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Hundreds of flights cancelled and schools shut south sno

At least 400 flights out of Atlanta have been cancelled as the region deals with wintry weather
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  • At least 400 flights out of Atlanta have been cancelled as the region deals with wintry weather
  • Delta cancelled 375 flights while Southwest shelved 40 of their departures on Friday
  • Snow fell in southern Texas on Thursday night and Friday morning as cold air swept across the Deep South
  • Parts of Texas have received their first snow in more than a decade – occurring just eight times since 1948
  • Forecasters said the white stuff won't last long as the ground is too warm for it to accumulate beyond an inch
  • Pictures from San Antonio showed residents embracing the winter weather by making snowmen outside
  • One man even dressed up as Father Christmas for a walk downtown as temperatures fell to 32F, or freezing

By Charlie Moore and James Gordon For Dailymail.com

Published: 15:21 EST, 8 December 2017 | Updated: 15:28 EST, 8 December 2017

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled across the southern United States as airlines deal with a winter storm across the region.

Delta Air Lines said it had canceled about 375 departures on Friday. The airline whose headquarters are in Atlanta decided to reduce the operation's workload because of the need to de-ice planes.

The airline also waived change fees for passengers scheduled to fly Friday and Saturday who wanted to change their travel plans.

Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Atlanta Airport also canceled more than 40 flights.

Planes line up on the tarmac as snow falls delaying travel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Friday. Delta cancelled 375 flights while Southwest shelved 40 flights as the wintry weather struck

Planes line up on the tarmac as snow falls delaying travel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Friday. Delta cancelled 375 flights while Southwest shelved 40 flights as the wintry weather struck

A heavy morning snow falls in Jackson, Mississippi  as an electronic sign posts a winter weather advisory for drivers along I-55. The forecast called for a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South statesA heavy morning snow falls in Jackson, Mississippi  as an electronic sign posts a winter weather advisory for drivers along I-55. The forecast called for a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South states

A heavy morning snow falls in Jackson, Mississippi as an electronic sign posts a winter weather advisory for drivers along I-55. The forecast called for a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South states

By early afternoon, steady snowfall had left a thin, white blanket on rooftops and patches of ground in downtown Atlanta. People were leaving work early, businesses were closing and some roads were already jammed – reminding some residents of the 2014 storm that brought the city to a standstill and stranded motorists on roads overnight with just 2 inches of precipitation.

Friday's forecast called for a wintry mix of rain and snow across several states. Parts of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi reported snow flurries before dawn. The weather band also prompted closures in the Carolinas and brought a rare snowfall to parts of South Texas.

'It's the first snow of the season and any time you even mention snow in the South, you're going to get people a little panicky,' said David Nadler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office south of Atlanta.

A man wipes snow off the windows of a vehicle as a heavy morning snow fallsA man wipes snow off the windows of a vehicle as a heavy morning snow falls

A man wipes snow off the windows of a vehicle as a heavy morning snow falls

Worshippers link arms to avoid slipping as they walk along a snow-covered walkway to St. Richard Catholic ChurchWorshippers link arms to avoid slipping as they walk along a snow-covered walkway to St. Richard Catholic Church

Worshippers link arms to avoid slipping as they walk along a snow-covered walkway to St. Richard Catholic Church

American flags wave as snow falls, blanketing vehicles in a car sales lot,  in JacksonAmerican flags wave as snow falls, blanketing vehicles in a car sales lot,  in Jackson

American flags wave as snow falls, blanketing vehicles in a car sales lot, in Jackson

The snow that blanketed parts of the Deep South Friday delighted schoolchildren with an unexpected holiday but also revived panicky memories for many adults of past storms that trapped commuters on interstates for hours.

In Alabama, manager Liza Snell worked the morning shift at Bertile's Restaurant, as coffee cups and utensils clattered and regulars talked at their tables. Through the window she saw anything but a pretty winter scene in the town of Grove Hill, about 80 miles north of Mobile.

'We got a lot of sleet right now. It's an ugly thing – cloudy, wet and cold,' she said.

A football blocking sled is coated with snow at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Forecasters anticipate continued snowing throughout much of the central and southern Mississippi until the afternoonA football blocking sled is coated with snow at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Forecasters anticipate continued snowing throughout much of the central and southern Mississippi until the afternoon

A football blocking sled is coated with snow at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Forecasters anticipate continued snowing throughout much of the central and southern Mississippi until the afternoon

Emmaline Dendinger enjoys a hearty bite of snow. The forecast called for a wintry mix over the next few daysEmmaline Dendinger enjoys a hearty bite of snow. The forecast called for a wintry mix over the next few days

Emmaline Dendinger enjoys a hearty bite of snow. The forecast called for a wintry mix over the next few days

Snow also fell in southern Texas on Thursday night and Friday morning as cold air swept across the Deep South with Georgia and Louisiana expected to freeze this weekend.

Forecasters said the white stuff won't last long as the ground is too warm for it to accumulate beyond half an inch – but that's still enough to excite those Texans who rarely see snowflakes.

Pictures from San Antonio showed residents embracing the winter weather by making snowmen and playing outside. One man even dressed up as Father Christmas for a walk downtown as temperatures fell to 32F.

Snow is common in parts of north Texas but not in the southern part of the state which has only have eight snow flurries since 1948.

It led to many sharing their surprise on Twitter with one calling it 'a Texas Christmas miracle!' The snow will even reach Corpus Christi which hasn't seen the white stuff since 2004.

Snow is falling! Dressed as Santa Claus, Eldon Hansen stands in front of the Alamo as snow falls in downtown San AntonioSnow is falling! Dressed as Santa Claus, Eldon Hansen stands in front of the Alamo as snow falls in downtown San Antonio

Snow is falling! Dressed as Santa Claus, Eldon Hansen stands in front of the Alamo as snow falls in downtown San Antonio

Snow fell in southern Texas on Friday morning as cold air swept across the Deep South with Georgia and Louisiana expected to freeze this weekendSnow fell in southern Texas on Friday morning as cold air swept across the Deep South with Georgia and Louisiana expected to freeze this weekend

Snow fell in southern Texas on Friday morning as cold air swept across the Deep South with Georgia and Louisiana expected to freeze this weekend

Forecasters said the white stuff won't last long as the ground is too warm for it to accumulate beyond half an inch - but that's still enough to excite those Texans who rarely see snowflakesForecasters said the white stuff won't last long as the ground is too warm for it to accumulate beyond half an inch - but that's still enough to excite those Texans who rarely see snowflakes

Forecasters said the white stuff won't last long as the ground is too warm for it to accumulate beyond half an inch – but that's still enough to excite those Texans who rarely see snowflakes

A person walks under a street light as snow falls in Birmingham, AlabamaA person walks under a street light as snow falls in Birmingham, Alabama

A person walks under a street light as snow falls in Birmingham, Alabama

Forecasters said the biggest chance for more snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama crossing Georgia through Atlanta and into South Carolina once the temperature begins fallingForecasters said the biggest chance for more snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama crossing Georgia through Atlanta and into South Carolina once the temperature begins falling

Forecasters said the biggest chance for more snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama crossing Georgia through Atlanta and into South Carolina once the temperature begins falling

Winter weather advisories have been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the CarolinasWinter weather advisories have been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas

Winter weather advisories have been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas

'It's the first snow of the season and any time you even mention snow in the South, you're going to get people a little panicky,' said David Nadler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office near Atlanta.

The National Weather Service said a half inch to an inch of snow is forecast across many areas of the South by Friday night.

Winter weather advisories have been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The advisories were issued for cities including Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama.

There were snow flurries before daybreak Friday in the north Georgia mountains after Houston, Texas saw its first snow since 2009, the National Weather Service said.

South Texas cities such as Corpus Christi and Brownsville are also expected to see flakes fall with around 2-3 inches possible around Corpus Christi which has only had eight days on record with measurable snow fall since 1948. .

In the Atlanta area, where sporadic ice storms in recent years have paralyzed the freeway system and brought Georgia's biggest city to a standstill, forecasts called for possible light snow accumulations later in the day.

Pictures from oustide the Alamo Mission in San Antonio showed residents embracing the winter weather by making snowmen and playing outsidePictures from oustide the Alamo Mission in San Antonio showed residents embracing the winter weather by making snowmen and playing outside

Pictures from oustide the Alamo Mission in San Antonio showed residents embracing the winter weather by making snowmen and playing outside

As the morning commute began, roads were mostly wet with a light drizzle falling and temperatures still above freezing.

'There's a lot of uncertainty right now' about just where the snow could fall and in what amounts, Nadler cautioned.

Forecasters said the biggest chance for snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama crossing Georgia through Atlanta and into South Carolina once the temperature begins falling.

Temperatures by sundown Thursday had already begun to dip in Atlanta, where tailgating football fans shivered and huddled around small barbeque grills atop downtown parking decks before a night game between the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and the visiting New Orleans Saints.

Nadler said temperatures in the Atlanta area were expected to range from 35-40 degrees Friday morning with little fluctuation the rest of the day.

'We're not expecting temperatures to drop below freezing until sometime Friday evening,' Nadler said.

That was a sprinkling of good news for Atlanta commuters ahead of the morning rush hour. But Georgia road crews took no chances and were already pre-treating bridges and overpasses late Thursday with a briny water-and-salt mix against any snow or ice.

Bill Shelton, road maintenance director in suburban Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, said the brine could be used on roads 48 hours ahead of any precipitation.

'The cost to do the whole county, every bridge and overpass, is probably $100 worth of salt,' he said Thursday. 'It is worth it to be proactive and keep our roads safe for the traveling public.'

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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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