Monday, October 31, 2011

Hugo Chávez

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, was born on July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta, Venezuela. He attended the military academy and served as a officer in the army. He participated in an effort to overthrow the government and spent two years in prison.

Failed Coup Attempt
Politician, president of Venezuela. Born Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías on July 28, 1954, in Sabaneta, Venezuela. The son of schoolteachers, he is known for his reform efforts and his strong opinions. Chávez attended the Venezuelan military academy and graduated in 1975 with a degree in military sciences and arts. He went on to serve as an officer in an army paratrooper unit.

In 1992, Chávez, along with other disenchanted members of the military, attempted to overthrow the government of Carlos Andrés Peréz. The coup failed and Chávez spent two years in prison before being pardoned. He then started the Movement of the Fifth Republic, a revolutionary political party. Chávez ran for president in 1998, campaigning against government corruption and promising economic reforms.
Elected President
After taking office in 1999, Chávez set out to change the Venezuelan constitution, changing the powers of congress and the judicial system. As a part of the new constitution, the name of the country was changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

As president, Chávez has encountered some challenges both at home and aboard. His efforts to tighten his hold on the state-run oil company in 2002 stirred up controversy and led to numerous protests. Chávez found himself removed from power briefly in April 2002 by military leaders. The protests continued after his return to power and led to a referendum on whether Chávez should remain as president. The referendum vote was held in August 2004 and a majority of the voters decided to let Chavez complete his term in office.

Hostility Towards the U.S.
Throughout his presidency, Chávez has been outspoken, refusing to hold back on any of his opinions or his criticisms. He has insulted oil executives, church officials, and other world leaders. He has particular hostility for the United States, which he believes was responsible for the failed 2002 coup against him. Chávez also objected to the war in Iraq and thinks that the United States has abused its powers. He considers President George W. Bush to be an evil imperialist.

Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained for some time. Since taking office, Chávez has sold oil to Cuba - a longtime adversary of the United States - and resisted U.S. plans to stop narcotics trafficking in nearby Colombia. He also helped guerrilla forces in neighboring countries. Over the years, Chávez has threatened to stop supplying oil to the United States if there is another attempt to remove him from power. He did, however, donate heating oil to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which destroyed numerous fuel processing facilities.

International Collaboration
No matter the state of Venezuela's relationship with the United States, Chávez has leveraged his country's oil resources to form connections to other nations, such as China and Angola. In 2006 he helped create the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a socialist free-trade organization. Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, and Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. Chávez is also an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of more than 100 countries, including Cuba, Iran, and several African nations.

Away from the political arena, Chávez is a fan of baseball, having been an excellent player growing up. He and his wife, María Isabel Rodriguez, have five children.

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

A founding member of the Workers' Party, Lula, as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is known, first ran for governor of the state of São Paulo in 1982, losing. As a member of the Chamber of Deputies and after two failed bids for the presidency, in 2002, Lula decisively defeated José Serra for the presidency. His 8-year tenure was marked by advancements on the economic front but marred by scandals as well.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva(born Oct. 27, 1945, Garanhuns, Brazil) Brazilian politician who served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011.

Born in Pernambuco state to sharecropping parents, Luiz Inácio da Silva (“Lula” was a nickname that he later added to his legal name) worked as a shoe-shine boy, street vendor, and factory worker to help supplement the family income. During the recession that followed the military coup of 1964 in Brazil, he found employment with the Villares Metalworks in So Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb of So Paulo. At Villares he joined the Metalworkers' Union, and in 1972 he left the factory to work for the union full-time, heading its legal section until 1975 when he was elected union president. That post brought him national attention as he launched a movement for wage increases in opposition to the military regime's economic policy. The campaign was highlighted by a series of strikes from 1978 to 1980 and culminated in Lula's arrest and indictment for violations of the National Security Law. Although he was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of three and a half years, the Military Supreme Court released him the following year.

A founding member of the Workers' Party (Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores), Lula first ran for political office as his party's candidate for governor of the state of So Paulo in 1982, finishing fourth. He later led national efforts in favour of direct elections for president, organizing mass demonstrations in state capitals in 1983 and 1984. Buoyed by popularity and charisma, Lula was elected to the national Chamber of Deputies in 1986 as a federal deputy from So Paulo. Lula was the Workers' Party's presidential candidate in 1989, but he lost to Fernando Collor de Mello. Lula continued as his party's presidential candidate in the elections of 1994 and 1998, both times finishing second to Fernando Henrique Cardoso. In the 2002 presidential election he adopted a more pragmatic platform; although he remained committed to encouraging grassroots participation in the political process, he also courted business leaders and promised to work with the International Monetary Fund to meet fiscal targets. Lula decisively defeated José Serra, the government-backed candidate, by winning 61.5 percent of the vote.

After taking office in January 2003, Lula sought to improve the economy, enact social reforms, and end government corruption. In 2006, as the end of his first term approached, the economy was growing, and Brazil's poverty rate had fallen significantly. However, many Brazilians felt that Lula had not done enough to improve the quality of public education or to reduce crime. Moreover, Lula's vow to fight government corruption had come into question in 2005, when members of his party were accused of bribery and illegal campaign financing. The president was not implicated, but the scandal hurt his popularity. In the first round of the 2006 presidential election, Lula failed to capture enough votes to win outright. Nevertheless, in the second round he easily defeated his opponent, Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

Both the Brazilian economy and Lula's popularity continued to grow during his second term, and new oil discoveries in the Santos basin held great promise for the country's future, which looked even brighter when Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term, Lula handpicked his chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, as his successor. Promising to extend Lula's policies, Rousseff, who had been the point person for the administration's landmark Growth Acceleration Program, advanced from the first round of elections to a runoff against Serra, whom she defeated convincingly to be elected Brazil's first woman president.

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Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes, an aviator and film director, was born on December 24, 1905, in Houston, Texas. He inherited his family's successful oil tool business and began investing in films. He produced several films, including the hit Hell's Angels.

Businessman, film producer, film director, and aviator. Born Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. on December 24, 1905, in Houston, Texas. While he is largely known for being one of the wealthiest men and one of the most famous recluses, Hughes had many professional accomplishments before withdrawing from public life. Son of a successful oil drill tool manufacturer, he inherited the family business in 1923 at the age of 18. He used some of his fortune to finance films, beginning in 1926. He produced several movies, including the World War I epic Hell's Angels (1930), which featured expensive aerial fight sequences and a then-unknown actress named Jean Harlow. Some of his other significant films were Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1941). During his days in Hollywood, Hughes developed a reputation for being a playboy, dating such actresses as Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Ginger Rogers.

Hughes developed a passion for flying and founded his own aircraft company in the early 1930s. Besides designing and building planes, he risked his own life several times testing planes and setting new world air speed records in the mid- to late 1930s. While he is credited with many aviation innovations, such as the first retractable landing gear, he is also remembered for one of his biggest flops—the Spruce Goose. Hughes labored on this oversized wooden sea-plane for years, finishing it in 1947. It was only flown once.

After a terrible plane crash in 1946, Hughes began to retreat from the world. He bought part of RKO Pictures in 1948, but he never visited the studio. In the 1960s, he lived on the top floor of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada, and conducted all of his business from his hotel suite. Few people ever saw him, which led to much public speculation and rumors about his activities. It was thought that he suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and had a drug problem. Hughes eventually left Las Vegas and began living abroad. In 1971 an allegedly authorized biography of famed recluse was announced, but it turned out to be a scam. The authors were later imprisoned for fraud.

Hughes died on April 5, 1976. After his death, numerous fake versions of his will surfaced, leading to a battle over his fortune. In 2004, Hughes' life returned to the spotlight with the feature film The Aviator, which depicted his early days. Leonardo DiCaprio played the billionaire as a dashing, troubled young man. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Hughes.

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Ron Howard

Ron Howard is a highly-acclaimed American actor and director. He appeared on screen for the first time when he was just 18 months old. When he was six, he was cast as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. In his teens, he starred on Happy Days. He was always intrigued by film making, and later moved from on-screen to behind the scenes, directing the award-winning films Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind.

Showbiz Background
Actor, director, producer. Born on March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma. Ronald William Howard is part of a theatrical family; his mother, Jean, was an actress and father Rance was an actor and director.

Howard appeared in his first movie, Frontier Woman (1956), when he was just 18 months old, and made his stage debut at the age of two in a production of The Seven Year Itch. The child star began making frequent television appearances, and was subsequently cast opposite Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr and Jason Robards in 1959's The Journey. His performance earned him regular roles on CBS's Playhouse 90, where he caught the eye of Sheldon Leonard, the producer behind the sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show.

On October 3, 1960, Howard first appeared as Andy Griffith's son, Opie, on The Andy Griffith Show, a role that earned him nationwide fame. Throughout this early success, Howard's family provided a grounding influence and asserted that Howard should be able to experience his childhood. They limited Howard's work schedule, and only allowed him to perform in a small number of productions during the show's off-season, such as The Music Man (1962) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963).

At his father's request, Howard maintained a public school education at John Burroughs High School and, around this time, began to dabble in amateur filmmaking with a Super-8 camera. On the sets of his various productions, Howard quizzed crews about the technical aspects of directing.

Happy Days
When The Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968, Howard followed it with 1971's The Smith Family, where he starred opposite Henry Fonda. Fonda encouraged Howard's ambition, and when he graduated from high school in 1972, he matriculated at the University of Southern California's film school. Howard's time there was short-lived; soon after enrolling, he landed a role in American Grafitti (1973), George Lucas' seminal teen film. The movie spawned a 50s revival craze which, in turn, led to the hit show Happy Days. The 1974 series featured Howard in its leading role, and his turn as Richie Cunningham elevated him to superstardom.

During the show's run, Howard wed high school sweetheart Cheryl Alley in 1975. He also appeared in productions on the side, including John Wayne's final film The Shootist (1976). During this time, Howard brokered a deal with producer Roger Corman: Howard would star in Corman's Eat My Dust (1976) and, in return, Corman would help Howard direct his first major film project. The collaboration led to Grand Theft Auto (1977), which not only helped Howard to cut his chops behind the camera, but also spurred him to found his own company, Major H Productions. Three years later he inked a three-year deal with NBC, and produced and directed several programs for the network.

Howard's wife gave birth to their daughter, Bryce, in 1981, the first of the couple's four children. That same year, Howard met producer Brian Grazer. In 1982, the two teamed up to direct and produce Night Shift, a dark comedy starring Howard's Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler. Howard and Grazer partnered again two years later for Splash, the hit romantic comedy featuring Tom Hanks, Darryl Hannah and John Candy. The film established Howard as a director, and he went on to helm 1985's Academy Award-winning Cocoon.

He and Grazer solidified their relationship in 1986, and the duo co-founded Imagine Films Entertainment. The company has been the powerhouse behind hits including the Howard-directed Willow (1988), Parenthood (1989), Backdraft (1991), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996).

In 1998, Howard began expanding his company's efforts to television productions with the drama, Felicity. The show, about a young girl's foray into college life, became wildly popular with teens. Its success led the company to start more television series, including the 2001 action/adventure drama, 24. The series, which examines 24 hours in the life of government employee Jack Bauer as he handles domestic threats, also became a hit with fans. It is currently in its seventh season.

Howard produced A Beautiful Mind in 2002, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Director, an Academy Award for Best Picture, and a Golden Globe for Best Film. The next year, he worked as the anonymous narrator and executive producer for another television show—the heady comedy, Arrested Development. The show was nominated for multiple awards, and won Howard an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004.

Blockbuster Hits
The next year Howard directed the boxing drama Cinderella Man, which was nominated for more than 22 awards. He followed the critical success of the film with his blockbuster hit The Da Vinci Code (2006). The film grossed more than $750 million worldwide, and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Howard received an Oscar nod for Best Director in 2008 for Frost/Nixon, a film exploring the post-Watergate TV interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. He is also the director of 2009's Angels & Demons, the sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

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