…The next thing you know, they take my thoughts away

I, like virtually everybody the world over, was shocked at the scale of the phone hacking allegations that rocked print media. The most devious methods had been employed, seemingly with the complicity of editors, and over a large time-scale. If I were one of the victims of this wolf pack I’d understandably be wanting to have them all leashed and muzzled.

But… I don’t want to see tighter press regulation, as recommended by The Leveson Inquiry. It’s quite possible that a lot of facts are eluding me as I write this post, but the comments section is there to educate me. So, I’m strangely with our current leader David Cameron on this one.

While I do think that something has to be done, I’m really uncomfortable about the government stamping down regulation. No one seems to have discussed lately the fiasco between former PM Tony Blair and Andrew Gilligan who accused Blair of rightly sexing-up the dossier on Iraq having WMDs. If we get tighter press regulation, the government can more easily stub out dissident voices; unPC-means to unearth an important right would be over. And while Gilligan was spot on, even if he were wrong, the fact that the press can mistakes either by malice or incompetence is an acceptable side effect of a free press. A free press can make a mistake and then reverse it, a non-free press has to be ethically sound always from the get go so that subsequent revision is deemed unnecessary. It’s like laying a holy book and saying that nothing can follow it.

Lack of ethics of course causes pain and grief, but I’d rather there be some kind of ethics course for journalists if there isn’t (I assume there isn’t, or no one was paying attention) and maybe some added rules, but that’s about it. If a journalist feels the need to be unethical to be ethical (a wrong for a right), then that’s a choice they make and they can accept to be praised or burnt for it.

My fear is that with set law that everything has to always be done ethically (something best reserved for science) and be politically correct. We’ll be taking the orange juice out of the press and basically make it an impotent parrot of what’s perceived to be right over wrong.

The real people who are to blame for this is us. We feed the tabloids. If we didn’t have the appetite for intrusions into celebrities lives etc. the press wouldn’t deliver it. So there’s a bit of hypocrisy in that many gossipers are the ones holding the morality flag. I agree with some other commentators that the whole thing has become a bit overly emotionally charged; since the first denting of the Murdoch empire everyone wants to see the bad guy die in the Hollywood flick; but many of those carrying the knives are the ones who helped make the empire. No one forces people to view certain outlets, so no outlets should be forced to cater for the people.

To emphasise, what happened to the victims was entirely wrong, but I don’t want to stop nailing real perpetrators to even the balance.

Boris Johnson. “It is one of the glories of this country that we have a free, exuberant and sometimes feral media,”


A country that’s divided surely will not stand

The title in the post is a lyric by Megadeth; a little ironic when you see what’s dominating the headlines of late.

Like most people I, of course, do have an opinion on the Middle East conflict, though more often than not I try to refrain from talking about it as there are much more articulate voices on the subject and I want to avoid any unnecessary heat with plenty of amicable, pro-Israel Jewish people. I also experience plenty of personal curve-balls on the subject. I once sat in the cab of a Palestinian driver here in London who wasn’t particularly resentful of Israel; a rarity maybe but true.

On one hand you could say it’s none of my business as I have no strong religious leaning and I’ve no affiliation with the region, but it’s a topic that’s captured the imagination of a lot of people and I think, having descended ancestrally from a region with parallel experiences, that I can vent something.

The solution: I wish Israel could be a true binational state. Israelis and Palestinians all under one land. Whether this state should still be called Israel, Palestine, Palesrael, Israestine etc. frankly doesn’t matter to me. If Jews and Muslims can get on in other countries (and they do), then they can in this region too. When you have one people favouring themselves over another and helped by a rich pocket you cannot expect the other to just sit there and take it. Many Palestinians, from what I gather, don’t like Hamas but they realise that only they or a successor are willing to stand up to an aggressor. So, yes, I believe, as many do, that Palestinians suffer the real injustice and it is also unfortunate that that boomerang returns and hits Israeli innocents. Kids are kids on both sides.

Do I believe in Jews having a claim to Israel? I find huge problems with Zionism on a religious basis because of biological illogic, and politically I believe the behaviour of Israel has actually fuelled anti-Semitism rather than provide sanctuary from it. Of course, Jews suffered immensely in the Holocaust and there were Jews in the region to begin with, but in today’s climate most Jews do not need their own state. Bar the rare taunts from the far-right, English Jews feel at home here and this is their home. If you want to play the right of return game, all of us could go and claim a stake of Africa right now.

A binational state is very bold, and some may say naive, but the partition of India and Pakistan (who are both warming to each other after many decades of nonsense) wasn’t a solution; it just changed one problem into another. If you carve two states in the Middle East you’ll get border wars, annex attempts, and perhaps a big question mark like Kashmir if the plans aren’t perfectly devised. I don’t think Israelis and Palestinians getting on is such a big hurdle for two quite similar cultures when you remove the blood sniffers on either side. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, for example, are a lot alike based on pure geographical culture.

I hope Obama is a little more firm in his last four years. Palestine needs to extend a hand, but most people agree that Israel needs to extend the longest. There’s no solution without some compromise, and yet I don’t think one state really is. Israel isn’t really very useful to America any more as is. It was borderline useful in the Cold War era, and the values of Israel actually are incompatible with the US. The US now wouldn’t deport Sudanese refugees for being a ‘demographic threat’. There’s no lack of devils amongst Muslims (and even Christians), but again I think it’s minority power mongers who hunger to be the respective voices of each side.

I think once a few more generations cycle through we’ll see change. The old guard don’t have the same aspirations as their offspring and they’re just sick of things as they are. It will take time but I hope not too much time. If Israel wants to emulate the Nazis then they’ll have to share their fate.

Album review – Jah Wobble & Keith Levene: Yin & Yang

I’ve probably promoted recent projects of the Public Image Ltd. tree more than necessary here, but I can’t help it. These old boys don’t get the press they used to.

This summer Jah Wobble teamed up with his old band mate Keith Levene to give us a 4-track EP of what could’ve been with John Lydon singing over it. It was good. It was short, sweet, noisy and distorted. It left a signature impression, so I was looking forward to getting the full thing.

If you already purchased EP, particularly digitally, you might as well buy the other 6 tracks as separate downloads as you’ll save a few pounds that way – I assume that was by design given that the total of all tracks is hardly reduced as a whole download – though you might be wise buying from the same store. Buying from Amazon and iTunes has resulted in some volume disparity.

Anyway, it turns out the best wasn’t just on EP, although I think two of my favourite tracks overall are on that.

The name Yin & Yang is fitting as Wobble plays like his personality; solid, no nonsense and deep, while his guitar playing counterpart sounds unstable, in a good way, and that seems to have echoed his life, in a reverse way.
Wobble speak-sings at times, Levene interjects some chorus vocals, and all the while the wiry guitars and thick bass are either testing the limits of your hearing or providing you with musical surprises like the funky Fluid (my favourite ‘new’ track). There are a couple of fillers but they work as a nice bit of musical glue.

The biggest surprise is towards the end when we hear what has to be a great impersonator. I was fooled for a few seconds but he’s a few percent short of authentic; and well, let’s say it’s admirable and makes you smile, because if your sound roles are going to be aped in another band you may as well cheekily repay the compliment.

A very fine album if you like something a bit edgy and extraordinary. A must for vintage PiL fans and of the individual artists.