Tag: Christmas

The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

Republished from Dec 22, 2013 Trans Siberian Orchestra The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

Cranberry Canes

Hey, I’m doing last minute scrambling, why aren’t you? Seriously, these are a little late but not impossibly so if you get a wiggle on. This year our guest list is small and we’ve gone another direction for “friendship” gifts so there’s no urgency. But they are holiday tradition at my house, I enjoy them …

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What’s Cooking: Sugarplum Bread

Republished from 12/11/2011 from the What’s Cooking Archives at The Stars Hollow Gazette In Autumn, the appearance in grocery stores of stacks of candied fruit and mountains of nuts in all their wonderful variety is a sure sign of the approach of the holidays. As the days grow short and the nights grow cool preparations …

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The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

Trans Siberian Orchestra The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

Tracking Santa

On this day in 1955, NORAD begins tracking Santa in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition. According to NORAD’s official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the service began on December 24, 1955. A Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper. The advertisement told children that they …

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Cranberry Canes

A holiday tradition at my house, I enjoy them any time of year. Cranberry Canes are basically a stuffed yeast bread roll up, like a Cinnamon Roll.  It’s the presentation of twisting the prepared strips and putting a crook at one end that gives them their distinctive appearance.  There are 3 basic elements- Dough: Scald …

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What’s Cooking: Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned …

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How to Artfully Regift

John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” offers his suggestions for getting rid of those horrible gifts that you’ll inevitably receive this Christmas. Happy Holidays and may all your problems become someone else’s.

What’s Cooking: Sugarplum Bread

Republished from 12/11/2011 from the What’s Cooking Archives at The Stars Hollow Gazette In Autumn, the appearance in grocery stores of stacks of candied fruit and mountains of nuts in all their wonderful variety is a sure sign of the approach of the holidays. As the days grow short and the nights grow cool preparations …

Continue reading

Guns For Christmas

Santa Claus explains to Larry Wilmore, host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, that his route on Christmas Eve just got a lot shorter. Why? He’s by-passing the USA because the gun nuts here scare the crap out of him.

The Christmas News Dump

The exceedingly long Christmas weekend had some notably sad and tragic news that dominated news cycle. Here are a couple of the important stories that were buried.

Cuomo, Christie Veto Bill To Reform Port Authority

By Dave Klepper and Michael Cantalini, Huffington Post

The governors of New York and New Jersey jointly vetoed legislation Saturday aimed at overhauling the Port Authority and proposed instead a series of reforms they said would go further in bringing accountability to the agency.

The bill was designed to clean up an agency long known for dysfunction and scandals, including most recently the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that ensnarled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. It had the unanimous support of the New York and New Jersey legislatures.

The bill would have overhauled the troubled agency by requiring an independent annual audit, creating an inspector general’s office, restricting lobbying and creating a whistleblower protection program. It also would have required Port Authority board members to swear they’ll act in good faith. [..]

“It’s really just an awful thing for them to do. Neither of them can ever stand up and say they’re for effective reform,” said former New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Democrat, who had predicted the veto. “In a competition between effective reform and power, power won. Reform ends on Christmas, but scandals go on forever.”

New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg said the decision was a “cop-out,” and Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he’s disappointed the bill didn’t become law.

“I find it very disappointing that both governors together decided to turn their backs on their respective legislators,” Weinberg said. [..]

In place of the legislation, Cuomo and Christie on Saturday recommended reforms and said they would ask authority board members for their resignations. They called for a single chief executive officer to oversee the authority in place of an executive director and deputy executive director under the current system.

Weinberg said those reforms would have been possible under the legislation, too.

“There is nothing in this legislation that prevents them from moving ahead with those reforms,” she said.

And for some unknown reason, neither state legislature will move to over ride the vetoes of Criminal One and Criminal Two. A bill, btw, that was passed nearly unanimously by both bodies. It’s too hard

Next up.

NSA Drops Christmas Eve Surprise

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

The National Security Agency on Christmas Eve day released twelve years of internal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees. The heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients. [..]

The reports, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, offer few revelations, but contain accounts of internal behavior embarrassing to the agency. In one instance an NSA employee “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting”, a practice which previous reports have indicated was common enough to warrant the name “LOVEINT”.

Don’t start banging you head on the desk just yet

After Scrutiny, C.I.A. Mandate Is Untouched

Mark Mazzetti, New York Times

Senator Angus King, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that Hollywood depictions of torture have distorted the public’s view of its efficacy.

“Every week, Jack Bauer saves civilization by torturing someone, and it works,” said Mr. King, the independent from Maine, referring to the lead character of the television show “24.”

Mr. King said that he was initially skeptical about the need to release the torture report, but when he spent five straight evenings reading it in a secure room on Capitol Hill he decided that the C.I.A. abuses needed a public airing.

“It went from interest, to a sick feeling, to disgust, and finally to anger,” he said.

But the Obama administration has made clear that it has no plans to make anyone legally accountable for the practices described by the C.I.A. as enhanced interrogation techniques and the Intelligence Committee as torture. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week asking him to appoint a special prosecutor to examine the report’s allegations, but the request will almost certainly be rejected.

And while Senator King called the Intelligence Committee’s report “Church Committee II,” he, like many other Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, remains a broad supporter of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary mission that Mr. Obama has embraced during his time in the White House. [..]

And as America’s spying apparatus has grown larger, richer and more powerful than during any other time in its history, it has become ever harder for those keeping watch over it.

“We are 15 people overseeing a $50 billion enterprise,” said Senator King, speaking of his fellow members on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I can’t tell you I know with certainty every intelligence program this enterprise is engaged in.”

Almost done

Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police

By Michelle Conlin, Reuters

From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life. [..]

What’s emerging now is that, within the thin blue line of the NYPD, there is another divide – between black and white officers.

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them. [..]

The black officers interviewed said they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively, and about one third said they made some form of complaint to a supervisor.

All but one said their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions. The remaining officers who made no complaints said they refrained from doing so either because they feared retribution or because they saw racial profiling as part of the system.

Last, a little reminder of just how bad the nation’s largest police department really is.

Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force

Tana Ganeva and Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet

The NYPD has expanded into a massive global anti-terror operation with military capabilities

The NYPD is the biggest police force in the country, with over 34,000 uniformed officers patrolling New York’s streets, and 51,000 employees overall – more than the FBI. It has a proposed budget of $4.6 billion for 2013, a figure that represents almost 15 percent of the entire city’s budget (pdf).

NYC’s population is a little over 8 million. That means that there are 4.18 police officers per 1,000 people. By comparison, Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. with 3.8 million people, has only 9,895 officers-a ratio of 2.6 police per 1,000 people.

What has the NYPD been doing with all that cash and manpower? In addition to ticketing minorities for standing outside of their homes, spying on Muslims who live in New Jersey, abusing protesters, and gunning down black teens over weed, the NYPD has expanded into a massive global anti-terror operation with surveillance and military capabilities unparalleled in the history of US law enforcement.

In an email published by WikiLeaks, an FBI official joked about how shocked Americans would be if they knew how egregiously the NYPD is stomping all over their civil liberties. But what we already know is bad enough. Here’s a round-up of what the department has been up to lately.

This lawlessness by NYPD has cost the tax payers of NYC nearly $1 billion in settlement over and above the bloated budget. Needless to say, the NYPD has gotten on my last nerve.

OK, start banging but please put a pillow on the desk.

“Christmas Eve And Other Stories”

Republished from Dec 24, 2013.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve And Other Stories

Old City Bar

In an old city bar

That’s never too far

From the places that gather

The dreams that have been

In the safety of night

With its old neon light

It beckons to strangers

And they always come in

And the snow it was falling

Neon was calling

The music was low

And the night Christmas Eve

And here was the danger

That even with strangers

Inside of this night

It’s easier to believe

Then the door opened wide

And a child came inside

That no one in the bar

Had seen there before

And he asked did we know

That outside in the snow

That someone was lost

Standing outside our door

Then the bartender gazed

Through the smoke and the haze

Through the window and ice

To that corner streetlight

Where standing alone

By a broken pay phone

Was a girl, the child said

Could no longer get home

And the snow it was falling

Neon was calling

Bartender turned and said, “Not that I care

But how would you know this?”

The child said, “I’ve noticed

If one could be home, they’d be already there”

Then the bartender came out, from behind the bar

And in all of his life, was never that far

And he did something else that he thought no one saw

When he took all the cash from the register drawer

Then he followed the child to the girl across the street

And we watched from the bar as they started to speak

Then he called for a cab then he said, “J.F.K.”

Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away

And we saw in his hand, that the cash was all gone

From the light that she had wished upon

If you want to arrange it

This world you can change it

If we could somehow make this

Christmas thing last

By helpin’ a neighbour

Even a stranger

To know who needs help

You need only just ask

Then he looked for the child

But the child wasn’t there

Just the wind and the snow

Waltzing dreams through the air

So he walked back inside

Somehow different, I think

For the rest of the night

No one paid for a drink

And the cynics will say

That some neighbourhood kid

Wandered in on some bums

In the world where they hid

But they weren’t there

So they couldn’t see

By an old neon star

On that night, Christmas Eve

When the snow it was falling

And neon was calling

In case you should wonder

In case you should care

Why we on our own

Never went home?

On that night of all nights

We were already there

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