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Council flagpoles now celebrate diversity and druids

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Northampton council flies the Tibetan flag on March 2, known as Tibet Lobby Day and organised by campaigners for the area’s independence Photo: ALAMY

Critics say that many of the new flags are little more than “logos on bedsheets” and have called on councils to stick to more traditional ones.

In Wigan, the council commissioned a report to make sure that its protocol for flags fitted in with the authority’s diversity policy.

Among the other flags flown from town halls are those to mark No Smoking Day, to support the Carbon Trust, as well as various awarded to councils by environmental bodies.

Many councils now hoist the gay “rainbow” flag at least once a year, often on May 17th, International Day Against Homophobia. However, in Brighton, the council also flies the Transgender Pride flag, of light blue, pink and white stripes, on Transgender Day, on November 28th.

A number of councils also fly Islamic, Sikh and Hindu flags on important religious dates. In Bradford, the council has also hoisted the Rastafarian flag – of red, gold and green bars behind a lion – as well as the red, black and green bars of the “black liberation flag”, which was originally used by the Universal Negro Improvement Association, set up in the US by Marcus Garvey, the early twentieth century political leader.

Both flags are used by followers of the Rastafarian faith and between them are flown on a total of seven days in the calendar which are significant to the movement, including Marcus Garvey’s birthday, on August 17th.

Charnwood council, in Leicestershire, also flies a Druid flag – a circular, white symbol on a green back ground – to mark the summer and winter solstices.

In some areas, including Brent, in London, and Swindon, the flag of the European Union remains aloft all year round. Northampton council also flies the Tibetan flag on March 2, known as Tibet Lobby Day and organised by campaigners for the area’s independence.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has issued guidelines about the flying of flags, but ultimately, it is up to the authorities themselves.

The survey, conducted by The Sunday Telegraph, even found one council, Babergh, in Suffolk, which said it did not have a flagpole.

Graham Bartram, chief vexillologist at the Flag Institute, which promotes interest in the subject and advises the government on such matters, said: “I have no objection to councils flying flags to indicate support for various initiatives. I just wish they were better flags.

“Many of these are completely hopeless designs and are little more than white flags with a slogan on them. The term in the flag world for these is “LOBs” – logos on bedsheets. We recommend councils use regional flags and banners of arms.”

Malaysia Islamists object to Adam Lambert concert (Reuters)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s Islamist opposition party on Monday demanded that authorities cancel a planned concert by U.S. glam rocker Adam Lambert that they say is promoting “gay culture” in the mainly Muslim country.

The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has also threatened to call “as many of its members and supporters” to proselytise to concert-goers if the performance by the former “American Idol” runner-up goes ahead on Thursday, a party official said.

“Adam Lambert’s shows… are outrageous, with lewd dancing and a gay performance that includes kissing male dancers, this is not good for people in our country,” said PAS Youth leader Nasrudin Hasan. Homosexual sex is a criminal offence in Malaysia.

PAS is Malaysia’s second-largest political party with close to a million members and is a partner in a rainbow opposition grouping led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Foreign acts often draw protests from PAS, which since 2007 has campaigned against performances by singers including Beyonce, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne and Mariah Carey.

Police in May broke up a demonstration by Islamists including PAS supporters protesting against a concert by U.S. rapper Pitbull, underscoring a deepening tide of Islamic conservatism in the country.

An official from Malaysia’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry was reported saying that the singer, had signed a contract agreeing to abide by the Ministry’s rules on performances, which can require foreign performers to tone down their acts to suit local sensibilities.

(Reporting by Razak Ahmad; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Ambulance stolen with paramedics treating patient (AP)

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CHICAGO – Bond was set at $50,000 for a 27-year-old Chicago man accused of stealing an ambulance over the weekend while two paramedics treated someone he apparently knew in the back. Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said Jimmy McCoy allegedly jumped into the stopped ambulance and drove off with the emergency lights on.

The paramedics then radioed that they’re ambulance had been stolen with them inside.

Prosecutors told a hearing Sunday McCoy seemed to think he was driving his diabetic friend to the hospital.

In the Saturday incident, McCoy only made it a few blocks before a fire truck blocked the road. Police surrounded the ambulance and McCoy was arrested.

There was no telephone listing for a Jimmy McCoy at a home address provided by authorities.

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, View the original article here

Teenagers saved from drowning by space hopper

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Two teenage girls were saved from drowning by a space hopper toy after being swept out to sea in Devon. A neighbour who heard the commotion then came out with the space hopper and threw it into the sea Photo: ALAMY

The large rubber inflatable with handles was thrown to the pair after they were dragged too far out to reach a life buoy.

The girls – aged 15 and 16 – used the space hopper as a float as they swam towards the buoy before being rescued by lifeboat crews.

Coastguards, police and the ambulance service were also involved in the rescue on Saturday evening.

The teenagers, who have not been named, were swept off a sea wall in Dawlish, east Devon, and dragged about 59ft (18m) out to sea at about 6.30pm.

A group of young men heard their screams and raced along the wall to throw them a life buoy, but were unable to reach them.

A neighbour who heard the commotion then came out with the space hopper and threw it into the sea.

Leigh Jarratt, one of the rescuers, said: “We were just trying to scream to them to swim to the life buoy.

“To be honest the only thing that saved them was one of my other neighbours, Shane, he brought out a space hopper.

“Matt, with a brilliant throw, managed to get it right next to the girls and they managed to get hold of the space hopper for a long enough time to be able to get hold of the life buoy. The space hopper saved the day.”

The girls were taken to the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, where the 15-year-old was treated for secondary drowning – a condition in which water has entered the lungs and can cause the patient to drown several hours after being rescued. She was kept in overnight and her current condition is not known.