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13/11/14 ‘Band Aid 30’ to record “Do They Know It’s Xmas” again!

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Another version of this song is to be made. Do you want to hear it?

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text:

take part in: to participate in an activity

be released: to make s.t. available to buy

feature: to have or show (in this context)

mastermind (v): to make a complex plan

advocate (v): to recommend or support

in due course: at the appropriate time

landscape: countryside

filthy: very unpleasant (in this context)

drought-stricken: affected by low rainfall

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Elbow are among the acts who will take part in a fourth version of the Band Aid charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas.

Announcing the project, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure said the song’s lyrics would be changed to reflect the Ebola crisis.The original was released in 1984. It sold 3.7 million copies and raised £8m for famine relief in Ethiopia.

The new version will be recorded this Saturday and should be available for download on Monday morning. A physical version of the song will be released three weeks later and will feature cover artwork designed by artist Tracey Emin.

The record is being produced by Paul Epworth, who has masterminded hits by the likes of Adele and One Direction. The download will cost 99p, while the CD single will retail for £4. The song will not be made available on Spotify and other music streaming services until January.

Geldof and Ure, who masterminded the first version, said the project was nothing to do with nostalgia. “We should gather the pop crowd together to do our thing,” said Geldof at a press conference on Monday. He added that decisions about which artist will sing which lines are not going to be taken until Saturday’s recording session in London, while both musicians advocated purchasing the physical format.

So far, confirmed artists include U2’s Bono, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Emeli Sande, Underworld, Sinead O’Connor, Paloma Faith, Foals and Bastille, who have given up two arena dates to record their contribution.

Geldof and Ure said that other musicians would be added in due course.The original track featured the voices of George Michael, Bono, Duran Duran and Bananarama, among others.

Geldof said that changes to the lyrics include “burning suns”, due to the fertile landscape of West Africa compared to drought-stricken Ethiopia of 1984. The money raised will go towards the fight against Ebola in numerous West African countries, which Geldof called a “filthy little virus” which renders its victims “untouchable”.

Something to chat about

  • Is the original version of a song always the best?
  • If not, what examples can you give to prove your opinion?
  • Do you think that making a record is a good way of raising money for charity?
  • Can you suggest any other ways that are better?
  • Did you hear about “The Ice Bucket Challenge”? What did you think about it?


This story was adapted from:

The Pintxo: The Fast Food of the Basque Country

There is no doubting the attraction to a good pintxo, but are they flawed?  (asks ECP coach Darren Lynch)


many moons ago (exp): a long time ago, many years ago

a craze (n): something fashionable that everyone is doing

a sight for sore eyes (exp): a thing that is extremely pleasing to see

finger food (exp): food that is easily eaten with just your fingers

array (n): an impressively large number of objects

spin (n): (in this context) style, way of presentation

bite sized (adj)): small enough to eat in one mouthful

mouth watering (adj): delicious, very tempting

to blow your mind (v): to impress somebody very strongly

finicky (adj): a person who is demanding, difficult to please

to be put off by something (v): when something seems attractive

uneasy (adj): anxious, uncomfortable

bar crawl (exp): to go from bar to bar (normally drinking)

tummy (n): stomach, abdomen

On my first trip to Vitoria-Gasteiz, many moons ago and long before the current craze of looking up everything online, I must admit that I didn’t really know what to expect when I walked into a pintxo bar. When I finally did, I was not disappointed. I was met with a genuine sight for sore eyes. A vast counter display of tasty finger food. As impressed as I was to see such an array of inviting food in front of me, the pintxo has certainly moved on to become something even more special.

Pintxos were originally a slice of baguette bread piled high with food of any kind and an example of this brings me back to eating pintxos in the famous Calle Laurel in Logroño. A street layered with pintxo bars, Calle Laurel has its own spin on the pintxo culture. Each location has an item unique to their menu and perhaps one of the simplest pintxos of all still remains one of my favourites. Three garlic mushrooms piled on to a slice of bread and held together with a cocktail stick. Delicious.

But that traditional idea has evolved into today’s miniature haute cuisine, flavours elaborated and concentrated into bite sized, mouth watering experiences to blow your mind. Added to this, presentation has become ever more important with chefs creating real works of art, designed to make your eyes pop out with excitement.

However, not everything is rosy in the kitchen. If, like me, you’re a little finicky it’s sometimes possible to be put off having a pintxo with your glass of wine. For instance, the pintxos are often left on the counter top for long periods of time, neither refrigerated nor covered, allowing them to be frequently touched and spluttered all over by chatty customers.

Northern Europeans can feel a little uneasy at the sight of a Spanish omelette looking like it has been sitting there for hours and on top of that they are often topped with mayonnaise and seafood, the latter a precarious food even in the best of conditions.  So, it raises the question. Is MacDonald’s fresher than Basque fast food? Which would Usain Bolt choose for dinner the night before an Olympic 100m final? (The Jamaican champion only ate in MacDonald’s during the Beijing Olympics to avoid problems with unusual food.) 

But now I’m on a pintxo bar crawl. I see a gorgeous looking pintxo. Chupa chups of foie with mango. Next to that there is a shrimp, smoked salmon and egg pintxo. My tummy starts to rumble. Any silly notions of there being a lack of hygiene go out the window. It’s time to enjoy one of the worlds exceptional culinary experiences. Long live the pintxo!

Something to chat about

  • Do you have any favourite pintxos? Describe them.
  • What do you think ‘fast food’ really means? And ‘junk food’? Are they the same?
  • What do you think the most international food is?
  • What would you recommend as the best food from your region?

Write your answers into an email and send it to your ECP coach!


Brazil’s police and the World Cup

Is football worth the suffering of the host nations’ people?

Look at this vocabulary before you read and listen to the article:

survey: questions used to find out opinions

to escalate: to intensify / increase rapidly

unveil: to show publicly for the first time

to be better off: in a favourable situation

to rise:  to increase

cops (slang):  the police

to drag: to pull something along by force

in advance of: before…beforehand

hardly any: almost no…(none)


This week, a study by Amnesty International revealed that 80% of Brazilians are afraid of being tortured by their own police force. In a survey across 21 countries, Brazil was found to be the country where people feel most unsafe in the hands of authorities, almost twice the international average of 44%.

In Rio de Janeiro, this fear is very real. Although the media has reported the efforts to pacify favelas across the city, armed violence has once again escalated – weeks before it will receive thousands of football fans for the 2014 World Cup.

In 2008, Rio’s residents dreamed of a life without violence as the government unveiled a project to build Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in which police would take back territory controlled for decades by drug gangs. Now, the programme’s failures are starting to show; a corrupt, violent police force is the main cause.

Despite claims that Rio is now better off, the Brazilian Institute of Public Security says the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014. Last year, the builder Amarildo who lived in Rocinha was tortured and killed by UPP policemen; last month a young dancer was found shot dead in a favela  – allegedly killed by UPP officers; and in April, a woman was shot by cops and dragged by a police car on the way to the hospital, where she later died. According to Amnesty International’s study, Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises, “reports of police abuse have increased [in Brazil] around protests in advance of the 2014 World Cup and during military operations in [favelas]”.

The Brazilian media supports the UPPs. But ask any resident of Rocinha, Brazil’s biggest favela, and they will tell you that the policemen placed in the pacifying units are untrained and abusive, and often use unnecessary violence. Although they claim to be there to protect the population, there is hardly any policing during the night, which allows crime to roam free.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that UPPs are a Public Relations move, not a public security policy. They are designed to hide the violence and drive the drug gangs away from the places that will be popular during the major global events Rio is hosting. The lack of long-term solutions to keep the next generation out of crime will result in a never-ending civil war, where the people are forgotten while international visitors drink caipirinhas and watch the football.

Something to chat about

  • Do you think that in general the police are good or bad? Explain why.
  • Describe any encounters that you have had with the police. Were they good or bad experiences?
  • Imagine you have to talk to an English-speaking policeman. Do you think that you could explain a difficult situation? What expressions or words would you need?


This story was adapted from:



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Hugo Chavez and Margaret Thatcher

(These articles have been adapted from

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (28 July 1954 – 5 March 2013) was the President of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when it merged with several other parties to form the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which he led until his death in 2013.

Following Chavism, his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and Socialism of the 21st Century, he focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution, which has seen the implementation of a new constitution, participatory democratic councils, the nationalization of several key industries and increased government funding of health care and education. Under Chavez, Venezuelans’ quality of life improved according to a UN Index and the poverty rate fell from 48.6 percent in 2002 to 29.5 percent in 2011, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America.

Born into a working-class family in Sabaneta, Barinas, Chávez became a career military officer, and after becoming dissatisfied with the Venezuelan political system, he founded the secretive Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200) in the early 1980s to work towards overthrowing it. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a socialist political party, the Fifth Republic Movement, and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

He subsequently introduced a new constitution which increased rights for marginalized groups and altered the structure of Venezuelan government, and was re-elected in 2000. During his second presidential term, he introduced a system of Bolivarian Missions, Communal Councils and worker-managed cooperatives, as well as a program of land reform, while also nationalizing various key industries. He was re-elected in 2006 with over 60% of the vote. On 7 October 2012, Chávez won his country’s presidential election for a fourth time, defeating Henrique Capriles, and was elected for another six-year term. He was to have been sworn in on 10 January 2013, but the National Assembly of Venezuela agreed to postpone the inauguration to allow him time to recover from medical treatment in Cuba. Chávez died in Caracas on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013) was a British Conservative Party politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office. A Soviet journalist called her the “Iron Lady”, a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As Prime Minister, she implemented policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism.

Originally a research chemist before becoming a barrister, Thatcher was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Finchley in 1959. Edward Heath appointed her Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975 Thatcher defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election to become Leader of the Opposition and became the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. She became Prime Minister after winning the 1979 general election.

After moving into 10 Downing Street, Thatcher introduced a series of political and economic initiatives to reverse what she perceived to be Britain’s precipitous national decline.

Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labour markets, the privatisation of state-owned companies, and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. Thatcher’s popularity during her first years in office waned amid recession and high unemployment, until economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support, resulting in her re-election in 1983. Her second term in office was dominated by the year long coal miners strike of 1984.

Thatcher was re-elected for a third term in 1987, but her Community Charge (popularly referred to as “poll tax”) was widely unpopular and her views on the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister and party leader in November 1990, after Michael Heseltine launched a challenge to her leadership. Thatcher later became Baroness Thatcher which entitled her to sit in the House of Lords.

After suffering poor health for many years, Thatcher died of a stroke on 8 April 2013 at The Ritz Hotel in London.

Something to chat about:

  • Describe the differences between Hugo Chavez and Margaret Thatcher.
  • What were their views about political relations on their continents?
  • How many times were they elected to lead their countries?
  • Explain how the end of their political careers were different.
  • What did they do before they entered politics?
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