Saturday, February 2, 2008

Afflecks Saved

Good News for a change on this front...

Iconic Afflecks saved by owners
BBC News, UK - 1 Feb 2008

A shopping emporium in Manchester's Northern Quarter has been saved from closure after its landlords struck a deal following months of negotiations.

Afflecks Palace is popular among the city's youth for its many market-type stalls which sell punk, retro and avant-garde fashions.

Its future was thrown into doubt as its 25-year lease is set to expire in June.

The emporium, which has been trading for 26 years, has been bought out by landlords Bruntwood.

They struck a deal with manager and founder Elaine Walsh as an interim measure but are planning to find someone else with expertise in running similar enterprises to buy it from them.

'Absolutely chuffed'

In a joint statement, Bruntwood and Afflecks' management team said: "After 26 years of trading, Afflecks management has sold their company to Bruntwood in an agreement that protects the future of Afflecks....

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Goth Bus discrimination saga continues

The story continues to grow (See first first post Goths banned by bus driver) with the parents involved and a number of interviews on radio and TV:

My daughter the human pet
The mother does not mind.

Sunday People, UK - Jan 26, 2008


There has now been more media attention paid to the goths on the Bus saga than to the death of Sophie Lancaster. Why was no similar attention paid to the story of the
12 year old Blackburn emo kid surrounded, attacked and humiliated by a gang which was reported only a week earlier? Or the conviction of a criminal in Devon who severely beat a goth because of how he dressed?

In the way the story is run it is generally used as a small humorous story. There is a real danger that discrimination against alternative subcultures can be dismissed as a bit of harmless eccentricity, as just an individual issue facing a few weird people, rather than a serious one faced by a not insignificant minority which leads to injury and death. Because of the story has a BDSM overtone this allows the media a chance for further distortion from the real issue which is that a bus driver deliberately refused to take on passengers.

That is the issue not how people dress or live their lives.

Also some of the media focus on the fact both of the people involved are both currently unemployed actually Tasha is at college while Dani is going to start a course on caring for disabled children in March.

The story has now been covered across the world as it was picked up by major news wires like Reuters leading to over 60 stories see a few below, plus it was covered on Radio 2 on Friday on Jeremy Vine as well as the BBC in Look North and on GMTV:

'Human pet' wins apology for being thrown off bus | PerthNow Australia

British man banned from getting on a bus after walking his ...
The Cheers, Estonia - 22 hours ago

'Pet' girl kicked off bus for wearing leash_Kaleidscope--China ...

London "Pet Girl" Kicked Off Bus For Wearing Dog Leash
American Chronicle, CA - Jan 25, 2008

No dogs on bus, driver tells goth on leash
Brisbane Times, Australia - Jan 23, 2008

As well as in many British papers:

No goths allowed on bus | The Sun |HomePage|News

Walkies? Not on my bus, mate Scotsman, United Kingdom - Jan 24, 2008

Leash said, soonest mended ... Huddersfield Examiner, UK - Jan 24, 2008

Skaters in Manchester protest restrictions

Manchester has some of he most restrictive laws on skateboarding in the UK. But skaters are doing something with a new protest and petition.

Petition to: Remove the Byelaws which ban skateboarding in Manchester's City Centre.

The Byelaws, introduced in 2001, prohibit skateboarding in Manchester's City Centre and criminalizes young people who, by skateboarding, are doing something physically active, socially engaging, constructive and creative.

The Government want to reduce obesity, increase social inclusion, encourage "play" activities among young people and reduce youth offending rates. The Byelaws oppose all of these aims.

It was organised by SkateMCR who have a good site here about the ban. Article about it here.

Flying squad ramp up
Manchester Evening News, UK -Jan 18, 2008

KEEN skateboarder 'Chris' travels more than 200 miles, all the way from Pontypridd in Wales to use the facilities Manchester has to offer.

Yet despite what appears to be a ringing endorsement of the city's ability to attract skaters to its facilities, Chris and his fellow skaters still feel Manchester needs to `pull its finger out'.

"I reckon a skate plaza in the city centre would be great so we could street skate without all the hassle of being asked to leave," says Chris, 23.

Byelaws prevent city centre skating and cover the big attraction for Mancunian street skaters - Cathedral Gardens, outside Urbis. Anyone found flouting the law receives a formal warning, and may be prosecuted.

Since these measures were introduced in 2001, more than 100 people have received verbal warnings and at least four have been taken to court, fined and ordered to pay costs.

The problem, though, can only get worse. Skateboarding has gone through a revival since 2000 and hundreds of skaters now flock to the city every weekend.

On one side of the debate, the skaters claim they're starved of decent purpose-built facilities, but on the other, the council believes street skating is anti-social to shoppers and tourists, not to mention expensive as the council has to fork out to repair damage to street furniture.


Yet the lure of skateboarding stretches beyond the city centre, across the length and breadth of Greater Manchester. A new skatepark at Stamford Park, Altrincham, is in the offing after police, community leaders and councillors agreed it was sorely needed to help get young people off the streets and engaging in and creative energetic pastime.

Teenage skater Nick James believes provision of more facilities is long overdue. "Skaters in Manchester really need a skate plaza, something similar to Urbis, but designed especially for skaters," says the 17-year-old.

"There aren't enough facilities. The one under the Mancunian Way gets wet if it rains because there are no walls - it makes it unusable."

That venue is council-funded, but Mick Regan, head of community activity at Manchester council, says the problem is keeping all parties happy.

"We have a lot of meetings where people have conflicting demands. We're heavily involved in the Mancunian Way skatepark. Along with the financial assistance, we also run the positive futures program, helping disadvantaged kids get involved with sports, like skateboarding."

The UK Skateboarding Association has raised concerns about the number and quality of the skateparks. Chairman Kevin Parrot believes there are too few indoor parks and the rest are badly constructed council parks.


Lack of suitable facilities shifts the problem back to the streets, where the skaters are drawn to places with the architecture and street furniture to hone their skills, such as steps, handrails and ramps.

But Cathedral Gardens is now out of bounds and two other favourite hangouts have also gone: the Gasworks is now under redevelopment, and the University of Manchester campus has introduced anti-skateboarding devices, like blister paving.

"I can understand why people prefer to street skate," says Paul Harrison, owner of The World Famous Central Skatepark. "The idea of exploring and finding new spots is the whole point.

"But I also think it's common sense that there are laws in place. I'm not saying people shouldn't street skate, I'm just saying it's unfair to try and demand that they're allowed to damage other people's property."

But a rebellion is brewing. SkateMCR was set up by disgruntled Mancunian skaters, fed up with the restrictions and poor skating facilities in the city. They want the bans lifted and have even petitioned the Prime Minister's website.

However, Steve Bass, who recently bought one of the region's largest skateparks, believes the real way forward is through cooperation between skaters and local councils.

Steve's UKskatepark in Stockport (formerly Bones) attracts around 200 people every Saturday. "Lot's of outdoor parks in Manchester are built by the local councils, who tend to order ramps out of catalogues and then plonk them somewhere with no thought to their set up," explains Steve.

"There's only one other indoor park in the city, Central Skatepark, and if that gets too busy it's almost unusable."

The all-weather concrete platforms around Urbis mean it has found itself at the centre of the debate. But chief executive Vaughan Allen is keen to show they embrace the city's skate culture. He said: "Urbis has adopted a proactive response to the problem by holding a number of skateboarding exhibits and events."

Long Hair Discrimination case in Texas - 4 suspended

Seems there is something about long hair that riles schools in Texas as well as Northern Ireland.
I note that Frontiersman Davy Crockett was one of the heroes of the Alamo who had long hair, as indeed did George Washington. So both of those men would be suspended in that particular Texas school if they were there today. Below we have a series of articles on a longstanding row.

Long-haired teen says trim not likely

E. Texas district warned him he risks not graduating if it's not cut
12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, January 8, 2008
By MATTHEW HAAG / The Dallas Morning News

KERENS, Texas – Matthew Lopez-Widish hasn't cut his curly brown hair in four years, and he doesn't plan to despite an ultimatum from high school administrators.

Matthew Lopez-Widish was told by Kerens officials to cut his hair before returning to classes, per the policy that forbids male students from having hair that extends past the collar.

A few days before Christmas break at Kerens High School, about 15 miles east of Corsicana in a tiny town known as the birthplace of Big Tex, the straight-A student and at least four other students were called into the principal's office.

Cut your hair by the time you return to school in January or be sent to alternative school, be removed from all extracurricular activities and risk not graduating, Matthew said the principal and assistant principal told him.

Classes in the Kerens district resume today.

"I told them that I'm not going to cut my hair," said Matthew, 18, whose hair, when uncurled, reaches the middle of his back. "It may seem kind of stubborn, but to me, it's part of who I am."

Matthew says that his rights are being stripped and that he's going to take his concerns to the school board meeting Monday.

Making his case

"I just want the school board to notice that just because I have long hair doesn't mean I'm going to quit learning or obstructing people from learning," Matthew said.

Downtown Kerens consists of a three-block strip of red brick road and mostly vacant or dilapidated one-story storefronts. About a mile to the south is the school district's campus, which houses all grade levels.

During school board meetings last fall, parents complained about recurring instances of students disobeying the hair code in the student handbook. Apparently, some long-haired boys were not doing a good enough job keeping their hair from falling below their shirt collar or from covering their ears.

The hair policy for male students at Kerens High is straightforward: No hair past the collar, no hair below the eyebrows, hair can't extend ½ inch over the ears, and ponytails can be no longer than a half-inch. The student dress code does not mention hair length for female students.

By December, Superintendent Kevin Stanford came up with a solution to repeated complaints about hair length: All high school males with long hair must get haircuts.

"What happened was that a number of male students would come in with it down, and they would play games and not have it up when they should have," said Mr. Stanford, whose grayish hair is cut close to the scalp. "The students had a chance to follow the rules, and they didn't."

Too many students would be on campus before or after school with their long hair let down in violation of school policy, Mr. Stanford said.

"The problem is that they don't consistently comply with the policy," he said, though he's never seen Matthew disobey the dress code rules.

To meet the dress code standards, Matthew's mom braids his hair and then tucks the braids to shorten them and keep them off his collar. He slicks back his hair on the top to keep it out of his face and from covering his ears. After the five-minute process is over, it's hard to tell that his hair is nearly 2 feet long, Matthew said.

His friend Wesley Bunch, who was also called into the principal's office, puts his much shorter blond hair in a ponytail and wears a headband to keep it out of his face.

Matthew's mom, Linda Lopez, doesn't buy the superintendent's reasoning that students didn't comply. She believes that the school board is against males having long hair, which she says is utterly foolish.

"It's not the '60s anymore. They aren't hippies, and they aren't radical anti-war tree huggers," she said.

Schools' right

Jim Walsh, a school law expert in Austin, said that school districts have the legal right to mandate hair and dress codes. Several cases, including one in the 1990s from Bastrop ISD that reached the Texas Supreme Court, have been decided in favor of the school districts.

"The courts generally affirm these standards," Mr. Walsh said.

Some challenges made on the basis of religious discrimination have been successful.

If Matthew is sent to alternative school, he could risk losing his extracurricular activities. His participation in a work program allows him to leave school early to go to his job as a cashier at a Jack in the Box near Corsicana, where he works upward of 30 hours a week.

But more important, Matthew said, he would be removed from One-Act Play, the UIL-sponsored theater contest that begins the first day back from the holiday break.

"That's one thing that I'd hate to lose," said Matthew, who played a villain in a recent community play.

His friend Wesley, is in the same situation. If he doesn't cut his hair, he will be removed from the school's skateboarding team.

But neither is budging.

Wesley and Matthew said the administration can send them to alternative school. And if that happens, Mrs. Lopez said, she'd look into removing her son from the district.

"It's just a kid with long hair," she said. "It doesn't seem like a punishment that he deserves."

Suspended KHS student likely to attend Trinidad

January 11, 2008 01:44 am

Suspended KHS student likely to attend Trinidad

By Janet Jacobs

Two of the four boys suspended from Kerens High School Tuesday have returned to classes, while two others are holding firm to their long locks.

A disciplinary hearing was conducted Thursday afternoon for Matthew Lopez-Widish, a senior, who has been growing his hair since eighth grade. He moved to the Kerens district in the fall of 2006, and was allowed to keep his long hair because he was willing to bind his hair up. Three other boys were also allowed to keep long hair by following the same procedure.

However, some of the boys weren’t consistent in following the rules, and sometimes had to be asked to go pull back their hair, leading to complaints from teachers and parents, according to Superintendent Kevin Stanford.

In December, the school district told the boys they had to cut their hair or they wouldn’t be allowed back in school following the Christmas break.

On Tuesday, the hammer fell in the form of suspensions.

Following haircuts, Wesley Bunch and Andy Coronado returned to school.

“We initially suspended four students. Two of the four have returned to the classsroom,” Stanford confirmed.

Lopez-Widish and Derek Divetta remained out of school. Both want to transfer to the Trinidad school district, which is less than 10 miles east on Texas Highway 31.

However, before they can transfer, the students have to complete their punishments in Kerens, first. The punishments handed down in Thursday’s conference with school officials was not made public. Trinidad’s dress code only calls for a student’s hair to be neat and clean, but doesn’t specify a length, Lopez said.

In a visit to the Daily Sun offices Thursday, Linda Lopez said the family has been contacted by representatives of the “Dr. Phil” television show, adding to the nation-wide attention the incident has attracted. Lopez-Widish also was scheduled to appear on Thursday’s “CBS Early Show” to discuss his experiences.

Parent airs concerns over KISD hair policy
January 15, 2008
By Loyd Cook
KERENS — One more parent is complaining about an offspring being moved off campus to an alternative learning center, all because of the length of the student’s hair.

Walter King, the stepfather of Kerens ISD middle school student Emilio Compoz, said getting a “bad mark on his record” for liking to wear his hair long is unfair.

“They say (the long hair) is a distraction,” King said. “It’s not a distraction to the kids.”

“I think it’s nice everyone stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag,” he added, referencing how the KISD Board of Trustees began its meeting. “That’s freedom. But what about his freedom?”

King was speaking during the portion of the KISD board meeting set aside for public forum. Since the topic he spoke on was not an agenda item, the board could take no action in response, board president Kenny Berry said.

Two high school teens also cited for their long hair have gotten it cut and returned to classes. Another, Matthew Lopez-Widish, had a disciplinary hearing Thursday, eventually agreeing to serve five days in the KISD Alternative Learning Center before transferring out and enrolling in Trinidad’s public school district.

Compoz will remain in the Alternative Learning Center until his family makes a decision on what they wish to do. Kerens superintendent Kevin Stanford said King was welcome to pick up a complaint form in his office Tuesday, and meet with him about the issue.

In an agenda item, trustees adopted a policy covering sex offenders visitation, approving the second option of ones presented to them at a meeting last month.

The policy forbids any person from entering or being present on any school district property if he or she is required to register as a sex offender, regardless of the age of the victim.

Suspended for Blue Hair

The Barrie Examiner - Ontario, CA
26 Jan 2008

School policy leaves Barrie boy feeling blue; Sent home after dyeing his hair for hockey

Posted By TRACY McConkey

Posted 1 day ago

Old-fashioned team spirit went up in a bluish smoke yesterday when a Grade 7 student was sent home because he had dyed his hair blue for his Barrie hockey team's playoff games.

"I guess I'll take one for the team," quipped Adam Zussino, 13, a Grade 7 student at St. Catherine of Siena School in Barrie, who was told to go home after his principal had a look at his bright blue hair.

Zussino and his peewee 'A' teammates dyed their hair blue for the team color to start the playoffs began.

"We were shocked," said his mother, Brenda Zussino. She and her husband went to school yesterday morning with Adam to explain to principal Mario Melchiorre why their son was a little off-colour.

"He was very nice, but he said Adam can't come to school," she said. "He said if the school allows Adam to have blue hair then he has to allow punks, emos and gangs to wear colours. I think that's ridiculous. We're talking about team spirit and the great Canadian sport."

While Adam is not officially suspended from school, he is not allowed to come back until his hair is brown. Or blond. Or black. Meanwhile, teammates who attend other schools were met with cheers of support when they went to school yesterday.

"My teacher loved it," said teammate Cameron Russell, 12, who attends Pope Jean Paul II elementary school, which is also a Catholic school. "He said it's good for team spirit."

A dress code for St. Catherine of Siena states: "Students shall not have extreme colours and styles related to certain subcultures that are not in keeping with Christian values."

But Zussino says she believes team spirit is exactly the kind of Christian values that should be encouraged.

"I don't remember reading anything in the Bible that says God doesn't like blue hair," she said. "These are dedicated kids who do their homework and get up in the dark at five in the morning to go to practise."

She says some of the team parents are so upset they wrote letters to Don Cherry.

A spokesperson for the Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic District School Board said the dress code was written by the parents of the school, and it's not up to the principal to change the rules.

"Hair colour is a concern to parents, because there are a lot of different styles related to gangs and off cultures, and that's not something parents want to see," she said. "The code is very clear, and it has been met by the parents with overwhelming support."

Adam's parents say they will allow him to do his schoolwork at home for the playoff season, rather than back out on his team.

"I live for hockey," Adam said. "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong."

Parents of the rest of Adam's team say they will be coming to tonight's game at the East Bayfield Community Centre wearing blue wigs.