Saturday, February 25, 2006


Gay rights group are claming victory after anti-gay Muslim leader Sir Iqbal Sacranie pulled out from speaking at a London conference after gay protests. Sacranie was to have been a keynote speaker at a trade union-sponsored Unite Against Fascism conference at the weekend; however his views on homosexuality were widely condemned as echoing the anti-gay hatred of the BNP. "This climbdown is a victory for humanitarian values over homophobic prejudice. We want Muslim leaders like Sacranie to be part of the anti-BNP alliance, but only if they respect the human rights of gay people and other minorities," said Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group, OutRage!, which helped coordinate the protests against Sacranie being invited to speak.

The conference organisers claim Sacranie withdrew because he had another engagement. But this is disputed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "Three days ago the conference organisers were adamant that Sir Iqbal would be a speaker," said Tatchell. "After being deluged with protests they are now saying he is no longer available. This is not a credible explanation. We believe the organisers realised they could not secure the acceptance of a homophobe at an anti-fascist conference, so they dumped him. "Sacranie's attitude to gay people is similar to the homophobia of the BNP. He should have never been invited in the first place.

Fellow OutRage activist and gay Muslim, Ramzi Islam, added: "Sir Iqbal is leader of the anti-gay Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). As well as actively campaigning to maintain homophobic laws like Section 28, he last month publicly denounced lesbians and gay men on BBC Radio, saying they were immoral, harmful and spread disease.



A community college student in Massachusetts faces possible disciplinary action for shouting "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an on-campus speech by Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy yesterday. Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success. "Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.

Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!" "Most of the crowd gasped," Trost said. "Then I walked out of the student center." The student says a campus police officer went outside and stopped him. He also saw some state troopers go outside, the type who accompany Kennedy around the state to provide security. Trost says the cop took down his information and told him he would be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action. A spokesman with the campus police verified the incident but stressed that Trost was not arrested.

The student said one of his teachers confronted him after a class about the Chappaquiddick issue. "One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.' "If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.

Referring to his two-word shout, Trost said, "I did it because I know about Kennedy's past. I know what happened at Chappaquiddick. "I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it." Trost said he was satisfied to know that students on campus were talking about the Chappaquiddick incident later in the day - some of whom, in fact, were not familiar with it.

In 1969, Kennedy was driving a car that went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed after the car landed upside down in the water. No autopsy was ever performed to determine her exact cause of death. At the time, Kennedy claimed he tried several times to swim down to reach Kopechne to no avail. He came under fire for not reporting the incident to authorities until the next morning. In the interim he reportedly made an effort to call a family legal adviser.

"I haven't yet found out what's going to happen to me," Trost said, referring to the warning from campus police.



Or how to ensure that kids pig out on everything fattening once they escape parental control

A student slides a tray toward the cafeteria cash register with a healthy selection: a pint of milk, green beans, whipped sweet potatoes and chicken nuggets - baked, not fried. But then he adds a fudge brownie. When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction." Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits.

This could be a common occurrence at Houston schools when the district becomes one of the largest in the nation with a cafeteria automation system that lets parents dictate -and track - what their kids get. Primero Food Service Solutions, developed by Houston-based Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money, said Ray Barger, Cybersoft's director of sales and marketing. It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item.

Parents also can go online to track their child's eating habits and make changes. "If parents want Johnny to eat chips one day a week, they can go in and make changes to allow them to buy a bag of chips on, say, Fridays," said Terry Abbott, spokesman for Houston Independent School District, the nation's seventh-largest with more than 250,000 students.

Robin Green, whose 14-year-old son, Jerry, is in seventh grade in the Houston district, said she would probably sign up for the new voluntary monitoring system once it's implemented within the next year. Green was concerned that parents from low-income families without access to computers would not be able to participate, but Abbott said parents can go to their school and work with cafeteria representatives.

Barger said his company's system already is being used in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, as well as other Texas cities. Several other companies have similar cafeteria monitoring programs at other schools.

Prepaid cafeteria accounts have been around for five to 10 years, but programs that allow parents to say what their kids can or can't eat are a more recent development, said Erik Peterson, spokesman for the Washington-based School Nutrition Association. His organization did not have exact figures on how many school districts use such programs.....

Karen Cullen, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, cautioned that the system is good only if it sparks communication between parents and their children on healthy food choices. "Kids need to be able to make healthy choices," Cullen said. "Parents can't be in charge. Children need some freedom."

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