Thursday, March 15, 2012

British supermarket tells suppliers: Don't fly the Union flag on your packets (because it might offend the Scots)

This sounds like saying not to fly Old Glory in Tennessee in case it offends Southerners

With the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics fast approaching, many companies are proud to fly the British flag. Not Asda.

The supermarket has complained to suppliers using the Union flag on their packaging – amid fears it might offend customers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The chain said the decision to add the flag to products had been made by manufacturers without consulting the supermarket.

It claimed that using the image ‘is a big issue because this packaging will potentially land in both Northern Ireland and Scotland stores’. That is despite both being represented in the flag, playing a key role in the jubilee celebrations and being part of team GB at London 2012.

Asda’s warning came in an email from its headquarters in Leeds. Sent to 20 suppliers including Coca-Cola, it stressed that ‘standard packaging is to be sent to Northern Ireland and Scottish stores’, and asked for suppliers to list the products they intend to decorate with the flag, so Asda can ‘manage the distribution accordingly’.

The email has been met with confusion from manufacturers who believe the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 provide a unique nationwide marketing opportunity for their products. One supplier said: ‘There was a stunned silence in the office when the email landed because it makes absolutely no sense.

‘Sporting events such as the World Cup are always important but they are usually confined to England and you wouldn’t expect to sell products marked with the St George’s Cross in Scotland. ‘But to have both the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games in one summer offers a unique opportunity to capture the imagination of Britain as a whole.

‘We are aware there are issues of sensitivity in Northern Ireland but this email clearly states that they want standard packaging to be sent to Scotland too. ‘It also says there will be no British event within the seasonal aisle in Scotland where they normally sell summer goods. ‘Does that mean they don’t believe the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics are British events?’

Events celebrating the Diamond Jubilee are taking place as far away as the Falkland Islands where beacons will be lit to celebrate the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. The Queen will visit Northern Ireland as part of her Jubilee tour and celebrations are expected to end in Scotland with a garden party at Balmoral.

Scottish athletes such as the cyclist Sir Chris Hoy are senior members of Team GB at London 2012 and are expected to lead the charge for gold medals. Sir Chris Hoy has described himself as ‘a Scottish athlete in a British team’ and Glasgow will even host eight Olympic football matches at the city’s Hampden Park stadium.

The email was sent at a time when the issue of independence for Scotland is on the political agenda because of a promised referendum by the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

But Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell has predicted a backlash against Asda if it panders to the Scottish nationalist stance. He said: ‘I think it’s very unwise move by Asda to go down this route.

‘For Asda to play petty politics at a time that we are celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a time of national unity and celebration will leave a great many people deeply offended. ‘I for one won’t be shopping at Asda if that is the game they are going to play.’

Last night Asda claimed the email sent to more than 20 suppliers and copied to two of the supermarket’s own executives was ‘a badly worded note.’ A spokesman added: ‘All our stores that want Union Jack branded products will receive them.’


Marriage is good for children and state must back it, declares British government minister

Marriage provides a more stable environment for bringing up children than other relationships and should be supported and encouraged by the state, ministers will say today.

The Social Justice Strategy paper will stress that marriage is an ‘excellent’ environment in which to raise families, and warns that family instability or breakdown can have ‘devastating’ long-term consequences.

The hard-hitting document, launched by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, adds that children enjoy better life outcomes when the ‘same two parents’ give support and protection throughout childhood.

It warns that children who experience parental breakdown are more likely to have poor life outcomes than those who grow up with both of their parents.

The document adds that one in three cohabiting couples separate before a child’s fifth birthday, compared with a figure of around one in ten married parents.

Most significantly, the paper clearly spells out the Government’s support for the institution of marriage.

The report states: ‘Given that married relationships tend to have greater longevity and stability than other forms, this Government believes marriage often provides an excellent environment in which to bring up children. ‘So the Government is clear that marriage should be supported and encouraged.’

The strategy provides welcome ammunition for campaigners who are trying to push David Cameron into keeping his promise to give a tax break to married couples. It comes days after figures showed that marriage is coming back into fashion after 40 years of decline.

The number of weddings has risen by 3.7 per cent in a year. Analysts believe the recession has caused a return to family values and a desire for the stability marriage offers.

The document will form the blueprint of the Government’s plans to tackle the root causes of poverty, which include earlier interventions for problem families and encouraging people back into work.

Mr Duncan Smith will warn that family breakdown is a root cause of many of the problems in society. He will say that the family is the most important ‘building block’ in a child’s life. ‘When families are strong and stable, so are children,’ he will say.

‘We know that children raised by parents reporting high relationship quality and satisfaction tend to have higher levels of wellbeing, while intense conflict between parents has been shown to be detrimental to children’s outcomes.’ ‘When families break down, the consequences can be severe,’ he added.

Mr Duncan Smith will add: ‘At the heart of this, it means emphasising the Government’s support for marriage.’

The Social Justice Strategy paper warns that men who have been separated from a parent, experienced high family conflict or multiple transitions in new families, were more likely to be involved in crime.

In a survey of offenders, 41 per cent reported witnessing violence in their home as a child and 29 per cent – or almost a third – reported emotional, sexual or physical abuse as a child.

It finds: ‘Children who have experienced parental relationship breakdown are more likely to have poor cognitive development and education and employment outcomes than those who have lived with both birth parents.’

The paper says that ‘multiple relationship transitions’ are particularly detrimental to children.

Ministers acknowledge that couples who are not married can also provide ‘good family environments’. It says: ‘Evidence suggests that the way in which a family functions has more effect on outcomes for children than the type of family. ‘This is not to say that lone parents and step-families cannot provide high levels of love and support for children. ‘All types of family structure have the potential to provide the stability that is vital for enabling good outcomes.’


The 295 words and phrases blocked by Chinese Web censors

A new Carnegie Mellon University study has identified the 295 words and phrases the Chinese government looks for when it steps in and forcibly blocks communication between its own citizens.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the list is home to known controversial terms like "Falun Gong" but also includes "iodized salt." And strangely enough, they both have become hot button search items.

The Falun Gong is a dissident religious group labeled a cult by the Chinese government, while iodized salt is one of the most common household items in the modern world. But it was also part of a rampant rumor in China after last year's nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, in which people falsely claimed that iodized salt could reduce radiation poisoning.

"The Chinese government came in, put their foot down and said don't believe these rumors. After that, iodized salt became a sensitive topic and it was highly likely a message would be deleted if it discussed salt," said David Bamman, the study's co-author, in an interview with the Gazette. The study results were first published in the online journal First Monday.

The study's authors based their findings on data collected from the Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. While Twitter has a purported 300 million users worldwide, Sina Weibo has 300 million in China alone. Even with the rampant Chinese government censorship, Sina Weibo's stock has soared recently with news that 50 million of its 300 million users have joined in the past three months alone, making it the third most popular site in China.

The study looked at more than 57 million messages posted on Sina Weibo during a three-month period last year.

When breaking down the messages to match with the popular political and social terms, the research team found that 212,583 out of 1.3 million checked messages, roughly 16 percent, had been deleted by the Chinese government. And 54 percent of all messages sent from Tibet had been deleted.

Study co-author Noah Smith said most examinations of Chinese Internet censorship look at the sites the government has blocked outright. So the authors instead wanted to process a hard statistical analysis of what the Chinese government was doing to censor content on sites it lets the public at large access.

A 2005 Open Net study declared that China has the most-sophisticated level of Internet censorship in the world.

"The rise of domestic Chinese micro-blogging sites has provided a unique opportunity to systematically study content censorship in detail," Smith told the Gazette.

The Chinese government is not shy about its Internet censorship, even launching an official campaign known as the Golden Shield Project, or "Great Firewall." The government has announced that as of March 16, it will require all Sina Weibo users to publicly use their real names on all accounts.


Companies must employ drunks?

That's Australian law, apparently

RAILCORP discriminated against a job applicant who had two convictions for drink-driving offences when it denied him a position as a market analyst, the Australian Human Rights Commission has found.

The man, known as Mr CG, had convictions for a middle-range drink-driving offence in 2001 and a low-range offence in 2008. When he applied for a position as a market analyst with RailCorp in 2009 he was told he was not offered the position because of his criminal record, despite having met all the selection criteria and being the selection panel's preferred candidate.

The Australian Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of a person's criminal record.

In a report tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday, Catherine Branson, the president of the commission, recommended RailCorp pay Mr CG $7500 in compensation for hurt, humiliation and distress. But RailCorp has refused to pay.

RailCorp accepts Mr CG was not offered employment because of his criminal record. But it disputes this constituted discrimination. It said his criminal record made him unable to perform the inherent requirements of the job.

RailCorp describes the inherent requirements as compliance with its drug and alcohol policy, upholding its safety-first values and performing the duties faithfully, diligently, carefully, honestly and with the exercise of skill and good judgment.

However, Ms Branson found Mr CG was not excluded from the job due to the inherent requirements of the job. He had worked for RailCorp for eight years in various roles, including an 18-month stint as a market analyst. There had been no suggestion he had behaved in a way inconsistent with the inherent requirement of the market analyst's position.

She found his offences had no connection with his employment and had not occurred in work hours. Driving was not part of his employment and he was not required to provide rail transport services in which safety was a critical concern.

"While the absence of a criminal record might be an inherent requirement of some positions with a limited class of employers, I am not satisfied that this position of market analyst is such a position," she wrote in the report.

While RailCorp did not accept the commission's findings on compensation, it has said it will review its recruitment procedures with a view to ensuring people were not inappropriately excluded from employment. The decision is reviewable under the Administrative Decisions Act.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: