The Columnists: Caution: wine may contain alcohol

Click to follow
The Independent Online

News that the "nanny state" wanted health warnings on wine bottles because of a rise in middle-class boozing had Eurosceptic Boris Johnson heading back from lunch, fortified by an extra glass of Mazis Chambertin 2000, with "all bomb bays fully loaded", only to find to his astonishment that "this piece of nonsense was not generated in Brussels". Bozza ranted on in The Daily Telegraph anyway:

"For well over 45 centuries the human race has been squeezing grapes and fermenting the juice... producing the ecstatic drink that has been as sacred to every pagan religion as it is to Christianity." Wine bottles have been painted by great artists, from Caravaggio to Manet, he noted, and their "simple elegance" won't be helped by pasting them with Flintograms, his name for the warning labels proposed by Health minister, Caroline Flint. "Oh, put a cork in it!" said the headline over Carol Sarler's column in the Daily Mail. She accused the Government of "using any old trick in the book to con us into meek compliance". Charlotte Ross in the Evening Standard wondered "Am I an alcoholic?" for having a glass of wine after work. The answer, she discovered, was that she was a "harmful drinker", because she put away six drinks on a single occasion once a month.

Cameron's spin-doctor choice 'will prove to be a mistake'

The appointment of Andy Coulson, who was editor of the News of the World during the royal voicemail scandal, as the new £275,000-a-year spin-doctor-in-chief for the Tories, will turn out to be a mistake, predicted Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun.

"In Coulson's favour is that he is not another bloody Old Etonian - he was educated at a comprehensive in Essex. That must be a plus. So in a spirit of friendship I have some advice. 1) Make sure the contract is watertight. 2) Start keeping a diary. As the old adage goes, you keep a diary and a diary will keep you (ask Alastair Campbell). 3) Work on the assumption it's not going to last."

US Congress urged to enforce Cherokee duty to slave families

The Cherokee nation's decision to expel 2,800 descendants of the tribe's black slaves outraged The New York Times. It wants Congress to enforce treaty obligations.

"This dispute dates to the 19th century, when Cherokee, Seminole and Creek signed treaties with the government that required them to accept their freed men - many of whom had mixed black and Indian parentage - as full tribal members in return for recognition as sovereign nations. The tribes have repeatedly sought to abridge black Indian rights, but the treaties have been repeatedly upheld."

Brown must ease Britain out of one-way relationship with the US

The special relationship Matthew Norman was in scathing mood in The Independent over Britain's one-way relationship with the US.

"It seems expedient for Gordon Brown to waste no time easing Downing Street out from 'right up the White House's arse', to borrow the navigational instruction to Christopher Meyer. Obviously, this needn't involve re-enacting the Love Actually scene where Hugh Grant tells the President to bugger off. All it means is publicly acknowledging that Britain has nothing to gain from ingratiation because the Americans has never given us a carrot for it, and they never will."

Wife of kidnapped Chinese activist wins respect for her brave blog

Channel's 4's China hand Lindsey Hilsum marked the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in the New Statesman writing about activist Hu Jia and his wife Zeng.

"Zeng, who is 23, never expected fame, but when Hu was 'disappeared' a week after their wedding last January she started to write a blog. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese logged on to read about her struggle with the police, who finally admitted that they had seized - or as she put it, kidnapped - him. Then people began to translate her blog and suddenly she was famous, a tiny, frail-looking young woman who had taken on the Chinese state."

How do you create a politically correct children's character?

Children's author Anthony Horowitz mused in the Daily Mail about the difficulty of creating a foe for Alex Rider's seventh adventure in a politically correct world.

"Obviously he couldn't be black, religious or homosexual. If I made him a woman, would that be sexist or have I been sexist for assuming up to this point that he was not? Unlike Captain Hook, it might cause upset if he were disabled. In fact, I doubted I could even make him fat. When was the last time you saw a Billy Bunter book on the shelves? I could, I suppose, have made him a politician. They're the only minority group you can safely revile."