communist Prime Minister Petru Groza, by refusing to sign its decrees. In response to Soviet, British, and American pressures, King Michael eventually gave up his opposition to the communist government and stopped demanding its resignation.
He did not pardon former Marshal Antonescu, who was sentenced to death "for betrayal of the Romanian people for the benefit of Nazi Germany, for the economic and political subjugation of Romania to Germany, for cooperation with the Iron Guard, for murdering his political opponents, for the mass murder of civilians and crimes against peace". Nor did King Michael manage to save such leaders of the opposition as Iuliu Maniu and the Bratianus, victims of communist political trials, as the Constitution prevented him from doing so without the counter-signature of communist Justice Minister Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (who was, himself, later eliminated by Gheorghiu-Dej's opposing communist faction). The memoirs of King Michael's aunt Princess Ileana quote Emil Bodnăraş—her alleged lover,Romania's communist minister of defense, and a Soviet spy—as saying: "Well, if the King decides not to sign the death warrant, I promise that we will uphold his point of view." Princess Ileana was skeptical: "You know quite well (...) that the King will never of his free will sign such an unconstitutional document. If he does, it will be laid at your door, and before the whole nation your government will bear the blame. Surely you do not wish this additional handicap at this moment!"
In November, 1947 King Michael traveled to London for the wedding of his cousins, The Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and The Duke of Edinburgh, an occasion during which he met Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (his second cousin once removed), who was to become his wife.

According to unconfirmed claims by so-called Romanian 'royalists', King Michael did not want to return home, but certain Americans and Britons present at the wedding encouraged him to do so; Winston Churchill is said to have counseled Michael to return because "above all things, a King must be courageous." According to his own account, King Michael rejected any offers of asylum and decided to return to Romania, contrary to the confidential, strong advice of the British Ambassador to Romania.
On 30 December 1947 the royal palace was surrounded by the Tudor Vladimirescu army units loyal to the Communists. Michael was forced at gun point (by either Petru Groza or Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, depending on the source) to abdicate Romania's throne. Later the same day, the Communist-dominated government announced the 'permanent' abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a People's Republic, broadcasting the King's pre-recorded radio proclamation of his own abdication. On 3 January 1948, Michael was forced to leave the country, followed over a week later by Princesses Elisabeth and Ileana, who collaborated so closely with the Soviets they became known as the King's "Red Aunts."
According to Michael's own account, the Communist Prime Minister Petru Groza had threatened him at gun point and warned that the government would shoot 1,000 arrested students if the king didn't abdicate. In an interview with The New York Times from 2007, Michael recalls the events: “It was blackmail. They said, ‘If you don’t sign this immediately we are obliged’ — why obliged I don’t know — 'to kill more than 1,000 students' that they had in prison.”According to Time magazine, the communist government threatened Michael that it would arrest thousands and steep the country in blood if he did not abdicate.

However, according to the autobiography of the former head of the Soviet intelligence agency NKVD, Major General Pavel Sudoplatov, the Deputy Soviet Foreign Commissar Andrey Vyshinsky personally conducted negotiations with King Michael for his abdication, guaranteeing part of a pension to be paid to Michael in Mexico. According to a few articles in Jurnalul Naţional, Michael's abdication was negotiated with the Communist government, which allowed him to leave the country with the goods he requested and by some of the royal retinue.
According to the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, who recounts his conversations with the Romanian Communist leaders on the monarch's abdication, King Michael was threatened with a pistol by the Romanian Communist Party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej rather than Petru Groza so as to abdicate. He was allowed to leave the country accompanied by some of his entourage and, as confirmed also by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev recounting Dej's confessions, with whatever properties he desired, including gold and rubies. Hoxha does say in his book that the Romanian communist leaders had threatened King Michael with their loyal army troops, which had encircled the royal palace and its troops loyal to King Michael.
According to Time magazine, in early 1948 there had been negotiations between King Michael and the communist government over the properties he left behind in Romania and those negotiations delayed his denunciation of the abdication as illegal.
There are reportsthat Romanian communist authorities, obedient to Stalin, allowed King Michael to part with 42 valuable Crown-owned paintings in November 1947, so that he would leave Romania faster. Some of these paintings were reportedly sold through the famed art dealer Daniel Wildenstein. One of the paintings belonging to the Romanian Crown which was supposedly taken out of the country by King Michael in November 1947, returned to Romania in 2004 as a donation made by John Kreuger, the former husband of King Michael's daughter Princess Irina.
In 2005 Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu denied these accusations about King Michael, stating that the Romanian government has no proof of any such action by King Michael and that, prior to 1949, the government had no official records of any artwork taken over from the former royal residences. However, according to some historians, such records existed as early as April 1948, having been, in fact, officially published in June 1948.
According to Ivor Porter's authorized biography, Michael of Romania: The King and The Country (2005), which quotes Queen-Mother Helen's daily diary, the Romanian royals took out paintings belonging to the Romanian Royal Crown on their November 1947 trip to London to the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth II; two of these paintings, signed by El Greco, were sold in 1976.
According to recently declassified Foreign Office documents, when he left Romania, the exiled king Michael's only assets amounted to 500,000 Swiss francs. Recently declassified Soviet transcripts of talks between Joseph Stalin and the Romanian Prime-Minister Petru Groza show that shortly before his abdication, King Michael received from the communist government assets amounting to 500,000 Swiss francs. King Michael, however, repeatedly denied that the communist government had allowed him to take into exile any financial assets or valuable goods besides four personal automobiles loaded on two train cars.
In January 1948, Michael began using one of his family's ancestral titles, "Prince of Hohenzollern,"instead of using the title of "King of Romania." After denouncing his abdication as forced and illegal in March 1948, Michael resumed use of the kingly title.
On 10 June 1948 in Athens, Greece, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (b. Paris, 18 September 1923). They lived first in Britain and later settled in Switzerland. The Communist Romanian authorities illegally stripped him of his Romanian citizenship in 1948. He became a commercial pilot and worked for an aircraft equipment company. He and his wife have five daughters.


In 1992, three years after the revolution which overthrew the Communist dictatorship, the Romanian government allowed Michael to return to his country for Easter celebrations, where he drew large crowds. In Bucharest over a million people turned out to see him. Michael's popularity alarmed the government of President Ion Iliescu, so Michael was forbidden to visit Romania again for five years. In 1997, after Iliescu's defeat by Emil Constantinescu, the Romanian Government restored Michael's citizenship and again allowed him to visit the country. He now lives partly in Switzerland at Aubonne and partly in Romania, either at Săvârşin Castle in Arad county or in an official residence in Bucharest—the Elisabeta Palace—voted by the Romanian Parliament by a law concerning arrangements for former heads of state.
According to the succession provisions of the Romanian kingdom's last democratically approved monarchical constitution of 1923, upon the death of King Michael without sons, the claim to the Crown devolves once again upon the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family (see "Line of succession to the Romanian throne").

However, on 30 December 2007, on the 60th anniversary of his abdication, King Michael signed the Fundamental Rules of the Royal Family of Romania, by which he designated Princess Margarita as heiress to the throne with the titles of "Crown Princess of Romania" and "Custodian of the Romanian Crown." This act is, during the republican form of government and in the absence of approval by the Parliament, considered to be null and void.On the same occasion, Michael also asked the Romanian Parliament that, should it consider restoring the monarchy, it should also abolish the salic law of succession.
Michael participated in the Victory parade in Moscow in 2010 as the only living Supreme Commander-in-Chief of a European State in the Second World War. The name of Michael I is listed on the memorial in the Grand Kremlin Palace as a recipient of the Order of Victory.

On 10 May 2011, on a background of lawsuits in Germany brought against his family by his German relatives regarding the former name Hohenzollern-Veringen of his son in law, Radu, and of fears expressed by some that the German Hohenzollerns may claim succession to the headship of the Romanian royal house, Michael severed all of the dynastic and historical ties with the princely house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, changed the name of his family to "of Romania", and gave up all princely titles conferred to him and to his family by the German Hohenzollerns.
Michael cannot be said to have encouraged monarchist agitation in Romania and royalist parties have made little impact in post-communist Romanian politics. He takes the view that the restoration of the monarchy in Romania can only result from a decision by the Romanian people. "If the people want me to come back, of course, I will come back," he said in 1990. "Romanians have had enough suffering imposed on them to have the right to be consulted on their future." King Michael's belief is that there is still a role for, and value to, the monarchy today: "We are trying to make people understand what the Romanian monarchy was, and what it can still do" (...for them). According to a 2007 opinion poll conducted at the request of the Romanian Royal House, only 14% of Romanians were in favour of the restoration of the monarchy.Another 2008 poll found that only 16% of Romanians are monarchists.
Michael has undertaken some quasi-diplomatic roles on behalf of post-communist Romania. In 1997 and 2002 he toured Western Europe, lobbying for Romania's admission into NATO and the European Union, and was received by heads of state and government officials.

In December 2003, allegedly to the "stupefaction of the public opinion in Romania", Michael awarded the "Man of The Year 2003" prize to the then Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, leader of the PSD party, on behalf of the tabloid VIP. The daily Evenimentul Zilei subsequently complained that 'such an activity was unsuited to a king and that Michael was wasting away his prestige', with the majority of the political analysts 'considering his gesture as a fresh abdication'.


On October 25, 2011, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Michael is invited to deliver a speech before the assembled chambers of the Romanian Parliament.
Michael has had a reputation for taciturnity. He once said to his grandmother, "I have learned not to say what I feel, and to smile at those I most hate." Before getting to know his future wife, Anne of Bourbon-Parma, Michael had a romantic relationship with, among others, a Greek woman, Dodo Chrisolegos, a protégée of the former Romanian Communist Party leader Ana Pauker. Some claim that political influences had been exerted upon King Michael through this liaison.
Michael was head of the Romanian Boy Scouts in the 1930s.
Michael is passionate about cars,especially military jeeps. He is also interested in aircraft, having worked as a commercial flight pilot during his exile.

On 10 May 2007, King Michael received the Prague Society for International Cooperation and Global Panel Foundation's 6th Annual Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award, previously awarded to Vladimir Ashkenazy, Madeleine Albright, Václav Havel, Lord Robertson, and Miloš Forman. On 8 April 2008, King Michael and Patriarch Daniel were elected as Honorary Members of the Romanian Academy.