Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

he Nobel Committee said he was awarded it for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples".

The committee highlighted Mr Obama's efforts to strengthen international bodies and promote nuclear disarmament.

There were a record 205 nominations for this year's prize. Zimbabwe's prime minister and a Chinese dissident had been among the favourites.

The laureate - chosen by a five-member committee - wins a gold medal, a diploma and 10m Swedish kronor ($1.4m).

2008: Martti Ahtisaari
2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore
2002: Jimmy Carter
2001: UN, Kofi Annan
1994: Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
1993: Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi
1990: Mikhail Gorbachev
1989: Dalai Lama

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Norwegian committee said in a statement.

"His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

Asked why the prize had been awarded to Mr Obama less than a year after he took office, Nobel committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said: "It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve".

"It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done," he said.

He specifically mentioned Mr Obama's work to strengthen international institutions and work towards a world free of nuclear arms.

The statement from the committee also said the US president had "created a new climate in international politics".

"Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play," it said.

The committee added that the US was now playing a more constructive role in meeting "the great climatic challenges" facing the world, and that democracy and human rights would be strengthened.


Friday, October 9, 2009

African American atheletes that make a difference. PT1

A.C. Green Youth Foundation
The mission of the A.C. Green Youth Foundation is to serve both youth and the communities in which they live by providing information about sexual abstinence and social issues that concern our young people and educating them to make responsible choices to prepare them for their future. PROGRAMS FOR YOUTH believes that young people must develop morally, ethically, educationally, physically, and mentally to fulfill their dreams and goals in life. The underlying theme throughout is to accept each person for who they are, in an unconditional atmosphere of love and respect.

Adalius Thomas S.L.A.S.H. Fund
Adalius Thomas is one of the most active Ravens in the community, donating time and financial support to organizations that assist underprivileged children. Thomas annually hosts a group of 45 students from the Knights of Valor chess team to take part in a chess tournament against Ravens players and, for his work in the community, was honored as a finalist for the Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award in 2004, given to the NFL player who best represents dedication to team, community and country. Also in 2004, Thomas hosted his 1st Annual S.L.A.S.H. (Sportsmen Lifting Academics and Sponsoring Hope) Golf Tournament with proceeds benefiting the foundation.

Allen Rossum "Healthy Kids Klub"
The Allen Rossum "Healthy Kids Klub" works with entire families to provide education on healthy lifestyles. The Klub activities emphasize good eating habits (nutrition) combined with athletic programs (healthy activities).

Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. (“AMC”)
Founded in 1997, Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. (“AMC”) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that allows donors with valid interest in children’s issues the opportunity of giving to several charities from their one contribution. All benefiting organizations aid in the development of at-risk children and families, including those who have been abused, abandoned, and/or neglected. It is the goal of the AMC to improve the quality of life, enhance educational and economic opportunities for all minorities based on the percepts of respect for family, education, spirituality, justice and integrity. Together with donors, AMC makes it possible for young people to develop a better way of life and encourages them to dream and reach for a more positive future that might otherwise have been thought unattainable. AMC supports organizations and programs that provide human services and mentoring in several locations in addition to South Florida, such as Hampton Toads, VA and New Jersey.

Amani Toomer Foundation
In 2001, Amani Toomer and his wife Dr. Yola Dabrowski, founded The Amani Toomer Foundation (TATF). TAFT if a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness of, and providing resources to after-school recreation programs in the New York metro area. The mission of TATF is to identify established after-school programs in these underserved communities and assist them in furthering their efforts. or

Anthony Weaver Foundation
The Anthony Weaver Foundation was established in 2004 with the purpose of providing both financial and personal assistance to children living in the Greater Baltimore Area and Saratoga Springs, NY. In living up to his high school and college nickname, "Dream Weaver," the Anthony Weaver Foundation will assist in making the dreams of children become a reality.

Barry Stokes Foundation
The Barry Stokes Foundation offers "hope for a better tomorrow" for youth as they grow spiritually, athletically and academically. The Foundation does this by supporting The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Striving After Self Sufficiency (S.A.S.S.) and The Davison High School Athletic Scholarship Fund in his hometown of Davison, MI.

Charlie Batch – The Batch Foundation
Quarterback Charlie Batch launched the Best of the Batch Foundation in 2002 to help support educational and recreational opportunities for underprivileged children. Activities include Project C.H.U.C.K., a six-week summer youth basketball league for inner-city children in the Homestead, Pa., the Pittsburgh suburb where Charlie grew up. The program targets children ages 7-18 and provides a structured summer recreational activity for children, which takes place in the evening so parents can attend.

Chris McAlister Foundation
The Chris McAlister Foundation raises money for the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, CA and contributes food and money to Baltimore area churches so that they can provide support to needy families. In 2004, McAlister provided game tickets to the Echo House Multi Cultural Center in Baltimore, hosted a Halloween Extravaganza for over 300 area youth, donated food and supplies to 200 families for Thanksgiving and provided televisions and games to patients at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Outpatient Center for Christmas.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rapper Ludacris gives away cars to contest winners

AP, Sep 7, 2009 6:09 am PDT

Talk about a one-man stimulus package: Grammy-winning rapper Ludacris has given away 20 cars to people who wrote about their struggles to keep their jobs for a lack of wheels of their own.
Ludacris said he was taken aback after reading thousands of essays by people struggling or unable to buy cars needed to get to and from work or find jobs. The 31-year-old rapper felt he could step in and move them ahead, partnering with a suburban Atlanta dealership for Sunday's giveaway.

"People are getting laid off, and now are looking for jobs," Ludacris said. "To be efficient, you need some transportation of your own to get there. That's why I wanted to give back to those who need it."

Each of the used vehicles included free gas for 30 days. Winning contestants were responsible for tags, registration, tax and insurance. About 4,000 contestants submitted a 300-word essay to the rapper's foundation, explaining why they deserved a car.

One of the most touching stories Ludacris read was by Mading Duor.

Duor described how he moved to the United States six years ago after his mother, father, and five brothers and sisters were killed in Sudan. The man also wrote that a son was killed by a drunken driver in Atlanta a few years back.

"His story touched my heart," Ludacris said. "He's endured so much in his life and he's still here standing. I'm very proud to have helped him."

Duor, 33, has been able to keep a steady job at a school, but each day he felt stressed about how he was going to get to work. No longer.

"I'm so happy, that I'm nervous," said Duor, who won a Nissan Maxima. "When I look at my new car, I say to myself, 'Is this really happening?'"

Crystal Beauford, a single mother who used to ride the bus to two jobs and school, now has a Saturn Ion. The 26-year-old college student doesn't know how to drive the stick-shift vehicle, but said she'll learn.

"This is going to help me out so much," Beauford said. "It's a blessing."

Ludacris won Grammys for Best Rap Album for "Release Therapy" and Best Rap Song for "Money Maker."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

We seldom post about books at Gizmodo, but if this story of a self-taught Malawian boy using junkyard parts to build windmills and bring life-changing electricity to his village doesn't make you misty-eyed, then you must be one cold-hearted bastard.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence, and William Kamkwamba has it in spades. At age fourteen, while many of us were sneaking out of classrooms, William was struggling to sneak into them—his family was unable to afford the $80 annual tuition. As is bound to happen to most students, he was caught. But instead of being sent to detention, he was barred from the school. In a show of the driven man he would become, he didn't allow that to hinder him and instead started spending his days in the local library. While there, he encountered a book called Using Energy:

Using Energy described how windmills could be used to generate electricity. Only two percent of Malawians have electricity, and the service is notoriously unreliable. William decided an electric windmill was something he wanted to make. Illuminating his house and the other houses in his village would mean that people could read at night after work. A windmill to pump water would mean that they could grow two crops a year rather than one, grow vegetable gardens, and not have to spend two hours a day hauling water. "A windmill meant more than just power," he wrote, "it was freedom."

This book is what changed his life. And I don't mean that as an exaggeration. It was truly what made a difference in his life. Because of that book, and the potential he saw in its ideas, William began to build:

William scoured trash bins and junkyards for materials he could use to build his windmill. With only a couple of wrenches at his disposal, and unable to afford even nuts and bolts, he collected things that most people would consider garbage-slime-clogged plastic pipes, a broken bicycle, a discarded tractor fan-and assembled them into a wind-powered dynamo. For a soldering iron, he used a stiff piece of wire heated in a fire. A bent bicycle spoke served as a size adapter for his wrenches.

Imagine that. A young boy being so motivated by ideas and the sheer need to build something life-changing that he discovered materials and uses for them which most of us wouldn't even dream of. As Mark Frauenfelder put it:

For an educated adult living in a developed nation, designing and building a wind turbine that generates electricity is something to be proud of. For a half-starved, uneducated boy living in a country plagued with drought, famine, poverty, disease, a cruelly corrupt government, crippling superstitions, and low expectations, it's another thing altogether. It's nothing short of monumental.

After completing his first windmill, William "went on to wire his house with four light bulbs and two radios, installing switches made from rubber sandals, and scratch-building a circuit breaker to keep the thatch roof of his house from catching fire." His project had the attention of village locals early on, but at this point he gained the attention of TED, Technology Entertainment Design, through whom he was introduced to individuals willing to contribute to his plans to "electrify, irrigate, and educate his village, as well as pay his tuition at the prestigious African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg."

In short: A young man struggled to educate himself, to build something his village needed, and in the end made a difference to the entire locale and gained the education he'd always wanted. Yes, it's a fluffy, feel-good story with a happy ending. What should you take from the it? Maybe that there's hope in the bleakest of situations, maybe that your teachers and parents were right about the power of education, maybe just that I'm a sappy bookworm with a soft spot for happy endings. No matter, if you wish to learn more, you can read the recently released The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, check out William's blog, or peek at this video from before he ever wrote his autobiography.

Source: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Persistence, Jury-Rigging, and Ingenuity Against All Odds - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - Gizmodo