Published: 21:54 EDT, 30 October 2017 | Updated: 20:25 EDT, 31 October 2017
Turn out the lights, lock the doors, draw the curtains and hide behind the sofa. Halloween is upon us tonight. Indeed, it has been upon us for the past couple of weeks.
This ghastly — no, I don’t mean ghostly — commercialised U.S. import is now part of our national calendar. There’s no escape.
Some of us are old enough to remember when All Hallows’ Eve was merely a gentle warm-up for the far more important festival of Guy Fawkes Night. Those who bothered to mark the date did so decorously, with modest turnip lamps and perhaps a little light apple-bobbing to amuse the kiddies.
You didn’t live in fear of having your windows smashed or the front of your house smothered in flour and eggs. Not so today, where gangs of rapacious children and their parents roam the streets, disturbing the peace and soliciting ransoms payable in chocolate.
'Turn out the lights, lock the doors, draw the curtains and hide behind the sofa. Halloween is upon us tonight'
It wouldn’t be so bad were it only pre-teens in fancy dress knocking on your door looking for a lucky dip into a jar of Smarties. But as the evening wears on, we can expect unruly mobs of hulking teenage boys and their surly girlfriends, swigging from cans of Red Stripe, menacing the neighbourhood and demanding Danegeld.
The adults are the worst. Over the weekend, city centres from Nottingham to Newcastle were turned into war zones with drunks dressed as everything from Freddy Krueger to Little Red Riding Hood tearing lumps out of each other.
Across the country, police warned that gangs of motorbike and moped riders kitted out in slasher movie costumes were intent on terrorising the streets, riding on pavements and the wrong side of the road, ignoring red traffic lights.
When did pulling on a Texas Chainsaw Massacre outfit, nicking a motorbike and driving at breakneck speed through a packed Arndale Centre become an acceptable way of celebrating Halloween?
Inevitably, the whole event has become politicised. Even innocent pleasures can be turned into hate crimes by social media bigots and self-appointed ‘diversity’ enforcers.
This Halloween has seen one of the most absurd examples yet, with a campaign to stop little white girls dressing up as Disney’s computer-generated Polynesian princess Moana, on the grounds that it is racially insensitive.
Some daft organisation called Raising Race Conscious Children says wearing Moana costumes is ‘appropriating Polynesian culture’.
Raiding the dressing-up box is fraught with danger. We’ve had confected outrage over students in sombreros insulting Mexicans and white women braiding their hair into cornrows accused of being no better than slave traders. You always run the risk of offending someone, even inadvertently.
Take yesterday’s picture spread in the Mail, featuring celebs arriving at George Clooney’s Halloween party in Hollywood. Naturally, the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian was there, as one half of Sonny and Cher.
'This Halloween has seen one of the most absurd examples yet, with a campaign to stop little white girls dressing up as Disney’s computer-generated Polynesian princess Moana, on the grounds that it is racially insensitive'
I’m surprised she hasn’t already had her collar felt for cultural appropriation. Kim’s mum was of Irish/Dutch/English and Scottish ancestry and her dad is of Armenian heritage. Cher, as any fule kno, is part-Cherokee. So for Kim Kardashian to dress up as a Red Indian is tantamount to hate crime.
Unless, of course, Kim was the one with the moustache dressed as Sonny.
I’m not the best person to ask.
At the same party, Bruce Willis turned up in a pale blue Little Bo Peep frock and white knee-socks, sporting a long wig and full beard. He looked like something out of Monty Python.
If that’s not a calculated insult to the ‘trans’ community, I don’t know what is. Back home, the Halloween outfit which amused me most was worn by Nick Clegg’s missus.
Senora Clegg sported a Pinhead mask from the 1987 movie Hellraiser. Strange choice for a right-on brief, as she could easily be accused of mocking the afflicted — to whit, members of the migraine sufferers’ community who elect for treatment by acupuncture. Sounds like one for the European Court to sort out.
On Saturday night, I went to the O2 in Greenwich to see Hall and Oates. The Halloween spirit was in full swing. There were plenty of people wandering around looking like zombies, their faces plastered with white make-up. (Although that could have been just another hen party.)
I couldn’t help noticing that many of the revellers wearing white death masks were black. Is this reverse racism, given that there’s apparently nothing worse than white actors and Morris dancers wearing blackface?
Yesterday there was another race row over white men blacking up as Zulu warriors at a bonfire party in Lewes, Sussex.
Who knows what the rules are any more? No doubt someone might consider wearing white zombie make-up to be ‘cultural appropriation’ of the ethnic Haitian people’s voodoo tradition. There’s bound to be an expat Haitian community lurking somewhere in Britain.
Just down the road from the Polynesians, probably.
And if dressing little white girls in a Polynesian Disney princess costume is racist, then where does that leave little black girls who want to dress as Snow White?
Sorry, I can’t keep up. And I’m not the only one, either.
I’ll leave the last word to a confused caller from Romford who rang LBC’s Nick Ferrari breakfast show yesterday:
‘My son’s mixed-race. Is he allowed to dress up as anyone?’
When the Harvey Weinstein affair broke, it was inevitable that Westminster would try to get in on the act.
First it was announced that the producer was to be stripped of his honorary CBE. (Who knew he had one?)
Now our political class has decided to have a sex scandal all of its very own.
Admittedly, the allegations so far are pretty mild compared with those levelled against Weinstein. But give it time. No 10 is already talking about installing a ‘sex tsar’ to clean the stables.
What we need is an elder statesman, one who has held high office and can bring first-hand knowledge of the perils of ill-advised sexual conduct in the workplace.
Two Jags, it’s over to you . . .
Actor Kevin Spacey is accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy in the Eighties
Actor Kevin Spacey is accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy in the Eighties. He says if it happened he must have been drunk, doesn’t remember, and is desperately sorry.
He adds that he is now living as a gay man (knock me down with a feather). As if that’s got anything to do with it. Actually, it’s a cute move, even though it hasn’t gone down well with gay activists who have attacked him for associating homosexuality with child abuse.
But it’s a tried and tested tactic. Spacey is attempting to make it all about his sexuality, not the assault itself, which will guarantee him sympathy in some quarters. We’re heading for ‘personal tragedy’ territory here.
Much the same happened when the late George Michael was arrested performing a lewd sex act in a Gents’ public toilet in Los Angeles. The story became about his homosexuality, not his disgusting behaviour.
Prominent feminists, including the Wicked Witch, rallied to excuse him. Poor George, they trilled. Suddenly, he was the victim.
OK, I asked at the time, what if he’d done it in the Ladies’ toilets?
Answer came there none.
The Home Office obviously didn’t take any notice of suggestions that so-called ‘British jihadis’ should either be killed or stripped of their citizenship and refused re-entry to this country. Far from it.
In fact, they’ve come up with a plan to put those who come back from fighting with Izal at the top of the housing list.
Why doesn’t that surprise me? When Afghan terrorists hijacked a plane in February 2000 and flew it to Stansted, instead of putting them in jail the British authorities rolled out the welcome mat.
The headline on my column back then read: ‘Hijack an airliner: win a council house.’
Plus ça change.
[contf] [contfnew] [hhm]Daily Mail[hhmc] [contfnewc] [contfnewc]
Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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