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

Archive for December, 2006

Enjoy the holidays


I’m off until after New Year’s.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, December 22nd, 2006 at 9:53 pm |
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Melting glaciers


Last summer I had a chance to walk across a glacier. I stupidly didn’t. It was late and rainy and so I watched the Columbia Icefield from the car window.
It’s the largest body of ice south of Alaska in North America, 233 square miles in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. It feeds eight glaciers including the Athabasca Glacier, which according to the Canadian parks agency has been receding or melting for the last 125 years. It has lost half its volume and has left behind a moonscape of rocky moraines.


I thought about the icefield when I saw a report from the Associated Press about Himalayan glaciers that a joint Indian-Chinese team plans to chart. Scientists are afraid the glaciers, the source of water for the rivers of South Asia, are melting rapidly because of global warming.
The fear is that over the long run the glaciers will melt entirely and the rivers will run dry for months.
And it’s 54 degrees here in New York as winter officially begins.

Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier
© Parks Canada

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, December 21st, 2006 at 4:55 pm |

“From the ashes”


Now that massive steel columns are going up at the World Trade Center site, Gov. George Pataki must be relieved.

He’s about to leave office, and finally there is some sign that The Freedom Tower will actually be built. The skyscraper is to replace the World Trade Center.


From the start, Pataki has touted the 1,776-foot tower as a sign of the city’s resilience. But the project was plagued by so many delays that the cornerstone laid during an elaborate Fourth of July ceremony two and a half years ago was put into storage. Pataki’s legacy was in danger of becoming an empty lot.

“Today the steel rises, the Freedom Tower rises from the ashes of Sept. 11, and the people of New York and the people of America can be proud,” Pataki said yesterday.

Still it’s not all smooth sailing yet. According to the Associated Press, an American flag plastered on the first steel column to be erected was removed today after the builders realized that the 50 stars were on the right side instead of the left.

A new decal will be put on.

Photograph by The Associated Press

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, December 20th, 2006 at 5:50 pm |
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Faux fur? Or not


You would think that fur owners would worry their fur wasn’t real — not the other way around.

But that’s exactly what the Humane Society of the United States says happened at Macy’s in Herald Square: A coat advertised as faux fur actually contains real fur.

The Sean John Hooded Snorkel Jacket was described online as containing nylon and faux fur and goose down. The coat supposedly had an imitation rabbit fur collar.

The Humane Society bought the coat. Its label says “Made in China” and “genuine raccoon fur,” according to the Humane Society.

The Macy’s Web site now says “We’re sorry. This product is currently unavailable.” And the picture’s been removed.

The Humane Society has submitted the coat for DNA testing to find out if it’s actually raccoon dog, a type of dog raised in China whose fur resembles raccoon. The Humane Society says dogs and cats are killed inhumanely in China.

UPDATE: A response from Federated Department Stores, Macy’s parent company:
“Our company has a standing policy against the selling of any dog or cat fur. This policy is clearly communicated to all suppliers. Our supplier contracts require that all products be labeled accurately. Any violation of our policies or contracts is pursued vigorously with our suppliers, and any inappropriate or inaccurately labeled product is removed from our stores and online sites. The information brought to our attention today by the Humane Society of the United States will be promptly investigated and appropriate action will be taken.”

A spokesman, Jim Sluzewski, said the jackets were immediately pulled from the stores and the Web site because they had been promoted as faux fur. But, he added, the Humane Society had no proof the fur was actually dog.

And this from Sean John: “The fabric content in all our garments is always properly labeled. However in this case, it appears that the trim of a jacket was incorrectly described by our retail partners and this error may have misled some consumers. For that we are very sorry.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 at 2:00 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Will she or won’t she


This morning, Hillary Clinton was signing a reissue of her book, “It Takes a Village,” at the Barnes & Noble bookstore near Lincoln Center and the place was jammed with fans and media.
As familiar as she has gotten after six years in the Senate, she still has that celebrity air that draws people to her.
I’ll be writing about Clinton and her book and the 2008 presidential race later this week. Will she run?
“I want to make sure the decision is right for me, my family, my party and my country,” Clinton said earlier in the morning during an interview on NBC’s The Today Show.
At the book signing, she told reporters, “I’m going to be trying to make a decision after the first of the year.”
“Why would you not run for president?” someone persisted.
“Oh now, that’s a good try,” she said laughing. “I like that one.”
She didn’t answer but you can imagine all the reasons. That vast right wing conspiracy of hers would have two years to pick her apart. And her husband, all over again.
But what if she comes out on Jan. 2 and announces she’s out of the race? What a let down that would be. Love her or hate her it would be a great race to watch.

REMINDER: Clinton will be signing books in White Plains on Wednesday. She’ll be at the Borders at 60 S. Broadway at 7 p.m.
You’ll need a ticket if you’re going. They’re being given out at the store first come, first served.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 18th, 2006 at 4:15 pm |

A green December


If you’ve still got gifts to buy, here are three I like from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Great Green Gift-Giving Guide:

— From “Seeds of Change,”:http://www.seedsofchange.com organic seeds, fruit trees and other garden supplies.

— An animal for a poor family in another part of the world through “Heifer International”:https://www.heifer.org. The idea is to give families livestock to help them become self-sufficient.

— A tree from a group called “Tree People”:http://www.treepeople.org in Los Angeles. For $25 it will plant a tree in someone’s honor or someone’s memory. A grove of five for $100.

Too PC for words? Maybe, but so what. They’re better than most of the stuff I find myself buying.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 18th, 2006 at 4:09 pm |
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Til Monday


I’m off for a few days. I’ll post again on Monday.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, December 13th, 2006 at 11:22 pm |
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The trees are back


From the Associated Press:

The Christmas trees are back up at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Maintenance staff worked overnight to restore the trees that had been removed after a rabbi’s threat to sue over the lack of a menorah in the airport’s holiday decor.

The rabbi, Elazar Bogomilsky, “never asked us to remove the trees; it was the port’s decision based on what we knew at the time,” Patricia Davis, president of the Port of Seattle commission, said in a statement late Monday.

However, port officials learned on Monday that Bogomilsky’s organization would not file a lawsuit over this year’s display, Davis said.

“A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year’s holiday decorations at the airport,” the port statement said.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 at 8:29 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Christmas tree battle



Here’s another angry holiday story. Seattle is battling over Christmas trees.

The nine Christmas trees on display at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were taken down over the weekend after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky asked that a menorah be added to the display and threatened to sue if it wasn’t.

“We’re trying to be thoughtful and respectful, and will review policies after the first of the year,” the airport’s spokeswoman, Terri-Ann Betancourt, told “The Seattle Times”:http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/home/index.html.

So now everyone is appalled.

The rabbi and his lawyer who said they were worried the Jewish community would be portrayed as the Grinch.

“They’ve darkened the hall instead of turning the lights up,” the lawyer said.

William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and Don Feder of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, who said the airport should put the trees back.

Christmas trees have been held by the courts to be a secular symbol, though associated with the celebration of Christmas, they said; a menorah is clearly a religious symbol.

I say none of this is in the spirit of anyone’s holiday. And there’s something funny about a group of adults going at it in this season of giving and miracles.

UPDATE: Chappaqua is having its own holiday battle over blue-and-white flags decorated with snowflakes and six-pointed stars.

They’re winter-themed and they’re up in the downtown.

But the town is getting complaints. Apparently some people think the flags look like dreidels. Add the six-pointed stars and the colors of Israel and they’ve concluded the flags celebrate Hanukkah.

Oh, and the flags say welcome. Just as soon as the grumbling stops.

Photograph by The Associated Press of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport minus the Christmas trees.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 11th, 2006 at 4:54 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


More on Iraq


In all the commentary on Iraq, it’s hard to find anyone who thinks the Bush administration will actually talk to Iran or Syria.

Today, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, former Secretary of State James Baker said President Bush gave him permission to approach the Iranian government, but still it’s difficult to imagine negotiations taking place. This is the man who just a short while ago was still determined to “stay the course.”

Plus would Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even want to help the U.S.? What will he demand in return? Are we going to keep insisting Iran give up its nuclear program?

As far as linking Iraq to a solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, here’s Israel’s response: The United States’ problems with Iraq are independent of the problems between Israel and the Palestinians. Not very promising.

The conservative Web site “www.redstate.com”:http://www.redstate.com hasn’t has anything good to say about the commission’s report and today it posted the “New York Post’s”:http://www.nypost.com front page: “Surrender Monkeys.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, December 7th, 2006 at 3:21 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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