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

Archive for December, 2008

Happy Holidays


I’m off until after New Year’s and so Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year.

See you in 2009.

Here are photos of the national Christmas tree and the menorah near the White House from the Associated Press.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 at 5:11 pm |

The original Jurasic Park?


For tomorrow I write about Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration.

It’s a controversial pick and lots of Obama’s supporters are angry.

Warren is an evangelical Christian who would outlaw abortion and opposes gay marriage.

And his church, Saddleback, follows other standard doctrine.

“What about dinosaurs?” read one Q&A in a section that has since been removed from the church’s Web site.

Here’s some of what it had to say:

“After all, God tells us that he created all the land animals on the sixth day of creation, the same day that he created mankind. Man and dinosaurs lived at the same time. There was never a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

Nyack’s history with creches


A caller commenting on my column today about placing creches on public land questioned why Nyack was in a list of communities where the public debate has played out.

Nyack is a ecumenical village, she objected. Its holiday display includes a creche, a tree and a menorah.

That’s true for the village display. However, the Nyack Library did turn down an offer of a creche in 2005 and passed a resolution prohibiting the display of religious symbols in its holiday decorations.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 22nd, 2008 at 5:27 pm |


More on the “obesity tax”


Over the weekend, I wrote about Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to tax soft drinks, the so-called obesity tax. Give it a try, I suggested, but monitor it carefully. Make sure the tax is doing what was intended.
After the column appeared I got an email from a woman who says she has maintained a 50-pound weight loss for three and a half years through Overeaters Anonymous. She had some interesting thoughts on food and addiction.
In keeping with the organization’s philosophy she asked that her name not be used, and she stressed that this was her personal opinion not that of the organization.
Here’s what she wrote:

“A recreational drug is a substance one ingests because it has a psychotropic effect.  In this case, junk food is typically consumed for the purpose of mood elevation — a psychotropic effect.  Most intelligent people do not consume these substances for the purpose of nutrition.  Intelligent people recognize that they partake of these substances as a ‘treat.’  Junk food is in fact a mild intoxicant.

Food-like drug substances that are particularly addictive are typically those with high amounts of chocolate, refined carbs (especially sugar), artificial sweeteners, caffeine, fat, salt, or spices — and particularly food-like substances that mix these addictive additives.  The more that are mixed, the more likely it is that the result will provoke an addictive response in the consumer.

Obese people are often addicts, addicted to this particular type of recreational drug.  Food addicts, or compulsive overeaters, are people who get high off ‘taste hits’ or who have some other biochemical sensitivity to food or food ingredients that provoke an addictive response.  Some research has tended to show that food addicts are people with hyper or hypo sensitivities in the neurological response of their senses of taste and smell.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 22nd, 2008 at 3:35 pm |

Lunch with Sharpton


Caroline Kennedy continued making her case for why she should be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. Today, she headed uptown to Harlem and lunch with the Rev. Al Sharpton go to lunch in Harlem at the storied Sylvia’s.

An account of the meeting from the Associated Press.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton took Caroline Kennedy to lunch Thursday at the famed soul food restaurant Sylvia’s as she continued her quest to join her uncle in the U.S. Senate.

Wearing a black down coat, Kennedy smiled as she and the civil rights activist made their way through a throng of media and into the restaurant, whose walls are lined with photographs of visiting politicians including Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Later, Kennedy spoke to reporters outside the restaurant, where she and Sharpton shared a lunch of grilled and baked chicken, string beans, collard greens, salad and cornbread.

“I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service,” she said. “I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer.”

The late President John F. Kennedy’s daughter acknowledged Wednesday she’s seeking to be appointed to the Senate seat held by Clinton, who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be secretary of state.

Kennedy was asked what she would need to do to prepare herself for the post, which has attracted the interest of at least a dozen Democratic officials including her former relative by marriage, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

“I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well,” Kennedy said.

Reporters also asked why she was plunging into retail politics now, after spending most of her adult life carefully cultivating her privacy.

“These are issues that I care so much about and I understand that, really, I have been trying to work on them as a private citizen and in the position that I have,” she said. “But really, to solve our problems, I think government is the place where people need to come together.”

Kennedy’s emergence as a contender has generated both buzz and controversy. She comes from a storied political dynasty but has never held public office, and some Republicans and Democrats have criticized her lack of experience.

Democratic Gov. David Paterson has said he won’t make an appointment until Clinton is confirmed. The governor confirmed Kennedy’s interest in the seat on Monday, the same day she reached out to Sharpton in a telephone call.

After speaking to Kennedy, Sharpton released a statement saying he disagreed with those who say she isn’t qualified to be U.S. senator.

He said he had invited her to dine with him at Sylvia’s this week, reminding her that he took Obama there during his campaign “so it’s a good luck stop since he did all right.”

PHOTO: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 3:05 pm |

Kennedy for Senate?


After Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama early this year, my colleague at USA Today, Kathy Kiely, asked Kennedy’s friends what this might mean for her future.

What she run for office herself?

“I don’t think she’d go that far,” Theodore Sorenson, her father’s former speechwriter, told Kiely.

But Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, thought she would.

“I could see it,” he said. “It’s clear that Sen. Obama has great confidence in her and respects her.”

Now we know she wants Clinton’s seat.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
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Who was Ponzi?


I remember reading about Charles Ponzi several years ago when some Ponzi scheme or another was in the news.

Today it is Bernard Madoff who has everyone wondering who the original Ponzi was.

Ponzi’s biographer, Mitchell Zuckoff, has the answer in this “Fortune”:http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/15/news/newsmakers/ponzi.fortune/ column.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 4:45 pm |

Kennedy to seek Senate seat


Caroline Kennedy has reportedly decided to seek the seat that would be vacated by Hillary Clinton.


(Dec. 15) – Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, has decided to seek the Senate seat that will be vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to The New York Times.

The Times reports that Kennedy, who came to the decision after serious deliberation, will ask New York Gov. David A. Paterson to consider her for the job. If appointed, Kennedy would fill the seat once held by her uncle, the late Robert F. Kennedy.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

Barack Hussein Obama


Last month I wrote about attempts to use Barack Obama’s middle name as a slur — as in B. Hussein Obama.

With Obama’s election, those attempts have failed.

I concluded: “And who knows? Maybe when Obama is sworn in as president, he’ll use these words: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”

Guess what? That’s exactly what he plans to do, he said in a joint interview with the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times that was published yesterday.

“I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition,” he said. “I’m not trying to make a statement one way or another. I’ll do what everybody else does.”

Obama also said expected to follow through on a campaign promise and give a speech in a Muslim capital.

“I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” he said.

Read the article “here.”:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-barack-obama-muslim-1210,0,5694976.story?page=1&xid=rss-page

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, December 11th, 2008 at 5:07 pm |


Senate Candidate 5


Today, I wrote about the allegation against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

One of the candidates for the seat was referred to in the criminal complaint as Senate Candidate 5. His emissaries supposedly offered up to $1 million to the governor.

Today ABC News reports that Candidate 5 is Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jackson denies authorizing any exchange.

More “here.”:http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ConductUnbecoming/story?id=6431739&page=1

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 at 5:39 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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