mcgillianaire: (Bedouin in Desert)
[SOURCE]

"On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and at other arenas around the world, the 16-hour “superconcert” was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations. In a triumph of technology and good will, the event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa.

Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more. After returning to London, he called Britain’s and Ireland’s top pop artists together to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure and performed by “Band Aid,” an ensemble that featured Culture Club, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, U2, Wham!, and others. It was the best-selling single in Britain to that date and raised more than $10 million.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was also a No. 1 hit in the United States and inspired U.S. pop artists to come together and perform “We Are the World,” a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie. “USA for Africa,” as the U.S. ensemble was known, featured Jackson, Ritchie, Geldof, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, and many others. The single went to the top of the charts and eventually raised $44 million.

With the crisis continuing in Ethiopia, and the neighboring Sudan also stricken with famine, Geldof proposed Live Aid, an ambitious global charity concert aimed at raising more funds and increasing awareness of the plight of many Africans. Organized in just 10 weeks, Live Aid was staged on Saturday, July 13, 1985. More than 75 acts performed, including Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. The majority of these artists performed at either Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of 70,000 turned out, or at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, where 100,000 watched. Thirteen satellites beamed a live television broadcast of the event to more than one billion viewers in 110 countries. More than 40 of these nations held telethons for African famine relief during the broadcast.

A memorable moment of the concert was Phil Collins’ performance in Philadelphia after flying by Concorde from London, where he performed at Wembley earlier in the day. He later played drums in a reunion of the surviving members of Led Zeppelin. Beatle Paul McCartney and the Who’s Pete Townsend held Bob Geldof aloft on their shoulders during the London finale, which featured a collective performance of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Six hours later, the U.S. concert ended with “We Are the World.”

Live Aid eventually raised $127 million in famine relief for African nations, and the publicity it generated encouraged Western nations to make available enough surplus grain to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa. Geldof was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts.

In early July 2005, Geldof staged a series of “Live 8″ concerts in 11 countries around the world to help raise awareness of global poverty. Organizers, led by Geldof, purposely scheduled the concert days before the annual G8 summit in an effort to increase political pressure on G8 nations to address issues facing the extremely poor around the world. Live 8 claims that an estimated 3 billion people watched 1,000 musicians perform in 11 shows, which were broadcast on 182 television networks and by 2,000 radio stations. Unlike Live Aid, Live 8 was intentionally not billed as a fundraiser–Geldof’s slogan was, “We don’t want your money, we want your voice.” Perhaps in part because of the spotlight brought to such issues by Live 8, the G8 subsequently voted to cancel the debt of 18 of the world’s poorest nations, make AIDS drugs more accessible, and double levels of annual aid to Africa, to $50 billion by 2010."
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
"The campaign to set up the International Criminal Court to prosecute crimes against humanity involved NGOs’ organising international conferences and meetings, supporting Southern CSOs and State participation in the process through funding and information dissemination, and lobbying throughout many countries, including lobbying US Congress and the EU Parliament. The result was the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 17 July 1998, ratified by 120 states and finally coming into force on 1 July 2002. The international system would not have been sufficiently equipped to bring to justice those, such as Slobodan Milosevic, responsible for human atrocities, without this success on the part of NGOs." [LINK]
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
A year ago, the Sultanate of Oman was celebrating four decades of His Majesty's rule* and everything looked rosy. A month later Mohamed Bouazizi's self immolation in Tunisia sparked the Arab Spring. What an eleven months its been since then.

The question of His Majesty's successor assumes even more significance than it did before. Who will it be? And will he receive the wholehearted support of his Omani subjects, in the same way as his predecessor, the incumbent Sultan? GOK.

(* Although November 18 is celebrated as National Day, it is actually the Sultan's birthday. His Majesty came to power on 23 July 1970.)
mcgillianaire: (Did You Know?)
What were the only three independent countries in Africa before World War II?
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Channel 4 News are reporting that the road accident involving Zimbabwe's PM Morgan Tsvangirai could be due to foul play but they don't have any solid evidence to show for it. They did mention a history of suspicious car accidents during Mugabe's reign dating back to 1979 but would the same channel broadcast a similar theory involving a similar incident in a Western country? Road accidents are a major problem in many developing countries so it seems irresponsible of Channel 4 to point the finger without facts to back them up.
mcgillianaire: (Bedouin in Desert)
Despite a twenty-two year connection with the Sultanate of Oman, this might be the first Arabic movie I have seen from start to finish. It's supposedly the biggest budget Egyptian production ever and it's based on a novel of the same name by Alaa Al Aswany. BBC4 broadcast it a couple days ago so it's available on the iPlayer for the next week. It's long (2h40m) but thoroughly enjoyable.
mcgillianaire: (St Pauls Cathedral (my favourite London)
Gillian Gibbons, the Liverpudlian-teacher who became embroiled in the infamous incident last year, just appeared on ITV's This Morning show along with her daughter. She revisited the whole ordeal and described how she was the only prisoner in her jail and how nothing was provided to her at all except a toilet. She explained how the Foreign Ministers of Sudan and the UK eventually agreed for her to get a bed. She also described how nobody would help her in jail to carry her stuff and that she had no idea about the protests outside until she got back to the UK. But best of all, she said she would've gladly gone back to teaching in Sudan if she could because it had become her home. This is typical of an international school teacher. Not surprisingly, she's taken it all on the chin and is now teaching secondary school students in China and plans on staying there for another year. She's quite an inspiration to everybody and the sorta role-model who deserves more airtime and page space than people like Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Pete Doherty...
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
Last September, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) unveiled a new national-team tournament to unearth domestic African talent. For a while now many if not most players on African national teams have been foreign-based, primarily in Europe. This is especially true of the top African nations. In response to this the CAF decided to create a biennial cup competition alternating with the existing African Cup of Nations, featuring players who are only active in their home country's domestic leagues. The rules are so stringent that even a player who has moved to other African leagues will not be allowed to take part. The CAF has also stressed the importance of players being active in their home nation's domestic league and not just based or associated with it in some way or another.

I think the competition is an excellent idea but it also presents some obvious problems. As Jerrad Peters points out:

"This competition will be the perfect venue for scouts and agents to connect with desperate youngsters. For a minimal fee – sometimes as little as the promise of food, shelter, and a chance with a big, European club – they can acquire a player’s rights and cash-in on their asset upon arranging a lucrative transfer after one or two seasons. Essien, Drogba, and Eto’o are three of the few success stories. Far more of their countrymen are uprooted from their homes in exchange for small, play-as-you-go contracts in Russia or Ukraine."

There is also a concern that the tournament will be little different from existing club competitions such as the CAF Champions League the CAF Confederation Cup. Both tournaments also feature only African-based players. And while it is true that only active players in their home nation's leagues will be allowed to participate, only eight countries will feature in the actual tournament in Côte D'Ivoire next year. With so few teams on display, and presumably the biggest ones only, will such a tournament really deliver on its promises?

I hope it does because this could be the only opportunity for talented African-based players to showcase themselves on the international stage. And even though this does put them at risk of being scouted away by the lure of big money and the minutest chance of playing for Real Madrid, it should help lift the overall standard of grassroots African football and hopefully encourage much-needed further investment.

The preliminaries have begun. Let's hope it takes-off!
mcgillianaire: (Montreal Nite II)
You've all heard of it, some of you have even visited it but did you ever know that one of the world's most famous names was derived from the Arabic for Cape of the West?

In 1805, the British Royal Navy defeated Napoleon's combined French and Spanish forces off the South-West coast of Spain. In Spanish the area is known as Cabo Trafalgar. Most of us identify that name with a popular-tourist spot in Central London.

I also found it interesting that the area used to be the site of the King's Mews (stables) since the time of King Edward I in the 13th century! In fact, even when the square was built to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar the original name was to be: "King William the Fourth's Square."

How's that for a quick lesson in history. :)

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