Texas school comes under fire after students wear burqas in class

 

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Parents are accusing the Lumberton Independent School District of promoting Islam, but the district says it was simply following standard curriculum.

Pictures of five high school students wearing burqas in a Texas classroom have surfaced on the Internet, sparking outrage and upsetting parents and community members.

Although initial reports indicated that the students had been made to wear the burqas as part of a controversial online public school curriculum called CSCOPE — which has been criticized for its aleged “Islamic and anti-American bias” — the school district released a statement Monday saying the students volunteered to wear the burqas during a lesson taught as part of standard Texas public school curriculum.

The students, who attend Lumberton High School in Lumberton, Texas, wore the burqas for a geography class held on Feb. 1 that the Lumberton Unified School District says is  intended to teach them about different cultures.

But some parents came across a photo on Facebook of their children wearing burqas during the lesson, igniting debate about whether the school was promoting Islam.

The online news site WND reported that a student had quoted a teacher as saying, “We are going to change your perception of Islam.”

According to WND, a student reported the teacher as also saying, “I do not necessarily agree with this, but I am supposed to teach you that we are not to call these people terrorists.”

A student in the class said the burqa exercise had focused on fashion and “did not include the fact that in many Muslim communities, women who appear in public without a burqa face being beaten, imprisoned or murdered by family members, vigilante groups or even the state,” WND said.

Lumberton resident David Bellow posted about the incident on his blog, criticizing the school for what he alleged was a biased curriculum.

“I have no problem with them teaching students about different kinds of cultures, but just don’t tell them that burqas are just a fashion statement when women are punished in some of these countries for not wearing them,” Bellow told MSN News. “The issue is that it was portrayed in a biased way and didn’t tell the whole story.”

Bellow said that parents were also upset that there had been no mention of Christianity during the lesson. “If you are teaching about Islam, you should teach about Christianity as well,” he said.

He added that parents were furious because students had said that they were told to call terrorists “freedom fighters.”

“Lumberton does not ‘promote’ Islam, but ‘teaches’ a world geography curriculum as prescribed by the state of Texas,” Lumberton Independent School District Superintendent John Valastro told MSN News. “The teacher is a veteran teacher and she is Jewish. Now of all people, if anyone had an agenda to teach the negative aspects of Islam, it might be her. The teacher was teaching about culture and not about a dangerous radical religion.”

The district addressed the accusations against it in a statement posted on its website Monday:

“Recently a picture had surfaced showing five students dressed in burqa’s [sic] (Islamic attire) in a World Geography classroom at Lumberton High School. The lesson that was offered was not a written CSCOPE lesson; however it informed students to the customary culture of the people in the Middle East.

“The lesson that was offered focused on exposing students to world cultures, religions, customs, and belief systems. A description on the whiteboard behind the students show the splits in religions: Islam (Sunni and Shia), Judaism (Reform, Conservatives, and Orthodox), and Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant). Clothing expresses the individual culture. The lesson is not teaching a specific religion, and the students volunteered to wear the clothing.”

Valastro said that although he had not been present during the lesson, he was confident that the teacher would have addressed any questions students had about the punitive aspects of not wearing a burqa.

“I think the teacher is well versed in all the ramifications of what the religion represents,” Valastro said. “I assure you, she knows her stuff and if it came up, she could address the oppression piece quite clearly.”

Valastro added that the lesson was “a teachable moment to discuss the horrendous conditions that women live under in these countries.”

“Did we do everything right? Probably not, but we attempt to teach our students critical thinking skills so they can judge for themselves,” he said. “I can honestly say, to my knowledge, Lumberton ISD has never converted a single student to Islam.”

Quebec language police aim at more Montreal restaurants

laughing at Quebec

 

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More Montreal restaurateurs are speaking out about the demands imposed by Quebec’s language police over signs and menu items that are not in French.

Several restaurants, including Joe Beef, a high-end establishment in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood, and Brasserie Holder, an eatery located in Montreal’s Old Port, say they have been ordered to remove English or foreign words from menus and decor.

According to Maurice Holder, the owner of Brasserie Holder, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) asked the restaurant to comply with the law, Bill 101, and get rid of several things around the kitchen.

Holder said his chef’s grocery list, which was written on a blackboard when the language police dropped by the restaurant, said “salade, oeuf,sucre and steak.”

The OQLF told Holder to change “steak” to “bifteck,” he said.

The restaurateur said he was also asked to cover up print on a hot water switch that read “on/off.”

When a first layer of opaque tape failed to cover up the English words, Holder said he was told to add a second layer of tape.

David McMillan, the co-owner and chef at Joe Beef, was also asked to take down vintage signs in his restaurant and told to translate some items on his menu into French.

Maison Publique may not comply

Derek Dammann, the chef at Maison Publique, co-owned by world-renowned television chef Jamie Oliver, told CBC Radio Montreal’s morning program Daybreak that the OQLF paid the restaurant two visits after someone complained.

“They come in, took pictures of everything and don’t say a word [about what the complaint is],” said Dammann.

Dammann said Plateau Mont-Royal borough officials came by the restaurant a few days later to tell management to get rid of a large mural on the outside of the building.

Daniel Sanger, a political attaché at the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal, said the order to take down the mural had nothing to do with the OQLF, but was because the restaurant had no permit for the mural.

Damman said the restaurant would most likely refuse to comply with the OQLF’s demands because many other establishments seem to be fighting the language police requests.

“I mean, where it stands right now, everyone seems to be kicking up a fuss. I’m not going to be one to lie down and just … take it,” said Dammann.

Félix Léonard Gagné, the manager at Maison Publique, said the OQLF is dredging up old issues.

“I think it’s just maybe old problems and stuff that we don’t need to deal [with right now],” he said. “Like some old problems that we keep stirring up and taking back to the surface that we don’t [need in the future.]”

Last week, the OQLF issued a warning to the owners of Buonanotte, a chic Italian eatery in Montreal, for using Italian to name menu items, including the word “pasta.”

The OQLF backed down, following a public outcry.

OQLF spokesman Martin Bergeron said that outcry prompted the language police to review its order.

“We should not have asked for that,” he said. “But we did. It’s a mistake. Maybe it’s a little bit of zeal, but the important thing is we look at it more closely, and we come to the conclusion that there is nothing there.”

Ministry to review OQLF

In a news release issued Monday afternoon, Quebec Language Minister Diane De Courcy announced the government would be taking a closer look at the way the OQLF handles complaints.

With the help of the cultural communities and immigration ministry (MICC), De Courcy said her ministry would look at ways to improve the processes used when complaints are made to the language watchdog.

“At the ministry, we have verification experts that can help the organization with processing complaints to apply strict laws without creating unnecessary irritants. I mandated authorities at the MICC with this task in order to take action quickly,” said De Courcy in the release.

The ministry said it will be taking a look at the way the OQLF applies the laws written in the French-language charter and issue a report in March.

Asian American Kevin Tsujihara becomes CEO of the racist brothers(WB) movie company

will the racist brothers WB continue to whitewash POC characters in their future live adaptations of comics and novels after they choose an Asian American CEO?

 

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Kevin Tsujihara was named CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday, stunning Hollywood given that he was viewed as the dark-horse candidate for the top job at the studio.

As chief of the studio’s homevideo division, Tsujihara had been seen as something of a long shot in a three-way battle with Warner Bros. Picture Group president Jeff Robinov and Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum to succeed Barry Meyer, who will remain chairman through 2013.

While a statement from the studio made clear that Robinov and Rosenblum are continuing in their current roles, getting passed over for the CEO post immediately called into question their futures at Warner Bros.

Tsujihara told Variety that he’s very much hoping that Robinov and Rosenbloom remain in their posts in order to maintain stability at Warner Bros. — a theme that was emphasized in recent conversations with Meyer and Time Warner chairman-CEO Jeff Bewkes.

“In each conversation, we agreed that we don’t want to change the culture at Warner Bros. — not just for the management team but also the creative community and our partners such as Village Roadshow, Legendary and Alcon,” Tsujihara said.

“Given the talent, depth and strength of the Warner Bros.’ leadership, selecting our next CEO was not a decision that could be made hastily or lightly,” read a joint statement from Meyer and Bewkes. “But we both agreed that Kevin is the right person to lead Warner Bros. and to build on its proud heritage as the world’s most storied content producer.”

The ascension of Tsujihara, who starts March 1, will likely be seen as underscoring the importance of digital media for the future of the studio even though it isn’t currently a big revenue generator. A 20-year WB veteran, Tsujihara had been seen as the most progressive of the execs given the immersion of his division in new business models.

Tsujihara said there’s no timetable yet for any changes, adding, “One thing we want to do is get this right. I’m not coming into a situation where something is broken.”

Tsujihara, 48, has been president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment since 2005. While principally charged with managing the studio’s DVD business, he has a broad portfolio of responsibilities that encompass pretty much everything that isn’t part of the TV or movie fiefdoms.

That’s included the still-nascent business of digital distribution as well as videogames, technical operations and piracy.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead this storied business,” Tsujihara said. “We’re at a pivotal moment in the histories of Hollywood and entertainment: Technology is changing the canvas we use to create theatrical releases; home entertainment is rapidly evolving; and the definition of television now includes viewing across a wide range of devices and services.”

The race for the WB CEO job has been perhaps Hollywood’s most keenly followed, with speculation constantly swirling about shifting fortunes for the various candidates as they did best their not to look as if they were openly lobbying for the position.

Rosenblum offered a candid reaction of disappointment in not getting the promotion. “Obviously, I’m disappointed; who wouldn’t be?” he said in a statement. “Warner Bros. is a unique and special place, and I know it will be in good hands with Kevin at the helm. I continue to be proud of our accomplishments, and I have the most respect and admiration for our amazing team at the studio — a team that is thriving in an ever-transforming business.”

Under Tsujihara’s leadership, WB has been an aggressive player in digital distribution on a number of fronts. The studio played a leading role last year in the launch of Ultraviolet, a format backed across a consortium of industries that enables cloud-based distribution of content to a wide array of devices. While Ultraviolet is far from a success story after one year on the market, amassing over 7 million accounts, the technology is seen as Hollywood’s best hope for encouraging purchasing of films and TV series, as opposed to lower-margin but more popular rental options.

Tsujihara’s ascension will open up the top post at his homevid unit.

While it remains to be seen whether he restructures the portfolio he’s leaving behind, Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, to step up. Or, in keeping with the growing importance of digital at Warners, Tsujihara could end up handing the reins to Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

As for Robinov, he choose to keep his chin up in a corporate statement.

“I am truly happy and proud of Kevin,” he said. We are both good friends and colleagues, and I think he’s an excellent choice for the job. The company will be in great shape under his leadership.”

Robinov will remain on and continue overseeing the film division, but speculation will clearly begin to mount that he may step in for Ron Meyer as president of Universal if Meyer moves into a more corporate role at Comcast.

Rumors began mounting last fall that Robinov may be the man to replace Meyer, and this move to promote Tsujihara will only flame those suggestions.

Insiders add that a Robinov jump to Universal is by no means a certainty because many feel his internal management skills are what lost him the top job at Warner Bros. and would also be a factor if Universal considered him for Meyer’s job.

Robinov has headed the motion picture group since April 2011, when he replaced Alan Horn and was given sole greenlight authority over feature films.

During his tenure, Warner Bros. remained at or near the top of the box office thanks largely to betting big on tentpoles such as the final Harry Potter pics; “The Dark Knight Rises”; the “Sherlock Holmes,” “Hobbit” and “Hangover” franchises; and “Inception.”

For 2013, the studio’s key projects include Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” the studio’s reboot of its Superman franchise, along with Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi tentpole “Pacific Rim,” Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Slayer,” “Hangover 3” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Further out, the studio’s planning on a “Justice League” tentpole — presenting DC Comics characters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Green Lantern — on the order of Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Will Beall is scripting, but no director has been attached.

Robinov, a former talent agent, has maintained a strong filmmaker roster with first-look deals with Snyder, Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”), Robert and Susan Downey, Bradley Cooper, Tom Hardy, Clint Eastwood and “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman. The studio has three dozen first-look deals, more than any other.

Robinov is responsible for more than $2 billion in annual spending on production and marketing and has a solid relationship with the affable Tsujihara. It’s widely known that Robinov and Rosenblum have a chilly relationship, and it was believed that Robinov might have departed had Rosenblum become CEO.

Tsujihara was in charge of the negotiations over “The Hobbit” with MGM in 2010, leading to the start of production of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, which carries a pricetag in the range of $600 million. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has performed well, with worldwide grosses of over $940 million.