If you are on social media, or simply paying attention at all in the past couple of weeks, you are likely quite aware that the musician named Prince died. Tributes to the musician in the shape of massive dance parties across the country, cover songs by famous musicians on tours, and clips of the mega-talented musician himself over the years have flooded media.
Prince Nelson Rodgers was born in 1958 to musical parents (named after his father’s stage name). He was born (and continued to live) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prince taught himself to play the guitar, piano and drums at a young age, and continued to master many other instruments throughout his life. He signed with Warner Brothers Records in 1978. It was his fourth album, “1999” that propelled him into the international spotlight. He was particularly prolific in the 1980s and 90s, writing hit songs for himself as well as other popular artists and producing new acts. In response to a high-profile dispute with his record label, Prince changed his name for a time (from 1993 to 2000) to an unpronounceable symbol. In recent years, despite producing a consistent body of work, the artist remained very protective of his private life, only resurfacing in the past few years to continued acclaim.
What Do You Think? What Prince songs (if any) did you know before the news of his death? Which (if any) have you discovered in the time since? What is your opinion of the music, artistry, or the man?
Recent Spotlight on the United Kingdom
Earlier this month, President Obama traveled to Great Britain. His visit was both a political errand and a celebratory visit. On the political side, he addressed the British people, urging them to not to support “Brexit,” (a take on “Grexit,” the term used when Greece was considering leaving the EU in 2015). Unlike Greece, the UK believes its inclusion in the EU is a hindrance. Those in favor of Britain’s exit from the EU say that being in the EU costs too much and imposes too many rules. Leaving will also allow the country more control of its borders (under the current arrangement, people are granted “free movement” from country to country). Those in favor of staying in the EU (including Prime Minister David Cameron) agree with Obama, who said, “the United Kingdom is at its best helping to lead a strong Europe.”
On the celebration side, the president joined the millions who helped Queen Elizabeth II celebrate her 90th birthday. Last year, btw brought you news of another of the Queen’s recent milestones, as the UK’s longest-reigning monarch. The president and Mrs. Obama spent time with the Queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, and presented her Majesty with a photo album of her past meetings with all of the American presidents dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Obamas went on to visit with the Duke and Duchess of York, where two-year-old Prince George was allowed to stay up fifteen minutes past his bedtime.
Dig Deeper Pick either the UK/EU situation or the life of the Queen. Do some research and write at least a paragraph about what you have learned.
Tribeca Film Festival Winners
In response to the 9/11 tragedy, legendary actor Robert De Niro organized the first Tribeca Film Festival. It premiered in 2002, and strived to both “redefine the film festival experience” as well as contribute to the economic recovery of lower Manhattan. (Tribeca is a neighborhood located near where the Twin Towers once stood). Prizes are awarded in two major categories—World Narrative Competition and the Short Film competition. The winners receive $10,000 each, as well as a piece of fine art.
This year’s festival included 102 features, 74 shorts and 38 pieces categorized as “immersive storytelling projects.” Top prizes went to Dean (Best U.S. Narrative), Junction 48 (Best International Narrative), and Do Not Resist (Best World Documentary). There was also a special 40th anniversary screening of Taxi Driver, the critically acclaimed 1976 film by legendary director Martin Scorsese and starring festival founder, De Niro. Additionally, the festival found itself at the center of controversy when it withdrew the documentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe from its lineup. The film was directed by Dan Wakefield, the man responsible for the now-discredited claim that vaccinations can be linked to autism.
Dig Deeper Visit the Film Festival’s Web site and browse some films. Find at least three that capture your attention and write a few sentences about why.
Suicide Rate Continues to Climb in U.S.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently released a “Data Brief” about suicide among Americans. The CDC called suicide, “an important public health issue, involving psychological, biological, and societal factors.” In 1986, the suicide rate began to decrease significantly as effective antidepressants with fewer side effects became more widely available. This changed in 1999, with a gradual increase continuing until this day. There are many different theories as to the reason. Some blame the downturn of the economy, lack of access to mental health treatment, and a shift to the use of illegal drugs like heroin and painkillers as a way of “self-medicating.” Others say that the 2004 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement that warning labels be affixed to commonly prescribed antidepressants made doctors hesitant to prescribe it.
According to the CDC Data Brief, all ages are at risk for suicide, but one demographic that stood out in the study over the others was an increase among girls age 10 to 14. While this group makes up only a small percentage of total suicides, there has been a significant increase (from .5 to 1.17 percent). The reasoning behind this is not yet clear, but some are wondering if an earlier onset of puberty could be to blame.