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Billy Bragg

Stephen William Bragg is an English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, with lyrics that span political or romantic themes, his music is centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes. Bragg was born in 1957 in Barking, one of the sons of Dennis Frederick Austin Bragg, an assistant sales manager to a Barking cap maker and milliner, his wife Marie Victoria D'Urso, of Italian descent. Bragg's father died of lung cancer in 1976, his mother in 2011. Bragg was educated at Northbury Junior School and Park Modern Secondary School in Barking, where he failed his eleven-plus exam precluding him from going to university; however he developed an interest in poetry at the age of twelve, when his English teacher chose him to read a poem he had written for a homework assignment on a local radio station. He put his energies into learning and practising the guitar with his next-door neighbour, Philip Wigg.

He was exposed to folk and folk-rock music during his teenage years, citing Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan as early influences on his songwriting. Bragg was influenced by the Clash, whom he'd seen play live in London in May 1977 on their White Riot Tour, again at a Rock Against Racism carnival in April 1978, which he admits was the first time he stepped into the world of music as it is used for political activism; the experience of the gig and preceding march helped shape Bragg's left-wing politics, having "turned a blind eye" to casual racism. In 1977 Bragg formed the punk rock/pub rock band Riff Raff with Wiggy; the band decamped to rural Oundle in Northamptonshire in 1978 to record a series of singles which did not receive wide exposure. After a period of gigging in Northamptonshire and London, they returned to Barking and split in 1980. Taking a series of odd jobs including working at Guy Norris' record shop in Barking high street. Bragg became disillusioned with his stalled music career and in May 1981 joined the British Army as a recruit destined for the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars of the Royal Armoured Corps.

After completing three months' basic training, he returned home. Bragg peroxided his hair to mark a new phase in his life and began performing frequent concerts and busking around London, playing solo with an electric guitar under the name Spy vs Spy, his demo tape got no response from the record industry, but by pretending to be a television repair man, he got into the office of Charisma Records' A&R man Peter Jenner. Jenner liked the tape. Bragg got an offer to record more demos for music publisher Chappell & Co. so Jenner agreed to release them as a record. Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy was released in July 1983 by Utility. Hearing DJ John Peel mention on-air that he was hungry, Bragg rushed to the BBC with a mushroom biryani, so Peel played a song from Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy albeit at the wrong speed. Peel insisted he would have played the song without the biryani and played it at the correct speed. Within months Charisma had been taken over by Virgin Records and Jenner, made redundant, became Bragg's manager.

Stiff Records' press officer Andy Macdonald –, setting up his own record label, Go! Discs – received a copy of Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy, he made Virgin an offer and the album was re-released on Go! Discs in November 1983, at the fixed low price of £2.99. Around this time, Andy Kershaw, an early supporter at Radio Aire in Leeds, was employed by Jenner as Bragg's tour manager. Though never released as a Bragg single, album track and live favourite "A New England", with an additional verse, became a Top 10 hit in the UK for Kirsty MacColl in January 1985. Since MacColl's early death, Bragg always sings. In 1984, he released Brewing Up with Billy Bragg, a mixture of political songs and songs of unrequited love; this was followed in 1985 by Between the Wars, an EP of political songs that included a cover version of Leon Rosselson's "The World Turned Upside Down". The EP made the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart and earned Bragg an appearance on Top of the Pops, singing the title track. Bragg collaborated with Rosselson on the song, "Ballad of a Spycatcher".

In the same year, he embarked on his first tour of North America, with Wiggy as tour manager, supporting Echo & the Bunnymen. The tour began in Washington D. C. and ended in Los Angeles. On the same trip, in New York, Bragg unveiled his "Portastack", a self-contained, mobile PA system weighing 35 lbs, the wearing of which became an archetypal image of the singer at that time. With it, he was able to busk outside a record industry conference. In 1986 Bragg released Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, its title is taken from a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky and a translated version of the poem was printed on the record's inner sleeve. Back to Basics is a 1987 collection of his first three releases: Life's a Riot with Spy vs

The Virgin and Child with Two Angels (Andrea del Verrochio)

The Virgin and Child with Two Angels is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Andrea del Verrocchio, dating from circa 1467–1469. It is in the National Gallery, United Kingdom; the theme derives from Filippo Lippi's works such as the Lippina, with Mary holding the child Jesus on her womb, with the help of two baby angels. The scene is set in a reference to the hortus conclusus. Behind it, in the background, is a stylized landscape. Sandro Botticelli was in turn inspired by this painting, for his Madonna and Child and Two Angels now on display in the Capodimonte Museum of Naples. Page at the museum's website

Racket (crime)

A racket, according to the current common and most general definition, is an organized criminal act in which the criminal act is some form of substantial business, or a way to earn illegal money either or but repeatedly. A racket is therefore a repeated or continuous organized criminal operation. However, according to the more specific definition, racketeering constitutes extortion or criminal coercion, and still a “racket” referred to a criminal act in which the perpetrator or perpetrators fraudulently offer a service that will not be put into effect, a service to solve a nonexistent problem, or to solve a problem that would not exist without the racket. Conducting a racket is racketeering; the potential problem may be caused by the same party that offers to solve it, but that fact may be concealed, with the specific intent to engender continual patronage for this party. The most common example of a racket is the "protection racket", which promises to protect the target business or person from dangerous individuals in the neighborhood and either collects the money or causes damage to the business until the owner pays.

The racket exists as both the problem and its solution, it is used as a method of extortion. However, the term "racket" has expanded in definition and may now be used less to refer to any continuous or repeated illegal organized crime operation, including those that do not involve fraudulent practices. For example, "racket" may be used to refer to the "numbers racket" or the "drug racket", neither of which involve fraud or deception with regard to the intended clientele. Racketeering is most associated with organized crime, the term was coined by the Employers' Association of Chicago in June 1927 in a statement about the influence of organized crime in the Teamsters union. A racket was defined by this coinage as being a service, such as protection which calls forth its own demand, would not have been needed otherwise. Examples of crimes that may be alleged to be part of a pattern of racketeering activity include A protection racket is a form of extortion whereby racketeers offer to "protect" property from damage in exchange for a fee, while being responsible, in part or in whole, for the property damage.

A fencing racket is an operation specializing in the resale of stolen goods. A numbers racket is illegal gambling operation. Money laundering and other creative accounting practices that are misused in ways to disguise sources of illegal funds. Theft operations, including: burglary, home invasion, identity theft, auto theft, art theft, car hijacking, truck hijacking, organized retail crime and copyright infringement Fraud and embezzlement operations, including: credit card fraud, check fraud, health care fraud, insurance fraud and wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, electoral fraud, confidence tricks, bid rigging Kidnapping Murder and murder-for-hire Bribery and police corruption Organized academic dishonesty by school administrators Loan sharking Computer crimes Drug trafficking Arms trafficking Extortion Prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation of children Human trafficking People smuggling Tax evasion and cigarette smuggling Witness tampering and intimidation Skimming Operating chop shops Illegal gambling or bookmaking, including match fixing Criminal operation of otherwise ostensibly legal operations, such as strip clubs and waste management firms Poaching, illegal logging, illegal construction, illegal mining Dog fighting and bullfighting On October 15, 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act referred to as the "RICO Act", became United States law.

The RICO Act allowed law enforcement to charge a person or group of people with racketeering, defined as committing multiple violations of certain varieties within a ten-year period. The purpose of the RICO Act was stated as "the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce". S. Rep. No. 617, 91st Cong. 1st Sess. 76. However, the statute is sufficiently broad to encompass illegal activities relating to any enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Section 1961 of Title 18 provides that the Attorney General of the United States may designate any department or agency to conduct investigations authorized by the RICO statute and such department or agency may use the investigative provisions of the statute or the investigative power of such department or agency otherwise conferred by law. Absent a specific designation by the Attorney General, jurisdiction to conduct investigations for violations of 18 U. S.

C. § 1962 lies with the agency having jurisdiction over the violations constituting the pattern of racketeering activity listed in 18 U. S. C. § 1961. In the US, civil racketeering laws are used in federal and state courts. Addiopizzo Confidence trick Pizzo "Organized Crime." Oxford Bibliographies Online: Criminology

Doming Lam

Doming Ngok-pui Lam is a music composer born in Macau in 1926. He was named as "the father of Hong Kong modern music" for his contribution to the music industry of Hong Kong, he studied music in Los Angeles. He travels extensively around the world for all sorts of international conferences, workshops and Rostrums, in order to maintain his sensitivity and knowledge in the music world. During 1964-1994, he served in Hong Kong as a composer, lecturer, protector of performing rights, promoter of music exchanges in both Asia and around the globe, his objective in writing music is to create modern Chinese music by applying avantgarde technique on traditional roots. His thoughts have influenced many of young composers. In the 1999 Culture Day, Lam was named one of the five Asian composing masters by the music circle in Tokyo. Lam is the first Macau born composer to be included in the prestigious Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Lam was named Honorary Member of the International Society for Contemporary Music at its World Music Days in Hong Kong in 2007

Greg Ray

Gregory "Greg" Ray is a former IRL IndyCar Series driver. After winning the SCCA national Formula Atlantic championship in 1993, he moved up to the CART-sanctioned Toyota Atlantic series in 1994. In 1997 he made his Indy Racing League debut driving for Thomas Knapp in an unsponsored black #97 car, he made his mark on the series a year during qualifying for the 1998 Indianapolis 500. Driving the same, black #97, he qualified second behind A. J. Foyt's driver Billy Boat; the car attracted sponsorship from local businesses and the national anti-tobacco campaign, became known as Ash Kicker Racing. Though he failed to finish that race, he scored several good results in subsequent races and caught the eye of successful businessman and team owner John Menard. In 1999 he won the IRL championship on the strength of three victories. However, 2000 was a difficult season with only one victory, he subsequently finished last. In 2001 Ray and Menard had split, his replacement Jaques Lazier won his first victory at the Chicagoland Speedway.

Things continued to go downhill from there, as Ray bounced around three separate cars in 2002 before starting his own team in 2003, Access Motorsports, the lone team utilizing a Panoz chassis with Honda engines. He gained sponsorship from TrimSpa but failed to light up the scoreboard and in 2004, he ran a few races before giving his seat to former Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor; the team closed at the end of the year from a lack of sponsorship. Ray had 5 wins in his 74 IRL starts. Greg Ray made his debut Indy Racing League start during the 1997 portion of the 1996-97 Indy Racing League season driving the #97 Thomas Knapp Motorsports Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora in 5 of 10 events including the Indianapolis 500 where he would finish 25th due to a water pump failure. Ray's best finish came at the True Value 500 at Texas Motor Speedway near Ray's hometown of Dallas, Texas to finish 29th-place finish in points. For 1998 Ray would continue to drive Knapp's #97 Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora with sponsorship from Mercury Outboards and Mercury Marine for the opening rounds of the season.

However, during practice for the Indianapolis 500 Knapp's team was without a sponsor. Ray would manage to qualify second between AJ Foyt Enterprises teammates Billy Boat and Kenny Brack and would gain race day sponsorship from Justice Brothers, Inc. True Value, The Nashville Network, Ray's hometown track Texas Motor Speedway. In the race, Ray led for 18 laps before retiring on lap 167 due to a gearbox failure. Ray would follow up his 500 performance with a 2nd-place finish at the True Value 500 at Texas Motor Speedway where Ray acquired sponsorship from AT&T but Knapp's team skipped races due to a lack of sponsorship. Ray drove a two-race stint for AJ Foyt Enterprises in the #11 Conseco Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora as a replacement to the injured Billy Boat at the Pep Boys 400K at Dover Downs International Speedway where Ray would set the fastest lap before getting taken out in a crash and the VisionAire 500K at Lowe's Motor Speedway where Ray retired with gearbox failure. Knapp reopened his team for the final three races of the season with sponsorship from Genoa Racing and Best Access Systems but would retire from each race.

Knapp's team closed its doors for good due to a lack of sponsorship but Ray was signed on to drive the #2 Glidden/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora and would take pole positions at the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and the VisionAire 500K at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Ray would retire from the first three races before getting three wins at Radisson 200 and Colorado Indy 200 Presented by Deloitte & Touche both at Pikes Peak International Raceway and the MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway to get the championship. For 2000 Ray would continue to drive for Menard in the #1 Conseco/Quaker State/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora scoring six poles in the series' nine races including the Indianapolis 500 where during the IRL's split with CART Chip Ganassi Racing, a CART team, entered a pair of cars for CART drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser with Montoya starting second to Ray; because of this Ray and Montoya were the favorites to win. Ray would lead 26 of the first 66 laps before crashing on lap 67 and finishing in 33rd place with Montoya leading 167 of the 200 laps on his way to an easy win.

Ray would go on to win the Midas 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, Ray would drop to 13th in points. In 2001 Ray would continue to drive for Menard in the #2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora. Ray continued to be an excellent qualifier with four poles in the series' first ten races but had trouble finishing races with a win at the zMax Atlanta 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ray's relationship with Menard got worse after the Indianapolis 500 where Ray qualified 2nd and would lead 40 laps before finishing 17th, 8 laps down. Ray split from Menard after the Belterra Resort Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway while Ray's replacement, Jaques Lazier won in his second race in the car at the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Ray would drive the season ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway returning to AJ Foyt's team in the #11 A. J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Nissan Infiniti where Ray would start 13th and finish 8th in his only other top 10 of the year besides his Atlanta win.

Starting off 2002 without a ride Ray was hired to drive the #11 Harrah's Dallara-Chevrolet for A. J. Foyt Enterprises in place of the injured Eliseo Salazar. Ray made his 2002 debut at the Indianapo

Abstract photography

Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and, created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, shadow, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression; the image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations. There has been no commonly-used definition of the term "abstract photography". Books and articles on the subject include everything from a representational image of an abstract subject matter, such as Aaron Siskind's photographs of peeling paint, to non-representational imagery created without a camera or film, such as Marco Breuer's fabricated prints and books.

The term is both inclusive of a wide range of visual representations and explicit in its categorization of a type of photography, visibly ambiguous by its nature. Many photographers, art historians and others have written or spoken about abstract photography without attempting to formalize a specific meaning. Alvin Langdon Coburn in 1916 proposed that an exhibition be organized with the title "Abstract Photography", for which the entry form would state that "no work will be admitted in which the interest of the subject matter is greater than the appreciation of the extraordinary." The proposed exhibition did not happen, yet Coburn created some distinctly abstract photographs. Photographer and Professor of Psychology John Suler, in his essay Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche, said that "An abstract photograph draws away from that, realistic or literal, it draws away from recognizable subjects in the actual world. Some people say it departs from true meaning and reality itself, it stands apart from the concrete whole with its purpose instead depending on conceptual meaning and intrinsic form....

Here’s the acid test: If you look at a photo and there’s a voice inside you that says'What is it?'…. Well, there you go. It’s an abstract photograph."Barbara Kasten a photographer and professor, wrote that "Abstract photography challenges our popular view of photography as an objective image of reality by reasserting its constructed nature.... Freed from its duty to represent, abstract photography continues to be a catchall genre for the blending of mediums and disciplines, it is an arena to test photography."German photographer and photographic theorist Gottfried Jäger used the term "concrete photography", playing off the term "concrete art", to describe a particular kind of abstract photography. He said: More conceptual artist Mel Bochner hand wrote a quote from the Encyclopædia Britannica that said "Photography cannot record abstract ideas." On a note card photographed it and printed it using six different photographic processes. He turned the words, the concept and the visualization of the concept into art itself, in doing so created a work that presented yet another type of abstract photography, again without defining the term itself.

Some of the earliest images of what may be called abstract photography appeared within the first decade after the invention of the craft. In 1842 John William Draper created images with a spectroscope, which dispersed light rays into a previously unrecorded visible pattern; the prints he made had no reference to the reality of the visible world that other photographers recorded, they demonstrated photography's unprecedented ability to transform what had been invisible into a tangible presence. Draper saw his images as science records rather than art, but their artistic quality is appreciated today for their groundbreaking status and their intrinsic individuality. Another early photographer, Anna Atkins in England, produced a self-published book of photograms made by placing dried algae directly on cyanotype paper. Intended as a scientific study, the stark white on blue images have an ethereal abstract quality due to the negative imaging and lack of natural context for the plants; the discovery of the X-ray in 1895 and radioactivity in 1896 caused a great public fascination with things that were invisible or unseen.

In response, photographers began to explore how they could capture what could not been seen by normal human vision. About this same time Swedish author and artist August Strindberg experimented with subjecting saline solutions on photographic plates to heat and cold; the images he produced with these experiments were indefinite renderings of what could not otherwise be seen and were abstract in their presentation. Near the turn of the century Louis Darget in France tried to capture images of mental processes by pressing unexposed plates to the foreheads of sitters and urging them to project images from their minds onto the plates; the photographs he produced were blurry and indefinite, yet Darget was convinced that what he called "thought vibrations" were indistinguishable from light rays. During the first decade of the 20th century there was a wave of artistic exploration that hastened the transition in painting and sculpture from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to Cubism and Futurism.

Beginning in 1903 a series of annual art exhibitions in Paris called the Salon d'Automne introduced the public to radical vision of artists like Cézanne