Saturday 24 November 2012

Confused about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? This might help

Earlier this week, one of my friends in the office at work asked me what my thoughts were on the latest troubles between Israel and Gaza.

I sighed, before trying to explain to him that I really wasn't that bothered or interested anymore with what's going on in Israel.

Any news story about the conflict just seems like Groundhog Day to me. It's like you're watching and hearing the same story over and over again.

I immediately felt guilty as it's clearly important news and innocent people are being killed and injured - but I'm sorry to say I feel fatigued by it all.

When you do watch news coverage of events, you start asking yourself 'Why are they fighting again? can someone please remind me.'

With that in mind, another friend from work forwarded me this link to a piece on the Washington Post's website, titled:

9 Questions about Israel-Gaza you were too embarrassed to ask

It's like an idiots guide to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. You may laugh at that description, but it does a great job in breaking things down and explaining the issues and history in a straight forward, simple way without dumbing things down.

I found it useful, but it got me thinking. When a news geek like me gets bored by major news stories, how does journalism keep people's attention on stories where there never seems to be a clear end?

It's tough to answer. There are so many interesting and important stories happening around the world; stories we rarely hear about in this country. Instead our news agenda is limited to certain key stories that dominate like Israel.

I'm not saying this is wrong, but it becomes a challenge to keep people interested, while you remind and explain to them why the story matters.

What do you think? Are there certain stories you feel are overplayed in the media?

Saturday 17 November 2012

Is this the greatest goal ever?

I only saw the first half of England's friendly game against Sweden on Wednesday.

I thought I'd watch Micheal Palin's series about Brazil on BBC 1 instead. Surely nothing exciting would happen in the second half in Sweden?

Well not much except a 4 goal master class from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which he topped off with this goal above.

I only saw it the day after - my first reaction was: "You are kidding me" Unbelievable.

The skill, the technique but also the audacity to try something like that. Absolutely brilliant.

But is it the best goal ever? It's one of the best I've seen, but if I was forced to chose I will always go for Maradona's second against England in the 1986 Mexico World Cup. I never get tired of seeing it.

There are so many factors that contribute to making a goal great, one factor that makes Maradona's goal my favourite was the occasion and pressure of that game.

A quarter final in the World Cup, against England. The nation that defeated Argentina in the Falklands War only four years earlier. Maradona the world's leading player at the time, embracing that role and leading his country to World Cup triumph.

Taking nothing away from Ibrahimovic's goal, the freedom and occasion helped allow him to try something so audacious - if it didn't come off, so what nobody would remember it. Thankfully it went in and we'll be raving about it for years.

Friday 16 November 2012

60 years of the charts

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the UK Singles charts.

Those of you of a certain age will remember growing up listening to the top 40 rundown on a Sunday afternoon, seeing whether your favourite songs were moving up or down the charts.

The charts was a big part of my life - sadly the singles chart just doesn't have the same romance or importance for many people as it used to.

As a kid I used to think I'd always know who was number 1; now I have no idea. I'd struggle to name a record that topped the charts this year and to be honest, I'm not that bothered.

So what were the first singles I bought. I remember buying at least 3 singles together at beginning of 1989.

I can only remember two, one was Cuddly Toy by Roachford and the second was by a group called Ten City with a song called That's the Way Love is.

Check them out below.

Roachford - Cuddly Toy

Ten City - That's The Way love Is

Sunday 11 November 2012

US Elections 2012: The changing face of America

Just like the Olympics, the US Presidential election involves months and years of build up but no sooner as it arrives it's gone for another 4 years.

There's that inevitable post election feel of what next, but it's nice to know that we've hopefully got two years of non election talk before the cycle begins again.

In the end it turned out to be a comfortable victory for Obama - certainly in terms of the electoral college vote, even if the popular vote was much closer.

What soon became clear was that Mitt Romney simply wasn't getting the votes in the key swing states he needed if he was going to become the next President. Many of those voters included Hispanics who voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

This was a theme that many political commentators talked about. Hispanics have now overtaken African Americans as the biggest ethnic minority in America and their share of the population will continue to grow.

It's all very well the Republican Party appealing to its white conservative base of voters, but it's no longer big enough to win elections.

America is changing. It's becoming a more multicultural, more Hispanic, a browner country. The challenge for the Republican Party is acknowledging and accepting this change.

Although there's been this focus on the growing importance of the Hispanic vote in America, and the shifting demographics in the country. This is a topic I've been aware about for some time.

In my recent visits to America, I've always noticed just how Hispanic America is. In the big cities Spanish is the default second language, you turn the TV on and you quickly find a number of Spanish language channels.

As an outsider I can see this, but it seems many Republicans don't want to see or accept this change.

The percentage of white voters are shrinking in the United States and it's only a matter of time before America becomes a majority minority country.

This is great for the Democrats as so many Black, Asian, and Hispanics vote Democrat - If you're a Republican this is a nightmare.

There are two ways the Republican Party can go. They can look at the results with a sense of anger and bitterness and continue appealing to its core base of white conservative voters, while resenting the changing country around them.

Alternatively they can accept what's happening and start tailoring policies that are going to speak and appeal to the changing demographics of the country.

You might think that it's obvious what they should be doing, but I'm not convinced. There are many in the Republican Party establishment who see minorities voting for Obama and the Democrats as a sign of people who only want Government handouts.

With that attitude the Republican Party are going to find themselves struggling to win a Presidential election for years to come. If that happens I won't have much sympathy for them.