Jackie: The Al Jazeera news channel has said that 2011 was one of the biggest years for news in the last two decades. So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com, we're looking back on 2011 and some of its headlines. So Richard, which event was significant for you then?
Richard: Well, big events happened throughout the year but for me it was a sporting event I'll pick on. A very sad event, the… that the Pakistan's cricket captain and two of their bowlers were charged and actually went to prison for spot-fixing.
Jackie: Can you just explain what that means to me?
Richard: Well, it was basically, they were… it was a gambling thing. They were… um… they had money on certain events in a cricket match.
Richard: And I just think it's very sad, I mean you know I love sport, unfortunately it's a symptom of, I think, of life in general that everybody is getting very greedy and it's all about money nowadays. So I think it's a very sad day for sport and a symptom of what's happening in the modern world.
Jackie: And their reputations were ruined.
Richard: Exactly. And what about you then, Jackie?
Jackie: Well, I suppose it has to be, for me um… the whole Arab spring I suppose.
Richard: Yes, huge.
Jackie: I think partly because, both of us, we've lived in many of the countries and worked in many of the countries, so I feel more affected by it perhaps. If you take Tunisia, one of the countries that we lived in, for a long time there was no political fu… freedom, there was high unemployment, a lot of corruption, a lack of freedom of speech. This had been going on for a long time but I think what was most significant was the fact that the stall holder Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself alight as a protest, I think of having his stall taken away from him, and that enormous self-sacrifice led into protests and then that just led into Ben Ali being thrown out and then what happened later in Egypt and Libya and what continues to happen in these countries, as well as Syria and Yemen and Bahrain. So an enormous [event].
Richard: Yes, very sad obviously all the deaths but um… overall positive that these things are happening. Interesting that the Americans and the British went into Iraq wanting to make um… er… democracies but here it's the people themselves that rose up against their undemocratic leaders.
Richard: So, yes, a huge event.
Jackie: Hmm. Anything else, Richard, that struck you?
Richard: Well, the other major thing I was thinking of is the natural disasters. Well, natural and man-made, the big one in Japan.
Richard: Um… it's a… it’s a disaster movie, isn't it? There was a huge tsunami for a start.
Jackie: Well, no, the earthquake first.
Richard: Sorry the earthquake, then a tsunami and you involve a nuclear reactor, it was very, very bad. But it could have been even worse. I mean that is very, very, very scary.
Jackie: The fact that some people, they lost their homes, they lost their jobs, and they lost friends and family and I don't know how you can start again after that. And not for me, particularly, but for many people in the UK, the royal wedding, Prince William's wedding, was a highlight of the year and it made a lot of people feel happy, I suppose.
Richard: Yes. Huge celebrations there and looking forward to 2012 we've got another um… jubilee. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and of course the one huge event in London…
Jackie: The 2012 Olympics.
Richard: Looking forward to that immensely.