Posted in Events

United Nations Arabic Language Day

UN Arabic Language Day is observed annually on 18th December. The event was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization”. December 18 was chosen as the date for the Arabic language as it coincides with the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language.

Taghreedat is a regional and international Arabic digital content community building initiative. With currently a community of over 2,500 Arab volunteers residing in 31 countries around the world, of which are 20 Arab countries, Taghreedat is aimed at building an active Arabic digital content creation community that contributes directly and significantly to increasing the quality and quantity of Arabic content on the web, through the implementation of the concept of crowd-sourcing to increase Arab users’ contribution to enriching Arabic content on the web through both original content projects, as well as projects geared towards localization and Arabization.

Taghreedat was started on May 31, 2011 on Twitter, as a call to action to increase the quality and quantity of Arabic e-content on Twitter via the hashtag #letstweetinarabic, Taghreedat has created a community of Arabic digital content enthusiasts from all parts of the Arab world, through its account on Twitter: @Taghreedat, which currently has over 100,000 followers. Taghreedat has worked with a number of international and regional stakeholders, among which are San Francisco-based organizations and companies including: Twitter, The Wikimedia Foundation and Storify, in addition to New-York-based TED and Abu Dhabi based twofour54 – the supporting organization which currently funds this initiative.

Posted in Events

International Migrants day

lnternational Migrants Day is an international day observed on December 18 which was appointed by the General Assembly of United Nations on December 4, 2000 to take into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world. On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families day is observed in many countries, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations through the dissemination of information on human rights and fundamental political freedoms of migrants, and through sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure the protection of migrants.

In 1997, Filipino and other Asian migrant organizations began celebrating and promoting December 18 as the International Day of Solidarity with Migrants. This date was chosen because it was on December 18, 1990 that the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families.Building on this initiative, December 18 with support from Migrant Rights International and the Steering Committee for the Global Campaign for Ratification of the International Convention on Migrants’ Rights and many other organizations – began late 1999 campaigning online for the official UN designation of an International Migrant’s Day, which was finally proclaimed on December 4, 2000.

The (UN) proclamation of the International Migrants’ Day is an important step, offering a rallying point for everyone across the world who is concerned with the protection of migrants. The UN invited all UN member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure the protection of migrants.The International Migrants Day is seen firstly as an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by millions of migrants to the economies of their host and home countries, and secondly to promote respect for their basic human rights.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

I have recently watched the television adaptation of Charles Dickens unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The novel features an opium user named John Jasper who starts hallucinating about strangling his nephew, Edwin Drood, while in a London opium den. The next evening, his nephew Edwin Drood pays him a visit , at Cloisterham Cathedral. Edwin confides that he has misgivings about his betrothal to Rosa Bud. The next day, Edwin visits Rosa at the Nuns’ House.

Elsewhere Neville Landless and his twin sister Helena arrive at Cloisterham from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for their education. Neville stays with minor canon, Rev. Mr. Crisparkle; while Helena stays at the Nuns’ House with Rosa. Reverend Crisparkle and his mother invite Edwin and Rosa to meet Jasper and Rosa. Neville is immediately smitten with Rosa as is Jasper who covets Edwin Drood’s fiancee Rosa. Neville and Edwin have a disagreement.

Meanwhile Jasper starts showing an unhealthy interest in the cathedral crypt, So he asks Durdles, a man who knows more about the crypt than anyone else. Durdles takes Jasper into the cathedral crypt. Jasper provides a bottle of wine to Durdles. The wine is mysteriously potent and Durdles soon loses consciousness

Elsewhere Rosa discovers from her guardian Mr Grewgious that she has a substantial Inheritance and Mr. Grewgious gives Edwin a ring to give to Rosa to show his commitment, However Rosa and Edwin amicably end their engagement with Edwin intending to return the ring to Mr. Grewgious. Unfortunately, Jasper, is angered by this. Rev. Mr Crisparkle tries to reconcile, Neville and Edwin by inviting them to Dinner on Christmas Eve at Mr Jaspers house. Edwin then meets a woman who is an opium user from London who informs him that He is in great danger. Drood and Neville Landless reconcile their differences. However The next morning Edwin goes missing and Jasper spreads suspicion that Neville has killed him.

At first everyone suspects that Neville has murdered Edwin, however Neville professes his innocence and Mr Grewgious vouches for him. Then, Deputy, a street urchin who is Durdles’ little helper, finds the ring discarded on the graveyard floor. While defending Neville’s innocence against Jasper’s accusations, the twins confess that they did not come to Cloisterham to further their education but to find their father, the late Edwin Drood Sr. As Edwin Jr was their brother, they argued, Neville had no cause to murder him. Jasper refutes their claims, but Mr Grewgious begins to look into it, assisted by Neville and Grewgious’s clerk, Bazzard.

Jasper visits Rosa at the Nuns’ House and professes his love for her but she rebuffs him and Fearing angry reprisals from Jasper, Rosa goes to Mr Grewgious in London however Jasper follows her. Meanwhile Bazzard, disguised as Dick Datchery, arrives in Cloisterham to investigate Edwin Drood Sr’s death and meets Deputy. Reverend Crisparkle is given a letter which seems to confirm Helena’s assertion that Jasper is obsessed with Rosa, and he discovers Bazzard and Deputy, in Jasper’s flat. Rosa also Believes that Jasper killed Edwin. So Crisparkle Bazzard and Deputy work together to solve the mystery of Drood Jr’s disappearance enlisting the help of Durdles to search the tombs for his body…

Posted in books, Fantasy, music, Science fiction

Michael Moorcock

Best known for his Elric of Melniboné, Fantasy novels, the prolific English Fantasy and Science Fiction author Michael John Moorcock was born 18 December 1939. in London in 1939 and the landscape of London, particularly the area of Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove, is an important influence in some of his fiction (the Cornelius novels). Moorcock was inspired by The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edwin Lester Arnold and The first book he bought was a second hand copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress.He is also the former husband of Jill Riches, who later married Robert Calvert. She illustrated some of Moorcock’s book covers, including the Gloriana dustjacket. He was an original member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of eight heroic fantasy authors founded in the 1960s and led by Lin Carter, self-selected by fantasy credentials alone.

The first Science Fiction magazine Amazing Stories was originally launched In 1926, by Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories, the first science fiction magazine.It was soon followed by other US titles also specialising in sf, such as Astounding Stories and Wonder Stories. These were distributed in the UK, and British fan organisations began to appear. In 1936, Maurice K. Hanson, a science fiction fan living in Nuneaton, founded a fanzine called Novae Terrae (Latin for “new lands” or “new worlds”) for the local branch of the Science Fiction League. Hanson moved to London and his fanzine became the official publication of the Science Fiction Association, founded in 1937.

New Worlds was a British science fiction magazine that began in 1936 as a fanzine called Novae Terrae. John Carnell, who became Novae Terrae’s editor in 1939, renamed it New Worlds that year. He was instrumental in turning it into a professional publication in 1946 and was the first editor of the new incarnation. It became the leading UK science fiction magazine; the period to 1960 has been described by science fiction historian Mike Ashley as the magazine’s “Golden Age”. Sadly Pendulum went bankrupt in late 1947. A group of science fiction fans formed a company called Nova Publications to revive the magazine; the first issue under their management appeared in mid-1949. New Worlds continued to appear on a regular basis until issue 20, published in early 1953, nd following which a change of printers led to a hiatus in publication. In early 1954, when Maclaren & Sons acquired control of Nova Publications, the magazine returned to a stable monthly schedule.

Michael Moorcock became editor of the British science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 19 1964 until March 1971. By the end of 1966 financial problems with their distributor led Roberts & Vinter to abandon New Worlds, but with the aid of an Arts Council grant obtained by Brian Aldiss, Moorcock was able to publish the magazine independently. He featured a good deal of experimental and avant-garde material, and New Worlds became the focus of the “New Wave” of science fiction. Reaction among the science fiction community was mixed, with partisans and opponents of the New Wave debating the merits of New Worlds in the columns of fanzines such as Zenith-Speculation. Several of the regular contributors during this period, including Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, Thomas M. Disch and Moorcock himself became major names in the field. By 1970 Moorcock was too deeply in debt to be able to continue with the magazine, and it became a paperback quarterly after issue 2010. Moorcock was also editor for New Worlds from 1976 to 1996. New Worlds has been revived multiple times, with Moorcock’s direct involvement or approval; by 2012, 21 additional issues had appeared in various formats, including several anthologies.

Moorcock was also  the subject of two book-length works, a monograph and an interview, by Colin Greenland. In 1983, Greenland published The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction. He followed this with Michael Moorcock: Death is No Obstacle, a book-length interview in 1992. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Moorcock in its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945

Michael Moorcock is also a successful recording musician, Having collaborated with the British Progressive rock band Hawkwind on many occasions: such as “The Black Corridor”, which, includes verbatim quotes from Moorcock’s novel of the same name, and Moorcock also worked with Hawkwind on their album Warrior on the Edge of Time, for which he earned a gold disc. Moorcock also wrote the lyrics to “Sonic Attack”, a Sci-Fi satire of the public information broadcast, that was part of Hawkwind’s Space Ritual set. Hawkwind’s album The Chronicle of the Black Sword was largely based on the Elric novels. Moorcock hax appeared on stage with the band and can also be seen performing on the DVD version of Chronicle of the Black Sword. Moorcock also collaborated with former Hawkwind frontman and resident poet, Robert Calvert (who gave the chilling declamation of “Sonic Attack”), on Calvert’s albums Lucky Leif and the Longships and Hype, playing guitar and banjo and singing background vocals.

Moorcock also has his own music project, which records under the name Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix. The first single from the band was “Starcruiser/Dodgem Dude”. The first album New Worlds Fair was released in 1975. The album included a number of Hawkwind regulars in the credits. A second version of the album Roller Coaster Holiday was issued in 2004. In 2008, The Entropy Tango & Gloriana Demo Sessions was released. These were sessions for planned albums based on two of his novels: Gloriana, or The Unfulfill’d Queen, and The Entropy Tango. The albums were never completed. (The Deep Fix was the title story of an obscure collection of short stories by James Colvin published in the 1960s. The Deep Fix was also the fictional band fronted by Moorcock’s character Jerry Cornelius.) Working with Martin Stone he has recently been recording an album in Paris, Live From the Terminal Cafe. Following Stone’s death in 2016, he plans to complete the album in Austin, Texas.

Moorcock wrote the lyrics to three album tracks by the American band Blue Öyster Cult: “Black Blade”, referring to the sword Stormbringer in the Elric books, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”, showing us Elric’s emotions at a critical point of his story (this song may also refer to the “Warriors at the Edge of Time”, which figure heavily in Moorcock’s novels about John Daker; at one point his novel The Dragon in the Sword they call themselves the “veterans of a thousand psychic wars”), and “The Great Sun Jester”, about his friend, the poet Bill Butler, who died of a drug overdose. Moorcock has performed live with BÖC (in 1987 at the Atlanta, GA Dragon Con Convention) and Hawkwind. Moorcock appeared on five tracks on the Spirits Burning CD Alien Injection, released in 2008. singing lead vocals and playing guitar and mandolin. He also contributed vocals and harmonica to Albert Bouchard’s tribute album to his novel An Alien Heat. He has also narrated audiobooks Of the Elric novels, The second audiobook in the series – The Sailor on the Seas of Fate – was published in 2007.

Posted in Fantasy, films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Steven Spielberg

Prolific American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur Steven Spielberg was Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18th December 1946. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm “adventure” films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission to his home films while his sister sold popcorn. In 1958, he became a Boy Scout, and gained a photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. At age thirteen, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled Escape to Nowhere which was based on a battle in east Africa. In 1963, at age sixteen, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight. The film, which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema . He also made several WWII films inspired by his father’s war stories. During the 1960s He became a student at California State University, Long Beach & also worked at Universal Studios as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department, and made his first short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute Amblin’. Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television director contract at Universal Studios and began his career as a professional director.

His first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery starring Joan Crawford. He also directed an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D. & an episode of The Name of the Game called “L.A. 2017”. This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first , Duel, was about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases a terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) and tries to run him off the road. Next he made the TV film “Something Evil” which capitalized on the popularity of The Exorcist. Spielberg’s debut feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as they try to regain custody of their baby. Next Spielberg directed Jaws, a thriller-horror film Starring Richard Dreyfus and based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark.It was an enormous success, winning three Academy Awards and grossing more than $470 million worldwide, it was also nominated for Best Picture. Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss then worked on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). which gave Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy & won Oscars in two categories. His next film, 1941, was a big-budgeted World War II farce. Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and received numerous Oscar nominations.

A year later, Spielberg made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, about a young boy and the alien he befriends. It went on to become the top-grossing film of all time & was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: Poltergeist, a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone (for which he directed the segment “Kick The Can”), and The Goonies. His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film was a box office smash and received eleven Academy Award nominations.Next Spielberg shot an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale, which was nominated for several Oscars.After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, starring Robin Williams and in 1993 Spielberg directed a film version of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. Spielberg’s next film, Schindler’s List, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust & earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture) & was a huge success at the box office and the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made.

In 1997, he directed The Lost World: Jurassic Park. His next film, Amistad, was based on a true story (like Schindler’s List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. In 1998 he released the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, which was a huge box office success. In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Next Spielberg and Tom Cruise collaborated in the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick. Spielberg’s next film Catch Me If You Can was about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) & earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Spielberg collaborated with Tom Hanks again as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004’s The Terminal.

In 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War of the Worlds based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name which starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. Steven Spielberg’s next film Munich, was about the events following the Massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. It received five Academy Awards nominations & was Spielberg’s sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination. Spielberg next film was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Next Spielberg shot a film based on The Adventures of Tintin & followed that with War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Spielberg then directed the historical drama film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life and was released 2013.

Posted in music

Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)

Keith Richards, Guitarist with Rock band The Rolling Stones was born December 18th 1943. The Rolling Stones were formed in London in 1962 after Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, who were childhood friends and classmates, discovered that they shared a common intereest in the music of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. This led to the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things). Later on Richards, Taylor, and Jagger found Brian Jones as he sat in playing slide guitar with Alexis Korner’s R&B band, Blues Incorporated, which also had two other future members of the Rolling Stones: Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts. On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as “The Rollin’ Stones”.The line-up was Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, and Taylor on bass. Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts the following January 1963 to form the band’s long-standing rhythm section.

Their first single, was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and their second single, was “I Wanna Be Your Man”, Their third single, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”. The band’s second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, yielded the singles “The Last Time”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud”. The third album “Aftermath” was released in 1966, contained the singles “Paint It Black”, the ballad “Lady Jane” “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” “Goin’ Home” and “Under My Thumb”. 1967 saw the release of “Between the Buttons”, which included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”, and the release of the Satanic Majesties Request LP. the next album, Beggars Banquet was an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes,featuring the singles “Street Fighting Man” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Sympathy for the Devil.



The Rolling Stones next album Let It Bleed featured the songs “Gimmie Shelter”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain”. The next album Sticky Finger was released in 1971.and featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol, and contains the hits, “Brown Sugar”, and “Wild Horses”. The Stones classic double album, Exile on Main St. was released in May 1971 and their follow-up album Goats Head Soup, featured the hit “Angie”. Their next album was 1974′s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll. The next album was Some Girls, which included the hit single “Miss You”, the country ballad “Far Away Eyes”, “Beast of Burden”, and “Shattered”. In 1980 the band released their next albums Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You which featured the single “Start Me Up”. in 1982 the Rolling Stones toured Europe to commemorate their 20th anniversary and released their next album Undercover in late 1983. In 1986′s the album Dirty Work was released,which contained the song “Harlem Shuffle”.The next album “Steel Wheels” included the singles “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock and a Hard Place”, “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Continental Drift”.

The Rolling Stones next studio album 1994′s Voodoo Lounge, went double platinum in the US. and went on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon which was released in 1997. In 2002, the band released Forty Licks, a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band. On 12th November 2012 The Rolling Stones released the album Grrrr to celebrate their 50th anniversary and made a documentary called Crossfire Hurricane and they also played at Glastonbury Music Festival. The Rolling Stones latest album Blue and Lonesome is a collection of Blues Covers and was released in 2016. The Rolling Stones are one of the of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music and In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Q magazine also named them one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”, and popular consensus has accorded them the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked them 4th on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.