Colin Kaepernick’s standing for his anthem again :(

This is Colin Kaepernick after being tackled, but it sums up how I’m feeling about his decision! Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

American footballer Colin Kaepernick has announced he will stand for the US national anthem next season, ending his months-long protest against the treatment of minorities in the country.

I know it’s because he needs a job – the San Francisco 49ers have decided not to keep him on – but it’s a shame. You could easily argue things have got worse in the US since his protest started and it’s needed more than ever.

Expect fewer protests all round soon: the US soccer association has announced a new policy saying all players have to “stand respectfully” for anthems at international matches. Last year, Megan Rapinoe kneeled for the Star-Spangled Banner before two games – aping Kaepernick. Guess she won’t any more.

Being a beauty queen’s more dangerous than you thought


Back in 2014,  Merve Buyuksarac, Ms Turkey 2006, posted a satirical rewording of her country’s national anthem to her Instagram account. She changed a handful of its words to reference a corruption scandal involving the country’s president, Tayyip Erdoğan.

I am like a wild flood, I smash over the law and beyond
I follow state bids, take my bribe and live.

Almost immediately afterwards she was arrested.

This May – two years later! – she was found guilty of insulting the president and sentenced to 14 months in prison. The sentence was only suspended on the condition that she doesn’t insult Erdoğan again in the next five years.

Yes, I should have written about this back in May when it happened, but I somehow only learned about it yesterday while reading about Erdoğan’s crackdown on journalists in his country. He’s jailed 120 so far.

I’ve never heard of someone being sentenced to prison for satirising an anthem before, which isn’t a surprise as if it was a common occurence they’d be literally hundreds of offenders in jail. Imagine how many people have rewritten the words to God Save the Queen and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Turkey’s anthem, the Independence March, turns up surprisingly regular in the country’s political life. People used it frequently earlier this year during the coup that was trying to remove Erdoğan, seeing it as a way to motivate people to get onto the streets, while it also played a major part in the country’s last presidential election.

But this? This is just a disgrace.

For details of more controversial anthems, see my book.

The most beautiful piano playing about the world’s most violent country

A tribute to a dead protester in Caracas, Venezuela. Copyright is Reuters

A tribute to a dead protester in Caracas, Venezuela. Copyright is Reuters

There were 24,000 murders in Venezuela last year. That’s 65 a day – an almost cartoonish level of violence.

It says something’s seriously wrong there, regardless of what benefits you think Hugo Chavez brought to the country’s poor before he died, or whether you support his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

The violence partly explains the ongoing demonstrations in Caracas, in which three students died earlier this month.

It also partly explains why the pianist Gabriela Montero spends a lot of her time recording protest versions of the country’s national anthem.

Gloria al Bravo Pueblo – Glory to the Brave People – is normally described as a Latin American version of the Marseillaise, a proud military march that spirals to a cymbal crashing ending.

But what Gabriela turns it into is something far more powerful and worth your time. Here’s just three of her takes on it.

In the first two, she makes the anthem sound like the song of a heart-broken lover, one who can barely hold their emotions together long enough to get to the end.

But in the third, she turns it into something altogether different: a fiery tango and a theme song for cacerolazos – those protests where everyone bangs pots and pans to wake up corrupt politicians. It is 100% fantastic.

[For anyone reading on a mobile, you can find the videos here, here and here]

Gabriela’s playing concerts in Germany, Italy, the UK, Serbia, Canada and the US in the next few weeks. Go along. Her full schedule’s here.

Never mind the bollocks, here’s the Maltese Sex Pistol!

Vince Fabri, the Maltese Sex Pistol

He’s 54, looks like an accountant and normally writes songs about checking his horoscope over breakfast, but Vince Fabri (pictured) could just be the most punk musician in Europe.

A few days ago, Vince loaded a parody of Malta’s national anthem onto his Facebook page, apparently annoying half of the Mediterranean island in the process.

“O Lord,” he wrote, taking the anthem’s opening words, “do not look upon this whore of a land, this mother who now sells herself. Let us make some money.”

Within five minutes people were leaving messages calling him a traitor, demanding a public apology and, oddly, saying he couldn’t have committed a bigger crime if he’d tried.

Why’d he do it? Disappointingly it wasn’t a tribute to the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen. Instead, Vince is angry with the Maltese government’s latest moneymaking plan: to sell passports to anyone who wants one.

All someone will soon have to do is pay the government €1.15 million, promise they haven’t committed any war crimes and that they don’t have any infectious diseases, and then a golden passport is theirs. (No, I’m not sure why having AIDS is as equal barrier to citizenship as committing ethnic cleansing, but those are the rules!)

The government’s hoping to raise at least €900m from the scheme, which suggests there’s 783 people out there who desperately want to become Maltese.

Vince is a councillor for the country’s main opposition party, so his parody’s largely been dismissed as a cynical political move. But full marks for effort, and for showing that toying with an anthem can still anger a lot of people.

As a bonus, here’s a brilliant pop opera version of the anthem by Maltese celebrity Enzo Gusman. I don’t speak Maltese, but I’m pretty sure there are no whores mentioned!