Country star Reba Mcentire has taken a stand against global unrest by releasing a free song called Pray For Peace and starting a campaign on social media.
The singer has offered up the track for download on her website and encouraged fans to spread her message of peace through websites such as Instagram.com. McEntire has asked supporters to post a picture of themselves flashing a 'peace' sign along with the #PrayForPeace hashtag.
Post by Reba McEntire.
In a statement posted on her website, she writes, "I feel this song is a gift from God. I have never worked on a song as long as this one. It went from a bass drum, fiddle and singers to guest artist singing with me, adding more instruments and even a choir and a bagpipe! It's an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love."
The singer admits she is thrilled by the response to the campaign, but had no idea it would coincide with the headline-grabbing conflict in Israel and the tensions in eastern Europe after pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet last week (ends18Jul14).
She tells People.com, "In a way, I'm totally amazed at the response. And in another way, I'm not because I knew this was a message that people would receive and share... It's very timely. We had no way of knowing what would be happening in the world when we decided to release the video this week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families of the Malaysian Airlines flight as we continue to pray for peace."
Post by Keith Urban.
Noel Gallagher's ex-wife Meg Mathews and their teenage daughter Anais have given the Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign a big boost by signing up as 'pledgers' to end animal testing of cosmetics. Mother and daughter posted a 'selfie' of themselves holding up their signed pledges to the animal rights organisation's website, and they're now hoping that friends and fans follow their example.
Mathews, who recently teamed up with vegan accessories label Wilby to design a new line of leather-free handbags, says, "When I put on my make-up, I can look myself in the mirror with a clear conscience because I know that not a single rabbit, guinea pig or mouse has suffered pain to test my beauty products. Country by country, cosmetics animal testing is being banned because it's cruel and unnecessary."
And 14-year-old Anais adds, "I love cosmetics, but it makes me so sad to think that thousands of gentle animals are dying just for our vanity. I could never feel pretty with cruel cosmetics."
Animal lovers around the world are being asked to sign the pledge at www.hsi.org.
Vegan actress and activist Alicia Silverstone is adding her voice to an ongoing campaign demanding U.S. government officials introduce a blanket ban on animal testing for cosmetics. The Clueless star has joined up with the Cruelty Free International organisation to champion the Humane Cosmetics Act, which aims to phase out the experimentation method and the sale of animal-tested beauty products, in an effort to convince politicians to adopt the legislation across the country.
A similar resolution was recently passed by authorities in California.
Silverstone states, "I stand with California and Cruelty Free International in calling for an end to animal testing for cosmetics."
Discussing the actress' involvement, Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International, says, "We are thrilled to have Alicia Silverstone supporting our U.S. campaign. She is a wonderful compassionate role model and her support will no doubt assist in getting the topic of animal testing at the forefront of the political agenda."
Actors Mayim Bialik, Norman Reedus, Peter Dinklage, Kunal Nayyar and Ricky Gervais have all previously spoken in favour of the ban.
Rap superstar Jay Z and rockers No Doubt have been tapped to headline the 2014 Global Citizen Festival.
The free concert will take place on 27 September (14) in New York City's Central Park and will be hosted by officials at the Global Poverty Project (GPP), which aims to end extreme world poverty by 2030.
A statement from Jay Z reads, "Change only takes place when and where there is action. I'm joining the 2014 Global Citizen Festival because I believe through actions, whether it be by raising awareness, getting involved or educating ourselves, the goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is possible."
No Doubt's Tony Kanal adds to RollingStone.com, "Global Citizen will be the first show No Doubt has played together in two years. It's a great way to get us back on stage. It was such an honour to be asked to play this particular concert. It's unacceptable that over one billion people live in extreme poverty, and it's got a pretty eclectic line-up, which reflects the event's true spirit of diversity."
The hitmakers will be joined by pop stars fun., country singer Carrie Underwood, hip-hop group The Roots and dance DJ Tiesto. Tiesto says, "It's going to be an amazing show in one of the most unique venues in the world."
Veteran singers Loretta Lynn and Jackson Browne are set to be saluted with lifetime achievement prizes at the 2014 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Country icon Lynn will be recognised for her songwriting success, while social activist Browne will receive the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award.
Blues musician Taj Mahal and Latin accordionist Flaco Jimenez will also be feted with the respective lifetime achievement awards for performance and instrumentalist.
The accolades will be presented to the quartet during the Americana Awards ceremony on 17 September (14).
Roseanne Cash, Robert Ellis and Jason Isbell lead the nominees for the event with three nods apiece.
YouTube/The Young Turks
Spent: Looking for Change wants to have an uncomfortable conversation. The new documentary from director Derek Doneen and producer Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) shines a light on the "Underbanked", the 70 million Americans across the country who are not being served by traditional banking institutions, and must turn to check cashing services or pay day loans. Unfortunately, these services often have dire financial consequences. At a press conference for the film, Doneen, Tyler Perry (who narrates Spent), New School Professor Lisa Servon, and Dan Schulman of American Express discussed the challenges facing the "underbanked," the possible solutions to a financial system in grievous disrepair, and how education might the first step in the right direction.
Proper financial management is a skill so few of us have. Many of the issues depicted in the film stem from a lack of knowledge of the financial system.
Tyler Perry: "I think [financial hardships affect] the children of parents who are experiencing this, if they understood how the system works, and how when you’re outside of it it can be very difficult. Because no one taught me credit or check cashing or pay day loans, it was just the norm in the neighborhood. This is what you do. Growing up with us, you didn’t go to the bank, you went to the check cash. You went to the corner, you cash your check with Mr. Johnson down there, he took his money, he gave you yours. So [we need] to have an education to let people know that there is a cost, a very high cost, outside of the system."
Unfortunately, with the stigmas instituted by our capitalistic society, this ignorance often leads to shame.
Lisa Servon: "There’s a lot of shame around money. I talked a little with Alex, Melissa, and Debbie [the subjects of the documentary] before the show. We’re kind of made, societally, to feel like it’s our fault if we don’t have six months of savings, if we can’t make ends meet, if we somehow can’t pay the bills. So I think there’s a lot of inhibition about getting out there and saying that this is a real problem."
More Americans are being affected by the bank system than we realize.
Dan Schulman: "Forty-five percent of Americans who earn between $50,000 and $150,000 spend all or more of their monthly income every single month. So, there’s a huge opportunity here to redefine the system."
Lisa Servon: "I have actually started not liking the term 'unbanked' or 'underbanked' so much, because I think if you are part of the 99 percent, which I am, we’re all underbanked. The fact is, I can absorb a $35 overdraft fee, and people who are living right on the edge can’t. So this is why, I think, Alex and Melissa stopped using the bank. you saw those overdraft fees mounting up. It cost them more to use the bank than to use a check casher. So people are kind of saying, 'I can’t afford to go over.' At least when I go to the check casher, I get my check, I cash it, I look at what my bills are. I figure out who’s least likely to cut me off, so I’ll pay half of my Con Edison bill and three quarters of my phone bill and hopefully it will work out, but I’m not going to overdraft because this is all the money that I have."
Reform in the bank system might be closer than we realize, and one of the first steps is education.
Lisa Servon: "I think we may be at a moment of creative destruction with respect to financial services and that we are on the brink of seeing some really innovative solutions. There’s a tendency for us to just throw up our hands about banks and say, frankly, it’s just not in their business model to serve people they don’t make money on. And yet there is a history of policy and legislation, and one of the things that we can ask legislators who are sending out press releases to do is to hold banks’ feet to the fire."
"We all live in New York City. We’ve all seen the A, B, and C in restaurant windows – I think we should do that for banks and check cashers and credit unions. I don’t know if Chase or Citi Bank is better for me, but I want to know if they’re going to cost me more. Are they aligning with my values? If we could create a scorecard that would allow that to happen, I think banks would be a little more responsive."
Dan Schulman: "One of the things that we’re doing, if you go to Spentmovie.com, is that we’re going to a town in Mississippi called Clarksdale. It’s down on its luck. Fifty percent of the population is underserved. What we’re doing is working with two non-profits. We’re putting in free Wi-Fi into the whole town, and we’re going into the high schools to educate high school students in the economics classes about financial wellness and health. Then, what we’re hoping to have [is] an outside third party monitor, because it really makes a difference, all of this education and technology and people caring about this... I think it is a combination of having technology but also having the understanding of what it means to be financially well."
Spent: Looking For Change is available to stream on Spentmovie.com.
Country star Miranda Lambert made an unexpected stop in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and surprised fans with a free gig at a local nightclub. The Over You hitmaker was on her way to perform at the Florida Country Superfest in Jacksonville on Sunday (15Jun14), but decided to prepare for her set with a warm-up show at Block, a popular Fort Walton Beach venue on Saturday night (14Jun14).
Speculation began early in the day when nearby residents noticed Lambert's tour bus parked outside the club, but it wasn't confirmed until 2.00pm (local time) when the singer posted a photo on her Instagram.com account of her Airstream trailer, inviting fans to come out to the free concert.
According to TasteofCountry.com, her followers packed out the venue for the two-hour show.
Lambert belted out some of her hits including Gunpowder & Lead and Fastest Girl in Town, as well as tracks from her new chart-topping album, Platinum.
Blake Shelton's wife kicks off her Platinum Tour on 10 July (14) in Fort Loramie, Ohio.
Police in the U.K. have launched an investigation into the abusive hatemail aimed at J.K. Rowling after the Harry Potter author made a big donation to an anti-Scottish independence campaign. The writer, who lives in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, courted controversy last week (ends13Jun14) by handing over $1.6 million (£1 million) to the Better Together Campaign ahead of a referendum in September (14) to determine whether the nation should leave the U.K.
She expressed fears the country would be left isolated and its economy irreversibly damaged if it breaks free from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but her outspoken views upset Scottish nationalists who slammed the multi-millionaire on Twitter.com, accusing her of siding with the British elite.
The Internet backlash prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to condemn the nasty messages, insisting there is "never any place for abusive behaviour in whatever sphere of life", and now Scottish authorities have started looking into the incident over allegations of "online criminality".
Scotland's senior prosecutor claims those responsible for posting "grossly offensive" messages aimed at Rowling will face police action.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has waded into a row over J.K. Rowling's donation to an anti-Scottish independence campaign after she was bombarded with abuse online. The Harry Potter author took the controversial step to hand $1.6 million (£1 million) of her own money to the Better Together Campaign ahead of a referendum in September (14) on whether Scotland should leave the U.K.
Rowling, who lives in Edinburgh, explained she fears the country could be left isolated and its economy irreversibly damaged if it breaks free of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but she received a huge backlash on social media.
Scottish nationalists took to Twitter.com in their droves to slam multi-millionaire Rowling, accusing her of being a crony of the British elite and claiming she had no right to tackle the topic as she is English.
Now Cameron, whose Conservative party Rowling opposes, has spoken out to denounce the online anger, insisting there is "never any place for abusive behavior in whatever sphere of life".
Rowling is yet to comment on the abuse, but in an article on her official website, she explains her decision to hand over the money in detail, writing, "It is because I love this country that I want it to thrive. Whatever the outcome of the referendum on 18th September, it will be a historic moment for Scotland. I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake."
Country music legend Dolly Parton took time out of her busy tour schedule this weekend (07-08Jun14) to hand deliver the one millionth book from her global reading initiative to a child in Liverpool, England. The Jolene hitmaker has teamed up with officials at Britain's Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to provide free books every month for pre-school kids as part of her worldwide Imagination Library programme, and she was on hand on Saturday (07Jun14) to present a Braille copy of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit to five-year-old Dylan Manifold.
The event marked a big milestone for Parton's charity as it was the first book for blind and partially-sighted children her project had supplied in the U.K. and it was the organisation's one millionth offering to kids around the world, according to the BBC.
The singer says, "(I'm) delighted the RNIB are part of the Imagination Library so that even more kids have the opportunity to develop a love of books for the earliest possible age."
Parton launched the Imagination Library in her native Tennessee in 1996 and expanded it to the U.K. in 2007. The programme is also in action in Canada and Australia.
The star kicked off the European leg of her Blue Smoke World Tour in Liverpool on Sunday (08Jun14).
The series, set in New York City, focuses on the lives of Joseph and Anna Bresner, Lithuanian immigrants, from 1909 to 1978. The program opens with Joseph, at age 89, as he talks about his life. Flashback sequences are used to highlight both his and Anna's struggles during their early years in their adopted country.