World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought takes place each June 17. The purpose of the world Day to combat desertification and drought is to educate people concerning the causes of drought and highlight ways to prevent desertification and recover from drought. Each annual celebration has a different theme. Desertification is a type of land degradation in which relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as through climate change and through the overexploitation of soil through human activities. When deserts appear automatically over the natural course of a planet’s life cycle, then it can be called a natural phenomenon; however, when deserts emerge due to the rampant and unchecked depletion of nutrients in soil that are essential for it to remain arable, then a virtual “soil death” can be spoken of, which traces its cause back to human overexploitation. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem. Desertification is defined as “the process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought or improper/ inappropriate agriculture”. Desertification Is defined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

The world’s most noted deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During most of these times, deserts have grown and shrunk independent of human activities. Paleodeserts are large sand seas now inactive because they are stabilized by vegetation, some extending beyond the present margins of core deserts, such as the Sahara, the largest hot desert. The immediate cause of desertification is the loss of most vegetation. This is driven by a number of factors, such as drought, climatic shifts, tillage for agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation for fuel or construction materials. Vegetation plays a major role in determining the biological composition of the soil. Studies have shown that, in many environments, the rate of erosion and runoff decreases exponentially with increased vegetation cover. Unprotected, dry soil surfaces blow away with the wind or are washed away by flash floods, leaving infertile lower soil layers that bake in the sun and become an unproductive hard the controlled movement of herds of livestock, mimicking herds of grazing wildlife, may help to reverse desertification.

Desertification has played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, such as Carthage, Greece, and the Roman Empire, as well as causing displacement of local populations. Historical evidence shows that the serious and extensive land deterioration occurring several centuries ago in arid regions had three epicenters: the Mediterranean, the Mesopotamian Valley, and the Loess Plateau of China, where population was dense. At least 90% of the inhabitants of drylands live in developing nations, where they also suffer from poor economic and social conditions. This situation is exacerbated by land degradation because of the reduction in productivity, the precariousness of living conditions and the difficulty of access to resources and opportunities. A downward spiral is created in many underdeveloped countries by overgrazing, land exhaustion and overdrafting of groundwater in many of the marginally productive world regions due to overpopulation pressures to exploit marginal drylands for farming. Decision-makers are understandably averse to invest in arid zones with low potential. This absence of investment contributes to the marginalisation of these zones. When unfavourable agro-climatic conditions are combined with an absence of infrastructure and access to markets, as well as poorly adapted production techniques and an underfed and undereducated population, most such zones are excluded from development. Desertification often causes rural lands to become unable to support the same sized populations that previously lived there. This results in mass migrations out of rural areas and into urban areas, particularly in Africa. These migrations into the cities often cause large numbers of unemployed people, who end up living in slums.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, SDG Goal 15: Life on Land states the resolve of the United Nations and the SDG signatory nations to halt and reverse land degradationTechniques and countermeasures exist for mitigating or reversing the effects of desertification. One controversial solution is to manager population growth. Another way of mitigating Desertification is to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. However the costs of adopting these sometimes exceed the financial benefits for individual farmers, even while they are socially and environmentally beneficial. Another issue is a lack of political will, and lack of funding to support land reclamation and anti-desertification programs.

Desertification is recognized as a major threat to biodiversity. Some countries have developed Biodiversity Action Plans to counter its effects, particularly in relation to the protection of endangered flora and fauna. Reforestation can help stop one root cause of desertification and is not just treat of the symptoms. In many places deforestation and desertification are contributing to extreme poverty and many organisations focus on educating the local population about the dangers of deforestation and sometimes employ them to grow seedlings, which they transfer to severely deforested areas during the rainy season. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched the FAO Drylands Restoration Initiative in 2012 to draw together knowledge and experience on dryland restoratio In 2015, FAO published global guidelines for the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes in drylands, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Age.

Currently, one of the major methods that has been finding success in this battle with desertification is China’s “Great Green Wall.” This plan was proposed in the late 70’s, and has become a major ecological engineering project involving the planting of nearly 66,000,000,000 tress planted in China’s great green wall. It’s success depends upon providing enough water, Fixating and hyper-fertilizing soil. Fixating the soil is often done through the use of shelter belts, woodlots and windbreaks. Windbreaks are made from trees and bushes and are used to reduce soil erosion and evapotranspirati. Due to lack of water some soils can become consolidated rather than porous (as in the case of sandy soils. techniques such as zaï or tillage are then used to still allow the planting of crop

Another technique that is useful is contour trenching. This involves the digging of 150m long, 1m deep trenches in the soil. The trenches are made parallel to the height lines of the landscape, preventing the water from flowing within the trenches and causing erosion. Stone walls are placed around the trenches to prevent the trenches from closing up again. The method was invented by Peter Westerveld. Enriching of the soil and restoration of its fertility is often done by plants. Of these, leguminous plants which extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, and food crops/trees as grains, barley, beans and dates are the most important. Sand fences can also be used to control drifting of soil and sand erosion. Some research centra (such as Bel-Air Research Center IRD/ISRA/UCAD) are also experimenting with the inoculation of tree species with mycorrhiza in arid zones. The mycorrhiza are basically fungi attaching themselves to the roots of the plants. They create a symbiotic relation with the trees, increasing the surface area of the tree’s roots greatly (allowing the tree to gather much more nutrients from the soil.

As there are many different types of deserts, there are also different methods to stop desertification. For instance the salt-flats in the Rub’ al Khali desert in Saudi-Arabia are one of the most promising desert areas for seawater agriculture and could be revitalized without the use of freshwater or much energy. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is another technique that has produced successful results for desert reclamation. Since 1980, this method to reforest degraded landscape has been applied with some success in Niger. This simple and low-cost method has enabled farmers to regenerate some 30,000 square kilometers in Niger. The process involves enabling native sprouting tree growth through selective pruning of shrub shoots. The residue from pruned trees can be used to provide mulching for fields thus increasing soil water retention and reducing evaporation. Additionally, properly spaced and pruned trees can increase crop yields. The Humbo Assisted Regeneration Project which uses FMNR techniques in Ethiopia has received money from The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund, which supports projects that sequester or conserve carbon in forests or agricultural ecosystems.

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages and was not celebrated in the US, outside Catholic traditions, until the 20th century. As a civic celebration in the US, it was inaugurated in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day by celebrating fathers and male parenting. After Anna Jarvis’ successful promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a “Father’s Day” was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father, when in December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested that her pastor Robert Thomas Webb honor all those fathers.

Clayton’s event did not have repercussions outside Fairmont for several reasons, among them: the city was overwhelmed by other events, the celebration was never promoted outside the town itself and no proclamation of it was made by the city council. Also, two events overshadowed this event: the celebration of Independence Day July 4, 1908, with 12,000 attendants and several shows including a hot air balloon event, which took over the headlines in the following days, and the death of a 16-year-old girl on July 4. The local church and council were overwhelmed and they did not even think of promoting the event, and it was not celebrated again for many years. The original sermon was not reproduced by the press and it was lost. Finally, Clayton was a quiet person, who never promoted the event and never talked to other persons about it.

The celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it. In the United Kingdom Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The day does not have a long tradition; The English Year (2006) states that it entered British popular culture “sometime after the Second World War, not without opposition. In the United States Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Typically, families gather to celebrate the father figures in their lives. In recent years, retailers have adapted to the holiday by promoting greeting cards and gifts such as electronics and tools. Schools (if in session) and other children’s programs commonly have activities to make Father’s Day gifts. The U.S. Open golf tournament is scheduled to finish on Father’s Day, as was the 2016 NBA Finals. Although many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Mother’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day.

A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least the Middle Ages, and it is observed on 19 March, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini (“Nourisher of the Lord”) in Catholicism and “the putative father of Jesus” in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americans by the Spanish and Portuguese, and in Latin America, Father’s Day is still celebrated on 19 March. The Catholic church actively supported the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th century, apparently on the initiative of the Franciscans. In the Coptic Church, the celebration of fatherhood is also observed on St Joseph’s Day, but the Copts observe this celebration on July 20. This Coptic celebration may date back to the fifth century.

On June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. She was also a member of Old Centenary Presbyterian Church (now Knox Presbyterian Church), where she first proposed the idea. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909 at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday to honor them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June. Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day, “sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city”.

However, in the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level.She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present for father. By 1938, she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the holiday’s commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday for its first few decades, viewing it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. However, the said merchants remained resilient and even incorporated these attacks into their advertisements.

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father’s Day celebration and he wanted to make it an officially recognized federal holiday, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed throughout the entire nation, but he stopped short at issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father’s Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus singling out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 in honor of men and boys who are not fathers.

Bloomsday

Bloomsday takes place annually on 16 June to commemorate and celebrate of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, The date was chosen as it is the date during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce also chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses The English compound word Bloomsday is usually used in Irish as well, though some publications call it Lá Bloom.

On the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O’Nolan organised a pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (a lecturer in French at Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse-drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, in which in Ulysses Mr. Bloom and his friends drive to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. The party were assigned roles from the novel. Cronin stood in for Stephen Dedalus, O’Nolan for his father Simon Dedalus, John Ryan for the journalist Martin Cunningham, and A.J. Leventhal, being Jewish, was recruited to fill (unknown to himself according to John Ryan) the role of Leopold Bloom. They planned to travel round the city through the day, starting at the Martello tower at Sandycove (where the novel begins), visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown. The pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the weary pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned, and at which in 1967 he installed the door to No. 7 Eccles Street (Leopold Bloom’s front door), having rescued it from demolition. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

James Joyce was born in Dublin and here The day involves a range of cultural activities, including Ulysses readings and dramatisations, pub crawls and other events, some of it hosted by the James Joyce Centre in North Great George’s Street. Enthusiasts often dress in Edwardian costume to celebrate Bloomsday, and retrace Bloom’s route around Dublin via landmarks such as Davy Byrne’s pub. Hard-core devotees have even been known to hold marathon readings of the entire novel, some lasting up to 36 hours. The James Joyce Tower and Museum at Sandycove, site of the opening chapter of Ulysses, hosts many free activities around Bloomsday including theatrical performances, musical events, tours of the iconic tower and readings from Joyce’s masterpiece. Every year hundreds of Dubliners often dress as characters from the book. On Bloomsday 1982, the centenary year of Joyce’s birth, Irish state broadcaster RTÉ transmitted a continuous 30-hour dramatic performance of the entire text of Ulysses on radio. A five-month-long festival, ReJoyce Dublin 2004, took place in Dublin in 2004. On the Sunday before the 100th “anniversary” of the fictional events described in the book, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open-air, full Irish breakfast on O’Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings. The 2006 Bloomsday festivities were cancelled, the day coinciding with the funeral of Charles Haughey.

There are also many people of Irish descent in the United States and Bloomsbury is celebrated in many places including Washington, D.C. Where a marathon dramatic reading of Ulysses was held at The Georgetown Neighborhood Library, located at 3260 R Street, NW, in Washington, D.C.In which Twenty-five writers, actors, and scholars read Ulysses aloud in its entirety, a project which took more than 33 hours. The reading concluded with opera singer Laura Baxter performing Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in its entirety. In Philadelphia The Rosenbach Museum & Library, which is home to Joyce’s handwritten manuscript of Ulysses, celebrated Bloomsday in 1992, with readings by actors and scholars at the Border’s Bookstore in Center City. Philadelphia also closed the 2000-block of Delancey Street for a Bloomsday street festival. In addition to dozens of readers, often including Philadelphia’s mayor, singers from the Academy of Vocal Arts perform songs that are integral to the novel’s plot, Traditional Irish cuisine is also provided by local Irish-themed pubs. The Rosenbach’s Bloomsday festival featured two hours of readings at the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, an hour of readings at Rittenhouse Square, and concluded with five hours of readings on the steps of the museum, at 2008–10 Delancey Street.

New York City has several events on Bloomsday including formal readings at Symphony Space and informal readings and music at the downtown Ulysses’ Folk House pub The Irish American Bar Association of New York celebrates Joyce’s contribution to the First Amendment, with an annual keynote speech named after John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer who defended Joyce’s New York publishers in their obscenity trial in 1922. In 2014, New York celebrated Bloomsday with “Bloomsday on Broadway,” which includes famous actors reading excerpts of the books, and commentators explaining the work between segments. The 2016 celebration includes a competition for the Best Dressed Molly and Leopold Bloom. In Kansas City, Missouri – the Irish Center of Kansas City currently hosts the Bloomsday celebration, started at Bloomsday Books, KCMO in 1995 and hosts readers of Ulysses, screens a documentary, alongside Irish dancers and a performance by Dublin balladeer Eddie Delahunt. In Syracuse, New York – The Syracuse James Joyce Club holds an annual Bloomsday celebration at Johnston’s BallyBay Pub, at which large portions of the book are either read aloud, or presented as dramatisations by costumed performers. The club awards scholarships and other prizes to students who have written essays on Joyce or fiction pertaining to his work. The city is home to Syracuse University, whose press has published or reprinted several volumes of Joyce studies.

In Detroit, Michigan There was a marathon reading of Joyce’s Ulysses at Casey’s Pub. In Los Angeles The Hammer Museum hosts an annual Bloomsday celebration including: live Irish music, a Guinness happy hour, a public reading of the “Lestrygonians” episode, and a dramatic reading of “Sirens”. While in Cleveland, OhioThe Nighttown Restaurant/Jazz Club holds an annual read of the novel on Bloomsday which is performed by local enthusiasts. In Wichita, Kansas Bloomsday is honoured by a presentation on James Joyce (often by Dr. Marguerite Regan) as well as readings from Ulysses and Irish folk music. In Norfolk, Virginia The Irish American Society of Tidewater, Virginia, held a Bloomsday Happy Hour at Smartmouth Brewery Featuring Live Irish music provided by the band Glasgow Kiss, and IAS members attended dressed as James Joyce with fedoras, round glasses, eye patches, etc.). In Portland, Maine Readings from Ulysses take place at the Irish Heritage Center. While in Worcester, Massachusetts – long running annual celebration with readings from Ulysses at 7 sites around the city. Organized annually by the Worcester County Poetry Association.

International Surfing Day

International Surfing Day is an unofficial, worldwide, environmentally conscious sports-centered holiday held annually on or near the date of the summer solstice—usually June 21 (20 June on leap years). The purpose of International Surfing Day is to celebrate of the sport of surfing, the surfing lifestyle and the sustainability of ocean resourceS. International Surfing Day was established in 2004 by Surfing Magazine and The Surfrider Foundation International Surfing Day closely follows the spirit and intent of the World Surf Day established by the Usenet newsgroup alt.surfing in 1993 and The day is observed with surf contests,barbecues, film screening and other surf-Related events.

Contests and prizes are also part of the celebration with surfing related industries donating prizes such as surfboards and wetsuits. Another purpose of the celebration is to promote the popularity of surfing and to attract new participants. Surfers also use the day to give back to the environment by organizing beach clean-ups, dune and other habitat restoration and other activities such as lobbying to maintain the recreation areas in California where surfing occurs, or Naupakaplanting in Hawaii. Direct action was also used by form of protest on this day in England to express opposition to sewage in the waters of the Gold Coast; a precarious problem for many surfers who become infected by the bacteria from open wounds from sports related injuries.

Many other International Surfing Day events have also been held In South America where it is celebrated in Argentina, Brazil,and Peru. Also in the Southern Hemisphere the holiday is observed in the Oceanian nations of Australia and New Zealand. The day is also widely observed in the American state of Hawaii, also in Oceania. In North America the surfing day is most widely observed and celebrations may be found in Canada, Costa Rica, the French Antilles, El Salvador, Mexico,and in the majority of coastal states of the United States, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Maine Texas, New Jersey, California, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida,and Georgia.

The event is also popular in Europe As well as North America and many surf enthusiasts in France, Italy, the United Kingdom particularly Cornwall, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Israel and many other EU nations overseas celebrate the event. In Africa, the two French territories of: Réunion and Mayotte hold annual festivities alongside Morocco, Ghana, the Spanish insular area of the Canary Islands and South Africa. The day has also taken hold in some Asian countries like Japan, and Korea

Weston Park Model Air show

Weston Park is a 15th Century stately home covering over 1,000 acres. Weston Park International Model Airshow is now in its 26th year and This years Weston Park International Model Air show takes place from Friday 15 June until Sunday 17 June 2018 at Weston Park. over the years Weston Park International Model Air Show has established itself as one the foremost model shows in the country, attracting visitors and pilots from all over the world. Giving an opportunity for Model aircraft enthusiasts as well as The top model pilots from all the over the UK and Europe to take to the skies and demonstrate their awesome flying skills.

 

There is also a Battle of Britain pyrotechnic display and the Swift Glider display team will perform their amazing mid-air acrobatics. In addition there will be a model boat regatta, slot car racing and a fun fair for children who can also attend free model building workshops. There is also a mega swap meet and trade stand selling everything you need to create your own model aircraft. Plus a Luxury Glamping Village and on site food and catering selling hamburgers, baguettes, fish and chips, hot dogs, Pasta, Ice Cream, Doughnuts, candy floss, there is also an on site pub selling many alcoholic beverages. The Weston Park Steam Gala Weekend will also be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, featuring four guest steam engines which will be taking visitors on rides on the Miniature Railway.

2018 FIFA World Cup

The  21st FIFA World Cup started 14 June 2018 in Russia. This international football tournament is held every four years which is contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The final match is on 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This is the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe and the eleventh time that it has been held in Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia to keep travel time manageable. It is expected to be the most expensive football championship in history, budgeted at US$11.8-14 billion surpassing the cost of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

IMG_6059For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, all eligible nations – the 209 FIFA member associations minus automatically qualified hosts Russia – entered the qualifying process. Zimbabwe and Indonesia were later disqualified before playing their first matches, Gibraltar and Kosovo, who joined FIFA on 13 May 2016, also entered the competition. Places in the tournament were allocated to continental confederations, with the allocation unchanged from the 2014 World Cup.  The first qualification game began in Dili, Timor Leste, on 12 March 2015 as part of the AFC’s qualification and the main qualifying draw took place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, Saint Petersburg on 25 July 2015

Of the thirty-two nations qualified to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, twenty countries competed in the previous World Cup in 2014. Both Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time, with the former becoming the smallest country in terms of population to reach the World Cup. Other teams returning after absences of at least three tournaments include: Egypt, returning to the finals after a 28-year absence from their last appearance in 1990; Morocco, who last competed in 1998; Peru, returning after a 36-year absence (since 1982); and Senegal, competing for the second time after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002. It is the first time three Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland and Sweden) and four Arab nations (Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia) have qualified for the World Cup.

Notable countries that failed to qualify include four-time champions Italy (for the first time since 1958) and three-time runner-up the Netherlands (for the first time since 2002), and four reigning continental champions: 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winner Cameroon, two-time Copa América champion and 2017 Confederations Cup runner-up Chile, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winner New Zealand, and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion United States (for the first time since 1986). The other notable qualifying streaks broken were for Ghana and Ivory Coast, who had both made the previous three tournaments.

Russia proposed the following host cities: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl, and Yekaterinburg.[43] All the cities are in or just outside European Russia to reduce travel time for the teams in the huge country. The bid evaluation report stated: “The Russian bid proposes 13 host cities and 16 stadiums, thus exceeding FIFA’s minimum requirement. Three of the 16 stadiums would be renovated, and 13 would be newly constructed. In October 2011, Russia decreased the number of stadiums from 16 to 14. Construction of the proposed Podolsk stadium in the Moscow region was cancelled by the regional government, and also in the capital, Otkrytiye Arena was competing with Dynamo Stadium over which would be constructed first.

The final choice of host cities was announced on 29 September 2012. The number of cities was further reduced to 11 and number of stadiums to 12 as Krasnodar and Yaroslavl were dropped from the final list. Of the 12 stadiums used for the tournament, 3 (Luzhniki, Yekaterinburg and Sochi) have been extensively renovated and the other 9 stadiums to be used are brand new; $11.8 billion has been spent on hosting the tournament. In 2014 FIFA’s inspection committee and its head Chris Unger visited St Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan and both Moscow venues. In 2015, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee agreed on the official names of the stadiums used during the tournament.

Of the 12 venues used, the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the Saint Petersburg Stadium (the two largest stadiums in Russia) will be used most, with 7 matches being played at each of these stadiums. Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara will host 6 matches including one quarter-final match apiece, and the Otkrytiye Stadium in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don will host 5 matches apiece including one round of 16 match each. Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg, and Saransk will host 4 matches each and none of these cities will host any knockout stage games. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The winners of the World Cup will qualify for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup. Pre-tournament favorites to win the final were Brazil, France, Germany and Spain. FIFA awarded hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico, and the United States

World Blood Doner Day

World Blood Doner day takes place annually on 14 June to celebrate the birth of Austrian Biologist, physician and Scientist Karl Landsteiner who was born on 14 June in 1868. Karl Landsteiner was the first person to distinguish the main blood groups in 1900, having developed the modern system of classification of blood groups from his identification of the presence of agglutinins in the blood, and identified the Rhesus factor with Alexander S. Wiener in 1937. These discoveries enabled physicians to safely transfuse blood without endangering the patient’s life. He also discovered the polio virus in 1909 With Constantin Levaditi and Erwin Popper. Following his revolutionary discoveries He received the Aronson Prize in 1926 and In 1930, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was posthumously awarded the Lasker Award in 1946, and has been described as the father of transfusion medicine.

The aim of World Blood Doner Day is to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood which helps save millions of lives every year. The transfusion of blood can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care. Access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products can help reduce rates of death and disability due to severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth. In many countries, there is not an adequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety. An adequate supply can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. The WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. It emphasizes thanking of blood donors who save lives every day through their blood donations and inspires more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly with the slogan “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.” Many lives (including mine) have been saved thanks to blood transfusions.

Activities include special events, meetings, publication of relevant stories on media, scientific conferences, publication of articles on national, regional and international scientific journals, and other activities that would help in encouraging the title of this year’s World Blood Donor Day. The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2015 was China through its blood center in Shanghai, Shanghai Blood Centre, also the WHO Collaborating Center for Blood Transfusion Services. The focus of the WBDD 2014 campaign was “Safe blood for saving mothers”. The goal of the campaign was to increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries, as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent maternal deaths. According to the World Health Organization, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Severe bleeding is the cause of 34% of maternal deaths in Africa, 31% in Asia and 21% in Latin America and the Caribbean. The global host for the WBDD 2014 event was Sri Lanka. Through its national blood transfusion service, Sri Lanka promotes voluntary unpaid donation to increase access to safe and sufficient blood and blood products.

The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2013 was France. Through its national blood service, the Etablissement Français du Sang (EFS), France has been promoting voluntary non-remunerated blood donation since the 1950s. The focus for the WBDD 2013 campaign – which marked the 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day – was blood donation as a gift that saves lives. The WHO encouraged all countries to highlight stories from people whose lives have been saved through blood donation, as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood and people in good health who have never given blood, particularly young people, to begin doing so. The 2012 campaign focused on the idea that any person can become a hero by giving blood. Blood cannot yet be manufactured artificially, so voluntary blood donation remains vital for healthcare worldwide. Many anonymous blood donors save lives every day through their blood donations.

World Blood Donor Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World AIDS Day.