Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Shale Oil and Famine in Omen 2

 Shale Oil and Famine in Omen 11 (1978)

Written by: Tony Cordingley
Before we all enter a brand new and hopeful year (2015) I would just like to mention something. I have just been watching "Damien: Omen II" which was made in 1978. In one part of this film (My favourite of all the Omen films) there is a board meeting of the Thorn industry leaders, where they discuss the merits and power to be gained from "Shale Oil" and "Famine" control.

As can be seen, despite all of the arguments against shale drilling or Fracking both in America and here in the UK over health problems and shale oil and gas being unprofitable, our political leaders absolutely insist that shale oil and gas can save the future economies of our countries.


However, today we all can see the collapse of crude oil prices from countries like Saudi Arabia and other oil giants. These low oil prices may seem like a gift from God for motorists, but the economical impact on third world countries and crude oil producing countries could be enormous!

The collapse of the economies of these countries (we are already seeing the collapse of the value of the ruble in Russia) will eventually cause huge debt and famine in many countries whose economies rely almost totally in oil production profits!

Also, we see the increase of widespread use of genetically modified (GM) foods in those third world countries and America. GM foods are patented, which means any farmers growing them do not own any seeds harvested from such crops ... those seeds remain the property of the GM companies that own the patents = Total control.

Can you see my point? Is it possible that we are seeing the plot of the Omen films played out in real life all around the world?

Has the BEAST from the book of revelation truly arrived? 

Happy New Year everyone! ;-)

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$-FAMINE-$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


Calin Tatu/Shutterstock

About that Shale Oil 'Miracle'…

Unpacking the propaganda
Our work here at Peak Prosperity largely centers on trying to use facts and data to shift people’s actions towards the more positive and sustainable things that we not only can do, but should do.
There’s nothing preventing us from behaving in ways that increase the Earth's abundance rather than deplete it, but generally speaking we choose depletion.  Besides being both prudent and needed, the positive actions we could take are usually cost-effective, in our best interest, and worthy of our creative talents as human beings.
We can build rich topsoil at 100 times the rate of nature alone. We can build negative-energy footprint buildings that actually add electricity back into the system rather than draw it down.
There are thousands of wiser steps we could be taking right now, but aren't.
It's been said that humans are rationalizing -- not 'rational' -- animals. The deep truth in that statement is that we humans have strongly-held beliefs that color the information we take in an accept. We're often guilty of recognizing only the data that supports those beliefs while rejecting the rest.
For example, today most people place a great deal of faith in the potential for technology to fix whatever predicaments society may face in the future. And they support that view with cherry-picked data, while conveniently overlooking evidence suggesting technology is instead a sword with two edges.
Here's a recent example of that duality:
The USDA Approved a New GM Crop to Deal With Problems Created by the Old GM Crops
Sept 25, 2014
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a new line of genetically modified corn and soybeans for use in the U.S. The crops, made by Dow Chemical Company and running under the brand name “Enlist,” may be the future of genetically modified crops. This future, though, has been largely determined by the problems caused by the last generation of GM crops.
Dow's new Enlist genetically modified crops are the intellectual descendants of Monsanto's genetically modified “Roundup Ready” crops. Like Monsanto's crops, Dow's are designed to be resistant to a patented herbicide. By planting the modified crops, farmers can spray the herbicide to kill weeds without worry that it will affect their crops.
(Source)
Well isn’t that just great. There’s a new batch of herbicide-resistant plants out there because the old batch is being overrun by RoundUp-resistant weeds.  To me this is merely a sign that technology is not trouble-free, and quite often creates problems equal to the ones it was ‘solving.’
The record is rife with such new technological fixes for problems caused by yesterday’s technological advances.
Geo-engineering is being proposed to deal with the excess carbon released by -- you guessed it! --  all the marvelous technology that allowed us to find and burn all those wonderful fossil fuels in the first place.
Antibiotics are slowly being rendered useless by their overuse leading to stronger 'superbugs'. And so what are focused on? Developing ever stronger antibiotics in a race most doctors assure us we will eventually lose.
And on and on.
My point here is the extent to which we fail to confront the facts, free from beliefs and the biases that come with them, is the extent to which we are deluding ourselves.

About That Shale Oil Miracle...

A recent piece of belief-based propaganda, designed to dovetail perfectly into society’s main belief in technology, ran in the Wall Street Journal. Based on the comments it generated, it scored a bull’s-eye.
I’m going to pick this piece apart one belief or fact-free assertion at a time.  The reason this is important -- besides using it as a teaching tool to expose the degree to which thoroughly debatable, if not blatantly false, ‘facts’ masquerade as truth in the mainstream press -- is because such unchallenged views are hindering our ability to confront reality as it exists.
Here’s the opening salvo:
The Oil Price Swoon Won’t Stop the Shale Boom
Oct 23, 2014
[T]he current slump sets the stage for what I call America’s shale boom 2.0.
Three factors make it unlikely that the decline in oil prices will bring the shale revolution to an end.
First, shale production is profitable at today’s lower prices. We know this because the boom began during the Great Recession years of 2008-09, when prices fell below $50 a barrel. The price U.S. shale producers got for their oil during the boom averaged around $85 to $90, even though the world price stayed well over $100.
(Source)
For starters, the author calls for a “shale boom 2.0”, which is hugely appealing to people already in love with technology.  “2.0” always means something better, more evolved and more advanced. It’s way better than “1.0”, right?
And yet, the more subtle reader can detect an underlying current of concern in the author's tone. Even though there have yet to be reports of lower oil production out of the main shale plays due to falling oil prices (or any other factors), the author feels it necessary to immediately begin listing factors as to why the shale revolution will keep chugging along.
But who exactly has been warning about an imminent production drop-off? Answer: no one. This is a strawman argument of the most common variety.  Even if not one single new shale well is drilled from here onwards, the existing wells will continue to produce oil for years, albeit in ever diminishing quantities.
So the author already wins! No matter what happens next, for the next decade or more he can always claim that shale oil is still flowing.
But the real problem in these opening lines is the claim that “we already know shale oil is profitable below $50” based on the 'evidence' that oil prices briefly fell below that mark in 2009.  That's just not a logical conclusion...revealing the actual profits of the companies during that time period would have made a case, but simply noting that drilling occurred is not the same thing.
The data we have shows that the shale oil producers, as a collective industry, have not yet turned in a positive year of free cash flows since 2009.  They have reported profits, but all sorts of accounting gimmicks can show a ‘profit’ even when a company is burning through cash at a faster rate than it is earning it.
Perhaps for a year or two this can be perfectly reasonable. But what are we to make of a shale industry that is now 7 full years into its ‘miracle’, and yet free cash flows remain persistently negative?  Since the wells deplete ~90% in 3 years and the best spots in the play get drilled first, shouldn’t we expect the shale companies to be in full stride and generating oodles of free cash flow by now?  If not, then why not?
I mean, heck, if the author’s claim is valid, and “we know” that shale operators are profitable at $50 a barrel, then what is the explanation for the huge negative free cash flows over the past 4 years as oil has persistently traded above $90 per barrel?
There is a perfectly valid reason that we saw so much drilling in 2009 and that was because the shale operators had spent an enormous amount of money locking up shale leases when oil surged to $147 a barrel in 2008. In 2009, even as oil collapsed to less than $40/barrel, they faced the choice of either drilling and losing a little bit of money, or not drilling and losing the entire value of any leases which had “drill or forfeit” clauses (which was most of them). 
So maybe the fact that shale operators were drilling like crazy back in 2009, when oil was briefly below $50, isn't the slam-dunk evidence our author hoped it was.  Maybe it was evidence of a 'least bad' decision to drill anyways.
Let’s move on to the next part of his article:
Second, shale production is getting more efficient, which means that profits are possible at prices even lower than today. Smart drilling techniques—horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and information technologies that accurately locate where to place rigs and enable precise steering of the drill through meandering horizontal hydrocarbon-rich shales—are far more productive than when the boom started.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the quantity of shale or natural gas produced per rig has increased by more than 300% over the past four years. This rise in productivity matches (in equivalent terms of capital cost per unit energy out) the improvements in solar power, but it took 15 years for solar’s gains. Solar is now experiencing a slow-down in efficiency improvements; there is no sign of a slow-down in shale technology.
Ooooooh. He mentions “smart” technology, which is everybody’s favorite kind. It's hard to argue with smart technology.   /sarcasm off/
While it's true that there have been improvements in the past few years, the technical efficiencies he mentions here have been with us for many years. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are decades old.
Where he goes completely off the rails is to then ‘prove’ his point by noting that the EIA says that ‘per rig’ drilling productivity has gone up by 300%.  While I have not vetted this number (yet) to ensure it's accurate, it’s a misleading number to cite when talking about the role of technology in oil production.
The "smart" innovations he's touting are used in individual oil wells. But then he cites the ‘per rig’ data, and rigs are used to drill multiple wells per year. Is it that the individual wells are producing 300% more (as he implies), or is it that the rigs are able to drill more individual wells each year?
That is, if a rig used to drill 5 wells per year but now it can drill 15, there’s your 300% increase -- without anything at all changing in terms of how much oil will eventually be extracted from each individual well.
In fact, the main reason that the ‘per rig’ productivity has gone up is because the industry has switched from drilling one well per ‘pad’ to drilling multiple wells per pad.
A pad is a 1-10 acre flattened, gravel lot upon which the drill rig is parked so that it can bore down into the earth. By not having to move rigs from pad to pad, but just shifting them a few feet in order to drill a new well off in a new direction, has saved a lot of time.
This is a process improvement, not a technology improvement. I think it’s all very well and good that the industry has found a way to be more productive and not move the rigs around as much, but it's absolutely wrong to claim that this is the same thing as proof of the inexorable rise of increasingly superior technology to yield more more petroleum from the ground that other means would give.
But people love to hear about how technology always saves the day. And so people gobbled this part of the article up, mainly because the assertion fit into their preferred belief system. I wonder how many people have regurgitated these ‘facts’ about the role of technology in boosting shale output?
My guess is quite a few.
On to the third factor:
The third factor is the profound economic leverage afforded by the enormous scale and diversity of America’s hydrocarbon infrastructure. Many oil-producing nations have only a few big oil fields and a handful of companies, sometimes just one. The U.S. has dozens of world-class fields, thousands of production companies, tens of thousands of related businesses, and millions of miles of pipe and rail.
Among the thousands of shale producers, you can guarantee there are pioneers just like those who started the shale revolution. As profit margins erode due to low or even lower future prices, the pioneers will try out the revolutionary new shale techniques that have yet to be deployed.
I have to confess, I don’t even understand what the third factor is as described.  It’s a lot of jargon and buzzwords put together. What exactly is “profound economic leverage afforded by enormous scale and diversity”?
It sounds good in the same way that Twinkies taste good. Unfortunately both are more than a few ingredients short of a well-rounded meal.
He gets down to it in the last sentence there, which basically boils down to – you guessed it! – another expression of his faith in technology where he states that more companies vying for shale oil means more pioneers to try out the next great technology (which, presumably, we don’t even need because shale oil is profitable at $50, according the author).
When someone claims that any rough spot in the shale patch will be met with “revolutionary new techniques that have yet to be deployed.”, you know you're getting out pretty far on the hopium branch.
I would remind people here that back in the 1700's the South Sea company, the stock shares of which bubbled up enormously -- even causing Isaac Newton himself to lose the then-staggering sum of 20,000 pounds -- was billed as “a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is".
Would it be unreasonable to restate the author's claim as "shale operators to deploy new technology of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is?".  Ungrounded hype is the same thing no matter when or where it happens.
In Part 2: The Hard Facts About Shale Oil we reveal in detail the facts behind the reality within the shale oil industry: the economics of production, the technology (where to place hope and where not to), as well as the impact shale oil production will have on the larger Peak Cheap Oil outlook. Suffice it to say, not only are shale companies not profitable at $50 per barrel oil; most are not profitable at prices nearly 100% higher than that.
So if they persist much longer, today's lower oil prices are going to create a world of hurt for quite a large number of shale operators. And shale-rich regions like North Dakota and Texas will discover what the opposite of ‘oil 

Read part two here -  http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/88437/about-shale-oil-miracle%E2%80%A6

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Microblogger On Linkedin

Are you going to be a Fire Starter in 2015? 

Are you going to be the first to do something...the original...the best...the one who stands out from the crowd in some way? NOW is the time to think about it!! :-)


The Prodigy - Firestarter 

Come On Baby, Light My Fire :-) 

Join Me on Linkedin - The Professional Social Network!
>>>> Click... Click... Click <<<<




The site (Linkedin) is available in 20 languages,[2] including Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Romanian, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Czech, Polish, Korean, Indonesian, Malay, and Tagalog.[10][11] As of 2 July 2013, Quantcast reports LinkedIn has 65.6 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 178.4 million globally,[12] a number that as of 29 October 2013 has increased to 184 million.[13] In June 2011, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors, up 63 percent from a year earlier and surpassing MySpace.[14] LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol "LNKD".[15]

This is How I am Feeling About 2015...

This is How I am Feeling About 2015... 

Perfectly Positive!

:-)

 
Weapon Of Choice - Fatboy Slim

misspelled Stolen Articles

EzineArticles Cartoon

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Join Me On Linkedin And Twitter

Join Me Here...

:-)

View Tony Cordingley - (LION 8900+)'s profile on LinkedIn 
Tony Cordingley

uk.linkedin.com/in/tonycordingley 

 https://twitter.com/tonyacordingley




>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> :-) <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<



LinkedIn Tip: How to do a Stealth Job Search

View Tony Cordingley - (LION 8900+)'s profile on LinkedIn 
Tony Cordingley

**************************************************** 

LinkedIn Tip: How to do a Stealth Job Search

Want to do a job search without anyone knowing? Here's how to optimize your LinkedIn profile so recruiters and HR managers will find you but nobody will know you're looking!

The critical steps..
Find some keywords
Find keywords that describe your skills and the job you’re looking for. These can be from a job description or from your resume. These are the keywords that a hiring manager would use when they search on LinkedIn for candidates. We’re going to make sure the candidate they find is you! This is a very important step, so take some time to find the right keywords. You don’t need many, 4 or 5 is plenty.

Check your position in searches
Search on each of your keywords on LinkedIn and see if you show up at the top. Chances are you don’t. So here’s how you fix that..

Edit your Profile
Make these important changes..

Photo
The photo should be you only, it should be an up-close head and shoulders shot. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and smile.

Headline
This is the text immediately below your name. Write a short headline that contains your keywords. Keep it factual and do NOT mention you’re looking for a job.

Location
This is immediately below the headline. Complete it accurately, and also add the “industry” field with the industry you’re interested in.

Summary
Complete this with a description of your experience and skills. Keep it SHORT, but be sure to use your keywords, and do NOT mention you’re looking for a job.

Education
Complete this accurately.

Skills
This is important because this is the place people will endorse you, and endorsements look good. Just list a few skills, and make sure you include your keywords.

Experience
List the jobs you’ve held. Keep it accurate. This is NOT a copy of your resume, it’s very different. Make sure the title of each experience contains your keywords, you’ll probably need to write new keyword rich titles. Keep the job description SHORT and keyword rich, and stress any achievements. Do NOT just copy this from your resume. It needs to be MUCH shorter.

Projects
This section is critical for boosting you to the top of LinkedIn searches! A “project” is any piece of work you’ve done no matter how long it took - it may have been only a few hours. You should be able to think of several projects. You’re going to need a few. Now add each project. The title should be keyword rich using your list of keywords. The description of each project should be SHORT but accurate, stressing your skills, and of course including your keywords.

Re-check your position in searches
Now do a LinkedIn search on each of your keywords again. You should see yourself ranking higher. But if you don’t the solution is easy - just add more Projects until you see yourself show up. The Projects section is the key!

Build your network
Use all the resources LinkedIn provides to build your network. Also become active by joining some groups that are relevant to your field - and then contribute comments and posts to the group. People will spot you and send invites to connect - accept them. Search and find a few headhunters in your field and send them invites to connect! If you want to build your network FAST send me an invite to connect - I have a massive LinkedIn Network which will then become part of yours.

Good luck and happy job hunting!


Content written and posted by Ken Abbott, Internet Marketing Consultant
Let's connect. Here's my LinkedIn profile Ken Abbott on LinkedIn
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Step into the Future of LinkedIn - Brigette Hyacinth

View Tony Cordingley - (LION 8900+)'s profile on LinkedIn 
Tony Cordingley

***********************************************

Brigette Hyacinth

Brigette Hyacinth

Director at MBA Caribbean Organization

Step into the Future of LinkedIn



I was cleaning out my desk and found an article by Jeff Haden and was taken aback by the predictions he made about LinkedIn in December 2012 :

In less than two years LinkedIn today has become an extremely powerful news aggregator. Currently only "influencers" can be followed (Richard Branson has over a million) but it's safe to assume that someday all users will be able to directly post their own content and build their own followings. What's next? I don't know. All I know is something will be next. Pay attention, look ahead, and start positioning yourself now. Smart people get the most out of a tool. Really smart people do too, but they also plan for how to get the most out of what a tool may become”
This articled changed my whole approach to networking on LinkedIn. I scrapped selective networking and jumped the fence to open networking. LinkedIn indeed has evolved significantly over the past several years, and has become the world's largest professional network, with over 300 million members in over 200 countries. If you are not fully capitalizing on LinkedIn’s power, you could be missing out.
The 2 questions one must answer are:
✪ What are your goals?
✪ What do you expect to get out of LinkedIn?
If you plan on using LinkedIn to grow your business, whether locally or globally, to find people/prospects/candidates, to promote yourself, or to get found for either job or business opportunities, open networking may be more attractive to you.
Most people on LinkedIn tend to play it safe when it comes to adding connections however, if you want to significantly grow your network and increase visibility here are 5 things you should to do :

1) Complete your profile. What makes your profile complete?
  • Your industry and location
  • An up-to-date current position (with a description)
  • Two past positions
  • Your education
  • Your skills (minimum of 3)
  • A profile photo
  • At least 50 connections
The 4 levels of profile strength include; Beginner, Intermediate, Expert and All Star.

Completing same will ensure, you appear in LinkedIn search results. If your profile was incomplete ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Beginner’, all of the other ‘All-Star’ connections would rank higher and push you down the LinkedIn search rankings. . The search algorithm seeks and displays results in this order:
  1. Profile Completeness (100% only)
  2. Connections in Common (shared)
  3. Connections by Degree (1st Degree, then 2nd, then 3rd)
  4. Groups in Common (shared)
It’s important to understand that Profile Completeness is a trump card in the search game. If you don’t have a 100% complete Profile, your Connections or Groups don’t matter, you will be INVISIBLE when searched, game over.

2) Add Connections - Think about where you want to be and start now to build the network that will support those goals. The first thing I did when I joined LinkedIn was connect to the few people I knew in my country which was uneventful. They weren’t active and my updates didn’t get anywhere. I wanted to have an international presence, but this wasn't working. Change of strategy: I started looking for the movers and shakers on LinkedIn. Who were the top connected people? I researched also the countries with the most users and focused my efforts to connecting with individuals in those areas. If you try to connect with most of them now , they would not be able to accept as they have reached the 30k Connection Limit.


LinkedIn works on connections – first, second and third degree connections. The higher your first degree connections, the larger your network reaches. Building a huge network of diverse connections is the most valuable part of the biggest online platform for professionals.

3) Build you personal brand. What do you have to offer than differentiates you from everyone else? I love to motivate people. I started adding imagery to inspirational quotes and sharing with my network which allowed me to set myself apart. Additionally, share relevant and original content but don't over do it. This can have counter effect your efforts by causing your connections to hide you from their news feed.

Be active - Join groups. I joined the maximum groups which is 50 and and started engaging in discussions which often times led to me being the top contributor.

4) Endorsements - You're limited to 50 total skills, so add until you reach your maximum. I often say endorsements are like free advertising. You are basically leaving your footprint, as your photo appears on the person’s profile. That’s why most people usually only endorse the top 10. The benefit is, it can also lead to the endorser being on “ viewers of this profile also viewed.” Another benefit I have found is, it makes it easier for me to find someone if I don’t remember their name but know their photo. I can search though my endorsements listing and find them.



Getting all skills + endorsed looks great on a LinkedIn profile, but it’s nearly impossible to get that many endorsements without a large connection base.
 Start giving sincere recommendations to those who you have worked with. Recommendations are your written acknowledgement of someone's skills and should not be taken lightly.
Honestly, I wouldn’t hire someone based on endorsements alone. Recommendations are way more important. The remarkable thing about endorsements though, it shows your networking capabilities and also brings you up higher in searches. You can endorse the obvious skills (LinkedIn, Social networking, Creativity...etc) you have noticed about your connections, not the ones you are uncomfortable with.

5) Engagement - Having a large network can be a bit overwhelming. So to keep in contact with my network other that sharing regular updates. I also use the "Start a Conversation" feature to send happy birthday wishes as well as congratulate my connections when they change jobs or celebrate a work anniversary.

 

What works for me may not work for you. It all depends on your goals. I joined LinkedIn in November 2011 and within the space of 3 years, I have been able to amass a network of over 35,000 connections leading to me becoming the most followed woman on LinkedIn 47,000+ followers (who is not an Influencer). It took a lot of effort and commitment but has significantly paid off as my 3 last posts have totaled 1Million+ in views. In fact, my articles have been published in countries as USA, Canada, South Africa, Vietnam, UK, Australia, Russia, India, Holland, Middle East…etc
Would I change anything, no. I have an amazing network with over 35,000 professionals in over 100 countries. Is it a lot, yes, especially the e-mails and spam messages. But I have also built close friendships with individuals in different locations whom I interact with almost on a weekly basis.
Being an open networker is not for everyone. Many people are not comfortable connecting to strangers online. Online social networking poses risks that range from spam and invasion of privacy to harassment, identity theft and even physical harm. Open networking, especially if attempted haphazardly, increases your exposure and risk.
While there are certainly some disadvantages to having a large network, the positives have far outweighed the negatives.

What is your strategy for networking and has it been effective for you?
If you liked this post, I'd love it if you'd hit the "follow" button at the top of the page so I can continue to write and share with you on a variety of topics.

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The eye-popping secrets of Branson's Caribbean playground:

The eye-popping secrets of Branson's Caribbean playground: Guests fire golf balls at human targets dressed as sumo wrestlers and eat sushi off a staff member's stomach

  • Staff on Richard Branson's Caribbean island reveal bizarre goings-on
  • One employee revealed she allowed guests to eat sushi off her naked body
  • Visitors hit golf balls at staff who wear sumo costumes on trampolines
  • Branson says staff are free to drink and have relationships with visitors
  • The Virgin tycoon bought Necker Island for just £180,000 in 1978 
  • His previous guests include Princess Diana, Mandela and Harry Styles


It is the exclusive Caribbean playground of the ultra-wealthy – a real-life fantasy island where nothing is too much trouble for its elite guests.
Richard Branson’s idyllic Necker Island promises A-listers privacy and discretion, as well as the sort of unparalleled luxury that £40,000 a night buys. But now some of the secrets of the Virgin Islands paradise hideaway can be revealed, including the bizarre lengths staff go to in ensuring that their moneyed guests’ every whim is satisfied.
One employee – an accountant – has told how she allowed guests to eat sushi off her naked midriff. Other visitors are encouraged to hit golf balls at a human target; while male serving staff have been asked to perform their duties ‘shirtless’.
Scroll down for video 
Staff have revealed the bizarre goings-on at Richard Branson’s idyllic Necker Island, where guests paid £40,000 a night

Staff have revealed the bizarre goings-on at Richard Branson’s idyllic Necker Island, where guests paid £40,000 a night

Visitors to Branson's Caribbean island take aim as they fire golf balls at human targets out to sea
Visitors to Branson's Caribbean island take aim as they fire golf balls at human targets out to sea

Staff ear sumo suits and bounce on a trampoline as guests try to hit them with golf balls, a documentary reveals

Staff wear sumo suits and bounce on a trampoline as guests try to hit them with golf balls, a documentary reveals
Branson says staff are free to drink with guests and even have relationships with them, as part of the carefree atmosphere.
‘Necker is a place where people can draw up the drawbridge, let their hair down and relax,’ the Virgin mogul says.
The approach seems to work, since the island’s guests have ranged from Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela to Kate Moss and One Direction’s Harry Styles.
In a new BBC documentary, offering a rare glimpse at how the rich and powerful spend their holidays, one member of Necker Island’s accounts team, Milli, speaks of how she let guests eat sushi off her body for a birthday party.
She originally suggested ‘eating sushi off a hot girl’ to some guests – not intending to be the human plate herself. But that is exactly what happened, causing some discomfort in the Caribbean sun...
Milli, originally from Luton, said: ‘The sushi got really, really quite warm and stuck to me, so that was interesting. But it was fun. I love that I get to be an accountant and do this stuff and then go and lie on a table and have people suck soya sauce out of my belly button. It’s brilliant. Who else gets to do that?’ 

Amelia (left), an accountant on the island, allowed guests to eat sushi off her stomach. Right, another gorgeous worker
Necker Island promises A-listers privacy and discretion, as well as the sort of unparalleled luxury that £40,000 a night buys

Necker Island promises A-listers privacy and discretion, as well as the sort of unparalleled luxury that £40,000 a night buys
According to Necker’s French chef, Clement Baris, it’s vital that the staff serving the food are as ‘sexy’ as the dish.
A waiter explains to the BBC: ‘My role today is to look after the kayak in the pool – being sexy in the pool. About ten minutes before the guests come we will fill the kayak with palms and flowers and chopsticks and then we add the sushi to it. Then I’ll jump in the water, float about and people will jump in the pool and have fun, have drinks and eat the sushi. I might have a cocktail or two, sneaky ones, as well.’
Sir Richard, who bought Necker for just £180,000 in 1978, says: ‘We once had a new management team that came and they brought in two rules. The first was that staff cannot drink with the guests and staff may not have relationships with the guests. That management couple lasted one weekend. That is not the way this island would work or run very well.’
One member of Branson’s team tells the programme that the tycoon is a ‘matchmaker’ who makes it a mission to look after the girls who are ‘gorgeous and single’.
Necker accommodates only 30 guests at a time but these VIPs have access to more than 100 staff. Regular visitors say the attractiveness and attentiveness of the staff are reasons they keep coming back.
Branson says staff are free to drink with guests and even have relationships with them, as part of the carefree atmosphere

Branson says staff are free to drink with guests and even have relationships with them, as part of the carefree atmosphere
British-born property developer Penny, who was on her 21st visit to the island, said: ‘None of them are bad on the eyes. They are all pretty good-looking. We have favourites.’
Another British guest, called Patch, is shown enjoying a game of ‘sumo golf’, in which he and other guests shoot golf balls at a member of staff who bounces up and down on an offshore trampoline, while wearing protective clothing.
Patch, from Birmingham, said the game uses balls made from soluble fish food rather than the real thing. But it was boiling hot inside the human target’s costume, and he later has to apply an ice pack to his neck.
In other scenes, a couple ask for a massage on the trampoline in the sea, while a group who are sharing a hot tub ask if the waiter can serve their pina coladas ‘shirtless’.
Sir Richard’s mansion on the island was hit by a lightning strike in 2011 and burnt down, but it has since been rebuilt at a cost of £9 million.
Billionaire’s Paradise: Inside Necker Island will be broadcast on BBC2 on January 11.

Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson



Sir Richard Branson
5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankbone.jpg
Branson at the Time 100 Gala in May 2010
Born Richard Charles Nicholas Branson
18 July 1950 (age 64)
Blackheath, London, England, UK
Residence Necker Island, BVI
Occupation Founder of Virgin Group
Years active 1966–present
Net worth US$4.9 billion (as of October 2014)[1]
Religion None[2]
Spouse(s) Kristen Tomassi (m. 1972–79) (divorced)
Joan Templeman (m. 1989)
Parents Edward James Branson
Eve Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.[3]

At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student.[4] In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
According to the Forbes 2014 list of billionaires, Branson is the seventh richest citizen of the United Kingdom, with an estimated net worth of US$4.9 billion.[1]


Early life

Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the eldest of three children born to barrister Edward James Branson (1918 – 2011), and Eve Branson (born 1924), a former ballet dancer and air hostess.[5][6] Branson has two younger sisters.[7] His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.[8] Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School, a prep school in Berkshire, before briefly attending Cliff View House School in Sussex.[9] Branson attended Stowe School, an independent school in Buckinghamshire until the age of sixteen.[9] Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, and on his last day at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.[9]
Branson's parents were supportive of his endeavors from an early age.[10]

Career


Record business

Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church where he ran The Student magazine. Branson interviewed several prominent personalities of the late 1960s for the magazine including Mick Jagger and R. D. Laing.[11] Branson advertised popular records in The Student and it was an overnight success.[12] Trading under the name "Virgin", he sold records for considerably less than the "High Street" outlets, especially the chain W. H. Smith. Branson once said, "There is no point in starting your own business unless you do it out of a sense of frustration." The name "Virgin" was suggested by one of Branson's early employees because they were all new at business.[13] At the time, many products were sold under restrictive marketing agreements that limited discounting, despite efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to limit so-called resale price maintenance.[14]
Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street in London. In 1971, Branson was questioned in connection with the selling of records in Virgin stores that had been declared export stock. The matter was never brought before a court and Branson agreed to repay any unpaid tax and a fine. Branson's mother, Eve, re-mortgaged the family home to help pay the settlement.[13]


The Manor Studio, Richard Branson's recording studio in the manor house at the village of Shipton-on-Cherwell in Oxfordshire.
Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate north of Oxford, in which he installed a residential recording studio, The Manor Studio.[15] He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells (1973) was the first release for Virgin Records and became a chart-topping best-seller.[16]
Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faust and Can. Virgin Records also introduced Culture Club to the music world. In the early 1980s, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub Heaven. In 1991, in a consortium with David Frost, Branson made an unsuccessful bid for three ITV franchisees under the CPV-TV name. The early 1980s also saw his only attempt as a producer—on the novelty record, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep", by Singing Sheep in association with Doug McLean and Grace McDonald. The recording was a series of sheep baa-ing along to a drum-machine-produced track and reached number 42 in the UK charts in 1982.[17]
In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million.[18] Branson said that he wept when the sale was completed because the record business had been the very start of the Virgin empire. He later created V2 Records to re-enter the music business.[19]

Business ventures


Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, and Virgin Blue in Australia (now named Virgin Australia) in 2000. He was ninth in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, worth slightly more than £3 billion. Branson wrote in his autobiography of the decision to start an airline:

My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them ... from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt that I had to attempt it.
In 1993, Branson took what many saw as being one of his riskier business exploits by entering into the railway business. Virgin Trains won the franchises for the former Intercity West Coast and Cross-Country sectors of British Rail.
Virgin acquired European short-haul airline Euro Belgian Airlines in 1996 and renamed it Virgin Express. In 2006, the airline was merged with SN Brussels Airlines forming Brussels Airlines. It also started a national airline based in Nigeria, called Virgin Nigeria. Another airline, Virgin America, began flying out of San Francisco International Airport in August 2007. Branson has also developed a Virgin Cola brand and even a Virgin Vodka brand, which has not been a very successful enterprise. As a consequence of these lacklustre performers, the satirical British fortnightly magazine Private Eye has been critical of Branson and his companies (see Private Eye image caption).[20]
A series of disputes in the early 1990s caused tension between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, which viewed Virgin as an emerging competitor. Virgin subsequently accused British Airways of poaching its passengers, hacking its computers, and leaking stories to the press that portrayed Virgin negatively. After the so-called campaign of "dirty tricks", British Airways settled the case, giving £500,000 to Branson, a further £110,000 to his airline, and had to pay legal fees of up to £3million . Branson distributed his compensation (the so-called "BA bonus") among his staff.[21]
On 25 September 2004, Branson announced the signing of a deal under which a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will license the technology behind Spaceship One—funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by legendary American aeronautical engineer and visionary Burt Rutan—to take paying passengers into suborbital space. Virgin Galactic (wholly owned by Virgin Group) plans to make flights available to the public with tickets priced at US$200,000 using Scaled Composites White Knight Two.[22] Branson plans to take his two children, 31-year-old Holly and 28-year-old Sam, on a trip to outer space when they ride the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane on its first public flight planned for 2014.[23]
Branson's next venture with the Virgin group is Virgin Fuels, which is set to respond to global warming and exploit the recent spike in fuel costs by offering a revolutionary, cheaper fuel for automobiles and, in the near future, aircraft. Branson has stated that he was formerly a global warming sceptic and was influenced in his decision by a breakfast meeting with Al Gore.[24]
On 21 September 2006, Branson pledged to invest the profits of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains in research for environmentally friendly fuels. The investment is estimated to be worth $3 billion.[25][26]
On 4 July 2006, Branson sold his Virgin Mobile company to UK cable TV, broadband, and telephone company NTL/NTL:Telewest for almost £1 billion. A new company was launched with much fanfare and publicity on 8 February 2007, under the name Virgin Media. The decision to merge his Virgin Media Company with NTL was to integrate both of the companies' compatible parts of commerce. Branson used to own three-quarters of Virgin Mobile, whereas now he owns 15 percent of the new Virgin Media company.[27]
In 2006, Branson formed Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, an entertainment company focused on creating new stories and characters for a global audience. The company was founded with author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra. Branson also launched the Virgin Health Bank on 1 February 2007, offering parents-to-be the opportunity to store their baby's umbilical cord blood stem cells in private and public stem-cell banks.
In June 2006, a tip-off from Virgin Atlantic led US and UK competition authorities to investigate price-fixing attempts between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. In August 2007, British Airways was fined £271 million over the allegations. Virgin Atlantic was given immunity for tipping off the authorities and received no fine—a controversial decision the Office of Fair Trading defended as being in the public interest.[28]
On 9 February 2007, Branson announced the setting up of a new global science and technology prize—The Virgin Earth Challenge—in the belief that history has shown that prizes of this nature encourage technological advancements for the good of mankind. The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who are able to demonstrate a commercially viable design that will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least ten years without countervailing harmful effects. This removal must have long-term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate. Branson also announced that he would be joined in the adjudication of the prize by a panel of five judges, all world authorities in their respective fields: Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, James E. Hansen, and James Lovelock.
In July 2007, Branson purchased his Australian home, Makepeace Island, in Noosa.[29] In August 2007, Branson announced that he bought a 20-percent stake in Malaysia's AirAsia X.[30]


Branson in April 2009 at the launch of Virgin America in Orange County, California.
On 13 October 2007, Branson's Virgin Group sought to add Northern Rock to its empire after submitting an offer that would result in Branson personally owning 30% of the company and change the company's name from Northern Rock to Virgin Money.[31] The Daily Mail ran a campaign against his bid and Vince Cable, financial spokesperson for Liberal Democrats', suggested in the House of Commons that Branson's criminal conviction for tax evasion might be felt by some as a good enough reason not to trust him with public money.[32]
On 10 January 2008, Branson's Virgin Healthcare announced that it would open a chain of health care clinics that would offer conventional medical care alongside homoeopathic and complementary therapies, a development that was welcomed by Ben Bradshaw, the UK's health minister.[33]
Plans where GPs could be paid for referring National Health Service (NHS) patients to private Virgin services were abandoned in June 2008. The BMA warned the plan would "damage clinical objectivity", there would be a financial incentive for GPs to push patients toward the Virgin services at the centre.[34] Plans to take over an NHS Practice in Swindon were abandoned subsequently, in late September 2008.[35]
In February 2009, Branson's Virgin organisation were reported as bidding to buy the former Honda Formula One team. Branson later stated an interest in Formula One, but claimed that, before the Virgin brand became involved with Honda or any other team, Formula One would have to develop a more economically efficient and environmentally responsible image. At the start of the 2009 formula one season on 28 March, it was announced that Virgin would be sponsoring the new Brawn GP team,[36] with discussions also under way about introducing a less "dirty" fuel in the medium term.[37] After the end of the season and the subsequent purchase of Brawn GP by Mercedes Benz, Branson invested in an 80% buyout of Manor Grand Prix,[38][39] with the team being renamed Virgin Racing.
Branson and Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia and Lotus F1 Racing, had a bet for the 2010 F1 season where the team's boss should work on the winner's airline during a charity flight dressed as a stewardess. Fernandes escaped as the winner of the bet, as Lotus Racing ended tenth in the championship, while Virgin Racing ended twelfth and last. Branson kept his word after losing the bet, as he served his duty as a stewardess on an Air Asia flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur on 12 May 2013.[40]
In 2010, Branson became patron of the UK's Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race, which has 16 hydrogen balloons flying across Europe.[41]
In April 2010, Branson described the closure of large parts of European airspace owing to volcanic ash as "beyond a joke". Some scientists later concluded that serious structural damage to aircraft could have occurred if passenger planes had continued to fly.[42]
In July 2012, Branson announced plans to build an orbital space launch system, designated LauncherOne.[43] Four commercial customers have already contracted for launches and two companies are developing standardised satellite buses optimised to the design of LauncherOne, in expectation of business opportunities created by the new smallsat launcher.[44]
In August 2012, the franchise for the West Coast Main Line, managed by Virgin Rail since 1997, came to an end. The contract was awarded to FirstGroup after a competitive tender process overseen by the Department for Transport. Branson had expressed his concerns about the tender process and questioned the validity of the business plan submitted by FirstGroup. When Virgin Rail lost the contract, Branson said he was convinced the civil servants had "got their maths wrong". In October, after an investigation into the bidding process, the deal was scrapped. The Transport Secretary announced there were "significant technical flaws" in the process and mistakes had been made by transport staff. Virgin Rail continue to operate the West Coast line.[45]

World record attempts



A 1998 attempt at an around-the-world balloon flight by Branson, Fossett, and Lindstrand ends in the Pacific Ocean on 25 December 1998.
Branson made several world record-breaking attempts after 1985, when in the spirit of the Blue Riband he attempted the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing. His first attempt in the "Virgin Atlantic Challenger" led to the boat capsizing in British waters and a rescue by RAF helicopter, which received wide media coverage. Some newspapers called for Branson to reimburse the government for the rescue cost. In 1986, in his "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II", with sailing expert Daniel McCarthy, he beat the record by two hours.[4] A year later his hot air balloon "Virgin Atlantic Flyer" crossed the Atlantic.[46]
In January 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific from Japan to Arctic Canada, 6,700 miles (10,800 km), in a balloon of 2,600,000 cubic feet (74,000 m3). This broke the record, with a speed of 245 miles per hour (394 km/h).
Between 1995 and 1998 Branson, Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett made attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon. In late 1998 they made a record-breaking flight from Morocco to Hawaii but were unable to complete a global flight before Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones in Breitling Orbiter 3 in March 1999.
In March 2004, Branson set a record by travelling from Dover to Calais in a Gibbs Aquada in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 6 seconds, the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. The previous record of six hours was set by two Frenchmen.[47] The cast of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, attempted to break this record in an amphibious vehicle which they had constructed and, while successfully crossing the channel, did not break Branson's record. After being intercepted by the Coast Guard and asked what their intentions were, Clarkson remarked "..our intentions are to go across the Channel faster than 'Beardy' Branson!". The Coast Guard wished them good luck and left.[48]
In September 2008, Branson and his children made an unsuccessful attempt at an Eastbound record crossing of the Atlantic ocean under sail in the 99 feet (30 m) sloop Virgin Money.[49] The boat, also known as Speedboat, is owned by NYYC member Alex Jackson, who was a co-skipper on this passage, with Branson and Mike Sanderson. After 2 days, 4 hours, winds of force 7 to 9 (strong gale), and seas of 40 feet (12 m), a 'monster wave' destroyed the spinnaker, washed a ten-man life raft overboard and severely ripped the mainsail. She eventually continued to St. George's, Bermuda.[50]

Television, film and print


Branson has guest starred, usually playing himself, on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch, Birds of a Feather, Only Fools and Horses, The Day Today, a special episode of the comedy Goodness Gracious Me and Tripping Over. Branson made several appearances during the nineties on the BBC Saturday morning show Live & Kicking, where he was referred to as 'the pickle man' by comedy act Trev and Simon (in reference to Branston Pickle).[51] Branson also appears in a cameo early in XTC's "Generals and Majors" video. He was also the star of a reality television show on Fox called The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best (2004), in which sixteen contestants were tested for their entrepreneurship and sense of adventure. It did not succeed as a rival show to Donald Trump's The Apprentice and only lasted one season.
His high public profile often leaves him open as a figure of satire—the 2000 AD series Zenith features a parody of Branson as a super villain, as the comic's publisher and favoured distributor and the Virgin group were in competition at the time. He is also caricatured in The Simpsons episode "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" as the tycoon Arthur Fortune, and as the ballooning megalomaniac Richard Chutney (a pun on Branson, as in Branston Pickle) in Believe Nothing. The character Grandson Richard 39 in Terry Pratchett's Wings is modelled on Branson.
He has a cameo appearance in several films: Around the World in 80 Days (2004), where he played a hot-air balloon operator; Superman Returns, where he was credited as a 'Shuttle Engineer' and appeared alongside his son, Sam, with a Virgin Galactic-style commercial suborbital shuttle at the centre of his storyline. He also has a cameo in the James Bond film Casino Royale. Here, he is seen as a passenger going through Miami Airport security check-in and being frisked – several Virgin Atlantic planes appear soon after. British Airways edited out Branson's cameo in their in-flight screening of the movie.[52] He makes a number of brief and disjointed appearances in the cult classic documentary Derek and Clive Get the Horn which follows the exploits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore recording their last comedy album. Branson and his mother were also featured in the documentary film, Lemonade Stories. In early 2006 on Rove Live, Rove McManus and Sir Richard pushed each other into a swimming pool fully clothed live on TV during a "Live at your house" episode.
Branson is a Star Trek fan and named his new spaceship VSS Enterprise in honour of the famous Star Trek ships, and in 2006, reportedly offered actor William Shatner a ride on the inaugural space launch of Virgin Galactic. In an interview in Time magazine, 10 August 2009, Shatner claimed that Branson approached him asking how much he would pay for a ride on the spaceship. In response, Shatner asked "how much would you pay me to do it?"
In August 2007, Branson announced on The Colbert Report that he had named a new aircraft Air Colbert. He later doused political satirist and talk show host Stephen Colbert with water from his mug. Branson subsequently took a retaliatory splash from Colbert. The interview quickly ended, with both laughing[53] as shown on the episode aired on Comedy Central on 22 August 2007. The interview was promoted on The Report as the Colbert-Branson Interview Trainwreck. Branson then made a cameo appearance on The Soup playing an intern working under Joel McHale who had been warned against getting into water fights with Stephen Colbert, and being subsequently fired.
In March 2008 he launched Virgin Mobile in India and during that period, he even played a cameo performance in Bollywood film, London Dreams.[54] In July 2010, Branson narrated Australian sailor Jessica Watson's documentary about her solo sailing trip around the world. It premiered on ONEHD on 16 August 2010.[citation needed]
In April 2011 Branson appeared on CNN's Mainsail[55] with Kate Winslet. Together they re-enacted a famous scene[56] from the 1997 film Titanic for the cameras. On 17 August 2011, he was featured in the premier episode of Hulu's first long-form original production entitled, A Day in the Life.[57]
At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards broadcast on ITV on 30 October, Branson, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Simon Cowell and Stephen Fry, recited Rudyard Kipling's poem If— in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympics heroes.[58]

Humanitarian initiatives

In the late 1990s, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel discussed with Nelson Mandela their idea of a small, dedicated group of leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts.[59] On 18 July 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mandela announced the formation of a new group, The Elders, in a speech he delivered on his 89th birthday. Kofi Annan serves as Chair of The Elders and Gro Harlem Brundtland as Deputy Chair. The other members are Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. Desmond Tutu and Mandela have been Honorary Elders. The Elders is independently funded by a group of donors, including Branson and Gabriel. The Elders use their collective skills to catalyse peaceful resolutions to long-standing conflicts, articulate new approaches to global issues that are causing or may cause immense human suffering, and share wisdom by helping to connect voices all over the world.


Richard Branson with his mother Eve, and the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
In 1999, Branson became a founding sponsor of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children ("ICMEC"), the goal of which is to help find missing children, and to stop the exploitation of children, as his mother Eve became a founding member of ICMEC's Board of Directors.[60][61]
Branson's other work in South Africa includes the Branson School of Entrepreneurship, set up in 2005 as a partnership between Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of Virgin, and entrepreneur Taddy Blecher, the founder of CIDA City Campus, a university in Johannesburg. The school aims to improve economic growth in South Africa by supporting start-ups and micro-enterprises with skills, mentors, services, networks and finance arrangements.[62][63] Fundraising activity to support the school is achieved by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, sponsored by Virgin Group, at its yearly event, where places to join Richard Branson on trips to South Africa to provide coaching and mentoring to students are auctioned to attendees. In 2009, Jason Luckhurst and Boyd Kershaw of Practicus, Martin Ainscough of the Ainscough Group and Matthew Riley of Daisy Communications helped raise £150,000 through the auction.[64]
In March 2008, Branson hosted an environmental gathering at his private island, Necker Island, in the Caribbean with several prominent entrepreneurs, celebrities, and world leaders. They discussed global warming-related problems facing the world, hoping that the meeting would be a precursor to future discussions regarding similar problems. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and Larry Page of Google were in attendance.[65]
On 8 May 2009, Branson took over Mia Farrow's hunger strike for three days in protest of the Sudanese government expulsion of aid groups from the Darfur region.[66] In 2010, he and the Nduna Foundation (founded by Amy Robbins), and Humanity United (an organization backed by Pam Omidyar, the wife of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar) founded Enterprise Zimbabwe.[67]

Branson is a signatory of Global Zero (campaign), a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.[68] Since its launch in Paris in December 2008,[69] Global Zero (campaign) has grown to 300 leaders, including current and former heads of state, national security officials and military commanders, and 400,000 citizens worldwide; developed a practical step-by-step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons; launched an international student campaign with 75 campus chapters in eight countries; and produced an acclaimed documentary film, Countdown to Zero, in partnership with Lawrence Bender and Participant Media.[70]
Since 2010, Branson has served as a Commissioner on the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN initiative which promotes universal access to broadband services.[71] In 2011, Branson served on the Global Commission on Drug Policy with former political and cultural leaders of Latin America and elsewhere, "in a bid to boost the effort to achieve more humane and rational drug laws."[72]
In December 2013 Branson urged companies to boycott Uganda because of its "anti-homosexuality bill." Branson stated that it would be "against my conscience to support this country...governments must realize that people should be able to love whoever they want."[73]
In 2014, Branson joined forces with African Wildlife Foundation and partner WildAid for the "Say No" Campaign,[74] an initiative to bring public awareness to the issues of wildlife poaching and trafficking.

Politics

In the 1980s, Branson was briefly given the post of "litter Tsar" by Margaret Thatcher—charged with "keeping Britain tidy".[75][76] In 2005 he declared that there were only negligible differences between the two main parties on economic matters.[77] He has frequently been mentioned as a candidate for Mayor of London, and polls have suggested he would be a viable candidate, though he has yet to express interest.[78][79][80] He supports continuing British membership of the European Union and opposes having a referendum on the issue.[81]

Controversies and criticism


Tax

Branson's business empire is owned by a complicated series of offshore trusts and companies. The Sunday Times stated that his wealth is calculated at £3 billion; if he were to retire to his Caribbean island and liquidate all of this, he would pay relatively little in tax.[82] Branson has been criticised for his business strategy, and has been accused of being a carpetbagger.[83][84][85][86] Branson responded that he is living on Necker for health rather than tax reasons.[87]

Profiting from SeaWorld

Branson has been criticized by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation organization for profiting from selling trips to SeaWorld and similar themed parks that hold dolphins, whales and other sea life in captivity for entertainment purposes.[88][89]

Honours and awards



Branson at a conference in San Diego, California, on 8 July 2013.
In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University.
In the New Years Honours list dated 30 December 1999, Elizabeth II signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".[90][91] He was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.[92]
Also in 2000, Branson received the 'Tony Jannus Award' for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation.
Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public). Branson was also ranked in 2007's Time Magazine "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World". In 2009, Branson was voted the UK's "Celebrity Dream Boss" in an opinion poll by Cancer Research UK.[93]
On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.[94]
On 24 January 2011, Branson was awarded the German Media Prize (organised by "Media Control Charts"), previously handed to former US president Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.
On 14 November 2011, Branson was awarded the ISTA Prize by the International Space Transport Association in The Hague for his pioneering achievements in the development of suborbital transport systems with "Virgin Galactic".[95]
On 11 February 2012, Branson was honoured with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' President's Merit Award for his contributions to the music industry. The event took place the night before the 54th Grammy Awards.[96]
On 2 June 2013, Branson received an honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University in Kaunas, Lithuania.[97]
On 15 May 2014, Branson received the 2014 Business for Peace Award, awarded annually by the Business for Peace Foundation in Oslo, Norway.[98]
On 21 September 2014, Branson was recognized by The Sunday Times as the most admired business person over the last five decades.[99]
On 9 October 2014, Branson was named as the number one LGBT ally in the Outstanding allies rankings. [100]

Personal life

Branson has a daughter named Holly and a son named Sam. He stated in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and his wife Joan had a daughter named Clare Sarah who died when she was just four days old in 1979.[101] The couple wed—at their daughter Holly's suggestion when she was eight years old—in 1989 at Necker Island, a 74-acre (30 ha) island owned by Branson in the British Virgin Islands.[102]
In 1998, Branson released his autobiography, titled Losing My Virginity, an international best-seller.[103]
Branson was deeply saddened by the disappearance of fellow adventurer Steve Fossett in September 2007; the following month he wrote an article for Time magazine, titled "My Friend, Steve Fossett".[104]

Influences

Branson has stated in a number of interviews that he derives much influence from non-fiction books. He most commonly names Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, explaining that Mandela was "one of the most inspiring men I have ever met and had the honour to call my friend." Owing to his interest in humanitarian and ecological issues, Branson also lists Al Gore's best-selling book, An Inconvenient Truth, and The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock amongst his favourites. According to Branson's book, Screw It, Let's do It. Lessons in Life, he is also a huge fan of works by Jung Chang.[105] In terms of fiction, Branson has long held an admiration for the fictional character Peter Pan,[106] and in 2006 he founded Virgin Comics LLC, stating that Virgin Comics will give "a whole generation of young, creative thinkers a voice."[107]

Bibliography