December 22, 2013 in Nation/World

People: ‘Y.M.C.A.’ lyricist eschews protest role

From Wire Reports

The original lead singer for the Village People doesn’t mind that his 1970s disco hit “Y.M.C.A.” became a gay anthem, but he doesn’t want it used to protest the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

With gay rights a hot-button issue for the coming Games, Victor Willis said he recently declined an invitation to appear in Russia and has similarly dismissed suggestions that he perform the tune as a rallying cry.

“If they want to use the song that way, go right ahead,” Willis said in a statement. “But I think it’s silly because the lyrics were written by me as an expression of urban youths having fun at the YMCA.

“The words were crafted by me to be taken any number of ways but not specific to gays,” he said. “It’s much broader than that. The song is universal.”

The Russian government has drawn fire in recent months for adopting legislation that threatens to prosecute anyone who promotes “nontraditional sexual relations” in the presence of minors. Critics say the law effectively bans events such as gay rights parades.

With various groups vowing to protest, there has been speculation that athletes might show support by wearing gay rights pins on their uniforms or painting their fingernails in rainbow colors.

Facebook stock bestowed on charity

Mark Zuckerberg this month is donating nearly $1 billion worth of Facebook stock to a Silicon Valley charity as part of a pledge he’s taken to devote half of his wealth to philanthropy.

In total, Zuckerberg is donating 18 million shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which gives grants to other nonprofit organizations in the region that work in areas ranging from education to the environment.

Based on the current price of Facebook’s stock, the donation is worth about $985 million. The foundation said it is by far the largest donation in its history.

Neither Zuckerberg, Facebook nor the foundation has disclosed how the donation will be used.

This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has donated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

A year ago, Zuckerberg gave the foundation the same number of shares, but at the time they were only worth about $500 million. He has made other notable donations to organizations throughout the years.

The move comes alongside a large sale of stock by the company that will raise about $1.5 billion.

The birthday bunch

Actor Hector Elizondo is 77. ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 68. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 67. Rapper Luther Campbell is 53. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 53. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 51. Actress Heather Donahue is 40. Actor Chris Carmack is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jordin Sparks is 24.

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