Basil Brush racist?

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Basil Brush is at the centre of a police investigation after an allegation that an episode of the programme was racist to gypsies.

A complaint was made after an episode of the BBC show featured a gypsy character selling pegs and lucky heather and a joke about a fortune teller stealing Basil’s wallet.

Gypsies reported the show to Northamptonshire Police alleging that the storyline is racist towards their community and way of life Joseph Jones, vice-chairman of the Southern England Romany, Gypsy and Irish Traveller Network, called on the BBC to pull the episode and give travellers the same protection and respect they give to other ethnic minorities.

“They need to realise that gypsies and travellers are a recognised ethnic minority in this country and deserve the same treatment as any other group,” he said. “To perpetuate this myth about gypsies and travellers is wrong. Attitudes like this belong 20 or 30 years ago, we are supposed to have moved on since then. “If they are going to keep showing this then I look forward to them bringing back the likes of Alf Garnett to the screen.”

The BBC refused to comment on the situation, with a spokesman saying the matter was now in the hands of the police. A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “We can confirm we have received a complaint about a TV show featuring Basil Brush from a member of the public. “The complaint was logged as an incident of a racist nature and we are now investigating.”

Blogging secret agents

Israeli secret agents are writing blogs about their lives in a bid to boost recruitment. Shin Beth, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, is allowing four agents to write blogs about their daily routines. The bloggers will also respond to messages from members of the public, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The four agents, whose names are replaced by a single initial, appear in black silhouette on the site’s home page. Much of Shin Beth’s work concerns the fight against Palestinian militants and it routinely uses informants and double agents. But a blog entry attributed to a female agent calling herself ‘H’ concerned itself more with how her work allowed her to spend plenty of time with her family.  “A friend told me about the opportunity to work for the Shin Beth,” wrote Agent H. “I was looking for a place that offers interest and stability, while leaving time for me to spend with my family.”

Another blogger, Agent Y, agreed that the working hours in the Shin Beth were not too demanding: “You never work overtime, unless you really have to,” he writes. “I rarely get home after 6:30pm.”

Agent A, a software engineer, wrote: “I don’t wear uniform, the office is not located underground. I don’t walk around with an earplug all day long, and although this is extremely unfair, I do not get to place lightbars on the roof of my car.”  The new project is part of an attempt by the organisation to attract more high-tech workers to its ranks. The bloggers all work on the technological side of the Shin Beth’s operations rather than in the field.

The £100,000 cornflake

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Bidding for a cornflake resembling the US state of Illinois has reached more than £100,000 on eBay.

Two sisters listed ‘The Great Illinois Corn Flake’ on the auction site, promising it had undergone no cosmetic alterations. Emily McIntire, a 15 year-old said she was grabbing fistfuls of cereal on her way to class when she found the flake.

“It was almost to my mouth, it didn’t look like Illinois at first because it was held the wrong way,” she said. But then she noticed the resemblance and said: “Oh my goodness, it’s Illinois.”

Her 23-year-old sister, Melissa, said their parents suggested selling it for fun. They’re offering free shipping, providing the buyer is in Illinois. “At the moment it’s residing in a fine jewellery box with a lot of cotton wrapped around it to keep it safe,” said Melissa. The McIntire sisters say they’ve decided to use the proceeds from the eBay sale to buy more boxes of Frosted Flakes. “We’ve got to replace the one we’ve already sold,” Melissa said. “We like cereal.”

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Russ joined Factory having completed his degree in Graphic Design at The Arts Institute at Bournemouth. Handling the rare combination of a mastery of both words and images, Russ lends his writing skills to his overarching responsibility for design and production scheduling. Russ loves building BMWs of both the 2 and 4 wheel variety.