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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for October, 2006

Ghouls and goblins


At this time of year, Cindy Frisbie sees the world through a prism of Halloween. Everything is recycled as holiday decorations for her yard on Sherman Avenue in Mount Pleasant.

A four-foot standing floor lamp becomes Lumera the Witch.

Empty bottles of hair color are relabeled “dragon’s breath� and “spider web dust� and are set out on the witches’ table as ingredients for their brews.

Beach balls and pool noodles become ghosts to hang from trees. Extra wood from a construction site makes a cage for skeletons. Old artificial plants found by the side of the road are saved for a cemetery.

“I can turn just about anything into something for Halloween,� she says.

You’ll know her house. It’s the one with the spider on the roof.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, October 31st, 2006 at 7:46 pm |
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Chicken that’s better for you


Kentucky Fried Chicken is beginning to take transfats off its menu.

The fast-food company said today it was substituting a more healthful soybean cooking oil for the artery-clogging transfats.

Earlier this year, it was sued over its use of the fats, which not only raise low-density lipoprotein or so-called bad cholesterol levels but also lower high-density or good cholesterol.

Some of KFC’s menu will still contain transfats — chicken pot pie, biscuits and mashed potatoes with gravy. The company will continue working on those items.

Wendy’s was the first to stop cooking with the harmful fats.

The announcement came as New York City held a public hearing on its proposal to ban transfats from restaurants.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, October 30th, 2006 at 2:02 pm |
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Cheney on Iraq


Vice President Dick Cheney can be a persuasive speaker, as he was this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. Maybe it’s his calm, measured tones, his reassuring style.

He told Juan Williams that the key to success in Iraq was to “get the Iraqis into the fight.�

The same is true for the entire region, he said. Terrorists want to seize control of a country to have a base from which to launch attacks. The United States needs to get Iraqis, Afghans and others to fight on our side, he said.

But there’s a problem in seeing Iraq so firmly in terms of a global battle against terrorism. It takes little account of the realities of Iraq’s own politics, the sectarian killings, the death squads.

So even as Cheney says he would have expected the level of violence to have dropped after three national elections, there’s this today from the Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the stronghold of a Shiite militia led by a radical anti-American cleric in search of a death squad leader in an operation disavowed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Al-Maliki, who relies on political support from the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the strike against a figure in al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia in Sadr City “will not be repeated.�
The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for saying his government needed to set a timetable to curb violence in the country. At a news conference Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said al-Maliki had agreed.
“I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it,� al-Maliki said at a news conference.
The prime minister dismissed U.S. talk of timelines as driven by the upcoming midterm elections in the United States. “I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign. And that does not concern us much,� he said.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 at 2:22 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Howie Who?


In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton and John Spencer are not the only candidates for U.S. Senate.

The Green Party is also fielding a candidate in the race.

Howie Hawkins wants to stop the war in Iraq, bring the troops home now and provide health care for all. And he would use $300 billion a year of U.S. military spending to develop renewable energy across the world. He calls it a global good works project that would enhance national security by spreading good will.

A former marine, he is a member of the Teamsters union and unloads trucks and rail cars at UPS.

He didn’t get a spot in the debate at WABC television on Sunday, but he was the last person to leave the station’s studios on Columbus Avenue. He was outside with a crowd of his supporters trying to woo voters one pamphlet at a time.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, October 23rd, 2006 at 5:18 pm |

An ugly turn


So much for being a gentleman.

On Sunday, John Spencer was exceedingly cordial toward U.S. Hillary Clinton when the two met during a debate in Manhattan.

But now the Daily News’ Ben Smith reports that Spencer said the senator used to be ugly and concludes that only millions of dollars of plastic surgery could account for her appearance now.

“You ever see a picture of her back then? Whew,� Spencer is quoted in the Daily News.

“I don’t know why Bill married her,� the former Yonkers mayor said.

Spencer, Clinton’s Republican challenger for the U.S. Senate, is denying he made those comments. Clinton’s aide says she’s had no plastic surgery.
And Clinton, according to the Associated Press, said she thought her high school yearbook picture was cute.

The picture, which the Daily News ran on its cover, looks just like her.

And who elected Spencer homecoming king?

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, October 23rd, 2006 at 4:35 pm |
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Religious freedom?


Catholic schools, hospitals and social services groups must cover contraception as part of health insurance it offers employees, New York’s highest court ruled today.

That’s even if contraception goes against church teachings.

The Catholic groups lost the lawsuit because the Court of Appeals found them to be primarily social service agencies. They’re not exempt from the Women’s Health Wellness Act, the way churches are.

The act, passed in 2002, also requires coverage for mammograms, bone density screening and other services for women.

That’s admirable but it is hard to understand why Catholic institutions should be required to pay for something they don’t believe in. If you’re weighing a job at Catholic Charities — at any religious group for that matter — wouldn’t you think there might be some restrictions?

Nor am I sure you can separate Catholic Charities or a Catholic school or hospital from a religious mission.

Clearly lots of people disagree with me and think the Catholic Church’s position is unrealistic. Besides — how many Catholics don’t use contraceptives these days?

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, October 19th, 2006 at 3:34 pm |
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More on smoking


I always thought that smoking a couple of cigarettes a day was relatively harmless — as long as you didn’t get addicted.

I was wrong.

Smoking just one to four cigarettes a day nearly triples the risk overall of dying from heart disease or lung cancer, according to a recent study by doctors at the National Health Screening Service in Oslo, Norway.

For women, the risk of lung cancer is nearly five times greater than among those who never smoked.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 at 12:24 pm |

Sue Kelly gets indignant


“You have no shame,� Republican Rep. Sue Kelly tells her opponent, John Hall, when he raises Foleygate at a Times Herald-Record editorial board interview.

Watch the “video.”:http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061016/MEDIA0201/61016013

Plus she’s still using the line about being a mother, a teacher and a grandmother to defend her role as chairwoman of the page board.

First seen on “Talking Points Memo.”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 11:57 am |

Kick the habit


Westchester County has started a “Quit Smokingâ€? “blog”:http://www.westchestergov.com/health/Tobaccoblog.htm — a place to share your stategies, successes and setbacks as you struggle to overcome a deadly addiction.

What a good idea. When you’re trying to give up cigarettes, any help is welcome.

The first — and so far only — entry comes from the county’s health commissioner, Joshua Lipsman. And that’s a problem.

No offense to Dr. Lipsman, but he had no trouble quitting. None at all. His smoking just tapered off, he writes. He only vaguely remembers his last cigarette.

“I guess I was one of the lucky ones,â€? he writes. “I just sort of…stopped smoking.â€?

One of the lucky ones? Just sort of stopped?

Come on Westchester, you need to do better than that.

A friend’s father supposedly shut himself up in a bathroom and smoked a carton of cigarettes one after another. A colleague here was weepy for two or three weeks. At one point she leaned up against a “No Parking� sign on 14th Street in Manhattan, sobbing and hyperventilating.

So please, some drama.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, October 12th, 2006 at 2:54 pm |
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Toasted ravioli for Brooklyn Lager


It didn’t take long for the bet to be placed.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay have a wager on the National League championship series between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Here’s what’s at stake: If the Cardinals win, Bloomberg will send Italian subs from Leo’s Latticini and Mama’s of Corona, ice cream from Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Forest Hills, a pizza alla vodka and the Smokin’ Goodfella pizza from Goodfella’s Pizzeria on Staten Island, a case of Brooklyn Lager, and a tub of lemon ice from the Lemon Ice King in Corona.

And if the Mets win? Slay will send a care package of St. Louis products, including two Imo’s thin-style pizzas, a gift basket from Bissinger’s Chocolate and toasted ravioli from the Pasta House Company.

The series starts tonight at Shea.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 11th, 2006 at 3:36 pm |

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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