- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

A whole new ‘World’

The 1985 African famine relief benefit song “We Are the World” is being revived for tsunami relief efforts in a new Chinese version featuring Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and other top Hong Kong stars.

The new rendition, titled “Love,” will be the featured song in the Crossing Borders charity performance Friday organized by the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild, Associated Press reported yesterday.

Organizers felt “We Are the World” captured their belief that disaster relief shouldn’t discriminate by ethnicity or national boundary, guild official Patricia Ho said.

More than 139,000 people are reported dead around southern Asia and eastern Africa, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a Dec. 26 earthquake off Indonesia’s coast.

“Love” retains the English chorus of the original song, but otherwise it contains entirely new Chinese lyrics. Hong Kong’s version will be sung in the Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese dialects.

Unlike the original song, “Love” will not be released commercially, Miss Ho said.

Meanwhile, director Stephen Chow successfully lobbied Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. to donate a portion of tomorrow’s earnings from his movie “Kung Fu Hustle” to relief efforts, a spokesman for Mr. Chow’s production company said.

Remember Africa

While the world reels from the Asian tsunami disaster, Live Aid impresario Bob Geldof says: Don’t forget Africa.

Mr. Geldof urged yesterday that Africa’s debt problems remain a priority despite the massive relief efforts under way in the Indian Ocean region.

“The tsunami must be dealt with; it is an act of God, an act of nature,” he told BBC radio, voicing concern that the disaster would sideline chronic issues elsewhere.

However, “Africa’s an act of man,” Mr. Geldof added. “Millions die each year completely unnecessarily, and that can be adjusted… . The issue is one of poverty and debt, and it need not be.”

Skate bait

Brad Paisley couldn’t just sit idly by while skateboard enthusiasts in his native West Virginia have nowhere to roll.

So the country music singer — who owns a skateboard, according to Associated Press — donated cash to the Wheeling Skate Park Committee in response to a letter from Nathan Mey, a forlorn 15-year-old skater who wrote of his community’s sore lack of skate space.

Mr. Paisley, a Glen Dale native, would like to stay mum about how much he donated, committee member Kathi Fader said.

Estimates for the cost of the new facility run between $200,000 and $250,000. It will have the distinction of being the first free concrete skate park in West Virginia.

New names

From Beatles guitarist George Harrison to Concorde test pilot Brian Trubshaw, nearly 200 names of people who died in 2001 have been added to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Less well known, but no less influential, figures include chemist Herchel Smith, whose research led to the manufacture of the contraceptive pill, and Rosa Beddington, who pioneered genome research.

The names are the first to be added since publication of the 60-volume dictionary last September, according to Reuters News Agency. Yesterday’s release of biographies for the online edition brings the total number of Oxford DNB lives to 55,117.

New vows

That didn’t take long.

Madonna and Guy Ritchie reportedly renewed their wedding vows in a kabala-based ceremony at their English estate.

The superstar couple exchanged rings and vows during the service at their Wiltshire home on Dec. 22 to mark their four-year wedding anniversary and to further pledge their allegiance to the mystical offshoot of Judaism.

London’s Sun newspaper reports that “Snatch” director Ritchie handed the Material Wife a $190,000 Parisian ring, while Madonna gave her husband a glittering new band she had been sitting on for six months.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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