Alex van Halen

Best known as the co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen, Alex Van Halen was born 8th May 1953. Van Halen, were originally called “Genesis” with bass player Mark Stone, but changed their name to “Mammoth” when they discovered there was already a band with the name “Genesis”. The band consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and vocaLs, his brother, Alex on drums, and bassist Mark Stone. They had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth. Eddie quickly became frustrated singing lead vocals, and decided to let Roth join the band. Michael Anthony replaced Mark Stone on bass. They changed the name of the band because David Lee Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers “sounded cool.”

The band originally began playing cover material, ranging from pop to disco, before settling on original material .Van Halen released a total of six albums with David Lee Roth on Vocals, However the band had trouble working together as a cohesive unit and in 1982 Eddie Van Halen approached Simmons about possibly joining Kiss and replacing Ace Frehley. However Simmons & Alex persuaded Eddie to remain with Van Halen, and shortly afterwards the band released the album 1984; which yielded the band’s first Number 1 hit, “Jump“. Oher singles released from the album also sold well, particularly “Hot for Teacher”. The album peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard charts.Roth left the band and was replaced by former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar in July 1985, the band’s sound changed sewhat to adapt to the strengths of the new vocalist, as Eddie’s keyboard playing became a permanent fixture, heard in songs such as “Dreams”“Why Can’t this be Love“and “Love Walks In”. Even on the more rocking, guitar-driven songs, Eddie’s performances became looser, less aggressive, and some said more thoughtful, while others said more commercial.

However, tensions within the band again arose over identity and artist direction, and Hagar, like Roth earlier, departed in June 1996. Hagar left behind him a portfolio of 4 studio albums with the band (5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance) as well as one live album (Live: Right Here, Right Now).Following Hagar’s departure, the group briefly reunited with original singer David Lee Roth and released Best of Volume I, a greatest hits package, in October 1996. Two new songs were recorded for the album, with the single “Me Wise Magic” reaching #1 on the mainstream rock chart (“Can’t Get This Stuff No More” was the other new single). However, previous disagreements resurfaced and the reunion did not last, as Roth left in September 1996, after the MTV Video Music Awards.The band auditioned many prospective replacements for Hagar, finally settling on Gary Cherone, former front man for Extreme, a band also represented by Van Halen’s manager. Cherone predicted that the new line-up would last ‘ten years’. The band also completed a world tour touting their new single “Without You” and did go back in the studio to start on a second record. However, Cherone soon had an amicable departure, and without a lead singer, Van Halen went on hiatus.

In 2004, Van Halen returned with Hagar as their lead singer. A greatest hits package, The Best of Both Worlds, was released to coincide with the band’s reunion tour. The album included three new tracks recorded with Hagar (“Up For Breakfast”, “It’s About Time”, & “Learning to See”).On February 2, 2007, it was officially announced on the band’s website that David Lee Roth would rejoin Van Halen for their summer tour. The excitement regarding the tour waned when on February 20, 2007, reports surfaced that the tour was indefinitely postponed. A previously planned compilation of Roth era Van Halen hits was likewise shelved.However after six months and a stint in rehabilitation for Eddie, it was finally confirmed by the band that they would do a tour with the new lineup from late 2007-mid 2008 across North America, with further worldwide . The latest album A Different kind of Truth was released in 2012.

Sir David Attenborugh OM, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS, FZS, FSA

imageEnglish wildlife enthusaist Sir David Attenborugh OM, CH, CVO, CBE, FRS, FZS, FSA was born on this date 8th May in 1926. He is a younger brother of the late director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough and His career as the face and voice of natural history programmes has endured for more than 50 years. He is best known for writing and presenting the Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of all life on the planet. Attenborough grew up in College House on the campus of the University College, Leicester, where he spent his childhood collecting fossils, stones and other natural specimens. He received encouragement in this pursuit at age seven, and one of his adoptive sisters also gave him a piece of amber filled with prehistoric insects. He was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and then won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences.

In 1950, he applied for a job as a radio talks producer with the BBC and attracted the interest of the head of the Factual broadcasting department of the BBC and joined the BBC full-time. Attenborough’s association with natural history programmes began when he produced and presented the three-part series The Pattern of Animals, which discussed the use of camouflage, aposematism and courtship displays among animals. Through this programme.Attenborough met the curator of the zoo’s reptile house, and they decided to make a series about an animal-collecting expedition.

The result was Zoo Quest, first broadcast in 1954, which Attenborough presented. In 1957, the BBC Natural History Unit was established and Attenborough formed  the Travel and Exploration Unit, allowing him to continue to front Zoo Quest as well as produce other documentaries, notably the Travellers’ Tales. Attenborough also began studying for a post-graduate degree in social anthropology at the London School of Economics, however he returned to the BBC as controller of BBC Two before he could finish the degree and became the controller of BBC Two in March 1965 but was allowed to continue sudying as well as making programmes on an occasional basis. Later the same year, he filmed elephants in Tanzania, and in 1969, he made a series on the cultural history of the Indonesian island of Bali. For the 1971 film A Blank on the Map, he joined the first Western expedition to a remote highland valley in New Guinea to seek out a lost tribe.

As controller of BBC2 Attenborough established a portfolio of diverse and different programmes which defined the channel’s identity including music, arts, entertainment, archaeology, experimental comedy, travel, drama, sport, business, science and natural history programmes such as Man Alive, Call My Bluff, Chronicle, Life, One Pair of Eyes, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Money Programme. He also ordered a 13-part series on the history of Western art, which was Broadcast in 1969 and set the blueprint for landmark documentaries. Others followed, including The Ascent of Man and Alistair Cooke’s America. Attenborough thought that the story of evolution would be a natural subject for such a series. He shared his idea with a producer at the Natural History Unit, who came up with the title Life on Earth and returned to Bristol to start planning the series.Early the following year, he returned to full-time programme-making, leaving him free to write and present the planned natural history epic. Attenborough became a freelance broadcaster and immediately started work on his next project, which resulted in the 1973 series Eastwards with Attenborough, which was similar to Zoo Quests . On his return, he began to work on Life on Earth. Due to the scale of his ambition, the BBC decided to partner with an American network meanwhile he worked on a number of other television projects including a series on tribal art (The Tribal Eye) and another on the voyages of discovery (The Explorers).

Life on Earth began production in 1976 And Attenborough set about creating a body of work which set the benchmark for wildlife film-making and influence a generation of documentary film-makers. By treating his subject seriously and researching the latest discoveries, Attenborough and his production team gained the trust of the scientific community, who responded by allowing him to feature their subjects in his programmes. In Rwanda, Attenborough and his crew were granted privileged access to film Dian Fossey’s research group of mountain gorillas.  new film-making techniques were devised to get hitherto unfilmable events and animals. Attenborough also managed to visit several locations around the globe in each episode, sometimes even changing continents mid-sentence. Although appearing as the on-screen presenter, he consciously restricted his pieces to camera to give his subjects top billing. The success of Life on Earth prompted the BBC to consider a follow-up, and five years later, The Living Planet was screened dealing with the theme of ecology, how living things adapt to their environment. It was another critical and commercial success, generating huge international sales for the BBC.In 1990, The Trials of Life completed the original Life trilogy, looking at animal behaviour through the different stages of life.

In 1993, he continued with Life in the Freezer, which surveyed the natural history of Antarctica, and then embarked on a number of more specialised surveys of the natural world, beginning with plants. The result, The Private Life of Plants , showed plants as dynamic organisms by using time-lapse photography to speed up their growth. Attenborough then made The Life of Birds dealing with Avian matters. Technological developments in camera technology played a big part in subsequent program’s and for the next series Life of Mammals, low-light and infrared cameras were deployed to reveal the behaviour of nocturnal mammals. Advances in macro photography also made it possible to capture natural behaviour of very small creatures for the first time, and in 2005, Life in the Undergrowth dealt with the hitherto hidden world of invertebrates.The Next series Attenborough made was Life in Cold Blood which dealt with Reptiles and Amphibians.

The Life program’s were assembled In a DVD encyclopaedia called Life on Land. Then in 2010 Attenborough made First Life — dealing with evolutionary history before Life on Earth. He has continued to work on other documentaries, and his voice is synonymous with many other wildlife documentaries including The First Eden, Lost Worlds Vanished Lives, Wildlife on One, BBC Wildlife Specials, The Blue Planet, Nature’s Great Events, Life, Frozen Planet, Wildlife on One and the Natural World. n 1997, he narrated the BBC Wildlife Specials, each focussing on a charismatic species, and screened to mark the Natural History Unit’s 40th anniversary, and continued to collaborate with the BBC Natural History Unit in the new millennium. Attenborough then narrated The Blue Planet (2001), which dealt with marine life, And Planet Earth (2006), the biggest nature documentary ever made for television. In 2011, he narrated Frozen Planet featuring the Natural History of the Polar Regions.In 2009, he co-wrote and narrated Life, a ten-part series focussing on extraordinary animal behaviour, and narrated Nature’s Great Events, which showed how seasonal changes trigger major natural spectacles.

Recently Attenborough’s documentaries have became more overtly environmentalist. In State of the Planet, he assesses the impact man’s activities have had on the natural world by using scientific evidence and interviews with leading scientists and conservationists. He has also addressed global warming (The Truth about Climate Change) and human population growth (How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?) and Highlighted the plight of endangered species in BBC’s Saving Planet Earth project in 2007, the 50th anniversary of the Natural History Unit. Attenborough is also working on documentaries for Sky’s new 3D network, Sky 3D. Their first collaboration was Flying Monsters 3D, a film about pterosaurs a second film, The Bachelor King, followed a year later, and further collaborations are planned including a series on plants, and following that, a series on the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. and a second series of First Life, which explored the origins of life on Earth.

In 2012 Attenborough celebrated 50 years in broadcasting and during this long and distinguished career he has been given many honorary degrees by British universities. In 1980, he was honoured by the Open University. He also has honorary Doctor of Science awards from the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and the University of Bath. In 2006, he received the title of Distinguished Honorary Fellows of the University of Leicester, “in recognition of a record of continuing distinguished service to the University.” David Attenborough was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the university in 1970, and was made an honorary Freeman of the City of Leicester in 1990. He has also received the title Honorary Fellow from Clare College, Cambridge, the Zoological Society of London, the Linnean Society, the Institute of Biology and the Society of Antiquaries, snd was named as the most trusted celebrity in Britain in a 2006 Reader’s Digest poll. The following year he won The Culture Show’s Living Icon Award and was also named among the 100 Greatest Britons in a 2002 BBC poll and is one of the top ten “Heroes of Our Time” according to New Statesman magazine.

He also has the distinction of having a number of newly-discovered species and fossils being named in his honour. In 1993, a fossilised Mesozoic armoured fish discovered in Western Australia was given the name Materpiscis attenboroughi, which is also believed to be the earliest organism capable of internal fertilisation. He has also lent his name to a species of Ecuadorian flowering tree, Blakea attenboroughi, one of the world’s largest-pitchered carnivorous plants, Nepenthes attenboroughii, and one of only four species of long-beaked echidna, the critically endangered Zaglossus attenboroughi, discovered by explorer and zoologist Tim Flannery in the Cyclops Mountains of New Guinea in 1998, and In September 2009, London’s Natural History Museum opened the Attenborough Studio, part of its Darwin Centre development. Attenborough’s contribution to broadcasting and wildlife film-making has brought him international recognition. He has been called “the great communicator, the peerless educator” and “the greatest broadcaster of our time”. His programmes are often cited as an example of what public service broadcasting should be, and have influenced a generation of wildlife film-makers.

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is an event held annually on 8 May which celebrates of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This date is the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant (born 8 May 1828), the founder of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

The idea for an “annual action which could take hold in the whole world and would be a major contribution to peace” was introduced just after World War I. This evolved out of the “Red Cross Truce, an initiative that was studied by an international commission established at the 14th International Conference of the Red Cross. Its results, presented to the 15th International Conference in Tokyo in 1934, was approved and having considered the principles of the truce, and its applicability across different regions of the world, the General Assembly of the International Federation of the Red Cross Societies (IFRC) asked the League of the Red Cross Societies (LORCS) to study the feasibility of adopting an annual International Red Cross Day. Two years later, the proposal was adopted and the first Red Cross Day was celebrated on 8 May 1948. The official title of the day has changed over time, and it became “World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day” in 1984.

UK Genral Election 2015

David Cameron looks set to wreak even more havoc and ply more misery on the National Health Service, the poor, Disadvantaged, Unemployed and Disabled people in the United Kingdom after the UK’s Conservative Party, led by David Cameron won a majority of seats in the House of Commons following the United Kingdom General Election held on 7 May 2015. Main contenders were the Conservative Party led by David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, UNited Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage, the Labour Party led by Ed Miliband and the Scottish National Party led by Nicola Sturgeon. Other political parties contesting seats in Parliament included The British National Party, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru. The Conservatives required A majority of 326 seats (there are 650 MPs to win the Election. The House of Commons Speaker does not vote

Until recently Many Polls including BBC’s exit Poll, suggested that Britain was heading for a hung parliament (some of them want hanging) where neither Ed Miliband or David Cameron would get a majority in the general election. However the Conservatives reached an overall majority of 326 seats in the House of Commons and David Cameron was elected for another Term of Office. The result prompted Ed Miliband to resign as Labour Leader and Nigel Farage to resign as UKIP Leader. Ed Balls also lost his Labour seat in Scotland to Conservatives and many former Labour seats were claimed by the Scottish National Party.

The Television was wall to wall coverage With David Dimbleby, Nick Robinson, Emily Maitlis, Vine and Andrew alongside Huw Edwards presenting coverage on BBC, meanwhile Over on ITV: Political editor Tom Bradby presented, with Julie Etchingham and Nina Hossain. On Sky News: Adam Boulton, was joined by political editor Faisal Islam, and Elsewhere Eamonn Holmes, Dermot Murnaghan, Jeremy Paxman, added their input. However Parliament isn’t due back until 18 May. The Queen’s speech is pencilled in for 27 May. And a formal vote on it probably wouldn’t happen until 2 or 3 June.

VE Day 70th Anniversary

imageMay 8 2015 marks the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. VE Day (Victory in Europe Day, is celebrated annually on 8 May to commemorate the formal unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s Armed Forces following the suicide of Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler on 30 April 1945 during the Battle of Berlin. It marked the end of World War II in Europe and was authorised by Hitler’s successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz of the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was signed on 7 May in Reims, France and on 8 May in Berlin, Germany and is commemorated as VE Day.

Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the world. From Moscow to Los Angeles, people celebrated. In the United Kingdom, more than one million people celebrated in the streets to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.

In the United States, the victory happened on President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April. Flags remained at half-mast for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period. Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt’s memory and keeping the flags at half-mast that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”Massive celebrations also took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and especially in New York’s Times Square.

Meanwhile in Russia As the Soviet representative in Reims had no authority to sign the German instrument of surrender, the Soviet leadership proposed to consider Reims surrender as a “preliminary” act. The surrender ceremony was repeated in Berlin on 8 May, where the instrument of surrender was signed by supreme German military commander Wilhelm Keitel, by Georgy Zhukov and Allied representatives. Since the Soviet Union was to the east of Germany, it was 9 May Moscow time when the German military surrender became effective, which is why Russia and most of the former Soviet republics commemorate Victory Day on 9 May instead of 8 May 1945.

Commemorative public holidays are also held in many other countries including Italy on (25 April where it is known as “Festa della Liberazione” (Liberation Holiday). Denmark on 5 May known as “Befrielsen” (The Liberation) in the Netherlands on 5 May where it is known as “Bevrijdingsdag” (Liberation Day). In East Germany it was originally known as Tag der Befreiung (Day of Liberation), a public holiday from 1950 to 1966 and between 1975 and 1990, as Tag des Sieges (Victory Day which was celebrated on 9 May. In Slovakia it is known as Deň víťazstva nad fašizmom (Victory over Fascism Day) and in the Czech Republic it is known as Den vítězství (Day of Victory) or Den osvobození (Day of Liberation). In Poland it is known as “Dzień Zwycięstwa” (Day of Victory and Soviet occupation in Poland). In Norway it is known as “Frigjøringsdagen” (Liberation Day),  in Ukraine it is known as “День пам’яті та примирення” (Memorial Day or День перемоги над нацизмом у Другій світовій війні” (Victory Day over Nazism in World War II. In Georgia 9 May is known as “ფაშიზმზე გამარჯვების დღე” (Victory over Fascism Day, While in Belarus 9 May is called) “Дзень Перамогі” (Victory Day) In Russia 9 May is celebrated as “День победы” (Victory Day and in Kazakhstan 9 May is celebrated as “Жеңіс күні” or “День победы” (Victory Day) while On the British Channel Islands Liberation Day takes place 9 May on Jersey and Guernsey and 10 May on Sark.