Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween - shootings, riots & poison candy

Halloween passed off relatively peacefully in Britain compared to previous years. Instances of egg throwing teenagers had been cut after supermarkets and other retailers, working with police, refused the sale of eggs to anyone aged under 18. In some areas police even handed out free cinema tickets to youngsters to get them off the streets. Police in Derbyshire gave out the tickets for James Bond’s Quantum of Solace at the Galaxy cinema in Long Eaton [BBC]. Patrols on the streets also reduced much of the anti-social behaviour seen in previous years [BBC].

Outside the UK there were several reports of Halloween related violence. Members of the emergency services were injured in a number of incidents in Dublin last night as Halloween celebrations were marred by serious violence across the city. Dozens of cars were set alight and a number of stabbings were reported in the capital [Irish Times / RTE]. Fire services were called out to over 800 incidents in Dublin. The Dublin Fire Service reported up to six knife attacks and that 40% of calls related to assaults, many of them resulting in head injuries. The ambulance service received more than 500 calls and around 50 cars were set alight in the capital. There was also violence in Northern Ireland, police officers were attacked with petrol bombs and fireworks in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh. In the United States, there were also reports of disturbances. However the most troubling report was that of a 12 year old boy shot dead while trick-or-treating [Sky News].
In Asia there were other risks posed by trick-or-treating. Parents there expressed concern over their children being given Chinese candy tainted with melamine. In Bangkok, Thailand, Chompoonuch Kitsomsub, a mother of four, said she is not buying any candy from China. She took her kids trick-or-treating in an expatriate neighbourhood where they "serve safe candy". Her daughter, 5-year-old Yayee Kitsomsub, dressed as Batgirl, said, "We know we need to be careful because bad people put bad things in the candy". In the US some people have expressed their concern that many melamine tainted sweets may still be in circulation across the country [You Tube]. It gave a whole new meaning to poison candy [Kansas City News].

The day was also marked with a special petition that was handed to Justice Minister Jack Straw asking for the posthumous pardon of witches who were executed hundreds of years ago. The crime of being a witch was abolished by the 1735 Witchcraft Act, but before its repeal more than 400 people were executed in England following accusations of witchcraft and about 2,000 in Scotland [CNN / CNN video / BBC /].

Jonathon Ross wasn’t far from news bulletins as he also joined in the Halloween festivities. He held a lavish party at his north London home and welcomed hundreds of children and a number of celebrities to enjoy a ghoulish night of entertainment. [Daily Telegraph]. Encamped outside his house dozens of photographers and journalists, continuing to report on a story that refuses to go away. Some of his co-workers have already predicted he may not return to the BBC. Ross, who was suspended without pay for 12 weeks, has had his reputation “diminished” according to Terry Wogan, who described himself as a friend of the beleaguered presenter. Wogan, who is a veteran broadcaster with the BBC, said, "What the BBC have done to Jonathan by the suspension is terminal. It is very damaging to him and I would not be surprised if he did not come back."

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