Now is an excellent time to buy real estate, with elections drawing near; with the expansions of several Universities and Graduate Schools; and with mortgage rates ebbing lower and lower, than what has already been recorded as historically-low.  As the White House fills up, we should expect to see a tide of new buyers and sellers.  If you are interested in free real estate consultation please visit www.luketherealtor.com to schedule a time to speak.  I look forward to hearing from you!


50 most powerful people in the World

No surprises here.  Follow link for pictures.



The 50 most powerful people in the world
Emmie Martin, Melissa Stanger and Tanza Loudenback
It isn’t just wealth. And it isn’t just control over people or resources. No, true power is a potent combination of money and influence that enables people to help shape the world. But only a select group of people really possess the economic and political clout to effect global change. For better or worse, their decisions affect millions, shake industries, and change nations.

Business Insider has compiled the following list of the world’s most powerful people — heads of state, billionaires, CEOs, and entertainers. To determine the ranking, we considered more than 100 of the most influential players in business, politics, and entertainment, and we evaluated their influence by using metrics in four major areas: economic power, command, newsworthiness, and impact — a subjective measure that captures how important they are in their respective spheres.

Because the majority of these people span several industries, we took the logarithm of each and mapped those logarithms to a standardized scale, which allowed us to combine the metrics. (See our full methodology here.)

US President Barack Obama, leader of the world’s chief superpower, takes top honors, followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, ruler of the a country making a serious challenge to the US’ supremacy. Read on to see the full list of the world’s 50 most powerful people right now:

Editing by Alex Morrell with additional research by Andy Kiersz.

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50. Jay Z and Beyoncé
50. Jay Z and Beyoncé
Win McNamee / Getty
Titles: Singer (Beyoncé), rapper and entrepreneur (Jay Z)

Country: US

Age: 34 (Beyoncé), 45 (Jay Z)

Music’s biggest power couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z turn nearly everything they touch into gold, which has helped them mint a combined fortune of $950 million.

Beyoncé shocked the music industry in 2013 when she released an album on iTunes without promotion — it went on to sell over 5 million copies thanks to hits like “Drunk in Love” and “Partition.”

Jay Z is consistently one of the highest earners in music, reportedly raking in $56 million last year through his many ventures, including his Roc Nation music label and its sports division. Though his streaming service, Tidal, encountered some turbulence — the hip-hop mogul himself forgot he owned it — Jay Z is still just about everywhere in the entertainment industry.

49. Mukesh Ambani
49. Mukesh Ambani
Reuters/Amit Dave
Title: Chairman, managing director of Reliance Industries

Country: India

Age: 58

Mukesh Ambani took over as the chairman of Reliance Industries when his father, the company’s founder, Dhirubhai Ambani, died in 2002. The enormous industrial conglomerate generates $61 billion in annual sales from its interests in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and, more recently, telecommunications.

Ambani is the richest person in India with a personal fortune of over $23 billion. He owns a 27-story Mumbai mansion that cost $1 billion to build.

And if Ambani’s projections for India’s economy prove correct, expect that net worth to soar. Four years ago, Ambani predicted that India would grow from a $1.4 trillion economy in 2011 to a $30 trillion economy by 2030 — a bullish estimate considering that India’s GDP today stands at $2.2 trillion.
48. Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán
48. Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán
AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
Title: Sinaloa Cartel leader

Country: Mexico

Age: 60

Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is perhaps the wealthiest and most notorious gangster on the planet, with a net worth of $1.1 billion. The leader of the Sinaloa Cartel — the biggest in Mexico, with 160 million acres in Sinaloa, Mexico, in its portfolio — El Chapo has been accused of importing over 180,000 kilos of cocaine into the US. Drug-enforcement experts estimate his cartel’s annual revenues at greater than $3 billion.

Cunning and evasive, El Chapo escaped from a Mexican prison in July (not for the first time) by way of a labyrinthine tunnel he may have paid $50 million in bribes and construction costs to have built. The US State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million to anyone with information leading to his arrest.

47. Rupert Murdoch
47. Rupert Murdoch
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Title: Executive chairman, 21st Century Fox and News Corp.

Country: Australia

Age: 84

Though he announced in June that he’ll be stepping down as CEO of 21st Century Fox, the media company he cofounded, Rupert Murdoch will stay on as the executive chairman of one of the largest mass-media empires in the world.

Murdoch has recovered from the 2011 News Corp. phone-hacking debacle, which The Economist suggests may have even left him better off since he and his family have more than doubled their wealth since the scandal. He’s now worth $13 billion. The Australian media mogul remains hungry for premier media properties, buying a majority stake in the established nature magazine National Geographic in September. He wasted no time cutting staff by 9%.
46. Sheldon Adelson
46. Sheldon Adelson
Getty Images / Denise Truscello
Title: Chairman, CEO of Las Vegas Sands

Country: US

Age: 82

The “King of Las Vegas” is expected to dole out millions by this time next year, taking a gamble on one of his favorite things: politics. The casino magnate, who owns 13 private jets, is a staunch supporter of the Republican party, famously donating tens of millions from his $25 billion fortune to past candidates such as Newt Gingrich.

For his day job, he runs Las Vegas Sands — parent of the Venetian Resort and Casino and Sands China, a subsidiary that’s planning to open its fifth casino in Macau next year. And while Adelson’s vision to make China the gambling capital of the world isn’t outlandish considering his industry dominance, it may not pan out under political restrictions and President Xi Jinping’s push to make Macau a family-friendly destination. Amid the flux, Sheldon’s fortune has reportedly lost several billions in the past year after a 25% decline in the price of Las Vegas Sands stock.

45. Benjamin Netanyahu
45. Benjamin Netanyahu
Thomson Reuters
Title: Israeli prime minister

Country: Israel

Age: 66

Reelected this year as the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu recently compared the Middle East to “Game of Thrones.” It isn’t a game he’s always played well — disputes over the Iran deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have left US-Israeli relations at a crisis point. But Israel has remained relatively stable during a time of turmoil throughout the Middle East, and Netanyahu has dominated his country’s politics like few Israeli leaders.

Overall, many say that Netanyahu has done a good job of boosting Israel’s economy and putting the country at the forefront of technological and medical advances. Even so, the fallout over the Iran nuclear deal, and his strained relations with Washington, don’t fare well for his legacy.
44. Ginni Rometty
44. Ginni Rometty
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Title: Chairman, CEO of IBM

Country: US

Age: 58

Last year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty had to break some tough news: The tech company would be abandoning its years-long promise to hit $20 earnings per share by 2015. But the company’s top leader has hatched a new plan: IBM will invest $4 billion to grow $40 billion in revenue in areas such as cloud computing, mobile, and big data by 2018. The plan would nearly double what IBM is making in these markets now, though it also means straying from the hardware focus that’s defined IBM for decades.

Rometty’s mandate is to keep one of tech’s most iconic companies — which employs 380,000 people, on par in size with the population of New Orleans — relevant and profitable for the long haul, even if it means changing some of the most fundamental things about the company. The IBM lifer isn’t apologizing for adapting. “Reinvention is not about protecting your past,” she said at the Fortune Global Forum earlier this year.

43. Robin Li
43. Robin Li
Getty Images
Title: Baidu CEO

Country: China

Age: 46

There’s a trio of internet kings in China, collectively known as “BAT” — Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent. For his part, Robin Li commands the market in internet search as the chairman and CEO of Baidu, China’s Google equivalent.

As with Google, Li’s Baidu is constantly investing in the future. In May, Baidu announced a partnership with Daimler, the maker of Chinese Mercedes-Benz, to provide software for their cars that allows drivers to access content from their smartphones. And in conjunction with BMW, Baidu is building a self-driving car prototype that it hopes to reveal by year-end.

Li, whose net worth is upwards of $11 billion, also said this year that his company would invest $3.2 billion in “online to offline” services, which allow mobile users to perform traditionally non-digital tasks such as buying movie tickets, hailing cabs, and finding deals at restaurants.
42. Park Geun-hye
42. Park Geun-hye
Thomson Reuters
Title: President of South Korea

Country: South Korea

Age: 63

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of her country — an especially impressive accomplishment considering South Korea has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. Her election generated the nation’s highest turnout rate in 15 years.

Park has the difficult but critical responsibility of diffusing threats from the ever-combative North Korea. Last year, she tried to get her mercurial neighbors to the north to abandon their nuclear-weapons program by promising humanitarian aid and an investment in its weak industries, but to no avail. Park has flexed her muscles by testing missiles that can reach all of North Korea, but Kim Jong-un hasn’t blinked, and hasn’t quashed any nuclear ambitions.

41. Steve Schwarzman
41. Steve Schwarzman
Thomson Reuters
Title: Founder, CEO of Blackstone Group

Country: US

Age: 68

Steve Schwarzman is the unparalleled king of private equity, with a fortune of $11 billion that includes splashy homes in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Jamaica, and Saint-Tropez. His vaunted buyout firm Blackstone Group is the largest on earth, with $334 billion in assets under management, and it has completed some of the most high-profile acquisitions in the industry. The company’s $26 billion leveraged buyout of the Hilton hotel chain in 2007 is considered by some the most profitable of all time.

Schwarzman had a short but prosperous career with investment bank Lehman Brothers before leaving in 1985 to start Blackstone with ousted Lehman CEO Peter Peterson. They opened shop with $400,000, but Schwarzman gained a reputation as savvy and lucrative dealmaker, and Blackstone grew into a juggernaut. In 2014 it generated a record $7.5 billion in revenue. Never satisfied, Schwarzman wants Blackstone to double in size in the next eight years. Schwarzman donated $150 million in May to build a student commons at Yale.
40. Ban Ki-moon
40. Ban Ki-moon
Title: UN secretary-general

Country: South Korea

Age: 71

As the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon leads its 193 international member nations in fighting for peace and safety worldwide. Throughout his tenure, Ban has worked to support unstable countries with UN peacekeeping efforts, promote sustainable development to lessen climate change and poverty, and empower women worldwide. His position gives him the authority to determine how and where the UN uses its resources and allows him to facilitate conversations between world powers.

Most recently, Ban led the 70th annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, one with the highest attendance in years. He adopted new UN goals for the next 15 years, with a focus on eradicating poverty and preserving the planet.

39. Satya Nadella
39. Satya Nadella
Title: CEO of Microsoft

Country: United States

Age: 48

Since becoming Microsoft’s third CEO last year, Satya Nadella has been busy helping the technology company become relevant again. While Microsoft is still a software giant — it pulls in about $95 billion in sales — it’s far from its former glory as the innovative, undisputed leader in tech.

But Nadella, a Microsoft veteran of 23 years, has made significant progress in rejuvenating the company: He successfully released Windows 10, a huge hit that attracted over 110 million users in just three months; he converted Microsoft rivals like Salesforce and Oracle into partners; he launched Microsoft into the growing Internet of Things market with a new database, cloud service, and big data analysis service; and he oversaw Microsoft’s biggest layoff round ever while still maintaining his likability among employees.
38. Elon Musk
38. Elon Musk
REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
Title: CEO of Tesla and SpaceX

Country: United States

Age: 44

The man who believes there’s “no such thing as business, only the pursuit of a goal” has invested in, founded, or run 18 companies to date, including two of the most innovative technology firms in America: Tesla Motors and SpaceX. It was a big year for both companies, with retail deliveries of the Tesla Model X crossover vehicle starting in September and the launch (and failure) of a SpaceX rocket bound for the International Space Station in June. Anticipation is already high for the mass-market Model 3 sedan, which Tesla plans to unveil next March, and another SpaceX supply launch slated for December.

Musk, who first hit it big cofounding PayPal in the late 1990s, has a growing fortune of more than $11 billion that enables him to experiment with technology of the future. In January, he announced via Twitter that he would build a 5-mile Hyperloop test track to invite students and companies to test out their ideas for the high-speed transportation system. He also donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institution this year to keep artificial intelligence safe and beneficial to humans.

37. Larry Ellison
37. Larry Ellison
Title: Founder and executive chairman of Oracle

Country: United States

Age: 71

Oracle’s billionaire cofounder Larry Ellison stepped down as the company’s CEO last year but hasn’t pumped the brakes: He still serves as chairman and CTO of the $38 billion (sales) database and software titan. Ellison announced plans this year for Oracle to take over as the primary provider of cloud-computing products and services, revealing at the company’s tech conference in October that 20% of its customers — and counting — bought tech via the cloud rather than traditionally.

Ellison, who routinely ranks as one of the 10 richest people in the world, holds a fortune of nearly $50 billion and a growing real-estate portfolio that spans the globe. His latest side project? Reviving the sport of tennis through investments at the “fifth grand slam” site in Indian Wells, California, and as lead sponsor for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Ellison is determined to “restore tennis to prominence in the US and make the game more profitable globally” — something he also recently accomplished with sailing.
36. Oprah Winfrey
36. Oprah Winfrey
REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Title: CEO of OWN

Country: United States

Age: 61

Worth nearly $3 billion, Oprah Winfrey is the only black female billionaire in the US. Despite a traumatic upbringing of living in poverty and enduring years of physical and sexual abuse, Winfrey became one of the most successful and beloved media personalities of the 21st century.

Winfrey is the founder of the award-winning production studio Harpo Productions — responsible for the 2014 critical darling “Selma” — and the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also owns the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which brought in $300 million a year at its peak. She’s a top cultural influencer, particularly among women, with a book club that is followed with cult-like dedication and an annual “favorite things” gift guide. Recently, she also extended the “Oprah effect” to the weight-loss industry when she bought a 10% stake in Weight Watchers in October and caused the stock to jump 105% as a result.

35. Christine Lagarde
35. Christine Lagarde
Adam Berry/Getty Images
Title: Managing director of the IMF

Country: France

Age: 59

Appointed managing director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011, Christine Lagarde is the first woman to head the organization, which serves as the economic adviser and backstop for 188 countries.

Along with the European Central Bank and the European Commission, the IMF under Lagarde has been preoccupied with propping up Greece’s failing economy, which has required three bailouts in five years, the latest coming in August and requiring $95 billion of aid.

In November, Lagarde endorsed the Chinese yuan as an IMF reserve currency — a historic move that, if approved, would further cement China’s rise as a top economic power.
34. Rex Tillerson
34. Rex Tillerson
Reuters/Sebastian Derungs
Title: CEO of Exxon Mobil

Country: United States

Age: 63

Rex Tillerson runs the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, commanding about 75,000 employees and generating nearly $400 billion in annual sales. But the oil industry can be a beast of its own, regardless of a company’s size.

After a joint venture in the Arctic Sea between Exxon Mobil and the Russian firm Rosneft went up in smoke because of sanctions against Russia, Tillerson said in March that Exxon had been compensating by cutting costs and ramping up production in US shale fields. The company also came under investigation in November after reports suggested the company had for decades lied to the public about climate-change data.

The lifelong Texan and Exxon employee will reach the company’s mandatory retirement age of 65 in 2017, but until he steps down, Tillerson retains control over one of the wealthiest and most influential companies on the planet.

33. Michael Bloomberg
33. Michael Bloomberg
Title: CEO of Bloomberg LP

Country: United States

Age: 73

Michael Bloomberg is back — and he’s making sure his presence is known. After leaving Bloomberg LP, the financial data and media giant that he founded in 1981, and spending 12 years as mayor of New York City, Bloomberg was expected to devote his time to giving away his immense fortune, which stands at $42 billion. Instead, Bloomberg made waves by returning to the helm of his company in 2014, effectively ousting CEO Dan Doctoroff.

Bloomberg didn’t return as a figurehead — he immediately began shaking up the company. The newsroom saw layoffs, a management overhaul, and a website relaunch — as well as the exits of news head Matthew Winkler and top digital editor Joshua Topolsky — as Bloomberg flexed his authority over the company.

The former mayor has had less luck asserting his vision over public policy. Though he effectively instituted a smoking ban in New York City, his efforts to eradicate big sodas fizzled out in the courts last year. He has pledged $50 million to combat the NRA, though little progress has been made on gun control thus far.
32. Ali Khamenei
32. Ali Khamenei
REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
Title: Supreme Leader of Iran

Country: Iran

Age: 76

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been the ultimate authority in Iran since 1989, is openly opposed to Western influence in both his country and the broader Middle East. A hardliner even within Iran’s clerical regime, Khamenei has long championed the slogan “Death to America,” and he has sought to position Tehran as both a geopolitical and ideological enemy of the US and Israel.

After over 18 months of negotiations, Khamenei conditionally agreed to a landmark nuclear deal reached with six world powers this past July. The deal outlines Iran’s promise to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the US and its partners lifting economic sanctions. The agreement is set to open Iran’s economy to outside investment and has generally raised the prestige of Khamenei’s government, which is quickly shaking its status as one of the world’s pariah states.

31. King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud
31. King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud
Title: King of Saudi Arabia

Country: Saudi Arabia

Age: 79

Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud took the throne as king of Saudi Arabia in January after the death of his half brother. His short tenure hasn’t been without controversy: Eight of the 12 surviving sons of the country’s founding monarch reportedly support a coup to oust King Salman and replace him with his younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, a sign tensions are at a high within the royal family.

But as the leader of Saudi Arabia, King Salman wields incredible influence over the Middle East and his country’s massive oil reserves. Even with oil at historically low prices, Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest oil exporter — continues to ramp up production to depress prices and protect its global market share, despite the negative impact it has on the global oil economy.
30. Dilma Rousseff
30. Dilma Rousseff
REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Title: President of Brazil

Country: Brazil

Age: 67

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, leads the largest country in Latin America and the seventh-largest economy in the world. Rousseff is credited with nearly eradicating extreme poverty in Brazil during her first term by raising the monthly stipend for struggling families.

But Rousseff has hit a rough patch lately, and it appears to be getting worse. Protests broke out and gained traction in March in part because of Brazil’s crumbling economy. The country’s growth has plummeted — low commodity prices, high interest rates, and austerity measures are partly to blame — and it officially entered a recession in 2015. The value of its currency devalued by 45% this year through mid-November.

Also contributing to her near record-low approval rating: A group of high-profile lawyers filed for the impeachment of Rousseff in October in connection to the corruption scandal involving the state-run oil company Petrobras (Rousseff has maintained her innocence).

29. Wang Jianlin
29. Wang Jianlin
Wikimedia Commons
Title: Chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group

Country: China

Age: 61

Wang Jianlin is one of the richest self-made billionaires in the world, claiming a fortune of $33.5 billion. The real-estate mogul, who served in the Chinese military from 1970 to 1986 before going into business, has his hands in dozens of sectors and his name on hundreds of companies, including the yacht maker Sunseeker and the US-based AMC Entertainment. His wealth has nearly doubled after last year’s initial-public-offering listings of his companies Wanda Commercial Properties — China’s largest property developer — and Wanda Cinema Line, cementing his title as the richest person in China.

In early 2015, Wang purchased a 20% stake in the Spanish soccer club Atlético Madrid for $52 million, adding athletics to his already diversified portfolio of more than 200 luxury hotels, movie theaters, shopping malls, and karaoke bars across China. Later this year he continued his investments in the global sports industry by purchasing the World Triathlon Corporation, parent company of the iconic Ironman triathlon, for $650 million.
28. Tim Cook
28. Tim Cook
REUTERS/Mike Blake
Title: CEO of Apple

Country: United States

Age: 54

Tim Cook runs the most valuable company on the planet in Apple, which is worth $645 billion. Under Cook’s continued direction as CEO, 2015 has been one of the company’s best years yet.

Chief among Cook’s 2015 successes has been the launch of Apple Music, the company’s music-streaming service. The service went live in June and as of October counted 6.5 million paid subscribers and another 8.5 million people using the free trial service. And the iPhone is more popular than ever. At the company’s annual fall event, Cook unveiled the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6S Plus, which sold 13 million in the first weekend, shattering previous records. Lately, Cook has been alluding to a forthcoming “massive change in the auto industry,” sparking rumors that an Apple Car is on the horizon.

Cook was presented with the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award this year where he spoke about his deeply personal decision to come out as gay: “I wanted to lend my voice to people who might not be ready to exercise theirs,” he said.

27. Amancio Ortega
27. Amancio Ortega
Getty Images / Xurxo Lobato
Title: Founder of Inditex

Country: Spain

Age: 79

Billionaire Amancio Ortega may keep a low profile, but his control of the Spanish fashion behemoth Inditex makes him one of Europe’s most powerful business executives. He is also the second-richest man in the world, with a net worth that exceeds $73 billion, and by some estimates he even surpassed Bill Gates as the richest person in the world earlier this year.

His surge in wealth is directly tied to Inditex’s rapid growth. The company reported a sharp rise in sales and profits and nearly 100 new stores in September, hitting a $100 billion valuation. The company now has nearly 6,800 stores worldwide. The secret to this success is the fast-fashion giant Zara, the company’s biggest brand. The chain is changing the landscape of retail as its chic yet affordable designs continue to appeal to demanding customers who constantly crave new styles at low prices.
26. Rob and Jim Walton
26. Rob and Jim Walton
AP Photo/April L. Brown
Titles: Board members and controlling shareholders of Walmart

Country: United States

Ages: 71 (Rob) and 67 (Jim)

Rob and Jim Walton control perhaps the most powerful company on earth in the mega-retailer Walmart, which employs 2.2 million people in 28 countries and generates annual revenues of $486 billion. Combined, the Walton brothers’ fortunes are worth more than $60 billion.

Their father, founder Sam Walton, warned his children not to sell their stakes and to keep the company under family control, writing in his book, “If you start any of that foolishness, I’ll come back and haunt you.” Sam and Rob have heeded his wishes. While neither manages day-to-day operations, both sit on the board, and the company remains majority-owned by the Walton family.

Rob stepped down as chairman of the company in June 2015 after 23 years on the job, and his son-in-law Gregory Penner succeeded him. The company, long maligned for its low pay, announced in February 2015 it would increase wages for 500,000 US employees.

25. Carlos Slim Helú
25. Carlos Slim Helú
UN Geneva/ Flickr
Title: Founder of América Móvil and Grupo Carso

Country: Mexico

Age: 75

The richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim Helú owns more than 200 companies in his home country — a conglomerate known as Slimlandia. He’s also one of the wealthiest self-made people in the world, with a net worth of at least $27 billion.

His interests lie in the financial, industrial, telecommunications, and media sectors, and he invested $4 billion in 2015 to further expand his empire in Mexico. A savvy investor, Slim Helú bought a 6.4% stake in the New York Times for $127 million in 2008 after the stock had cratered, making him the largest shareholder. He has since increased his ownership to 17%, a stake worth $365 million thanks to The Times’ resurgence.
24. Mario Draghi
24. Mario Draghi
AP Images
Title: President of the European Central Bank

Country: Italy

Age: 67

As president of the European Central Bank since 2011, Mario Draghi has made major strides toward lifting the 19-country eurozone out of its recession. This year he launched a massive stimulus program to purchase $64.2 billion a month in government bonds from eurozone countries — a strategy he says will continue at least through September 2016.

With the value of the euro continuing to decrease, Draghi said last month that the ECB planned to reevaluate the program before the end of the year, signaling that more quantitative easing — the controversial monetary policy in which central banks increase the money supply to encourage lending and stimulate the economy — could be in the future.

Draghi, a Goldman Sachs vet and former governor of the Bank of Italy, has also played a key role in preventing a widespread financial crisis stemming from Greece’s ailing economy, which has continued to teeter on the brink of insolvency despite three bailouts in five years from the ECB, the IMF, and the European Commission. The latest debt-relief package, approved in August and worth $95 billion, helped prevent Greece from exiting the Eurozone.

23. Jack Ma
23. Jack Ma
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Title: Founder and CEO of Alibaba

Country: China

Age: 51

The second-richest person in China, Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma broke records with the e-commerce company’s $25 billion initial public offering in 2014 — the world’s largest ever. Post-IPO, however, Alibaba’s good fortune began to slip. The company’s shares dropped throughout 2015 and were down 25% through November, most likely in part because of China’s slowing economy and concerns over counterfeiters using the company’s platform.

Ma, who has a net worth of more than $25.6 billion, isn’t worried, though. Alibaba remains dominant in one of the world’s biggest markets, and he says the West’s concern over China’s economic slowdown is an “overreaction.” In fact, Ma believes China is in the midst of an economic transition — one Alibaba will no doubt help facilitate — and will come out stronger.
22. Li Ka-shing
22. Li Ka-shing
Title: Chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings

Country: China

Age: 87

Despite humble beginnings, business magnate Li Ka-shing has become the wealthiest man in Hong Kong, with a net worth estimated at more than $21 billion. After his father died of tuberculosis, Li dropped out of school at age 16 to support his family, working in a factory making plastic flowers. Six years later he opened his own factory, the predecessor to what’s known today as CK Hutchison Holdings, a vast business empire with interests in real estate, manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, and technology. A savvy investor, Li with his venture-capital fund Horizon Ventures has backed companies like Facebook, Skype, Spotify, and the egg-replacement food startup Hampton Creek.

This year Li reorganized his business affairs under two new listed companies, one entity for property holdings and another for all other global assets. The move is most likely in preparation to hand over control of his empire to his son, but the 87-year-old doesn’t have any plans of slowing down quite yet.

21. Sergey Brin
21. Sergey Brin
Steve Jennings / Getty Images
Title: Cofounder, president of Alphabet

Country: US

Age: 42

Along with fellow cofounder Larry Page, Sergey Brin helped orchestrate Google’s massive restructuring, announced in August. The move made Google a subsidiary of a new holding company called Alphabet, run by Brin as president and Page as CEO. All of Google’s other ventures, such as Nest and Google X, are now separate companies under the Alphabet umbrella as well. The tech conglomerate generated $66 billion in sales in 2014.

The restructuring frees the founding duo from the nitty-gritty details of running the massive company, instead allowing them to focus on exploring inventive new “moon shot” projects and ideas. With top talent and an abundance of resources at their disposal, the company has already made automated homes and self-driving cars a reality.

Brin, who emigrated from Moscow to the US as a child, connected with Page in 1995 at Stanford, where they were each pursuing a Ph.D. They founded Google three years later, and today Brin and Page have personal fortunes of $38 billion and $42 billion today, respectively.
20. Jamie Dimon
20. Jamie Dimon
Justin Sullivan/Getty
Title: Chairman, CEO of JPMorgan Chase

Country: US

Age: 59

For a decade now Dimon has helmed JPMorgan Chase, the largest commercial bank in the US with $2.6 trillion in assets, and during his tenure he’s become one of the most respected voices in finance. His performance has also made him one of the few bank CEOs to become a billionaire.

Dimon attained Wall Street rock-star status after the financial crisis. No major bank weathered the collapse as well as JPMorgan did under Dimon’s guidance, earning him praise for the company’s “fortress balance sheet” and ability to make a profit amid the downturn. But his reputation took a hit in 2012 with the more than $6 billion loss incurred by the London Whale trading scandal, which resulted in stiff fines and a slew of lawsuits, some still ongoing. JPMorgan remains exceptionally profitable though, reporting record earnings of $21.8 billion in 2014.

He has recovered from a recent bout with throat cancer, and he said in September he’s not planning on retiring anytime soon.

19. Larry Fink
19. Larry Fink
Mark Lennihan/AP
Title: Founder, CEO of BlackRock

Country: US

Age: 63

Few have more responsibility for the US’s economic well-being than Fink — CEO of BlackRock — the world’s largest asset-management firm.

After rising to prominence and then flaming out on Wall Street — he was forced out at investment bank First Boston after losing $100 million on a poor interest-rate bet — he started BlackRock in 1988. It quickly grew into one of the largest money managers in the country.

Fink is well regarded as a master of risk analysis and one of the savviest leaders in finance. His prowess and the company’s state-of-the-art risk-management system (dubbed “Aladdin”) made BlackRock a go-to adviser for sorting out toxic assets during the financial crisis, both to top banks and the US government. Today he’s trusted with overseeing $4.5 trillion in assets, a large chunk of it comprised of the hard-earned dollars from the average US citizen’s pension or retirement account. Fink is a popular and often speculated potential candidate for US Treasury secretary.
18. Mark Zuckerberg
18. Mark Zuckerberg
Justin Sullivan/Getty
Title: Founder and CEO of Facebook

Country: US

Age: 31

The leader of the world’s largest social network had a prosperous year. In May, Facebook-owned virtual-reality company Oculus VR made a buzzworthy announcement: It will finally sell its first consumer headset, Oculus Rift, starting early next year. A few months later, Facebook announced for the first time that its site had a billion users in a single day and 8 billion daily video views, double the number it reported in April. The company’s stock is up about 40% through November 2015, and as a result Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth has soared to $47.6 billion.

The Facebook founder also continues to invest hundreds of millions of his personal wealth in education, mainly through Startup:Education, a nonprofit he and his wife, Priscilla, founded in 2010 to improve schools in the Bay Area, and AltSchool, a company that promotes personalized education. He also gave $100 million to Newark, New Jersey’s public schools, with disappointing results. After revealing in a July Facebook post that the couple is expecting their first child, they’ve announced plans to open a K-12 school in Palo Alto by next year that provides both education and health care to low-income families.

17. Larry Page
17. Larry Page
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Title: Cofounder, CEO of Alphabet

Country: US

Age: 42

Larry Page made some major moves this year, starting with a massive overhaul of Google’s business structure in August. He announced via press release that Google would become a subsidiary of new holding company Alphabet, which would oversee all of Google’s ventures, such as Nest, Calico, and Google X, as standalone entities.

Previously the chief executive of Google, Page moved up to helm Alphabet as CEO, leaving company veteran Sundar Pichai in his spot. The change became official in October, and Page even dropped Google’s famous “don’t be evil” slogan from the new company.

Page cofounded Google with Sergey Brin, who will help run Alphabet as president, in 1998, and they’ve earned fortunes of $42 billion and $38 billion today, respectively. The pair grew the company from a Ph.D project at Stanford into one of the biggest and farthest-reaching tech companies in the world. In addition to its ubiquitous search engine, the company has its hands in everything from home automation and self-driving cars to prolonging human life.
16. Jeff Bezos
16. Jeff Bezos
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Title: CEO, Amazon.com

Country: US

Age: 51

Amazon.com is an undeniable superpower in e-commerce. The company, which generates $89 billion in sales but has often failed to turn a net profit, surprised investors in July by reporting quarterly earnings of $92 million, handily beating analyst expectations. Amazon stock shot up, making founder and CEO Jeff Bezos worth an estimated $55 billion. Despite negative media reports in August claiming Amazon’s warehouses are high-pressure, toxic work environments — claims Bezos disputed — the company has continued to thrive.

This year, Bezos led the growth of Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing branch, announced a plan for high-speed package delivery via drones, and opened Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle.

Bezos’ privately owned space company Blue Origin successfully launched its first spacecraft this year and has plans to test rocket engines and launch manned rockets within the next decade.

15. Abigail Johnson
15. Abigail Johnson
REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Title: CEO of Fidelity

Country: US

Age: 53

In late 2014, Abigail Johnson succeeded her father Edward as CEO of Fidelity, the second-largest mutual fund company in the US, which manages more than $2 trillion in assets. Johnson keeps a low profile, but it’s no secret she was groomed to take over the company from an early age. She started working at the firm in high school, and officially joined Fidelity as an analyst in 1988. Since 2012, Johnson had served as president.

Johnson wasn’t slow to wield her power and effect change after assuming the top role last year, quickly moving to cut costs and fire ineffective managers. She’s no stranger to power plays, reportedly maneuvering to oust her father in 2004 over a disagreement in vision (the effort failed, and Edward remains the chairman of the company).

Not only is the new Fidelity CEO responsible for millions of Americans’ retirement accounts, but through her roughly 24% stake in the company, Johnson holds a personal fortune of $18.5 billion, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.
SEE ALSO: The 50 most powerful companies in America
SEE ALSO: The 25 richest self-made billionaires
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The 20 Best Places to Live

Interesting look at some well known cities and towns across the country.  Not surprisingly, the tech start-up capitol of the world, Palo Alto takes the #5 spot, and has a staggeringly higher median income and median home price compared to the others.

On a side note, I see these “Best Places to Live” articles all the time and the destinations always different, undoubtedly due to the complete subjectivity of the research involved and the the overall bias involved with publishing such an article.

20. Eugene, Oregon

20. Eugene, Oregon

Wikimedia Commons

Located near the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, Eugene is an outdoorsy city with tons of water sports and a health-conscious attitude. The city is also home to the University of Oregon and has numerous performing arts and cultural venues.

Population: 156,222

Median Household Income: $41,525

Median Home Price: $244,600

Source: Livability.com

19. Rockville, Maryland

Rockville is a wealthy city on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. It is home to bio-medical and technology companies, with a 100,000-square-foot library and a popular town square.

Population: 60,960

Median Household Income: $97,667

Median Home Price: $481,700

Source: Livability.com

18. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City offers a ton of recreational activities for residents, thanks to its proximity to the mountains and ski resorts. The University of Utah lends a lot to the city’s culture.

Population: 186,740

Median Household Income: $44,510

Median Home Price: $240,600

Source: Livability.com

17. Overland Park, Kansas

Livability gave Overland Park, the second-largest city in Kansas, high marks with regards to its sports facilities and schools. The city attracts families and young professionals with a good balance of residential, retail, and office space.

Population: 174,503

Median Household Income: $72,074

Median Home Price: $224,300

Source: Livability.com

16. Santa Barbara, California

16. Santa Barbara, California


Santa Barbara has beautiful beaches, shopping centers, performing arts venues, and microbreweries. It also has a solid healthcare and educational system, with a strong economy thanks to tourism.

Population: 88,572

Median Household Income: $63,758

Median Home Price: $880,500

15. San Mateo, California

15. San Mateo, California

Wikimedia Commons

San Mateo, in California’s Silicon Valley, has a large downtown district with more than 800 stores and restaurants. The city also has more than 15 parks, including the Japanese Tea Garden, along with many historical buildings.

Population: 97,322

Median Household Income: $87,662

Median Home Price: $719,700

Source: Livability.com

14. Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue’s strength is its education, with its highly ranked public schools and the presence of two colleges: Bellevue College and City University of Seattle. The city also gets high marks for its natural beauty, with Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.

Population: 122,873

Median Household Income: $88,073

Median Home Price: $541,600

Source: Livability.com

13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and is filled with school pride. The city has more than 300 restaurants located in a 20-mile radius as well as great schools, medical facilities, culture, and more.

Population: 114,725

Median Household Income: $53,814

Median Home Price: $231,700

Source: Livability.com

12. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville has a strong public school system and healthcare system, with places like Asheville VA Medical Center and Mission Health System. The southern city also hosts tons of attractions with nightclubs, performance venues, and microbreweries.

Population: 83,796

Median Household Income: $42,333

Median Home Price: $195,500

Source: Livability.com

11. Bozeman, Montana

11. Bozeman, Montana

Shutterstock.com / Colton Stiffler

Bozeman is home to the large Montana State University, lending it the college town feel. There are also plenty of options for outdoors activities like skiing and hiking, while the economy is growing with tech- and research-based companies.

Population: 37,619

Median Household Income: $44,818

Median Home Price: $259,000

Source: Livability.com

10. Iowa City, Iowa

Iowa City has a ton of culture, with ties to the literary greats John Irving and Flannery O’Connor. The University of Iowa is also located in the city, which gives it a strong community full of entertainment and the arts.

Population: 68,364

Median Household Income: $42,220

Median Home Price: $181,000

Source: Livability.com

9. Boise, Idaho

9. Boise, Idaho

Corbett Bottles Real Estate Marketing LLC

With the Rocky Mountains close at hand, Boise is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. But there’s also a home for cerebral types in the “City of Trees,” thanks to unique museums and a strong university system, as well as great healthcare options.

Population: 208,332

Median Household Income: $49,182

Median Home Price: $188,200

Source: Livability.com

8. Missoula, Montana

8. Missoula, Montana

Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to nearby mountains, rivers, and 400 acres of parkland, Missoula provides plenty of entertainment for those who love the outdoors. There’s also plenty of culture as well with breweries, coffee houses, independent bookstores, and music venues.

Population: 66,982

Median Household Income: $39,076

Median Home Price: $238,300

Source: Livability.com

7. Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara is another city located in the booming Silicon Valley. Residents soak up 300 days of sunshine a year and can enjoy the city’s parks, historic architecture, and local Santa Clara University.

Population: 116,301

Median Household Income: $92,198

Median Home Price: $618,600

Source: Livability.com

6. Berkeley, California

6. Berkeley, California

Wikimedia Commons

Aside from hosting the campus of the highly regarded UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Bay town is a foodie haven, landing on Livability’s lists of top 10 foodie cities in 2013 and 2014. The city also has cultural attractions like museums, galleries, and theaters.

Population: 112,662

Median Household Income: $63,505

Median Home Price: $707,700

Source: Livability.com

5. Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto is the center of Silicon Valley and one of the most expensive cities in the country. A 31-mile dark fiber ring around the city provides ultra-high-speed internet access, and there’s an emphasis on education and open spaces, creating a politically active and socially minded population.

Population: 64,514

Median Household Income: $122,482

Median Home Price: $1,000,000

Source: Livability.com

4. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is situated along the Rocky Mountains with an elevation of 5,400 feet, providing plenty of opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and biking. Additionally, Boulder has several shopping centers and great restaurants. It’s also home to the University of Colorado, with 31,000 students.

Population: 99,177

Median Household Income: $56,206

Median Home Price: $489,500

Source: Livability.com

3. Arlington, Virginia

Arlington is an upscale city in the suburbs of D.C. with a large population of government employees. It is home to both George Mason University and Marymount University, along with the famous Arlington National Cemetery.

Population: 209,077

Median Household Income: $102,459

Median Home Price: $577,300

Source: Livability.com

2. Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester has a booming arts culture, thanks in part to the founders of the Mayo Clinic, who wanted to attract top physicians to the city. It also has a stable economy, as well as tons of restaurants and shops.

Population: 106,903

Median Household Income: $63,490

Median Home Price: $165,300

Source: Livability.com

1. Madison, Wisconsin

Last year, Madison was ranked No. 5 on Livability’s list, and the city’s mayor worked hard to improve that score and life for Madison’s residents. As the capital of Wisconsin and home to University of Wisconsin, Madison provides its residents with affordable housing, great schools, and healthcare, along with plenty of recreational and entertainment options.

Population: 234,586

Median Household Income: $53,958

Median Home Price: $217,500

Source: Livability.com

Edward Snowden’s interview: 10 things we learned

Edward Snowden’s interview: 10 things we learned

It sounds like Edward Snowden regrets his decisions to leak valuable government intelligence; an action that has forced him into exile in Russia.  Is he looking for a plea bargain here or is he just delusional?  Making claims that “he is a patriot” seem a bit ironic. 
By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Source: CNN

  • Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden speaks to NBC’s Brian Williams
  • He says he considers himself a patriot, and that he was trained as a spy
  • Snowden says he’s surprised he ended up in Russia
  • He says he has no ties with the Russian government and doesn’t like some of its policies

(CNN) — Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?

Slammed by top U.S. government officials and facing espionage charges in the United States, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden described how he sees himself during an interview with NBC “Nightly News” broadcast Wednesday. And he defended his decision to leak documents about classified U.S. government surveillance programs.

We’ve heard from Snowden a few times before, but the NBC interview with anchor Brian Williams inside a Moscow hotel was his first on an American television network.

Photos: NSA leaker Edward Snowden Photos: NSA leaker Edward Snowden

Here are 10 key points from the interview with the 30-year-old former NSA contractor:

1.Snowden thinks he’s a patriot.

“I think patriot is a word that’s thrown around so much that it can be devalued nowadays,” he said. “Being a patriot doesn’t mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen, from the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries.”

That assessment drew a sharp response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke with NBC earlier Wednesday.

“Patriots don’t go to Russia. They don’t seek asylum in Cuba. They don’t seek asylum in Venezuela. They fight their cause here,” Kerry said. “Edward Snowden is a coward. He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”

2. Snowdensays he was trained as a spy.

U.S. President Barack Obama famously referred to Snowden as a hacker last year, and other officials have described him as a low-ranking analyst. That’s misleading, Snowden said.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said.

“Now, the government might deny these things. They might frame it in certain ways, and say, oh, well, you know, he’s a low-level analyst. But what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to use one position that I’ve had in a career, here or there, to distract from the totality of my experience.”

3. Russia isn’t where he expected to end up, but he’s managing.

“I personally am surprised that I ended up here,” Snowden said. “The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America, and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in the Moscow airport.”

There’s a culture gap, and it’s been an adjustment.

“But even though I didn’t choose to be here, even though circumstances really trapped me here, I can adapt. I can live life as an American more or less. That’s the beauty of the Internet is that we’re no longer tied to our communities by physical connections,” he said.

4. Like a lot of us, he’s been spending his free time watching old episodes of “The Wire.”

“I’m really enjoying it,” he said, though he added that the second season is “not so great.”

5. He’s not happy about some things the Russian government is doing.

Snowden says he has no ties with the Russian government, and he isn’t happy with some of its policies.

“It’s really frustrating for someone who’s working so hard to expand the domain of our rights and our privacy to end up stuck in a place where those rights are being challenged in ways that I would consider deeply unfair,” he said.

There’s no good reason, for example, for a recent law requiring bloggers to register in Russia, he said.

“I can’t think of any basis for a law like that, not just in Russia, but any country,” he said. “The government shouldn’t regulate the operations of a free press.”

So why doesn’t he do something about it. “There’s so much that needs to be defended here in Russia, but I’m limited by my inability to speak Russian, and so on. It’s an isolating and frustrating thing.”

6. It only takes a cell phone for spy agencies in the United States and other countries to find out a lot about you if they want to.

And that’s even if you’re just Googling something simple, Snowden said, like a sports score (Williams told Snowden he’d recently searched for the score of a New York Rangers game).

“The NSA, the Russian intelligence service, the Chinese intelligence service, any intelligence service in the world that has significant funding and a real technological research team can own that phone the minute it connects to their network,” Snowden said.

They can turn on a phone remotely if it’s off, he said. And even a detail like a Google search for a sports score can reveal a lot about you.

“You probably speak English. You are probably an American. You are interested in this sport. They might know what your habits are,” Snowden said. ‘Where were you in the world when you checked the score? Do you check it when you travel? Do you check it when you’re at home? They could tell your pattern of life. Where are you doing these activities? When do you wake up? When do you go to sleep? What other phones are around you? Are you with someone who’s not your wife? Are you someplace that you shouldn’t be?”

7. He wants to return to the United States someday.

“If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home,” he said.

But he responded with a series of questions rather than specifics when asked what he missed about home.

“What don’t I miss? What would you miss? What wouldn’t you miss?” he said. “I miss my family. I miss my home. I miss my colleagues. I miss the work.”

8. So why doesn’t he come back to the United States to face charges? Snowden says that’s a fair question, but an ignorant one.

Because he was charged under the Espionage Act, Snowden says he has no chance to make a public defense of his case.

“You are not allowed to argue based on all the evidence in your favor because that evidence may be classified,” he said.

“When people say, ‘Why don’t you face the music?’ I say, ‘You have to understand the music is not an open court and a fair trial.'”

9. Why did Snowden leak classified documents? He says he had no choice.

“The reality is, the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. The Constitution of the United States had been violated on a massive scale,” Snowden told Williams. “Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn’t be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary.”

The U.S. government, Snowden said, is using the threat of terrorism “to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we shouldn’t give up.”

10. He says he tried to go through official channels before leaking information but met dead ends.

Among the people he contacted, Snowden siad, was the NSA’s general counsel office.

“I reported that there were real problems with the way the NSA was interpreting its legal authorities,” Snowden said. “And the response, more or less, in bureaucratic language was, ‘you should stop asking questions.'”

Hirshorn – “Delta Theta” 1961, Morris Louis

Morris Louis, American, b. Baltimore, Maryland, 1912–1962

Magna on canvas, 102 3/4 x 164 in.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Marcella Louis Brenner, 1997

Accession Number: 97.1

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection, Washington Color School

Hirshorn Museum – Sam Francis ,”Blue Balls,” 1962

Sam Francis, American, b. San Mateo, California, 1923–1994

Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 1/8 in. (182.7 x 152.5 cm)

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981

Accession Number: 86.1868

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection, Abstract Expressionism (Second Generation)

How Leonardo DiCaprio’s Past Roles Cost Him This Year’s Oscar

How Leonardo DiCaprio’s Past Roles Cost Him This Year’s Oscar

Another year, another Oscar ceremony in the books.

Once the booze wears off from Matthew McConaughey’s final “Alright, alright, alright,” of our year in film, we can get down to the really important part of the Oscars and start second-guessing the winners.

Sunday night is all about rewarding actors and filmmakers for their hard work in the past year.

Monday morning is reserved for the art of tearing down our sacred idols, convincing our coworkers that we always thought American Hustle was a little overrated or that Dallas Buyers Club was more than just a Philadelphia knock-off. And somewhere in the middle of all these conversations, someone will ask about Leonardo DiCaprio.

When will the poor guy ever win an Oscar?

Last month, Esquire ran a story on Leonardo DiCaprio titled “The Moment Leonardo DiCaprio Became a Man.” In a throwaway line intended to highlight his perpetually boyish good looks, his agent Rick Yorn refers to DiCaprio as a character actor in a leading man’s body. This intended compliment instead offers a great deal of insight into DiCaprio’s performances and why he is so often overshadowed by those around him.

Including last night’s nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Academy Awards (What’s Eating Gilbert GrapeThe AviatorBlood DiamondWoWS) without taking home a single statue. During that same period, DiCaprio’s films have generated an additional eleven nominations for his co-stars and supporting cast, with Daniel Day-Lewis, Cate Blanchett, and Christoph Waltz each walking away with the final prize. 

This statistic fails to highlight actors such as Jack Nicholson (The Departed) or Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can) who did not receive Oscar nominations for their performances but are widely considered among the best actors of their generation.

While Oscar nominations are only one criterion, these statistics help highlight an ongoing trend in DiCaprio’s career; namely, that he is frequently the least interesting performer in his own movies. This is the inherent difficulty in being cast as the leading man.

Characters like Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) are highlight performances intended to show the intensity of the actors. Likewise, Michael Shannon in Reservation Road is allowed to yell and scream in a movie otherwise filled with quiet desperation. Hollywood tends to reward—and remember—bombastic performances over more subtle fare, and DiCaprio’s frequent casting as the stoic protagonist allows his scenes to be eaten away by his supporting cast. He is asked to play a focal point character; actors like Nicholson, Day-Lewis, and Shannon are free to play the biggest possible version of themselves while orbiting.

DiCaprio also struggles with his penchant for multi-year biopics. Films like J. Edgar and The Aviator (for which he got a Leading Role nomination) require him to play a single character through many stages of his life, never allowing the actor to fully inhabit characters at a single point in time. The past, present, and future versions of the actor weigh heavily on his performance; his role becomes one of continuity, the personification of the narrative thread that holds the entire piece together.

When paired onscreen with actors living fully in the present—playing characters who are defined by their relationship with the lead rather than by their own complicated backstories—DiCaprio is again made to suffer. Cate Blanchett in The Aviator plays Katharine Hepburn as she was at the height of her popularity and influence. We do not need to see her rise to prominence to understand her interactions with Howard Hughes; this narrow focus allows Blanchett to carve out a character an inch wide but a mile deep, a markedly different approach than the man with which she’s sharing screentime.

Leonardo DiCaprio wolf of wall street

Wolf of Wall Street trailer

Interestingly, the past few years have seen DiCaprio move away from the confines placed upon him by his persona as a leading man. In Django Unchained, DiCaprio moved back to a supporting role, freeing himself of his straight-man straitjacket and allowing him to play an antagonist with both humor and venom.

Then there’s The Wolf of Wall Street. This may be the first time that DiCaprio was genuinely free to be the most energetic and commanding character in a film, not left to share his spotlight with a veteran actor in a flashier role. This is partially due to the lack of progression for the film’s primary character, Jordan Belfort. While Belfort’s methods may change over the course of his career, his underlying motivations—greed and self-interest—remain a constant. Here DiCaprio’s singular focus on Belfort as an unbalanced addict keeps his performance elevated above his supporting cast, even with Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey doing their best to play spoiler. He is allowed to be both a character and a lead, a perfect match for his sensibilities as an actor.

Do these performances mean that DiCaprio is growing as an actor? Or is he just learning to play the game? It could be said that the villain and the addict are easier roles to play than the straight man, marked more by physicality than emotion. It seems to me that DiCaprio is an actor who has always given a great deal of thought to his craft, choosing each role as an opportunity to work with directors or actors he admires. Perhaps his clout within the industry will direct him towards smaller or secondary roles that allow him to show more personality. In fact it may happen soon as his production company recently acquired the rights to the Richard Jewell story, reportedly with the intention to cast Jonah Hill as the lead and DiCaprio as his attorney.

DiCaprio may be a very good actor who has hitherto been eluded by AMPAS greatness, but he is also one who also knows the industry well enough to play to his strengths. When DiCaprio finally wins that first Oscar, don’t be surprised if it comes in a supporting role.

Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Made Just $65,000 For His ‘Captain Phillips’ Role And Is Now Struggling To Get By

Oscar Nominee Barkhad Abdi Made Just $65,000 For His ‘Captain Phillips’ Role And Is Now Struggling To Get By

Before “Captain Phillips” Best Supporting Actor nominee Barkhad Abdi was thumbs-upping his way down the red carpet at Sunday’s Academy Awards, the 28-year-old was driving a limo in Minnesota.

Barkhad Abdi Faysal Ahmed Captain Phillips pirates oscars 2014

Everything changed after Abdi went to an open casting call and got the role as Somali pirate “Muse” in the Oscar-nominated Tom Hanks film based on a true story.

While the film had a $55 million production budget, the first-time actor made just $65,000 for his time on the film. 

To put the paycheck into perspective, the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) minimum is $60,000 before commissions and taxes for a feature film. Abdi’s fellow Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonah Hill took a similar $60,000 paycheck — but also pay cut — just to be able to work with director Martin Scorsese on “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”

But now two years after Abdi’s initial paycheck, a New Yorker story reveals that he is struggling to support himself.

“When Abdi is in Los Angeles to promote the film, he subsists on a per diem, good at the Beverly Hilton, where the studio likes to put him up. The town car is available only for official publicity events. His clothes are loaners. Recently Abdi requested that he be allowed to stay at a commuter hotel near LAX to be closer to his friend, a Somali cabdriver from Minneapolis, who shuttles him around for free.”

While “Captain Phillips” has since raked in nearly $218 million worldwide, Abdi returned to Minneapolis after shooting and went to work for his brother’s mobile phone store.

When the movie premiered, Abdi quit the job and packed his bags for Hollywood — where he now lives with his “Captain Phillips” co-star and fellow Minnesotan, Faysal Ahmed.

While Abdi says “I’m reading some scripts now,” neither new actor has any future projects listed on IMDB.


Ugandan tabloid prints list of ‘homosexuals’

Ugandan tabloid prints list of ‘homosexuals’

By Saad Abedine and Elizabeth Landau, CNN
updated 9:58 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
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Ugandan President: Being gay not a right

  • Musevini: “They are disgusting. What sort of people are they?”
  • In 2010, another tabloid published similar lists
  • After that, the high court banned all media from publishing such lists

(CNN) — A day after Uganda passed harsh anti-gay laws, a tabloid newspaper came out with a list of what it called the country’s top homosexuals.

The cover of the Red Pepper newspaper read, “EXPOSED! Uganda’s 200 Top Homos Named,” with several photographs next to the headline.

The story was not available on their online edition.

On Monday, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that made some homosexual acts punishable by life in prison.

Ugandan president: Gays ‘disgusting’

How U.S. evangelicals influenced Uganda

“They’re disgusting. What sort of people are they?” he told CNN’s Zain Verjee afterward. “I never knew what they were doing. I’ve been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting. But I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that’s how he is born, abnormal. But now the proof is not there.”

This isn’t the first time that a Ugandan newspaper have identified people it claimed were gay.

In November 2010, Rolling Stone — a local tabloid which has no relation to the iconic U.S. music magazine — listed 100 of what it called the country’s top gays and lesbians, with photos and addresses alongside a yellow banner reading “hang them.”

The next month, the paper listed 10 more people it claimed were gay. The list included addresses and alleged intimate details about them.

Advocacy groups filed a lawsuit. And the Ugandan high court banned all media outlets in the country from publishing such lists.

Museveni: It’s an ‘inborn problem’

Museveni had commissioned a group of Ugandan government scientists to study whether homosexuality is “learned,” concluding that it is a matter of choice.

“I was regarding it as an inborn problem,” he said. “Genetic distortion — that was my argument. But now our scientists have knocked this one out.”

The bill was introduced in 2009 and originally included a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts.

The nation’s Parliament passed the bill in December, replacing the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality.” This includes acts in which one person is infected with HIV, “serial offenders” and sex with minors, according to Amnesty International.

Prison terms for gay outreach

The new law also includes punishment — up to seven years in prison — for people and institutions who perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, language that was not in the 2009 version of the bill.

Lawmakers in the conservative nation said the influence of Western lifestyles risked destroying family units.

The bill also proposed prison terms for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that could ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The White House issued a statement Monday: “Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality.”

Prevalent attitudes

Attitudes against homosexuality are prevalent in Uganda. A 2013 report from Pew Research found that 96% of Ugandans believe society should not accept homosexuality.

Thirty-eight African countries have made homosexuality illegal. Most sodomy laws there were introduced during colonialism.

Even before Museveni signed the bill into law, homosexual acts were punishable by 14 years to life in prison.

Ugandan gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that some gay people in Uganda would rather kill themselves than live under the new law.

“Prior to the bill becoming law today, people attempted suicide because they are like, ‘I’m not going to live to see this country kill me — so I would rather take my life.’ “

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