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LITTLEJOHN on how even Halloween has become politicised 

By Richard Littlejohn for the Daily Mail
Published: 21:54 EDT, 30 October 2017 | Updated: 20:25 EDT..

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By Richard Littlejohn for the Daily Mail

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'

'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’.

Nurse!

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''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'

'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 EightiesActor 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

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.

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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