Employees of a South Carolina utility-holding company have been prohibited from parking company vehicles at a local BBQ restaurant chain because of the restaurant owner's vocal defense of the Confederate Flag, reports the State.

Scana Corporation, which owns South Carolina Electric and Gas Company, also told its 5,500 workers that they are not allowed to display the symbol on company property.

A spokeswoman for the company says the flag and Maurice Bessinger of Bessinger's BBQ, which prominently displays the flag, are divisive issues and that the company wants healthy, collaborative relationships with customers and workers.

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat

An animal rights group has declared that the famed Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee and similar contests around the country are cruel and inhumane, saying frogs should not be taken from their native habitat for human entertainment, reports The Associated Press.

The Animal Protection Institute of Sacramento, Calif., is encouraging outraged frog lovers to write to the directors of the annual event in California's gold country that features the acrobatics of frogs memorialized in Mark Twain's classic 1865 short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

Animal rights advocate Larisa Bryski says she remembers jumping frogs herself when she made a bid for Miss Calaveras County in 1988. Now, she'd prefer that humans stop jostling the amphibians in the hot summer sun altogether, saying constant handling of the frog's permeable skin makes it easy for disease and infection to take hold.

Unsavory Signs

Anti-hunting activists in Maine say pro-hunting signs outside of town insisting that "Animals Taste Good" are offensive and should be removed, reports the Press Herald.

Two signs, in a traffic circle in Kittery, Maine, bear the slogans "Animals Taste Good" and "Target Practice." They urge voters to reject a proposal that would restrict people from carrying weapons in a local state forest. Nancy Bogenberger, one of the petitioners seeking the ban on hunting, denies asking town councilors to remove the signs but insists they are offensive.

"It's kind of silly," Bogenberger said of the signs. "But I don't think hunters are the kind of people that you can call responsible anyway. They're not decent people if they kill for fun."

But town Councilor Mark Sousa says they should stay. He said he is tired of animal rights activists complaining about them -- especially when activists have their own signs up urging voters to pass the ordinance.

"Personally, I don't think the sign that says 'Animals Taste Good' is in good taste," he said. "But if [hunters] have to take our signs down, they have to take theirs down, too."

Uniform Complaints

A Muslim trainee in Britain's Metropolitan Police force is objecting to a cross on the force's badge, reports London's Daily Telegraph. He resigned in protest, but not before complaining about it to an industrial tribunal.

M'hammed Azzaoui said the traditional crown insignia with its Christian cross was offensive to officers of other faiths. The cap badge, which measures less that a quarter of an inch, is based on the crown used at coronations since 1661 and is intended as a symbol of the crown's authority.

Since the complaint, the Met has agreed to allow "alternative badging ... where an objection to Christian symbols is raised by an individual, supported by some degree of proof."

Glen Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said, "I find it interesting that one case in 170-odd years of police history has produced this." Anyone whose religious views were so strong that they refused to wear the badge probably lacked the tolerance required to be police officer, he added.

Mailbag:

Jeff R. of Sylva, N.C., writes:

Bravo to the state of Connecticut for dropping the Boy Scouts of America from their employee-contribution plan, and shame on the BSA for trying to counter the action. Just as the BSA has found it appropriate to exclude homosexuals from its ranks because of "inconsistent values," the state of Connecticut finds BSA's values inconsistent with a government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

The BSA can be as exclusionary as they want to be. It is their right. My government, by principles set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, cannot be exclusionary by action or association. It's a fundamental principle of Americanism that the BSA seems to miss out on.

Neil P. in Negaunee, Mich., writes:

If Connecticut is not allowing payroll deductions for the Boy Scouts because we have a don't ask, don't tell policy, are they also not allowing federal income tax witholdings, since the U.S. Military was the same practice?

John G. of San Mateo, Calif., writes:

In your online article today you mention some organization that "...suggests Alternet and the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper as sources of news about the war on terror." You mention that as if there were something negative about recommending the Guardian as a source of news and information.

I am not familiar with Alternet but my job includes doing lots of research on the Internet, and the U.K. Guardian is one of the English language sources I use most frequently. Especially on the Middle East crisis, to which much of my research relates, most U.S. sources are worse than useless. The U.K. Guardian, on the other hand, presents lots of information you could NEVER get from an American source. I use it often, and recommend it highly to others. You gave the U.K. Guardian a bad rap!

John B. writes:

Michael Dyson's reactionary invective thrown at Rev. Peterson from the safety of his Chicago Sun-Times cubicle just goes to show how paranoid he is that black America may one day wake up and cast off their self-proclaimed black "leadership" and decide to take responsibility for their own future.

Where would Jesse Jackson, et. al., get their power if everyone they pretended to "champion" informed them that their services were no longer required?

Steve O. writes:

This and all of Fox News is sensationalist and aimed at the less educated.

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