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Griffith Park

Griffith Park is a large municipal park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The park covers 4,310 acres of land, it is the second-largest city park in California, after Mission Trails Preserve in San Diego, the 11th largest municipally-owned park in the United States. It has been referred to as the Central Park of Los Angeles but is much larger, more untamed, rugged than its New York City counterpart. After investing in mining, Griffith J. Griffith purchased Rancho Los Feliz in 1882 and started an ostrich farm there. Although ostrich feathers were used in making women's hats in the late-19th century, Griffith's purpose was to lure residents of Los Angeles to his nearby property developments, which were haunted by the ghost of Antonio Feliz. After the property rush peaked, Griffith donated 3,015 acres to the city of Los Angeles on December 16, 1896. Griffith was tried and convicted of shooting and wounding his wife in a 1903 incident.

When released from prison, he attempted to fund the construction of an amphitheater, planetarium, a girls' camp and boys' camp in the park. His reputation in the city was tainted by his crime, however, so the city refused his money. In 1912, Griffith designated 100 acres of the park, at its northeast corner along the Los Angeles River, be used to "do something to further aviation"; the Griffith Park Aerodrome was the result. Aviation pioneers such as Glenn L. Martin and Silas Christoffersen used it, the aerodrome passed to the National Guard Air Service. Air operations continued on a 2,000-foot -long runway until 1939, when it was closed due to danger from interference with the approaches to Grand Central Airport across the river in Glendale, because the City Planning commission complained that a military airport violated the terms of Griffith's deed; the National Guard squadron moved to Van Nuys, the Aerodrome was demolished, though the rotating beacon and its tower remained for many years.

From 1946 until the mid-1950s, Rodger Young Village occupied the area, the Aerodrome. Today that site is occupied by the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, soccer fields, the interchange between the Golden State Freeway and the Ventura Freeway. Griffith set up a trust fund for the improvements he envisioned, after his death in 1919 the city began to build what Griffith had wanted; the amphitheater, called the Greek Theatre, was completed in 1930, Griffith Observatory was finished in 1935. Subsequent to Griffith's original gift further donations of land, city purchases, the reversion of land from private to public have expanded the Park to its present size. In December, 1944 the Sherman Company donated 444 acres of Hollywoodland open space to Griffith Park; this large, eco-sensitive property borders the Lake Hollywood reservoir, the former Hollywoodland sign, Bronson Canyon where it connects into the original Griffith donation. The Hollywoodland residential community is surrounded by this land.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Civilian Conservation Corps camp contained within Griffith Park was converted to a holding center for Japanese Americans arrested as "enemy aliens" before they were transferred to more permanent internment camps. The Griffith Park Detention Camp opened immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, taking in 35 Japanese immigrants suspected of fifth column activity because they lived and worked near military installations; these men fishermen from nearby Terminal Island, were transferred to an Immigration and Naturalization Service detention station after a brief stay, but Issei internees arrested in the days and weeks following the outbreak of the war arrived soon after to take their place. Up to 550 Japanese Americans were confined in Griffith Park from 1941 to 1942, all subsequently transferred to Fort Lincoln, Fort Missoula and other DOJ camps. On July 14, 1942, the detention camp became a POW Processing Center for German and Japanese prisoners of war, operating until August 3, 1943, when the prisoners were transferred elsewhere.

The camp was changed to the Army Western Corps Photographic Center and Camouflage Experimental Laboratory until the end of the war. Hired as part of a welfare project, 3,780 men were in the park clearing brush on October 3, 1933, when a fire broke out in the Mineral Wells area. Many of the workers were ordered to fight the fire. In all, 29 men were killed and 150 were injured. Professional firefighters limited the blaze to 47 acres. On May 12, 1961, a wildfire on the south side of the park burned 814 acres, it destroyed eight homes and damaged nine more, chiefly in the Beachwood Canyon area. Another fire occurred circa 1971 in the Toyon Canyon area. Repelled by the ugliness of the devastated area, Amir Dialameh replanted a portion of it himself by hand. Over the course of more than 30 years, he tended the garden he built there with the help of occasional volunteers. On May 8, 2007, a major wildfire burned more than 817 acres, destroying the bird sanctuary, Dante's View, Captain's Roost, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people.

The fire came right up to one of the largest playgrounds in Los Angeles, Shane's Inspiration, the Los Angeles Zoo, threatened the Griffith Observatory, but left such areas intact. Several local organizations, including SaveGriffithPark.org, have been working since with local officials to restore the park in a way that would benefit all. It was the third fire of

2003 Latvian European Union membership referendum

A referendum on European Union membership was held in Latvia on 20 September 2003. Latvia was the last of the states. Just over two-thirds of voters voted Yes and Latvia joined the EU on 1 May 2004. Latvia was invited to begin negotiations to join the EU in 1999 and was formally invited to join at a summit in Copenhagen in December 2002. On 27 December 2002 the Latvian government decided to hold a referendum on 20 September 2003 on joining the EU. In May 2003 the Parliament of Latvia amended the Constitution of Latvia to allow referendums on international matters. Campaigning began on 5 May 2003; the question voted on in the referendum was: Do you support the membership of Latvia in the European Union? Latvia was seen as being one of the more skeptical countries on joining the European Union, but polls in the years before the referendum showed an advantage for supporters of EU accession. Only one opinion poll in February 2002 showed opponents of membership in the lead. Support for membership rose during the campaign with over 50% expected to support membership as the referendum neared.

Supporters of joining the EU included the business community. They argued that this would give access to development aid, they stressed that membership would provide protection from pressure from Russia. In the last few weeks the Yes campaign launched an advertising campaign with the slogan "Don’t stay aside!”The No campaign argued that Latvia should not surrender the sovereignty they had gained from the Soviet Union. They suggested that Latvia would suffer economically as the poorest of the candidate countries. Opposition was higher among ethnic Russians and in the poorest regions of Latvia; the results saw the highest turnout of any of the Eastern European countries holding referendums in 2003 and well above the 35% required in order to make the referendum binding. The Yes vote was ahead in 30 of the 34 electoral districts with the highest Yes vote among Latvians abroad with over 90% supporting membership; the highest No vote was in the poorer east of Latvia where there were significant numbers of ethnic Russians.

The Prime Minister of Latvia, Einars Repše, celebrated the result with 2,000 young people in Riga. He put a blue EU t-shirt on and said that "Latvians understand this is a decisive moment!" The President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, described the result as "wiping out forever the divisions on the map of Europe that the odious Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 placed here."

Gong Li

Gong Li is a Chinese-born Singaporean actress. One of the most famous actresses of China's Fifth Generation cinema, she starred in three of the four Academy Award for Best International Feature Film-nominated Chinese-language films. Gong was born in Shenyang and grew up in Jinan, Shandong, she enrolled at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, from where she graduated in 1989. While a student at the Academy, she was spotted by director Zhang Yimou and debuted in Zhang's Red Sorghum in 1987. Gong and Zhang's professional and personal relationship received much media attention in the Chinese-speaking world, as they continued to collaborate on a string of critically acclaimed movies, including the Oscar-nominated features Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern. For her role in the Zhang-directed The Story of Qiu Ju, Gong won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. Gong starred in the Chen Kaige-directed Oscar-nominated Farewell My Concubine, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

Other notable appearances include Breaking the Silence, Zhou Yu's Train, 2046, Memoirs of a Geisha, Curse of the Golden Flower, Coming Home. Gong was head of jury at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival and the 2002 Venice Film Festival, the first Chinese to hold such position at both events. Throughout her career, Gong has won three Hundred Flowers Awards, two Golden Rooster Awards, honourary awards at the Berlin and Cannes film festivals, she was appointed a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France in 2010. Gong Li was born in Shenyang, China, the youngest of five children, her father was a professor of economics and her mother was a teacher. She grew up in the capital of Shandong. In 1985, she was accepted to study at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. While a student at the Central Academy of Drama, she was discovered by Zhang Yimou, who chose her for the lead role in Red Sorghum, his first film as a director. Over the several years following her 1987 acting debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films.

She starred in Ju Dou in 1990. These roles established her reputation, according to Asiaweek, as "one of the world's most glamorous movie stars and an elegant throwback to Hollywood's golden era". In many of her early movies, Gong represents a tragic victim and an abused soul, trying to release herself from an impossible maze of corruption and suppression. In Raise the Red Lantern and Shanghai Triad an additional tragic element is added to her being as she unintentionally becomes the executioner of new innocent victims, making her realize that she has assisted the dark cynical system. In 1993, she received a New York Film Critics Circle award for her role in Farewell My Concubine. Directed by Chen Kaige, the film was her first major role with a director other than Zhang Yimou. In the same year, she was awarded with the Berlinale Camera at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. Premiere magazine ranked her performance in Farewell My Concubine as the 89th greatest performance of all time.

She worked with renowned director Stephen Chow in comedy films God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai and Flirting Scholar. Immune to political repercussions because of her fame, Gong Li began criticizing the censorship policy in China, her films Farewell My Concubine and The Story of Qiu Ju were banned in China for being thinly-veiled critiques of the Chinese government. Regarding the sexual content in Ju Dou, Chinese censorship deemed the film "a bad influence on the physical and spiritual health of young people."In June 1998, Gong Li became a recipient of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Two years she was invited by the Berlin Film Festival to be the president of its international jury for the festival's 50th anniversary. Gong won her second international Best Actress trophy for her performance as a struggling single mother in Breaking the Silence at the Montreal Film Festival, directed by Sun Zhou, she was invited to head the Venice Film Festival in 2002. In the early 2000s, Gong starred in two films directed by Wong Kar-wai, 2046 and Eros.

She attended the Cannes Film Festival that year, where she was awarded the Festival Trophy for her contributions to film. Despite her popularity, Gong avoided Hollywood for years, due to a lack of confidence in speaking English, she made her English speaking debut in 2005. Her performance was met with positive reviews, her other English-language roles to date included Miami Vice in 2006 and Hannibal Rising in 2007. In all three films, she learned her English lines phonetically, she worked again with Zhang Yimou for historical epic Curse of the Golden Flower. Time named her performance as the Empress as the 7th greatest performance of the year, she narrated Beijing, an audio walking tour by Louis Vuitton and Soundwalk, which won an Audie Award for Best Original Work in 2009. In 2010, Gong starred in the World War II-era thriller Shanghai as a spy, disguised as the wife of a triad boss, she turned to documentaries and photographs about World War II, besides taking dancing classes three times a week, to ensure an accurate portrayal of the character.

During a press junket for the film, she stated that she was becoming m