Monday, December 31, 2012

Epic Records chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid quits as a judge on Fox's "The X Factor"

Now that Epic Records chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid has quit as a judge on Fox's "The X Factor" U.S., insiders say his departure from the show will affect the relationship between "The X Factor" U.S. and Sony Music, which has a partnership with "The X Factor" to sign the show's winners from around the world. Sony Music and "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell co-own the record company Syco Music.

Sony Music is the parent company to several record labels, including:
Syco Music
Epic Records
Columbia Records
RCA Records
Sony Classical
Sony Music Nashville

Sony also used to be the parent company for Jive Records, Arista Records and J Records, but those labels were shut down in October 2011, and most of the artists on those three labels were relocated to RCA Records.

Syco partners with Epic Records or Columbia Records to market and promote almost all "X Factor" alumni. But with Reid's departure from "The X Factor" U.S., Columbia Records may end up being favored as the label that will get more new acts from Syco.

Reid quit "The X Factor" U.S. in December 2012, because he said he wanted to spend more time focusing on his job at Epic Records. But his "X Factor" exit apparently wasn't that amicable, since representatives from the show refused to comment for four days after Reid announced that he was quitting. He also didn't get a big farewell in the show's Season 2 finale, which Fox televised in two parts on December 19 and 20, 2012.

Cowell and Reid were on the original "X Factor" U.S. judging panel when the show launched in 2011. Reid ended his "X Factor" stint in 2012 by mentoring the Season 2 winner, 37-year-old country singer Tate Stevens, who is signed to Syco/Sony Music Nashville. Country music is not Reid's area of expertise, so he will not be that involved in Stevens' career moving forward.

Cowell is guaranteed to return to "The X Factor" U.S. for the show's third season in 2013. In 2012, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato replaced fired judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, but Cowell and "X Factor" representative aren't commenting on whether or not Spears and Lovato are returning to the judges' panel in 2013. They also aren't commenting on who might replace Reid, who has publicly stated that he would like Jon Bon Jovi to be his replacement. "The X Factor" U.S. judging panel for the show's third season should be officially announced by May 2013.

Sources told me that Cowell really didn't want Reid to leave "The X Factor" but there has been some tension between Cowell and Reid because Epic Records has failed to have a Billboard Hot 100 hit with any of the songs released by "X Factor" U.S. alumni who are signed to Epic. Reid also hinted at some dissatisfaction with the "X Factor" U.S. acts that are signed to Epic, when he said in a "Jimmy Kimmel Live" interview in November 2012: "I sign everybody. I sign all the losers. I negotiated that before I started doing the show. That was a prerequisite to sitting on the panel."

Epic Records vs. Columbia Records

There could be a battle brewing between Epic and Columbia for "The X Factor" U.S. Season 2 runner-up contestants that are going to be signed to Syco: Carly Rose Sonenclar (second place), Fifth Harmony (third place), and Emblem3 (fourth place). Sources say that Reid really wants to sign Sonenclar and Emblem3 to Epic, but given Reid's departure from "The X Factor" and the fact that Epic hasn't had any big hits with "X factor" U.S. alumni, Columbia could put up a fight for any of these artists too.

Complicating matters is the change in regime at Columbia Records. In October 2012, reports surfaced that chairman/COO Steve Barnett is leaving Columbia in 2013. It has been widely reported (but not officially announced yet) that Barnett is going to Universal Music Group (a Sony Music rival), where he will be the head of the Capitol Label Group. (Capitol was previously owned by EMI until Universal bought a majority stake in EMI in 2012.) Barnett's contract with Sony Music ends in March 2013. There is no word yet on who's replacing Barnett at Columbia, but Columbia co-chairman/CEO Rob Stringer is expected to stay with the company in 2013.

The "X Factor" alumni signed to Epic Records in the U.S. so far are:
Melanie Amaro, winner of "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 (signed to Syco/Epic)
Chris Rene, third place on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 (signed to Syco/Epic)
Marcus Canty, fourth place on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 (signed to Epic)
Astro, seventh place on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 (signed to Epic)
Cher Lloyd, fourth place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010 (signed to Syco/Epic)

Of these acts, only Lloyd had a big hit in the U.S. in 2012: Her first U.S. single, "Want U Back," reached No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and sold 2 million copies in the United States. Her debut album, "Stick & Stones," debuted in the U.S. at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, Lloyd's second U.S. single, "Oath" (featuring Becky G.), was a flop. It peaked at No. 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Insiders are speculating that Lloyd would have been better off having "With Ur Love" (featuring Mike Posner) as her second U.S. single, which was the original plan, but Epic changed those plans and released "Oath" instead. "With Ur Love" was a Top 10 hit in the U.K.

While Epic's relationship with Syco hasn't been as successful as expected, Columbia Records' relationship with Syco was strengthened in 2012, thanks to the massive worldwide sales of One Direction, the boy band that came in third place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010. One Direction has become the biggest global act to emerge from "The X Factor," since the group has had No. 1 hits and sold-out tours in several countries. With Columbia's help, One Direction has had the record-breaking accomplishment of being the first British group to have its first two albums debut at No. 1 in the U.S., which was a feat that happened within one year (2012).

The "X Factor" alumni signed to Columbia Records in the U.S. so far are:
Rachel Crow, fifth place "The X Factor" U.S. in 2011 (signed to Syco/Columbia)
Olly Murs, second place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2009 (signed to Syco/Columbia)
Rebecca Ferguson, second place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010 (signed to Syco/Columbia)
One Direction, third place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010 (signed to Syco/Columbia)

Crow's self-titled EP (released in June 2012) was a flop, but Crow has had more success as an actress, with guest-starring roles on Nickelodeon shows. Murs' first two U.S. singles ("Heart Skips a Beat" and "Troublemaker") also bombed in the United States. Murs is signed to Syco/Epic in the U.K., where he has had several No. 1 hit singles and albums. The release of his first U.S. album, "Right Place Right Time," was postponed. The album was supposed to be out on December 4, 2012, but the release date was delayed to April 2013.

Ferguson's first album, "Heaven," was a modest hit in the U.S., having debuted at No. 23 when it was released in May 2012, but it dropped off the U.S. charts after a few months. The album's biggest sales boost came from her performances on NBC's "Today" and ABC's "The View" during the week of the album's release. But without substantial U.S. radio airplay and without Ferguson doing a U.S. concert tour in 2012, "Heaven" did not sell as much as it could have in the U.S. if there had been more promotion for it in the U.S.

It should be announced in early 2013 which "X Factor" U.S. runner-up contestants from the show's second season will be signed to Sony Music. It remains to be seen how well these acts will do on the U.S. charts after they release music on Sony.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

British singer Gary Barlow is closing his record label

British singer Gary Barlow is closing his record label to focus on his family.

The Take That star set up Future Records in 2009, but the father-of-three has decided to step away from the company to spend more time with his loved ones.

He tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "It's been a very difficult decision but it came down to time. I've had a lot going on recently and I want to spend more time with my family."

Artists signed to the label are set to be re-housed within parent company Universal.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reflections on America’s Gun Culture

Reflections on America’s Gun Culture

 by Jessica Stahl

“Shootings in high schools and colleges are unfortunately very ‘American’ things in my mind,” Nareg once wrote on this site. “Maybe it’s because of the media coverage, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of such tragic incidents with such regularity in other parts of the world.”

Nareg was reacting to a 2010 incident in which a student at the University of Louisville was arrested after pulling a gun at a meeting with faculty. Luckily no one was hurt in that incident, but it certainly wasn’t the first gun-related incident at an educational institution – universities are still reeling from the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, when student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people – and, as we found out last week, it’s far from the last.

On Friday, December 14, the U.S. and the world were shocked by news that 20-year-old Adam Lanza had opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school, killing 20 young children and six women.

“I heard the news of this unfortunate event on Friday afternoon as I was coming from my final exam for my first semester in an American college,” said Phillip, a Zimbabwean freshman at Bates College. “I wanted to cry for the loss of the young lives. I wanted to cry for the loss of the creativity, intelligence, talent and enthusiasm for life in those young boys and girls.”

He also said he began to think about the gun culture in America, as did many other international students.

“I arrived in August, just a few weeks after the shock of the Colorado massacre [in which 12 were killed and dozens wounded at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises"], and yet this ugly and tragic issue has come around again so soon,” reflected Tom, who comes from England and is studying at the University of Maryland.

“I have to admit, one of my earliest concerns when coming to America was my vulnerability to gun crime.”

“I feel safer in my country,” agreed Silu, a Chinese graduate student at Michigan State University. “In China, no individual can own a gun.”

Silu added, “Of course, violence can be presented in different ways,” a fact underscored by a knife attack that wounded 22 children at a Chinese primary school on the same day as the Connecticut shooting. But for her the response to the massacre in Connecticut was simple: “Maybe it is time for the U.S government to reconsider gun control, after all these tragedies.”

A complicated issue

For Americans, however, the issue is not necessarily so clear-cut. While many are vehemently calling for stricter gun control laws to prevent future violence, those defending gun ownership rights react with equal intensity, arguing that self protection is the best way to stop incidents before they turn to mass violence.

It’s not the easiest position for many international students to understand.

“The gun culture of this country is probably the most bewildering thing about America to me,” said Tom.

The U.S. is divided almost down the middle on the issue of gun control, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. In their most recent survey, 47% said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46% said it was more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is interpreted as providing the right to bear arms, and as a result some pro-gun groups argue that the government does not have the authority to restrict gun ownership. Gun rights groups also argue that gun ownership is a crime deterrent, and that restricting ownership will only prevent law-abiding citizens, not criminals, from obtaining guns.

Tom described his classmates’ views on gun control like this:

“We have debated this issue a few times in one of my history classes, but in this class full of Americans we always reach the same couple of conclusions; either that ‘this is America, we are free, we are entitled to do what we want’ or that ‘too many people have them now so it would be impossible to suddenly outlaw them.’”

A 10-year federal ban on assault weapons expired several years ago, and the Associated Press wrote that ”since that ban expired in 2004, few Americans have wanted stricter laws and politicians say they don’t want to become targets of a powerful gun-rights lobby.”

The massacre in Connecticut seems to have revived some of the momentum for instituting federal regulations around gun ownership.

How prevalent are guns on campus?

College campuses have been a central focus of the fight over gun control in recent years, with several states reopening the question of whether weapons should be allowed on campus.

Like many other public policies in the U.S., most gun regulations are currently set at a state or local level, rather than by the federal government.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in 2012 16 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry of firearms on campus, and three states introduced legislation to prohibit concealed carry. All of those measures failed, save two that are still pending.

Legally, the issue of whether guns are allowed on college campuses isn’t always decided on the basis of whether guns on campus is a good idea, but rather by whether universities can go against the laws of the state. This was the deciding factor in a 2011 case in which the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s Board of Higher Education could not prohibit weapons on college campuses. “The courts are not considering the sort of philosophical or policy issues. They’re looking at the statutes,” University of Denver law professor David Kopel told the Wall Street Journal.

In March 2012, the same reasoning decided a case overturning the University of Colorado’s ban on firearms. As of this year, students 21 and older may carry a gun on campus, as long as they hold a concealed carry permit and keep the weapon hidden. Guns are still banned from sporting events and dorms, and the university has created a special dorm for students who want to bring their guns into their residence.

But Gawker reported that as of November 25, not a single student had elected to move into that special dorm.

In fact, despite the U.S. having the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, weapons are not a common site on college campuses. Firearms are banned at the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities.

Twenty-one states currently ban carrying a concealed weapon on campus, and in 23 additional states the decision is made by each college or university individually, according to the NCSL. There are only five states in which legislation and/or court rulings have allowed the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses.

Feelings of safety

“Today, as I sit writing this, at the Mount Holyoke College campus, I feel very safe,” reflected Javaria, a Pakistani undergraduate student. “I feel that I can walk out of my room and not fear getting shot or robbed by thugs. Yes, the elementary school shooting occurred just a few miles away from me, but I still feel safe.”

She’s not alone. Our bloggers reported their colleges or universities have a number of services to help students stay safe while on campus.

“Living in College Park, I am frequently reminded by the locals that I have to be vigilant since this is a rough area. Having said that, I have never felt particularly unsafe around here as our university has emergency phone booths dotted all around the campus, as well as CCTV and well-lit paths,” reported Tom. “Our student organization has a program to walk home with students who leave after 9 o’clock in the evening,” added Silu.

Phillip shared a link to his college’s protocols for dealing with an active shooter situation. He said finding that information “gave me some relief because it showed that the responsible authorities were somehow equipped to handle such a situation.”

And Nareg and Sebastian, a Bolivian student at the University of Kansas, both reflected that their campuses offer mental health services to help any student who is having a hard time. “If a student shows worrisome tendencies, they usually become clear to those around him, who can hopefully take responsible measures,” said Nareg.

Added Javaria, “It is impossible for them to watch out for any Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho, but I know they will watch out for as long as they can.”

A Tale of Two Immigrant Filmmakers by Ray Kouguell

A Tale of Two Immigrant Filmmakers
by Ray Kouguell

One of the key parts of the immigrant experience is the journey itself. For two Asian-American filmmakers, moving to the United States provided them both opportunity - but under very different circumstances.

Mingh Nguyen, a 40-year old filmmaker based in Los Angeles, arrived in the US from Vietnam in 1982 when he was nine years old. His travels began a year earlier as one of the Vietnamese boat people. Nguyen’s parents lost their business and home after the fall of Saigon. The decision was made to flee and done in secret.

“Somebody would get a boat, and would calculate how many people would be on it, and at night you kind of sneak out and get on that boat,” Nguyen said. “You get out to sea and you try to reach one of the refugee camps in Thailand, the Philippines or Malaysia. We actually got to Thailand.”

It took Nguyen five attempts before finally getting away. “We tried to go all as a family and then we got caught,” he said. “My dad was in jail for eight nine months. The women and kids, like me, were in the jail for about two weeks before we were let out.”

Nguyen remembers living conditions in the refugee camp were crowded, and families split up. Men worked in the field while the women and children performed other jobs.

“My mom was doing cooking duties and things like that. We all had to sleep together in this really huge barracks like a warehouse - like hundreds of people,” Nguyen explained.

After spending a year in a refugee camp off the coast of Thailand, Nguyen received sponsorship from a Catholic group in the United States. He was later flown to San Francisco and settled in San Jose, California.

Transition to a new American way of life was difficult. Nguyen started fourth grade and was scared.

“I went to school and I didn’t speak or write English very well. So for the first few months the teacher just put me in a corner until I was able to get caught up with English and was able to join the other students,” Nguyen said. He admitted being frightened, but said watching television helped him learn English.

Nguyen went to the University of California-Berkeley where he received a degree in molecular biology degree, and followed that with a job at the U-S Department of Agriculture. But Nguyen said he was bored.

He recalls writing short stories at night and later taking creative writing courses. “I remember I was enjoying watching movies and going to see plays, so I tried writing fiction and that really opened the world for me,” Nguyen said. Several of his short stories were published in literary journals.

He attended film school and ultimately switched careers. His feature-length directorial debut is the movie “Touch” - a romantic-drama about an unlikely friendship between a shy Vietnamese-American manicurist and an auto mechanic who is trying to keep his crumbling marriage alive. The film has won a number of awards on the independent film circuit.

Looking back on his life and professional path, Nguyen advised: “With hard work you can follow your dream.”


For Chinese-American filmmaker Leo Chiang, coming to America was also a parental decision. The 42-year-old San Francisco-based director was 15 when he left Taiwan.

“My parents had decided to send me and my two siblings to the U.S. to get educated, basically. I think that for the rest of the world at that time, American universities were seen as the best,” Chiang said.

Chiang traveled to San Jose, California where family members were there to help him. Chiang admitted it was not always easy to adjust to his new environment.

“Initially it was difficult to blend in. Not speaking the language very well and not knowing the culture very well was a bit difficult,” Chiang said. “I definitely had to go through the English as a second language classes.”

Chiang succeeded and received a degree in electrical engineering at the University of California. It led to a job with Apple Computers. But like Nyguen, he had his doubts.

“I just really couldn’t see myself doing that for a long time. And I was always interested in film, I was a cinephile,” Chiang said. He applied to the University of Southern California’s graduate program in film production “as a fluke” and was admitted.

Chiang quit his job with Apple and became a documentary filmmaker.

The career change was preceded by risks and foresight - initiated, he said, by his life as an immigrant. “I think it would be foolish of people to kind of dive in and come over here without preparation,” Chaing said.

“I think that for folks who are interested in coming to the U.S., they really need to find out about American culture and about the places they plan to move to, what it's like, what the surrounding is like, what the environment is like,” Chiang said.

The award-winning filmmaker’s current documentary, “Mr. Cao Goes to Washington” is the true story about the first Vietnamese-American elected to the U-S Congress. Critics call the film a fascinating character study of New Orleans Congressman Joseph Cao.

"Mr Cao Goes to Washington" will air in January on PBS, the non-profit American public broadcasting service.

U.S. adults reveals which celebrities Americans would most like to see a lot less

Beauty pageant regular and reality show star Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson gestures during an interview in her home in McIntyre, Ga, September 10, 2012.

VOA News

December 27, 2012

A new online entertainment survey of U.S. adults reveals which celebrities Americans would most like to see a lot less of in 2013.

The Harris Interactive poll, commissioned by ballpoint pen manufacturer Zebra Pen Corp., shows a full 70 percent of the 2,300 respondents want to see less of the glamorous Hollywood Kardashian family, followed closely by 68 percent who want the always-feuding Lohan family out of the public eye.

Beauty pageant regular and reality show star Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson gestures during an interview in her home in McIntyre, Ga, September 10, 2012.Sixty-five percent said they have seen enough of the child reality star known as Honey Boo Boo.

Forty-seven percent of adults 18 and older want to see less of entertainer Justin Bieber, followed by a Chris Brown-Donald Trump tie at 44 percent and the cast of the TV show "Two and a Half Men" at 35 percent.

About one in four of respondents preferred seeing less of actress Kristen Stewart, while 22 percent said they had seen enough of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" TV reality show star Teresa Guidice. Additionally, one in five respondents are tired of seeing former CIA chief and Army General David Petraeus in the media.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thai Employers charge Imported labors thousands of dollars and never receive work permits

Daniel Schearf
December 24, 2012

SAMUTSAKHON, THAILAND — Thailand this month threatened to deport more than a million migrant workers, most from Burma, if they failed to become documented by December 14th. The deadline came and went without mass deportations, but the pressure underscored flaws in the documentation program, known as nationality verification, and the abuse of migrant labor.

Hnin Hnin Win has worked in Thailand since she was 15 and has been cheated three times by past employers.

They charged her altogether $1,000 for work permits she never received and then terminated her employment.

Since November she works for Talay Thai, Thailand's largest seafood distributor and, though conditions are much better, she is still waiting on her paperwork.

"Without legal documentation, I feel afraid and worried, because I have to run or hide when police come here, otherwise I will be arrested," she said.

In Samutsakhon province, about 200,000 Burma migrants form the workforce for Thailand's seafood processing industry.

Talay Thai manager Suwatanachai Visetcharoen says only 10 percent of his workers are undocumented.

But, he argues illegal workers should not be held to strict deadlines for becoming documented because the industry depends on migrant labor. "Burmese labor or foreign labor is very important to the Thai seafood industry because most Thai laborers will not do this kind of work," he said.

There are two-and-a-half million migrant workers in Thailand, most from Burma, undocumented, and easy to exploit as they are at risk of being deported.

Forewoman Myint Myint Win says seven of her workers lack permits and have to bribe police about $10 a month to avoid arrest.

"We still need to worry about the police. However, my boss has good connections with them. Usually, the police inform my boss about possible police checks in advance by phone. Then, he asks the illegal workers to move or hide to another place," she said.

To prevent abuse, Thailand started a nationality verification program to get foreign workers documented.

But labor activists complain of excessive charges by brokers and requirements for employer backing and workers first returning home.

Migrant Worker Rights Network President Aung Kyaw says they offer legal support but the system itself needs to change. “Migrant workers accept that Nationality Verification is good for them. However, both governments cannot control the exploitation happening in the system," he said.

Labor activists say Thailand needs to simplify its migrant worker policy and enact laws that better protect the workers the country depends on.

Google's XPhone

Ratcheting up its rivalry with Apple (AAPL), Google is reportedly designing a new sophisticated handset line to be released next year that is known internally as the “X phone.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is hoping the new marquee phone will bolster Motorola’s market share by competing better against devices like Apple’s iPhone.

However, Google, which acquired Motorola earlier this year for $12.5 billion, has suffered a number of hiccups tied to manufacturing and supply-chain management, causing the company to rethink some of its initial plans, the paper said. Problems also include trying to use a bendable screen and more stress-resistant materials like ceramics.

The moves come as Motorola has seen its slice of the smartphone market tumble dramatically under heavy pressure from the likes of Apple and Samsung, which has enjoyed success of late with its Galaxy S III devices. Motorola made up less than 3% of the Android phone shipments in the third quarter.

Eventually, Motorola is expected to develop an “X” tablet in addition to the new smartphone line, the Journal reported.

Shares of Google trimmed their losses on the report, ending the day down 0.93% at $715.63. For the year, Google has gained about 10%, underperforming the broader markets.

Apple also enjoyed a late-day bid, closing at $519.33, down 0.46% on the session.

Read more:

Marva Whitney, the R&B-funk singer who dies at age 68

By Randy Lewis

HOLLYWOOD CA -- Marva Whitney, the R&B-funk singer who died Saturday at age 68, according to her official Facebook page, toured with the James Brown Revue from 1967 to 1970, and briefly held the spotlight on her own with three hits she charted in 1969. Rolling Stone reports the cause of death as complications from pneumonia. Whitney, whom Brown called "Soul Sister No. 1," got her biggest hit with a response to the Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing,” a song she delivered as “It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To).”
"We're saddened to inform you that Soulsister #1 Marva Whitney passed away last night," the post that went up Sunday said. "She left us with a legacy that will shine forever. Please keep her family in your prayers." Like many 1960s and '70s R&B artists, the Kansas City, Kan.-born singer found her music turning up in rap musicians’ records decades later. Public Enemy, among others, sampled “It’s My Thing” in “Bring the Noise,” and other rap acts sampled her track "Unwind Yourself." When she was in a store and heard her music in DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat,” she told Village Voice in 2010 that her reaction was, “Oh no, they’ve ripped me off again.
"Here I am, pinching pennies, and they're making millions," said Whitney, who was born Marva Ann Manning. "I can't get any response from them. I just wish somebody would tell the truth." The irony is that Whitney’s "It's My Thing" not only answered the Isleys’ hit from just a few months earlier in 1969 but it also lifted the rhythmic groove and lyric hooks. Still, Wright invested it with a spirit all her own, as can be seen here in a video clip from the period.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Flora K. Walker - The Industrial Poineer of the Study of Coal

In Loving Memory of Flora K. Walker
January 11, 1920 - December 16, 2012

MEMPHIS (IFS) --  Coal is largely composed of organic matter, but it is the inorganic matter in coal—minerals and trace elements— that have been cited as possible causes of health, environmental, and technological problems associated with the use of coal. Some trace elements in coal are naturally radioactive. These radioactive elements include uranium (U), thorium (Th), and their numerous decay products, including radium (Ra) and radon (Rn). Although these elements are less chemically toxic than other coal constituents such as arsenic, selenium, or mercury, questions have been raised concerning possible risk from radiation. In order to accurately address these questions and to predict the mobility of radioactive elements during the coal fuel-cycle, it is important to determine the concentration, distribution, and form of radioactive elements in coal and fly ash.  Ms. Walker's concern about the elements of coal and the use of it as a fuel did not set well with her superiors.  Yet she performed her duty to the study of this fuel and created the foundation for others to follow, starting back in the early 1950's.

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Flora K. (Sis Demok) Walker was born on January 11, 1920 to Alex and Flora Demok. She was one of seven children. She was preceded in death by her parents, her three sisters, Ann Richardson, Elizabeth Padon, and Lois Jackett as well as her three brothers, Steve, John, and Pete Demok. One nephew, Terry Richardson also preceded her in death. She is survived by six nieces and nephews and many great and great, great nieces and nephews.

Flora married Russell A. Walker on March 17, 1949. This marriage ended in divorce 20 years later. There were no children as a result of this marriage.

Flora grew up in the Barnum area in West Denver, attended Villa Park (name later changed to Eagleton) School, Lake Jr. High School, and West High School. She graduated in 1938. A couple of years after graduating, she was employed part time by the Food Stamp Division of the Department of Agriculture and then for two years by the Betumenous Coal Division of the Department of Interior (a war-time agency.) Upon the closing of that office she was permanently employed by the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey. Upon completion of almost forty years of service with the U.S. Government, Flora retired on January 13, 1979 and the following day, she started working full time for Glenn Coury of Coury & Associates. After seven years with Glenn, she took final retirement at the age of 66.

Flora loved her work with the Geological Survey. She received many Superior Accomplishment Awards during her career. She was interested in learning every aspect of the job; she was secretary, learned to do drafting jobs and map making, research work, and just about everything the geologists did except go to the field. She authored several publications, including the dry hole maps of Colorado and several coal bibliographies. She was the first person to handle the sale of geologic and topographic maps in the Rocky Mountain area and was instrumental in setting up the Survey's Public Inquiries Office in the new Customs House.

Flora loved to type. She offered her services to many young college students and, at no cost to them, she typed their theses. Even after retirement, she continued to do typing jobs for many of her geologist friends, some of whom were also retired from the Survey and doing consulting jobs, some of them on foreign assignment.

In her youth, Flora loved tennis, softball, bicycling, bowling, and sewing, making clothes for herself and for family members and friends. She was also into ceramics for a numbers of years.

Flora was a member of the Degree of Pocahontas Lodge, the Auxiliary of the Improved Order of Redmen. She was a member of the competition drill team, and served a five year term as Secretary of the Lodge for the entire State of Colorado, earning the highest honors of the organization.

Flora was unable to have children of her own, but she loved all of her nieces and nephews, greats, and great, greats as if they were her very own. That love was more than returned by their love and respect, especially after two bad falls in 2007 that occurred about 1 ½ months apart at the age of 87. The falls resulted in a fractured pelvis and a broken hip. Flora was in rehab at Western Hills Care Center for three months and then moved to the retirement community at the Westland Meridian in Lakewood. In March 2012, she moved to the Sterling House of Loveland, an assisted living community where she lived until her death on December 16, 2012.

The family wishes to thank the Westland Meridian, The Sterling House of Loveland and Pathways Hospice for the excellent and compassionate care that they provided for Flora.

Ms. Walker was also a noted published writer of scientific papers, especially in the field of Coal and trace elements and global warming back in the early 1970's.  She had a total of 20 published reports or white papers concerning the environment.  Some of these maps and elements are listed below.  For more information of Ms. Walker's contribution to the science community, it is best to "google" her name, as her published works are everywhere.

1.  Walker, Flora K. Bibliography And Index Of U. S. Geological Survey Publications Relating To Coal, January 1971-1974

Dept. Of Interior,Geological Survey Circular 709,1975,A Supplement To Geological Survey Bulletin 1377,Grey Stapled Wraps,Light Edgewear And Fading Domestic orders shipped with USPS tracking numbers.

Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications relating to coal, January 1971 through June 1978 by Flora K Walker (1979) Formats Price New Used

2.  Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications relating to coal, January 1971-June 1974 (Geological Survey circular ; 709) by Flora K Walker (1975) Formats Price New Used

3.  Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications relating to coal, 1971-1975 (Geological Survey circular ; 742) by Flora K Walker (1976) Formats

Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications relating to coal, 1971-1975
by Flora K. Walker.
Published 1976 by U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey in [Reston, Va.] .
Written in English.
Edition Notes

A supplement to Geological Survey bulletin 1377 by P. Averitt and L. Lopez with title: Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications relating to coal, 1882-1970.
"Supersedes Geological Survey circular 709."
Includes index. Series Geological Survey circular ; 742, Geological Survey circular ;, 742.
Other Titles Bibliography and index of U.S. Geological Survey publications ...

ClassificationsDewey Decimal Class 557.3/08 s, 016.553/2/0973
Library of Congress QE75 .C5 no. 742, Z6738.C6 .C5 no. 742, TN805.A5 .C5 no. 742

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ke$ha's "Die Young" dropped from radio airplay

As Billboard previously reported, following the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday (Dec. 14), Ke$ha's "Die Young" has dropped in radio airplay. A look at the last two days of airplay, monitored by Nielsen BDS, however, shows that decline to be steadying somewhat. Radio Reacts to Newtown, From Dropping Ke$ha's 'Die Young' to Providing Comfort Adult pop station WDAQ Danbury, Conn., located about 10 miles from Newtown, stopped playing the track after Friday's tragedy, with the station's program director, Rich Minor, telling Billboard (Dec. 18), "We've been playing it before Friday but not since and I think we're now done with it.

Even though it's a fun pop/dance record about seizing the moment, all people are going to hear right now [are] those two words in the title." Airplay for the song in the Northeast was noticeably lower after Friday, although not all stations in the region have dropped the song permanently.

"We backed off 'Die Young' initially [but it's] back in regular rotation," Pop Songs panelist WODS Boston PD Dan Mason told Billboard (Dec. 18). "So far, no negative calls or texts from listeners about it." "Out of respect to the victims, and to be sensitive to parents in our listening audience, we did pull ['Young'] temporarily from rotation.

It will return [Dec. 19]," adult pop WSJO Atlantic City, N.J., assistant PD/music director Heather DeLuca echoed (Dec. 18). Ke$ha 'Was FORCED' to Sing 'Die Young' Lyrics, Singer Tweets Even Ke$ha herself has expressed sorrow over the timing of "Young." "I'm so so so sorry for anyone who has been effected by this tragedy.and I understand why my song is now inappropriate. words cannot express," she Tweeted on Tuesday (Dec. 18). As of Wednesday evening, she has not updated her account since.

However, a look at airplay for "Young" on Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 17 and 18) shows that it's actually trending back up nationally since the weekend. According to BDS, on the more than 1,200 stations monitored for the Billboard Hot 100, the song logged approximately 2,300 plays each day. That's up slightly from about 2,100 spins each on Dec. 15 and 16. Notably, "Young" did begin to decline sharply from Dec. 13 through Dec. 15, which sandwiched the Dec. 14 tragedy.

Over those three days, plays for the song fell from 3,000 to 2,700 to 2,100. Until then, the song was peaking at around 3,000 all-format plays per day. Its decline appears to have hastened due to programmer concerns about potential insensitivity but it's important to note that the downturn is also part of the song's natural chart arc. Additionally, RCA Records had already announced the release of the song's follow-up single, "C'mon," which is receiving airplay on more than 50 pop stations early into its radio promotion. On the Radio Songs chart this week, "Young" dips 3-5, down 19% from last week's sum of 120 million to 97 million audience impressions.

The fall marks the greatest plummet in airplay among titles in the chart's top five since Mariah Carey's "Don't Forget About Us" fell to No. 5 after spending five weeks at No. 1 (descending from 128 million to 105 million) the week of Feb. 4, 2006. Going forward, "Young" is likely to continue decreasing in airplay, again through a combination of extra lyrical analysis from PDs and the typical decline of a former No. 1 Pop Songs hit. Stations, especially those serving communities in Connecticut, meanwhile, continue to respond to the needs of listeners following the events of last week.

Adult contemporary WRCH Hartford, Conn., PD Allan Camp says that the station has since made several changes in its programming. "Initially, we simulcasted our all-news AM sister station, WTIC. Once we returned to playing music, we adjusted our current all-Christmas playlist away from novelty cuts and added more comforting songs into power rotation. "Psychologist Dr. Elaine Ducharme spent Monday morning with us and we put her breaks up in podcast form online, along with additional links to helpful resources," Camp says. "We're also posting videos of artists who've written songs in honor of the victims."

Camp feels that the role of radio is always to be about more than just the music, even more so during trying times. "It's a tender time and we continue to try and be there for listeners who need the escape from the news cycle, while remaining respectful and caring to the people of Newtown and the state," he added. "It's a big difference when something like this happens in your neighborhood. We are treading carefully." Keith Dakin, operations manager of adult pop WEZN and rock WPLR and WFOX in Bridgeport, Conn., likewise says that recent days have been difficult.

"It's been a very challenging time, that's for sure. Newtown is only about 20 minutes away, clearly in our listening area. "On Friday morning, when we got the news, our general manager, Kristin Okesson, and I decided to flip the station to all-talk from about 11:30 a.m. to 10 at night," Dakin says. "Our morning show came back to the station and did six hours live simply with news, information and calls. We did the same thing on WPLR and WFOX." Dakin says that by Friday night, WEZN returned to playing music, but with changes. "We tried to take out anything that was too 'up' or just felt wrong. We produced special promos and sweepers that ran all weekend.

We also ran news at the top and bottom of each hour," he says. "By Monday, we were back to regular format but we dropped songs that felt insensitive, Ke$ha's being a perfect example. Also, no remotes, liners, contesting or silly morning show games and bits." Going forward, Dakin says, the station is aiming to help in an even more tangible way. "We're focused on a radiothon that we will be staging on Friday (Dec. 21) to raise money for the Sandy Hook Support Fund. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., we'll be taking donations on all three radio stations. It's been a few days that hopefully we will never have to go through again."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ann Curry to CNN??

Curry Could Add CNN Spice (NY Post / Page Six)

Incoming president of CNN Worldwide Jeff Zucker has plans to bring ousted Today show co-host Ann Curry to his new network as a high-profile anchor, sources tell Page Six. Zucker -- the former executive producer ofToday and one-time NBC Universal head -- is interested in installing Curry in CNN's 8 p.m. time slot, we hear, which is currently occupied by Anderson Cooper. 

Business Insider In his new role as president of CNN, Zucker wants the scorned Today show anchor to come in as a high-profile personality but later transition to a "Christiane Amanpour role" as a globetrotting correspondent. "Jeff wants a headliner like Rachel Maddow or Bill O'Reilly in prime time," sources tell the Post. "He cannot allow the low ratings at CNN to continue... so he can't hire a nobody. Curry fits that CNN-smarty-pants-foreign-affairs type." The Atlantic Wire The move, if it happens, would actually be a good one. Even though she was dismissed by the Todayshow, Curry came out on the winning end -- fans rallied behind her and Today's ratings have dropped. (And we've seen NBC try, very publicly and on several occasions, to take the bullet for Matt Lauer.) Mediaite Much of that may be true but there is one big problem with this story. The Post's source is likely wrong. While Curry would certainly be a feather in the cap of CNN, and could be a great news anchor and reporter for them, CNN will likely be looking for opinionated or big personality hosts in its primetime slots. Chicago Sun-Times In checking with knowledgeable sources -- both at NBC and CNN -- it's clear Curry maintains a strong reserve of popularity with many viewers. "Ann has an uncanny ability to communicate her humanity to everyone, but it especially resonates with people watching her on television," said a longtime NBC producer who has worked with Curry. Added a source at the cable network, "I think she would bring a breath of fresh air -- tempered with a strong history with viewers -- if she does come to CNN." HuffPost There are many obstacles to this notion -- Cooper's status as the most popular figure on CNN and Curry's recently signed, long-term, multi-million dollar contract with NBC among them -- but it is a fun one nonetheless. To picture Curry bolting her still-awkward situation at NBC for the man who worked with her onToday and turning into the queen of cable? Delicious.

Rhonda Lee was fired from a Louisiana news station after she responded to a viewer’s Facebook comment about her "ethnic hair"

Meteorologist fired after responding to negative Facebook comments

Rhonda Lee was fired from a Louisiana news station after she responded to a viewer’s Facebook comment about her "ethnic hair"

() A black female meteorologist was fired from a Louisiana news station after she responded to a viewer’s Facebook comment about her “ethnic hair.”

Rhonda Lee, formerly of ABC affiliate KTBS in Shreveport, La., had also responded to another reader’s post that had pointed out that the winners of a station contest were all “people of color.”

The first viewer, identified as Emmitt Vascocu, wrote in an Oct. 1post on KTBS’ Facebook page, “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the onlt [sic] thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im [sic] not sure if she is a cancer patient.” Somewhat strangely, the post received a “like” from KTBS 3 News.
Lee responded several days later to say she was the “black lady” and that she is “very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair.”

“Traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward,” she wrote. “Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society.”

Vascocu responded that Lee was “right to be proud of” where she was from and said he was “not at all a racis” [sic.]
“what im trying to say an this is my opionion. [sic] this world has has certain standerd. [sic] if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?” he wrote.

One month later, a second viewer commented on the station’s Facebook page that the child winners of the station’s “Three Minute Smile” contest for a three-minute shopping spree were all “people of color.”
“This is Channel 3, not KSLA, the “Project Pride” network, that might as well be part of the BET channel,” viewer Kenny Moreland wrote.

Lee responded that the children were “picked at random” and that if the poster “truly just want[s] to see the kids happy your message had a funny way of showing it.”

KTBS news director Randy Bain said in a statement to Joural-isms Tuesday that Lee was fired on Nov. 28 for repeatedly violating the station’s policy against responding to comments on the official KTBS Facebook page — a rule Lee said is not written down and that she was never informed of.

“[The station's general manager] claims that even if a policy isn’t on paper we as employees are responsible for abiding by them. There isn’t anything in our employee manual talking about social media dos and don’ts. I was accountable for a rule that essentially isn’t in existence,” Lee toldJournal-isms.

But Bain said Lee was “warned multiple times of the consequences” of commenting on Facebook posts, and said another employee, “a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station,” was dismissed for the same reason as well.

“If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow,” Bain said. “Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.”

Earlier this year, Lee filed a discrimination lawsuit against Austin, Texas NBC affiliate KXAN alleging she was fired after being “repeatedly subjected to crude and insensitive remarks about her race.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jenni Rivera, big-voiced Queen of Banda, dies at 43

Jenni Rivera, big-voiced Queen of Banda, dies at 43

Born in Long Beach, California, Jenni Rivera was at the peak of her career as perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated regional style influenced by the norteno, cumbia and ranchero styles.

A 43-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of two, the woman known as the "Diva de la Banda" was known for her frank talk about her struggles to give a good life to her children despite a series of setbacks.

She was recently divorced from her third husband, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and she publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.

Her openness about her personal troubles endeared her to millions in the US and Mexico.
"I am the same as the public, as my fans," she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.

Rivera sold 15 million records, and recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for "Joyas prestadas: Banda." She was nominated for Latin Grammys in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said "everything points toward" the wreckage belonging to the plane carrying Rivera and six other people to Toluca, outside Mexico City, from Monterrey, where the singer had just given a concert.

"There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human" in the wreckage found in the state of Nuevo Leon, Ruiz Esparza said. The impact was so powerful that the remains of the plane "are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters. It is almost unrecognizable."

Augusta Ada Byron-Lovelace, the world's first computer programmer

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world's first computer programmer.

Ada was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Byron. She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born, and four months later he left England forever and died in Greece in 1823 when she was eight. As a young adult, she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular Babbage's work on the analytical engine. 
Between 1842 and 1843, she translated an article by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with a set of notes of her own. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program – that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Ada's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ed "Cass" Cassidy, World's Greatest and Oldest Rock Drummer Passes away

ARROYO GRANDE, CA (IFS) -- He left us at 7:30 this morning... It was an easy passing.  Glad I got to spend nearly 25 years playing and recording with him.  He was my Guru, being able to still play drums into his late 80's is amazing!
Thanks to you for putting out "On The Blue Road" !
All My Best,

SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Drummer Ed Cassidy, a co-founded of the 1960s rock band Spirit, died last week in California at the age of 89, former bandmates said.
Cassidy was battling cancer at a San Jose assisted-living home when he died Thursday.
A Facebook posting by Cassidy's stepson and Spirit guitarist Randy Cassidy said his stepdad was "one of the world's drummers," The Hollywood Reporter said Sunday.

Ed Cassidy was noted for his shaved head and performing drum solos with his bare hands. He earned the nickname "Mr. Skin," which was the title of a song on their 1970 album "Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus."
Ed and Randy Cassidy formed Spirit in Los Angeles and released their first album in 1968. Ed Cassidy, was 28 years older than 16-year-old Randy and came from a jazz background.

The differences in age and musical chops proved not to be a detriment to Spirit's success, The Reporter said. The group released 11 albums between 1968 and 1977 and several singles.
The group was also the headliner at Led Zepplin's first U.S. gig in 1968.

Friday, December 7, 2012

PSY's anti-American rap comes back to haunt

Weekend Christmas concert for president is still on
By Mark C. Brown

My, this is awkward.

PSY, this year’s instant celebrity with “Gangnam Style,” has been all over the internet, television and iPods.

What no one has been listening to up till now is “Dear American,” a 2004 protest song in which PSY joins others in protesting American policies in Korea and Iraq. According to sources including the Washington Post and New York Magazine, the rap translates to:

Kill those (expletive) Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives

Kill those (expletive) Yankees who ordered them to torture

Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers

Kill them all slowly and painfully
Now my skills in Korean rap are non-existent, but running the original Korean text through several online translators do consistently bring up Yankees (spelled Yang Ke) and the “killing slowly and painfully” part comes through pretty clear.
This news comes at a very inconvenient time, given PSY is due to perform for President Obama and others at a Christmas concert in Washington D.C. on Sunday. According to the Post a petition has already been started to remove him from the bill. Some websites have tried to explain the changing nature of Korean attitudes toward the United States, but given the political atmosphere of the past few months subtleties and varying translations aren't going to win the day.

If anyone out there is fluent in Korean, here’s the song. Let us know what you hear.
UPDATE: PSY owns up to his words and issues an apology. He is quoted in Rolling Stone saying:

"As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world," said Psy in a statement. "The song – from eight years ago – was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. While I'm grateful for the freedom to express one's self I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.
"I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months – including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them – and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it's important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology."

Via the Associated Press, the president indicated he will attend Sunday's concert, which is customary for the office.

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