Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bonobo, thank you.

Bonobo and his array of beautiful songs have pretty much become the soundtrack to my life. The musical genius has managed to tantalise my musical ear buds for a very long time, and in gratitude, I thought it appropriate to devote a post to the brilliance that is Bonobo - or more specifically Simon Green – the man behind the music. 

Simon Green has a twelve year career under his belt, a range of songs worth boasting about and has successfully put his distinctive Bonobo stamp on each and every one of these songs. His songs come to life from his recurring use of steady beats, soft jingles, and flutters of a flute, oriental twangs or African guitar. These melodic combinations work well enough on their own - but sometimes, to enhance his songs and offer something else to the music scene - Green incorporates the distinctive voice of Bajka.

In order to identify a couple of songs that were ‘that little bit above the rest’ - I sat down and listened to my vast Bonobo playlist. Although selecting my two favourite songs has proved much harder than initially thought – I have been ruthless and managed to pick the two songs most listened to, by yours truly. The first is the beautiful Noctuary. The amalgamation of effortless baselines with chirpy chimes, mellow beats and lingering oriental twangs, is chill out at its best. Listen to it here.

            Another treasure is the soulful Walk in the sky, which – if listened to - unsurprisingly came up top of my favourite Bonobo tracks. The unique vocals of Bajka grace the Days to Come song. The delicate tinkle, unmistakable thudding and the faint tooting of a saxophone underpin the song and Bajka completes it. She harmonises the song with her intricate and distinctive voice, bringing it to life. Click here to listen.

            Although well-known in the University sphere, those who have either, not heard of, given little attention to or have failed to appreciate the magnificence that is Bonobo, I highly recommend that you sit, listen and love. 

Here are a few more of my favourites

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bush and his illegal use of torture

Although a bit out-of-date, this is the article I wrote for The Verse, which never went to print. Thought it may be worth publishing it on my blog. 
Bush and his illegal use of torture

Former US president George W. Bush has recently admitted to permitting the use of the controversial torture technique, water boarding, as a means to obtain so-called vital information, which he has argued has prevented future terrorist attacks on the likes of Heathrow airport, Canary Wharf and a variety of US targets. After years of denying the use of torture to retract information from suspected terrorists, Bush has declared in his newly published book – Decision Points - that water boarding was used during interrogations. With a now published confession that Bush and the US army committed serious war crimes against humanity, could result in Bush facing jail.

Water boarding is considered a form of torture under International Human Rights standards, and has recently been confirmed a form of torture by No. 10 Downing Street. Chief of MI6, Sir John Sawers, commented on the use of water boarding in a recent speech, describing it as ‘illegal and abhorrent.’  It requires the person in question being restrained, their head being tilted backwards, their face being covered with a cloth, and water being poured over the persons face in an attempt to obstruct their breathing passages. This causes the captive to experience the sensation of drowning. As a consequence this often causes an abrupt gag reflex, it can also result in tremendous pain, dry drowning, lung damage and brain damage from oxygen deprivation. It can also have side effects like broken bones from struggling against fetters, psychological damage and if unremitting, death.

Bush swore the notorious Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, ‘No one was more shocked and angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons,’ declared Bush. There is no doubt Bush shows some signs of remorse on having sent American troops into a country under false pretences, but reiterates the point that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. It’s got to be said, it’s almost certainly the case that many Iraqis or Afghans feel the same way about him.

Guantanamo Bay, a US prison located in Cuba, is renowned for the holding of suspected terrorists. Bush describes Guantanamo Bay as a type of heaven in prison terms, and claimed that prisoners were well-fed and kept in ‘clean and safe shelter.’ However from the vast amount of photographs leaked from Guantanamo, one has to question Bush’s honesty. Bush claimed that Geneva conventions were met in the prison regardless of it being located in Cuba rather than on US soil, where the legal requirements under the Geneva Convention are not compulsory. It became evident that 3 known suspected terrorists were interrogated using water boarding. One of these, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claims to have been water boarded 183 times whilst interrogated by the CIA. "Damn Right! Had I not authorised water boarding on senior al Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked." Bush admitted to doing so to Mohammed, but claimed he divulged information of vital importance during his detention. He also stated that he would do it again to save lives. For Bush it wasn’t a question of morality, it was a question of the protection and the upholding of America’s reputation.

            The famous photos from Abu Ghraib prison, formerly the Baghdad Correctional facility, came to public attention in 2004. After photos had been leaked, Bush stated that he was not aware of such goings on under his presidency. Accounts of sexual, physical and psychological abuse occurred in the facility, committed by the military police of the United States Army. The United States Department of Defence removed seventeen soldiers and police officers, resulting in eleven being charged for abuse. President Obama is holding onto some of the more graphic photographs from the prison, of officers supposedly raping and sexual abusing prisoners. His choice not to release the photographs is because of the offence, trauma and unrest the photographs may cause. The response from the then president Bush was that these sort of on goings were of an exceptional case, claiming that these photos were in no way indicative of standard or tolerable practices in the United States Army. Evidently that was a lie.

            Decision Points tries to convey Bush’s’ presidency as one of success and foolishly tries to paint him as a morally just, ahead of his times, tenacious leader. But can one forget how he dragged America - and let’s not forget the UK – kicking and screaming into two catastrophic wars. Or his ongoing condemnation of civil liberties and international law, and of course, how he left the US economy, and along with it many other economies, in dire straights.