Sunday, February 27, 2005


But the Palestinian flag is OK, of course

ST GEORGE'S flag won't be seen flying over the civic centre on his feast day this year - because councillors believe it's too socially divisive. Over the years Hounslow council has flown the Palestinian flag, the Co-operative flag on International Co-operators' Day, the Union Flag on the Queen's Jubilee and on Armistice Day and the Welsh Flag on the request of a local resident - but the English flag of St George is too controversial apparently. Cllr Peta Vaught, (Lab, Heston Central) put a motion to the ruling Labour Group's last meeting to raise the flag over the civic centre on St George's Day (April 23) along with articles in the council's HM magazine and events for local schools. However, her fellow councillors defeated the motion - with only one other Cllr Gopal Dhillon, also Heston Central voting for it.

Cllr Vaught said she had put the motion forward as there "hasn't been a celebration before to my knowledge", adding that her fellow councillors thought raising the flag could be "divisive", and would stir tensions with the BNP: "I haven't had any trouble with the BNP - I have heard they are active in Feltham, and some councillors thought it would be divisive there, by excluding the 30 per cent that aren't English. "I understand their reasoning." Others were less understanding.

Cllr John Connelly, a former Labour group leader turned Independent, said: "It is a decision of donkeys. Given that the council celebrates Diwali with fireworks and other ethnic minority festivals, I suspect many residents will be highly offended by what appears to be a snub to the indigenous community. "Even a Scot like myself, who regarded Beckham as the hero of the European Championships in Portugal following his penalty miss, could not fail to notice that the community at large embraced the flag in the support of England. "Indeed in Hounslow I suspect I saw as many residents of Asian origin displaying the flag on their cars as I saw in cars driven by white drivers. I imagine Tony Blair and his associates will be deeply embarrassed by this decision."



Some of the most revered names in literature, including Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, face possible removal from the official pantheon of great writers in a modernisation of English in the national curriculum. In their place, children may be required to study a greater range of modern writers and those who reflect the ethnically diverse nature of modern Britain such as the prize-winning black author Andrea Levy.

Other potential candidates for the new list include fantasy writers Tolkien and Philip Pullman, who many believe more closely reflect the reading tastes of children than the current list. Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, will be present this Wednesday when the government's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) launches a consultation on reform of the English curriculum. He will be accompanied by Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, and Lord Bragg, the writer and broadcaster.

Critics are likely to attack any attempt to cut writers seen as part of the canon of literature, but others believe the system leaves little room for teachers to choose books reflecting their pupils' tastes and ability. Some believe the list should be abolished altogether with the possible exception of Shakespeare. A more widespread view is that the list should be modernised and the number of authors cut, enabling books to be studied in greater depth. "There's too much prescription of what to read," said Pullman. "The government doesn't seem to trust teachers. I'm also annoyed that chunks of books are now studied too much and not the whole book itself."

Bragg agreed. "I'm not really one for lists of authors though I would argue that Shakespeare must be on," he said. "What's more important is that youngsters are encouraged to read as many good books as possible. That might help to encourage reading for life and not just the schoolroom."

The current English curriculum was introduced by Baroness Thatcher's government in 1989, although it was modified in the mid-1990s. Currently one Shakespeare play must be studied by 11 to 14-year-olds, and one more by those on their two-year GCSE course. Other plays must be studied from a list of 10 playwrights. They range from William Congreve, who wrote in the 17th and 18th centuries, to 19th and 20th-century authors such as Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and JB Priestley. Four out of 28 listed pre- 1914 poets and two out of 19 novelists from before that year must be studied. From the years after 1914, four out of a list of 16 poets and two out of 11 novelists must be studied. Together, these lists constitute the officially approved roster of great writers in English literature. The novelists range from Defoe, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters to Charles Dickens, Jonathan Swift, Graham Greene and George Orwell.

According to sources close to the review, the poets' list could be vulnerable, particularly names such as Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elizabethan love poet, Keith Douglas, who wrote of his experiences fighting in the second world war, and Gillian Clarke, the contemporary Welsh poet. Some question whether John Milton, a difficult poet to read, should remain on the list. His fellow 17th-century poets Robert Herrick and Henry Vaughan may be candidates for removal. Congreve could also go.



"My younger sister was in kindergarten at the time, and my mother recieved a phone call at work: "Hello?"... "Hello! Is this Mrs. K______?".... "Yes it is.".... "Hello, my name is __________ from State Road Elementary School. I wanted to inform you that your child, Christina, needs to be placed into therapy immediately.".... My mother was beginning to become worried. "Why?!?"..... "Ma'am, your daughter needs to be put into therapy because she refuses to finger paint. You must understand this is not normal behavior for a 5 year-old child.".... My mother's jaw dropped. "You want to put her in therapy because she refuses to finger paint?!? That's not strange. She doesn't like to get her fingers dirty. None of my kids liked to get their fingers dirty. I don't like to get my fingers dirty. I think you're the one who needs therapy!""

"I wonder if any of the German Greens condemning the Pope for equating abortion to the Holocaust have heard of abortion pioneer Margaret Sanger and her connections to the eugenics movement? -- which won her warm praise from Hitler himself! Thanks to a skillful PR makeover the old eugenicists dream to limit the breeding of the lower "criminal" classes has now been sold as a women's right. Their agenda here has now largely been achieved. There is a further layer of irony here too, of course. The most ardent advocates of women's right to control their own bodies, have not the slightest regard for individual rights or other forms of self government in non-reproductive matters."


British Labour Party very "judgmental" and not at all "tolerant": "A woman fighting to become an MP has been dropped by the Labour Party after she admitted that she was a former prostitute. Christine Wheatley stunned officials when she confessed to working in Paris as a "tart" for Fr20 a time. She had been shortlisted for the Copeland seat in Cumbria. Last night the Labour Party defended its decision to scratch her name from the candidacy on the ground that she had failed to inform officials of her six-week career on the streets. A senior official said that when Ms Wheatley was asked whether she had any skeletons in the cupboard she neglected to mention that she was once a member of the oldest profession. "She clearly does not regard this as a skeleton," he said. Ms Wheatley shared that view and remained defiant yesterday. She was not ashamed, she said. In fact, she was more ashamed that she had once been an encyclopaedia saleswoman in Germany"

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