Christmas Eve ReadsPosted: December 24, 2015
Happy Christmas Eve to one and all!
I forgot today was Thursday–not a good start for the day. I’m feeling more discombobulated than usual this holiday season. I’m not a big fan of “the holidays;” I find this time of year very stressful. Sometimes I wish I could just hide in the house until it’s all over. In fact, I’ve been doing that as much as possible.
Yesterday I had to go to the dentist, which is on Massachusetts Avenue–the main drag that stretches from the Western suburbs all the way down through North Cambridge and Harvard Square into downtown Boston and beyond. I’ve put some photos of Mass. Ave. in this post just for the hell of it. I’ve been so used to going to my cosmetic dentist long beach office that this visit was a little unsettling.
Anyway, Mass Ave. in my town–Arlington–was filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic yesterday. I can only imagine what it is like today. I had to sit in my car for a good 15 minutes before some kind soul finally let me out of my parking space; and then I sat in traffic, inching along until I could get to a side street to bypass all the cars and get to OttawaTintingZone.ca to maintain my car.
I was afraid to go to the supermarket, but I needed milk; so I went to the corner deli–on Mass. Ave in Arlington Heights, where I live. It was a battle to find a parking space and the store was crowded, of course. But I finally made it home.
I have to go over to my brother’s house in Cambridge for dinner tonight; and when I get back here, I’m going to stay inside till the whole commercialized mess. At least I don’t have to cook dinner for a bunch of people or spend a whole day with my vast extended family.
So I guess I sound like the Grinch–sorry. I wouldn’t even mind if people treated Christmas as a spiritual, family-centered occasion, but it seems to be all about buying things these days.
Of course there’s not a whole lot of exciting news today, but I have a few links for you to check out if you get some free time today.
A violent storm system blamed for at least seven deaths in the South from heavy rain, high winds and several tornadoes has weakened, but still threatens more severe weather Thursday — including possible twisters — from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast and Gulf Coast.
Heavy rain is causing flash floods Thursday in portions of Georgia, including the Atlanta area. Flood watches have also been posted for portions of North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. This includes Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, four people died in Mississippi, 2 in Tennessee and 1 in Arkansas.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch until mid-morning for portions of Georgia and southeast Alabama.
The National Weather Service said isolated severe thunderstorms were also possible Thursday from parts of the Mid-Atlantic states southwestward to the central Gulf.
Thursday night, the danger area will include parts of the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys to East Texas, according to the NWS.
Wednesday’s storm produced at least 15 tornadoes in six states, according to Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, with most hitting northern Mississippi.
Stay safe if you live down that way!
On Tuesday, the U.S. blocked a British Muslim family from boarding a plane to Los Angeles. The Guardian reported:
A British Muslim family heading for Disneyland was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angeles by US authorities at London’s Gatwick airport amid concerns of an American overreaction to the perceived terrorist threat.
US Department of Homeland Security officials provided no explanation for why the country refused to allow the family of 11 to board the plane even though they had been granted travel authorization online ahead of their planned 15 December flight.
Senior politicians have been drawn into the case, warning that a growing number of British Muslims are being barred from the US without being told the reason for their exclusion.
“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,”Creasy writes in an article for the Guardian. She said she was in contact with at least one other constituent who had had a similar experience….
The family planned to visit cousins in southern California and go to Disneyland and Universal Studios, but they were turned away by US officials while at the departure lounge.
It turns out the reason for this may have been a Facebook page posted by someone who previously lived at the family’s address. The Daily Mail:
Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, 41, his brother and their children, aged between eight and 19, said they were stopped at the departure gate at Gatwick airport and told their visas to the US had been revoked.
He claimed the family were barred from flying ‘because they are Muslim’.
However, it has since emerged that a Facebook page claiming links to radical Islamist groups was set up by someone who has lived at the family’s postal address, according to ITV News.
The account, which includes information suggesting it may have been published as a joke, was in the name of Hamza Hussain – a first name shared by Mr Mahmood’s 18-year-old son. It reportedly lists the job titles ‘supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda’.
When asked about the account, Mr Mahmood believed hackers may have been to blame, adding: ‘That could be anything, maybe a mistake.’
He said: ‘It is not my son’s Facebook page. It has a similar name, but not the same as my son’s.
‘The page is also linked to our home address and that could be coincidence. I don’t know why it is linked there.
We’ll probably be learning more about this soon.
In immigration news, NPR reports: U.S. Planning Operation To Deport Central American Families.
The United States is planning an operation to deport recently-arrived Central American families who have ignored removal orders from immigration judges, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the plan.
The operation would at least in part affect Central Americans who fled violence in their home countries but were denied asylum in the United States.
Details of the operation were first reported by the Washington Post, which says that the raids could begin as early as January and will target the more than 100,000 families with both adults and children who have crossed the border illegally since last year.
In a statement, Gillian Christensen, press secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, did not dispute the Post‘s reporting. She said that as part of a new strategy announced in November 2014, ICE has prioritized its deportations to people who “pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”
That priority, Christensen added, includes recent border crossers.
“As Secretary Johnson has consistently said, our border is not open to illegal immigration, and if individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief, and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values,” Christensen said.
The administrators at Irving Middle School in Idaho don’t seem to have the Christmas spirit, but they may be buckling under to those who do. USA Today: School lunch lady feeds hungry kid, gets fired.
Dalene Bowden’s response when a 12-year-old at Idaho’s Irving Middle School told her she was hungry but didn’t have any money seemed like a no-brainer: The food service worker gave the girl a free hot meal.
In response, she received a letter of termination that called out her “theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food,” reports the Idaho State Journal.
Bowden says she offered to pay for the $1.70 lunch, but her supervisor wouldn’t accept her money. “I know I screwed up, but what are you supposed to do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry and they don’t have any money?” says Bowden, acknowledging she was once warned about giving a student a free cookie. “This is just breaking my heart.”
Now NBC News reports the school district on Wednesday night issued a press release saying that “in the spirit of the holidays,” it has extended “an opportunity for (Bowden) to return to employment.” The release suggested the termination wasn’t specifically because of the free meal (the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District “has not ever taken negative employment action against any food service worker due to a singular event of this nature”). But it cites state law as barring it from “commenting on the specifics regarding personnel matters.”
Of course the fight for the GOP nomination continues. A few links to read if you’re interested.
George Will is scared. If Trump wins the nomination, prepare for the end of the conservative party.
NY Daily News: Chris Christie, gunning for votes.
Politico: Rand Paul Won’t Do an Undercard Debate.
Matt Bai: Trump and the media, made for each other.
What else is happening?