Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Subway franchise closes in France after outcry at Valentine's Day special which was offered to heterosexual couples only
A French branch of the sandwich chain Subway has caused outrage after offering a Valentine's Day special to heterosexual couples only.
The franchise in Angers, in the north-west of the country, has been forced to close after the owner's poster went viral and sparked widespread condemnation on Thursday.
Subway's corporate offices swiftly intervened and the shop was closed the next day.
The poster advertised a meal deal which included a footlong Subway sandwich, a drink and a dessert each for 14 Euros for 'couples' on Valentine's Day.
But in brackets next to the word 'couples' were the letters 'H/F' to indicate that this was defined as a man and a woman only.
It was also marked with an asterisk which explained: 'Discrimination (?) No, the marriage for all law has advanced, but has yet to be ratified by the Senate. Until then, I'll use my freedom of expression.'
France is in the midst of approving a bill to legalise gay marriage but it has yet to be ratified by the Senate.
The law was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday and will go before the upper house of French Parliament on April 2 and is expected to pass.
But as in Britain, the issue has proved to be divisive for some and the Subway poster sparked a backlash of negative comments.
The storm began when a Facebook user posted a picture of the advert with the tag: 'If this isn't homophobia, I don't know what is!'
Subway France's official Twitter responded to individuals who made angry comments about the offer on Friday saying: 'We have been made aware of this poster and it has been immediately removed from the Subway in Angers.'
The company later tweeted: 'We are committed to diversity/integration, we are working with the owner of the restaurant to reinforce our values/politics'.
According to the French website Ouest-France, another Subway in the Angers area also came under fire online after the poster went viral.
It was reportedly forced to close its Facebook page because of 'abusive comments' and later issued a press release dissociating itself from the other Subway and the heterosexuals only offer.
A statement issued on Subway France's Facebook page yesterday said: 'The Subway brand is strongly committed to maintaining the values of diversity and inclusiveness in its restaurants around the world and does not endorse in any discrimination of any kind.
'We apologize to all those people who felt offended by the individual promotional initiative for Valentine's Day of a restaurant in Angers, France.'
Subway described the owner as a 'marginal case' and said it was looking at possible sanctions.
Some British Public lavatories to become 'gender neutral'
A city council has scrapped male and female public lavatories in favour of “gender neutral” facilities so as not to alienate the transgender community.
The move was described as “political correctness gone barmy” by opponents who warned that the vast majority would prefer to use single sex loos.
Brighton and Hove City Council disclosed in emails that it wished to promote the term “gender neutral” and build facilities which are open to all, regardless of sex.
They believe such facilities will be more accessible for those who do not identify with the male-female binary.
The block, will include four new lavatories and a café. Images depicting a man, a woman and a child will be fitted to the doors.
Lynda Hyde, a Tory councillor in the Rottingdean ward, in which the new facility is being built, said: "This does seem to be a case of unnecessary bureaucracy and political correctness.
“Local residents, particularly women with children, would much prefer to use separate facilities as apart from anything else, it is safer.
“If the male/female symbols, rather than any text, are to be used on the toilet then this avoids any confusion so why is the council muddying the waters by insisting they are called gender neutral, which will mean nothing to most people?”
The £140,000 refurbishment of the lavatories on Rottingdean seafront in Brighton is due to begin this week and is being funded jointly by Rottingdean Parish Council and the city council.
Mrs Hyde said she understood the city council planned to gradually phase out all male and female lavatories in order to cater for the minority group.
The move follows the establishment of a working group to examine issues faced by transgender residents in the city.
Last year, the Trans Equality Scrutiny Panel recommended that titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms be banned so as not to offend the community and force them to “choose between genders”.
Green Party deputy leader Phelim MacCafferty backed the proposal saying: “Trans people aren't necessarily male or female and sometimes they don't want to be defined by their gender.”
The 37 recommendations made by the panel also included “removing the need to identify as male or female” when arriving at a doctor’s surgery, more training for council staff, police and health workers and appointing a “Trans champion” within the council.
A city council spokeswoman decline to comment on the decision to promote the term gender neutral. She said: “When producing signs for public toilets in the city we use standard images rather than words. “This is particularly beneficial to the many tourists from overseas visiting our city.”
The lesbian, gay and transgender population in Brighton is estimated to be around 40,000.
In a 2006 a survey of the community, around five percent of respondents identified themselves as transgender.
Furore over drone toy
The Maisto Fresh Metal Tailwinds 1:97 scale die cast United States military aircraft.
It's the real thing that is the potential problem, not the toy
Maisto International's model Predator drones are selling out on Amazon.com's website as parody reviews highlight how the toys can help children hone killing skills, mocking a controversial US practice.
As of Monday none of the $US49.99 military-style toy jets were available for purchase on Amazon's site, which is brimming with assessments laced with dark humour. "You can't spell slaughter without laughter," one pithy joker wrote.
US President Barack Obama's targeted use of drones to kill suspected terrorists has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who view the practice as inhumane. While Obama didn't mention drones in his State of the Union address last week, he said he will continue a policy of "direct action" and vowed to make the anti-terrorism program more transparent.
"Nothing teaches my child about how to murder enemy combatants silently and invisibly from the sky with no risk," one review on Amazon begins. "Teaching our children to be familiar with a silent, faceless killing machine is the way to educate our children about the importance that is war."
As protest movements adapt to the digital age, Amazon is just one of many vociferous anti-drone forums on the internet. Groups on Facebook's social network such as Question Your Government, while protesting the policy, are also posting links to the critiques on Amazon's site. Posts on Twitter's micro-blogging service, including one from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, are also drawing attention to the reviews.
Change.org, a grass-roots community activism website that rose to prominence during Obama's first presidential campaign, is gathering signatures on a petition asking Maisto, a maker of die-cast replicas, to discontinue the Fresh Metal Tailwinds Predator Drone toy.
"I will not buy this shameful toy, nor teach children to hate," the petition says. "There is no glory in murder."
Rick Berman, a director of product development at Maisto, declined to comment. Craig Berman, an Amazon spokesman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon's conditions of use posted on its website say that the Seattle-based company reserves the right to remove or edit reviews, which it doesn't regularly examine.
Consumers have flocked to Amazon's review section as a forum for political satire before. In October, the user comment section of an Avery Dennison binder listed on the e-commerce site became the subject of a similar outbreak. Reviewers used Amazon to make light of a comment made by then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a debate. Romney had said he drew upon "binders full of women" to help fill cabinet seats as governor of Massachusetts.
The following month, Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park during the financial crisis, created wedding registries on Amazon to solicit gifts of everything from blankets to batteries to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.
This time around, Amazon users are addressing the drone controversy with sarcasm. Notes one review rating Maisto's toy five out of five stars:
"A must for every American child. I only wish this toy came with small appendages to scatter about the back yard to make it more life-like."
Recommended on Amazon for children age 3 and older, Maisto's model military drone has a 6-inch wingspan, and would scale up to an aircraft with wings stretching 48.5 feet. The toy is a replica of the RQ-1 Predator, an unmanned aircraft that the US Air Force has used in combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq and Yemen, according to the product description on Amazon.
"It's like I'm sitting in the White House with my very own kill list," another five-star review reads.
Nothing to fear from me, says Geert Wilders
See the interview here. Wilders acquits himself well
CONTROVERSIAL right wing anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders says Australia has nothing to fear from him when he visits the country next week.
Mr Wilders, speaking on the ABC's Lateline on Wednesday, said he was on a global jihad to preserve freedom.
He said he wants to warn Australia against allowing the mass immigration of people from Muslim countries "because Islam and freedom are incompatible".
"I believe with mass immigration into our free societies, those societies will change, and they will change for the worse," Mr Wilders said.
The leader of the Party for Freedom holds the balance of power in the Dutch parliament after receiving around 10 per cent of the national vote.
He wants to tell Australians that we must learn from the mistakes they made in Europe and be vigilant of Islam.
"It is not a religion of peace - it is a totalitarian ideology," Mr Wilders said.
He conceded that the majority of Muslims living in Europe were moderates but their religion of Islam was totalitarian that has no room for anything but Islam.
Mr Wilders said that when he visits Australia next week he not only wanted to talk to people who agreed with him but to those who did not.
"I am a lawmaker not a law breaker," he said.
When asked if he would be accompanied by Dutch Security Service he said that he could not talk about security arrangements or he would make himself more vulnerable.
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, 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.