Ian O'Doherty: It's racism, innit #1
The movie Precious is certainly a first in that it features a fat, illiterate black teenager as the central character.
And, through the help of others and, more importantly, her own determination, she pulls herself up by her bootstraps and finds redemption.
So, a movie with such a positive message should be welcomed by everyone, right? Wrong. According to the rather ironically named Armond White, the most senior black film critic in America: "Not since Birth Of The Nation has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black America as much as Precious. Full of brazenly racist clichés. . . it is a sociological horror show."
But perhaps the most hilarious and bizarre criticism came from a black British critic who opined: "Many Africans in America seem to be consumed by notions of a national, rather than a racial, identity: in many ways, being perceived as American is much more important than being an African."
Flip that dumb and utterly racist argument for a minute -- can you imagine Indo film critic Paul Whitington coming out with a similarly nauseating complaint that The Commitments failed because it "seems to be consumed by notions of a national rather than racial identity, being perceived as Irish is much more important than being white"?
Nope, didn't think so. Although, on second thoughts, anything's possible with that Whitington fella. . .
It's racism, innit #2
ISpy is convinced that the French burqa ban is not motivated by the desire to protect the traditional fabric of French society; it is instead a devilishly cunning plan to force all hardline Muslims to emigrate to Britain in a huff.
But the controversy has certainly brought out some unpleasantly Islamophobic elements in France.
Look at this quote: "Full face veils have no place and belong to a tiny minority tradition reflecting an ideology that scuttles Islam. The burqa is a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination."
What racist said that?
Um, step forward Hassen Chalghoumi, a Tunisian-born Imam based in Paris who says there is no religious justification for the burqa.
Let's see the fatwa going on his head.
First we take dover
Contrary to popular opinion, the English and the French have always had a very simple and straightforward relationship -- they hate each other and both sides are comfortable with that arrangement.
But now things have become ever so slightly more complicated. In what must rank as one of the single most insanely cheeky moves by a Frenchman since Charles de Gaulle tried to take credit for the liberation of Paris, the northern French district of Pas-de-Calais has seceded from France and declared themselves to be part of England -- in order to receive grant money from the International Olympic Council.
They have already set up training camps and the local mayor says: "I consider that we are the south of England, and because we're the south of England it's normal that we would associate ourselves with this extraordinary event."
The French government initially scoffed at official British complaints and said there was nothing they could do to stop them.
Until, that is, Downing Street said they would accept Pas-de-Calais as a new region -- on condition the French take Northern Ireland in return.
The Gallic response: "Merde! Okay, we'll go back to the way we were."