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Archive for November, 2009

Barack Obama Biography

Posted On November 30th, 2009 By Celebrity Biographies

Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Obama was born as ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ on August 4, 1961. He is currently serving as the 44th president of United States. He is the first president to be born in Hawaii, including being the first from the African-American origin. His father Barack Obama, Sr. belonged to the Luo ethnicity of Kenya and his mother, Stanley Ann Durham belonged to Wichita, Kansas. Barack was commonly called ‘Barry’ throughout his childhood and ‘Hussein’ is the middle name since his father adopted Islam, but they were originally Christians.

Early Life

His parents met each other during college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father studied as a foreign student. His parents separated when Barack Obama was two years old and later divorced in 1964. His mother then brought him to stay with her at her parent’s house in Manoa district. In the meantime, his father graduated with a ‘Masters in Economics’ degree from the Harvard University and went back to Kenya. Barack has five half brothers and two half-sisters from his father’s other marriage. His father later became the ‘finance minister’ of Kenya and died in the year 1982 out of a car accident. Obama met his father only once before his death in 1971. On the other hand, Obama’s mother got married to another Indonesian student from the Hawaii University called Lolo Soetoro. His mother then took him to Jakarta, Indonesia along with his step-father in the year 1967.

Education

During his stay in Indonesia he attended all local Indonesian schools and soon after, he moved with his grandparents in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama has admitted that he had a struggling childhood trying to find out answers about his multi racial and multicultural heritage. He used to find it complex to recognize such enormous differences between the skin colours of his father and his mother. He has also admitted of using marijuana, cocaine and alcohol during his teenage years.

Barack moved to Los Angeles after high school and studied for two years at the Occidental College. He then moved on to the Columbia College in New York where he majored in Political Science in 1983 along with a speciality in International relations. After spending four years in New York, Obama moved to Chicago and started working at the Business International Corporation with the NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group). He also worked as a Community organizer for a church based community organization called the ‘Developing Communities Project’. He worked as a director of this organisation for four years from 1985 to 1988. This is exactly where he got his organisational skills from and later travelled to Europe and Kenya for the first time.

The Law

He entered Harvard Law School in late 1988 because he felt that law was a medium that could facilitate community organization and activism. In 1990, which is his second year at college, he was chosen to be the editor of the Law Review. He worked as a training associate at ‘Sidley and Austin’ law firm while still in law school in 1989. This is where he met his wife Michelle Robinson, who was also a lawyer in that firm. He later worked at ‘Hopkins and Sutter’ in the year 1990 and then graduated from Harvard in 1991. He moved back to Illinois, Chicago and worked a civil rights lawyer. He was offered to write a book on racial relations by the University of Chicago and was also offered a fellowship from the university. Obama got married in the year 1992 and his mother Ann died of ovarian and uterine cancer in 1994. The book was published in the year 1995 with a name ‘Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance’ and ended up winning the Grammy for the audio version of this book. He occasionally taught Constitutional Law at the university and was a lecturer from 1992 to 1996; however he was a senior lecturer at the university until 2004. He was also on the board of directors for several organisations such as ‘Chicago Lawyer’s Committee’, ‘Chicago Annenberg Challenge’, ‘Woods Fund of Chicago’, ‘Lugenia Burns Hope Centre’ and ‘The Centre of Neighbourhood Technology’.

Personal Life

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama had their first daughter in 1998 named ‘Malia Ann’ and second daughter ‘Sasha’ in 2001. He published his second book called the ‘Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream’ in October 2006 and also won the Grammy for the audio version of this book. He is a talented writer and a dedicated basketball player. He is a major supporter of Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox. Although he was raised in Islamic faith, Obama is an atheist by choice and his current family follows Christianity.

The Journey

He had organized largest voter registration drives in the 1992 election under the ‘Project Vote’. His work in this project led him to run for the Illinois State Senate and he was finally elected in November, 1996. With the U.S. senator Paul Simon, Obama passed the toughest campaign finance law in 1998. From the year 1997 to 2004, he went on to serve three terms in the Illinois State Senate. He lost to Bobby Rush in the year 2000, which was a primary run for U.S. House of Representatives. , he passed legislation to expand healthcare in the year 2003 to cover 70,000 children and extended health insurance to uninsured parents. Barack Obama created Illinois Earned Income tax credit that offered tax relief and also worked on several other legislation.

He came into national limelight on July 2004, with a motivational speech at the Democratic National Convention, where he openly condemned the administration policies of Bush on the Iraq War. His vocational skills are often compared to that of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther. He started thinking about running for U.S. Senate by middle of 2002 and later announced his candidacy in the year 2003. He won the election on 2nd November, 2004 and finally made it to the US Senate. He became the fifth African American senator in the history of United States and resigned from the Illinois State Senate. Obama held minority appointments till 2006 and took major assignments in 2007. He personally visited Iraq to witness the war and introduced a legislation to end the war in 2007. He sponsored a total of 136 bills in the Senate, out of which two of them have been officially announced as laws in the US Government.

Barack Obama declared his candidacy for the ‘Democratic Presidential’ nomination in February 2007 and out of all the candidates that had filed their nominations, the only two left were Barack Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton. Obama became the presumptive nominee on the 3rd of June 2008. Obama accepted the nomination in August 2008 against the republican nominee, John McCain. Thousands of supporters witnessed the historic win on November 4th, 2008.


Mother Teresa Biography

Posted On November 15th, 2009 By Celebrity Biographies

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 27, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. Agnes was born to Nikola and Dronda Bojaxhiu and was the youngest of three children. She was actually born on the 26th of August, but she celebrated her birthday a day after, since that was the day when she was baptized. Her father was an admired merchant and was a member of the Skopje council. He was deeply involved in politics and her mother was a housewife.

Early Life

Agnes was startlingly independent, obedient and was deeply influenced by the missionary services in her childhood. Father Jambren Kovin, the pastor of her church, introduced her to the work being done by missionaries in India. She started living a religious life at the age of 18 and joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. She began her religious life in Ireland in the year 1928 and she learned to speak English while she was in Ireland. Later in November that year, she came to India to teach English in Calcutta (Now known as Kolkatta). She spent time as a teacher and a principle at the St. Mary’s high school in Calcutta. Agnes started her novitiate in an Abbey in Darjeeling in 1929 followed by the Abbey in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Vows

This is the time that a nun spends praying, studying and contemplating prior to taking her vows. Agnes took her first vows on May 24, 1931 of chastity, poverty and obedience. This is when she took her name from the patron saint of missionaries, St. Theresa and was called Teresa. Teresa took her final vows on May 14, 1937 promising to serve God for the rest of her life. She left the convent in August 1946, when the city was in terror and surrounded by riots. Sister Teresa was granted the permission to leave the Loreto Order of Nuns in 1947; however she left on August 16, 1948. She traveled all across Calcutta wearing a white saree with a blue border, sacrificing the Loreto Abbey. She learnt medical skills from Mother Anna Dengel in Patina, before servicing the slums. With her abilities, she was included in the Medical Missionary Sisters Group. While returning to Calcutta, she stayed at the St. Joseph’s Home with the Little Sisters of the Poor. She stayed here until December 21, 1948 and then went back to the slums.

The Journey

In order to demonstrate her dedication to Calcutta’s poor she decided to become an Indian citizen in 1949. Cardinal Pietro Fumoson Biondi sanctioned Sister Teresa’s order on October 7, 1950 and this is when she was called ‘Mother Teresa’. The Missionaries of Charities shifted to a new residence in the middle of 1953. She was given an unused building for the dying in 1954 and with the help of other nuns; she transformed the place into ‘The Place of the Immaculate Heart’. During this time, she was often criticized for wasting funds on the dead and dying; however she had great compassion for the victims of leprosy. Establishing the 35 acre ‘Town of Peace’ for the lepers was one of the biggest achievements of her life. ‘Missionaries of Charity’ formed groups to travel to different parts of India in 1960. Due to loads of contributions 30 centres were released outside Calcutta. In the same year, she travelled across the states of US and visited several other countries to collect donations. She gathered numerous ideas for her institution.

The ‘Missionaries of Charity’ gained permission by the Pope to work outside India in February 1965. They established the first home in Cocorote Venezuela and by 1970; they had set up ten houses around South America that would provide food, clothing and shelter to the poor. Pope Paul Vito requested Mother Teresa to open a house in Rome in the year 1968 and she also went to Tanzania. With the help of Ann Blankie, she founded the ‘International Association of the Co-workers’ in 1969.

Awards

Mother Teresa was awarded the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize by Pope Paul VI in the year 1971. This included a small statue of Christ and $67000 as a charity. Mother Teresa brought her work to the US in 1971. She was given the ‘Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation Award’ in October by the Kennedy family, which consisted of $12000 as a charity for disabled children. Mother Teresa was also awarded the ‘Templeton Prize’ for Progress in Religion in 1973. She received a lot of awards for her work for the poor; however the highest of all was the Nobel Peace Prize On December 9, 1979 which included the prize amount of $190,000. Three months later, she was given the biggest award in India, called the ‘Bharat Ratna’ award. President Reagan awarded her the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 1985.

Mother Teresa was given back to God On September 5, 1997 and her body was buried on September 13, 1997. Millions of people gathered around for her funeral ceremony. After her death, the Holy See began the beatification process, which is the third step towards canonization. Such a process requires documentation of some miracle performed by the intercession of the Late Mother Teresa.

She still remains alive in the form of her work and her teachings. She was a human being who was respected and admired all around the world. Mother Teresa stands out in billions today and shall always be remembered as one of the kindest human beings of all times.


Michael Jackson Biography

Posted On November 4th, 2009 By Celebrity Biographies

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the renowned ‘King of Pop’, a distinguished singer and songwriter was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. He was born to an African-American family and his father’s name is Joseph Jackson. His father had given up his musical aspirations in order to run the family. He believed in the talents of his sons and moulded them into a musical group that was introduced in the sixties. The first of the Jackson family performers were his older brothers Jackie, Jermaine and Tito. Michael joined this group when he was five years old and turned out to be the lead vocalist in the group. He could convey complex emotions with ease and captivated the audiences with his depth. The oldest brother Marlon also joined the group shortly after, therefore evolved the group into ‘Jackson Five’.

Joseph Jackson is known to push his sons, behind the scenes and is also known to have become violent with them. Michael would spend hours with his brothers, rehearsing the act. To begin with, the group played local gigs, which brought them a lot of fan following. Their only compilation, ‘Big Boy’ along with ‘You’ve changed’, but failed to attract a lot of audiences. The group then started working on open acts for renowned R&B artists of the time such as the Pips, Gladys Knight, Sam & Dave and James Brown. It is also known that Berry Gordy was pretty impressed with the group and signed them to his exclusive label in the year 1968.

Works

By the age of 13, Michael Jackson launched a solo record in addition to his work with the group. He first made it to the charts with his song, ‘Got to Be There’ from the album with the same name. In 1972, Jackson got his first hit with the ballad about the rat. For several years thereafter, Michael Jackson and the group maintained a busy tour schedule; however the group broke all its ties with Gordy by the year 1975.

The group was renamed as the ‘Jacksons’ and they signed a new recording deal with the Epic Records. In 1978, the youngest brother Randy joined the group and Michael Jackson wowed the music industry in the year 1979 with his solo album called ‘Off the Wall’. The album was a rare combination of pop and funk and included the highly popular tracks of all time. The next album called ‘Triumph’ was the one that escalated Michael’s career to the highest peak with about one million copies of the album being sold then. Pairing up with Paul McCartney, Michael sang his first duet called ‘The Girl is mine’ in the year 1982. This song also appeared on his next album called the ‘Thriller’. This album contained 7 of the biggest hits.

In a special television show to honour ‘Motown’, Jackson performed a famous hit called ‘Billie Jean’, where he debuted his world-famous dance move referred to as the ‘moon walk’. He created this step himself and thereby choreographed his other dance sequences in the video ‘Beat It’. The horror-tinged video for the ‘Thriller’ became exceedingly popular and the album was nominated for 12 Grammy awards and ended up winning 8 of those. With the diversified talent displayed at the Grammys, he found recognition all around the world.

Around this time, he signed a $5 million endorsement with Pepsi-Cola and got badly injured while filming for this commercial. He got severe burns on his face and scalp in the year 1984 and this is the time when he started experimenting with plastic surgeries. His face, essentially his nose went through a lot of dramatic changes in the years to come. That year, he concluded his support to the Jackson group with the album called ‘Victory’. In the year 1991, Jackson released the ‘Dangerous’ featuring one of the biggest hits called ‘Black & White’. There was a huge controversy revolving around this song since Michael was seen with some sexually proactive actions. Thereafter he was seen performing at important events around the world including the Superbowl XXVII.

Controversies & Personal Life

Jackson was a quiet and a shy person off stage, he was never comfortable in front of the media and he rarely gave any interviews. In the 80’s, he created his own fantasy retreat called ‘Neverland’ in California. He kept amusement rides and exotic pets such as chimpanzees there. It almost seemed as if he was living his estranged childhood. It was also heard that he used to sleep in special chambers that would increase his life span and also lightened the colour of his skin in order to appear white.

He gave a rare interview to Oprah Winfrey in February, 1980 where he explained the change of the colour of his skin was due to a disease called ‘vitiligo’. He also detailed the abuse from his father in that show. A year later, there were allegations of child molestation against him. He was allegedly having sleepovers with young children in his ranch, but there was no particular evidence against him.

In 1994, he married Lisa Marie Presley and the couple was seen giving a joint interview with Diane Sawyer, however the union was pretty short lived. The couple got divorced in the year 1996 and it was believed that the wedding was a ploy to cover up his molestation charges. He married a nurse called Debbie Rowe, later that year and the couple had two children through artificial insemination process. Michael also has a third child from an unknown woman and the couple got divorced in the year 1999. He then took custody of all his children.

The Decline

His career started to decline from the year 1995 and he started facing criticism for his works. With the release of ‘Invincible’, more and more stories were published about his behaviour as compared to his talent. He was often seen in public wearing a surgical mask and covered the faces of his children under veils. In the year 2002, he seemed confused and disoriented on the stage at an MTV awards program. He was criticised for dangling his son over a balcony in Germany. In 2003, he received a severe blow on his reputation with the release of a documentary called ‘Living with Jackson’ by a British journalist called Martin Bashir. In 2004, he was arrested for molesting children, however all charges were dropped in the year 2005 and he moved to Bahrain for a while.

He sold the ‘Neverland’ ranch in the year 2008, after facing severe financial crisis. He also auctioned some of his home items and announced that he would be performing some shows in London as his ‘final curtain call’ to mark his retirement. The series was named ‘This is It’, which is now converted into a documentary by Columbia Pictures with his rehearsal footage. It was a speculation whether the singer would be able to handle a continuous series of 50 concerts.

Despite all the rumours and controversies surrounding him, 50 year old Michael Jackson remained a figure of great interest and was supposed to perform at the O2 arena on July 8th, 2009. He suddenly died of a cardiac arrest on June 25th, 2009. However, all the tickets of his shows were sold out within a few hours. After his death in Los Angeles, millions of music fans mourned his death all across the globe.

For the past four decades, Michael Jackson has been entertaining the world with his music and dance and he shall always be considered as an integral part of the contemporary culture.


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