Suffolk - A school has banned hot cross buns - in case they offend pupils from religious minorities.
Head teacher Tina Jackson asked for the crosses to be removed from all buns supplied by caterers in case it upset some of her pupils who are Jehovah's Witnesses.
Parents have accused her of "political correctness gone mad" reports The Sun.
But Miss Jackson, of The Oaks primary school in Ipswich, said: "For our students who are Jehovah's Witnesses, hot cross buns are not part of their beliefs.
"We decided to have the cross removed in respect of their beliefs."
The local Vicar, Father Haley Dossor, said: "I'd be amazed if anyone was offended by the cross on a bun. The school is wrong to act like this."
DROPS Remy Ma is poised to take out Lil' Kim, Foxy GLENN GAMBOA
February 7, 2006
With Lil' Kim in the slam and Foxy Brown dealing with serious hearing loss, the time is right for a strong, sexy female rapper. Enter Remy Ma.
The Bronx native, protege of the late Big Pun, has been waiting in the wings as the first lady of Terror Squad for six years now to release her debut album. But it was her scene-stealing verse on Fat Joe's "Lean Back" that made it clear that she was going to get her shot.
And she makes the most of it on "There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story" (SRC/Universal), with help from Fat Joe and "it" boy Ne-Yo, as well as hot producers Swizz Beatz, Cool & Dre and Scott Storch.
The first single, "Whut- eva," is already a club hit, as Remy's rhymes roll out over Swizz's characteristically fine beats. "You see Rem is a monster, I'm rap's MVP the star on the roster, officially a Boogie-Down Bronxer," she raps. "Terror Squad ain't 'The Brady Bunch' and I ain't Marcia."
The upcoming single, "Conceited," produced by Storch, has a bit of an Eastern influence, but that gets pushed to the background as Remy's flow dominates the song, which ends up feeling like a Missy Elliott hit.
"There's Something About Remy" has plenty of potential hits, though the standout track is "Thug Love," which features the late Big Pun in one of his final appearan-ces. The sweetness of the chorus from The Spinners' "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" sets off Remy's tough rhymes nicely. It's a mix that also works well on "Still" and "What's Going On" with Keyshia Cole.
With "There's Something About Remy," Remy Ma shows all the hook girls and cameo rappers out there that persistence still pays off. In her case, it paid off big.
("There's Something About Remy," in stores today; Grade: B.)
BRIGHT "NIGHT SKY." On deadboy & the Elephantmen's debut "We Are Night Sky" (Fat Possum), Dax Riggs' vocals bear the distinctive stamp of his previous experiences as a Jehovah's Witness and the singer for death metal outfit Acid Bath. It has a gospel tinge and a bit of heavy-metal boom, along with poignant flecks of Lou Reed and soaring Jeff Buckley soul. The Louisiana duo - Riggs on vocals and guitars and Tessie Brunet on drums and backing vocals - surrounds his voice with a stirring mix of passionate White Stripes-ish blues-rock ("Blood Music") and Velvet Underground cool ("Break It Off"). On the folkie "No Rainbow," where Brunet's delicate vocals provide a nice balance, and the epic "How Long The Night Was," deadboy & the Elephantmen show why they will be one of the year's breakout bands.
("We Are Night Sky," in stores today; Grade: B+.)
ALSO IN STORES. Adventurous Britpopsters Belle & Sebastian's "The Life Pursuit" (Matador); sweet Scottish folk-soul singer KT Tunstall's "Eye to the Telescope" (Virgin); and new hip-hop crew Dem Franchize Boyz's eponymous debut (Virgin).
SONG OF THE WEEK. Speaking of The White Stripes, Jack White's new project is The Raconteurs, a Michigan indie-rock supergroup of sorts with White and singer-songwriter Brendan Benson on vocals and guitars.
Their debut single "Steady as She Goes" (V2) is out in England, though not in America until March. Release-date freakiness aside (stream the single on www.theraconteurs .com if you can't wait), "Steady as She Goes" shows that this partnership should be pretty promising. It opens with what sounds like Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" before settling into an addictive mix of early '80s new wave herky-jerky and early '90s grunge roar that demands repeated listening.
Chief seeks reform of LAFD discipline
Fire chief seeks to form internal affairs division
|By Dan Laidman, Staff Writer |
|Fire Chief William Bamattre will seek $500,000 to establish an internal affairs unit in an effort to overhaul the department's discipline system and end widespread harassment, discrimination and retaliation among its ranks. |
While an audit released last week faulted weak leadership for allowing the harassment to continue despite a decade of rhetoric, Bamattre said fixing the 30-year-old discipline system is at the top of his reforms.
"We need to have our disciplinary process updated. It doesn't provide the type of consistency the audit brought out," Bamattre said in an interview.
Bamattre said the half-million dollars in his pending budget request would be used to hire full-time, independent investigators.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa generally supports the reform effort, but is still reviewing budget specifics, spokesman Joe Ramallo said.
"The mayor has asked his Fire Commission to evaluate the recommendations made in the controller's audit and come up with a plan for implementing them and determining the feasibility of implementing them," he said.
Fire Department internal investigations currently are poorly documented, insufficiently independent and carried out by untrained personnel, according to the audit by City Controller Laura Chick.
Most inquiries are conducted by captains on a two-year rotation who do not receive enough specialized training and will eventually return to work with those they are investigating, the audit said.
"It's difficult, in our job, when you're working with somebody and living with them 24 hours, you may have to turn around and do an investigation on them," Bamattre said.
Bamattre said he wants to reform the disciplinary process to more closely resemble the Los Angeles Police Department's system - which gives the chief and a civilian oversight panel more authority.
He said, however, that such changes would require legislative action from the council and, perhaps, modifications to the City Charter.
Some changes also require collaboration with the union that represents rank and file firefighters.
Pat McOsker, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, said the union worked with Bamattre on the budget request and supports the plan to create an internal affairs unit.
"There are real problems with discipline on the LAFD and the essence of the problem is some people get lots and lots of discipline - really excessive discipline - for a particular violation and other people get none," McOsker said. "There's favoritism and disparity of treatment."
But the audit also suggested that some supervisors underneath Bamattre may not be supporting his efforts.
Bamattre said he has stepped up leadership efforts, meeting with recently hired firefighters outside the presence of supervisors and holding more regular management meetings.
The chief said he has initiated a human relations training program for all firefighters, held special meetings with potential future supervisors, and has used technology like DVDs to communicate more with the rank and file.
The audit acknowledged such initiatives but said they have only recently begun so it is too soon to evaluate their success.
While Bamattre this week insisted he and his current command staff are up to the task of fixing the long-standing problems, some on the City Council say management shifts should be on the table.
"There may have to be some transfers of command staff that aren't complying with (Bamattre's)
directives of the Fire Commission, and the city of Los Angeles," said Councilman Dennis Zine. "Every time we have a lawsuit it costs the city money."
Among the recent suits is a case out of a Chatsworth fire station in which a trio of veteran firefighters allege violations of state employment law in connection with "severe and pervasive" harassment.
Plaintiff Brenda Lee joined the department 13 years ago and was in the academy when male personnel created a derogatory "female follies" video that created a scandal in the mid-1990s, according to court papers.
The lawsuit says Lee, an African-American lesbian, experienced racism and homophobia from colleagues and supervisors for years. In an interview this week, Lee said a supervisor told her, "I don't like the way you look, I don't like your lifestyle."
The lawsuit alleges Lee was forced to engage in repeated training drills without proper safety precautions and had her locker ransacked. The complaint charges that supervisors made derogatory comments about gay citizens when they responded to calls at their homes.
Lee's co-plaintiffs are longtime firefighters Gary Mellinger and Steve Bressler, who allege they were discriminated against and harassed because of their age. Bressler also alleges he was harassed because he is a Jehovah's Witness.
The pair said in an interview that they faced retaliation when they reported the harassment against Lee. While Bressler and Mellinger left the department, Lee was put on leave for a minor disciplinary issue after a meeting with department investigators, the lawsuit alleges.
Jerry Thomas, an African-American captain currently on leave who spoke out during the discrimination scandals of the mid-1990s, said Lee was treated unfairly.
He compared her case to that of one of his subordinates, whom he said he was unable to discipline promptly despite more serious allegations.
"The discipline process is very vindictive, very selective," Thomas said.
And even with the recent increased attention, discrimination remains blatant, Thomas said.
As recently as two months ago, Thomas said a white firefighter insulted a black colleague with a remark about lynching when they came across a dog in a tree.
The Chatsworth case is set to go to trial in September. Bamattre declined to comment on specific cases involving litigation, but city lawyers have responded in court papers denying the allegations and saying any action taken against the plaintiffs was related to job performance.
The chief said he will discuss the findings of the audit Tuesday at a meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners, which Villaraigosa has tasked to craft a plan to address the issues.
TROY - An argument over money led to the murder of an elderly man last month, according to a witness' statement and an alleged confession by the suspect.
Friends of Donald Dougrey's roommate, John Waters, used his apartment to do drugs, and one of those friends fatally stabbed Dougrey in the neck the night of Jan. 11 at his 507 Grand St. apartment, according to police reports.
Jason Jones, 30, who lives next door at 505 Grand St., was arrested Saturday and charged with second-degree murder.
Jones, according to police, confessed to police that an argument between Dougrey, 78, and two prostitutes, who were acquaintances of Jones and Waters, ended when Jones stabbed Dougrey in the neck with a kitchen knife.
The women, identified as "V" and "Jules," argued with Dougrey and each other over money that they say Waters was supposed to give them for food, according to Jones's confession. Waters left the apartment without giving them the money, and Jules argued with Dougrey while V yelled at her.
Jones's statement read: "Mr. D said, 'I don't have any money; John should have gave you money before he went out.' V was yelling at Jules about getting money for food.
"I couldn't take the yelling so I went over to the kitchen counter and grabbed a small black handled kitchen knife. ... Jules was yelling at V and Mr. D. While they were yelling, I raised the knife, which was in my right hand, and stabbed Mr. D in the neck. He immediately fell to the floor. I went and stood over him and stared at him for a second. I couldn't believe what just happened."
Jones then left the two women and went next door to his apartment. He rinsed blood off his hands and wrapped the knife in a napkin. The next day, he dropped the knife in a sewer on the corner of Grand Street and Fifth Avenue, he told police.
On Sunday morning, the night after Jones gave his confession, city Department of Public Works pumped the sewer as detectives searched through the muck to try and find the knife.
According to police, on Friday, one of the two women who witnessed Dougrey's stabbing came forward and painted a picture of the events that led to the killing. The women would exchange sexual favors on the street for drug money, or to older men to be able to smoke crack in their homes, the statement read. They smoked crack at Dougrey's apartment at least twice before the night of the killing.
There are slight discrepancies between the woman's and Jones's account of the incident, but the core of what they said likely led to Dougrey's death is the same.
According to the woman's statement, on the night Dougrey was killed, she, the other woman and Jones (also identified in her statement as"Murder") were smoking crack in the bathroom of Dougrey's apartment.
They were running low on crack, so she left the apartment to "turn a trick" and get money to buy more. She came back to 507 Grand St. and saw the other woman, Jones and Dougrey, who was dying.
"I looked to the left and saw "Murder" bent over looking at an older man, who was lying on the floor with blood all around his head area," her statement read. "I could tell it was the same older gentleman I saw in the apartment before ...
"Murder then stood up and said, 'You don't know nothing, you don't see nothing."
Later that night, Dougrey's son, Mark, found Dougrey dying on the floor of the apartment. Neighbors said Mark Dougrey had come to pick his father up to go to a Jehovah's Witness church meeting.
On Sunday, neighbors were stunned to learn that Jones had been arrested and had confessed to killing Dougrey.
"I never thought Jason would do that. Never in a million years," said Ed Zepf, Jones' downstairs neighbor. "I just don't know what happened."
"I don't know what he was into, and I just as soon don't want to know," he added.
Jones is charged with second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Jones was arraigned in Troy City Court Sunday morning and sent to Rensselaer County Jail without bail.