An inside look at the single largest public outreach program for the Department of Defense — and the Pentagon’s most elaborate propaganda operation.
But the number printed in the newspaper in December 1955 had a digit wrong — and was instead the direct line into the secret military nerve center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Pentagon was on the lookout to prevent nuclear war. The Air Force officer and World War II fighter pilot who took the first call that day for Father Christmas thought it was a crank — and Col. Harry Shoup sternly said so.
“The little kid started crying,” Shoup’s daughter, Terri Van Keuren, recalled in an interview. “So Dad went into his ‘Ho ho ho’ and got the kid’s list.”
Sixty-two years later, the Continental Air Defense Command is now the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and its interactive NORAD Tracks Santa has become the largest single public outreach program for the Defense Department. It’s also, you might say, the Pentagon’s most elaborate propaganda operation.
On Christmas Eve, while monitoring the heavens for North Korean missile launches or Russian military aircraft flying too close to the U.S. or Canada, NORAD will also be reporting the progress of Santa and his reindeer as they travel from the North Pole around the world delivering presents and holiday cheer. It will correlate the jolly elf’s journey with its network of 47 radar stations, spy satellites in “geosynchronous” orbit 22,300 miles above the earth, fighter jets and a suite of special high-tech “SantaCams.” Or so the publicity stunt’s plan goes.
“The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America,” says NORAD’s detailed 14-page internal handbook for the operation, which is replete with Santa stats (first flight believed to be Dec. 24, 343 A.D.) and even talking points for that uncomfortable question many parents also confront: “Is there a Santa Claus?”
It’s all part of the ornamented script that more than 1,500 volunteers — including the four-star general in charge of defending North America — are using to field an anticipated 150,000 calls and an avalanche of emails and social media posts (2 million Facebook followers so far) who are all seeking to locate Ole St. Nick on his starlight odyssey.
“As soon as you’re hanging up there’s another kid wanting to talk to you,” Preston Schlachter, NORAD’s Track Santa program manager and its director of community outreach, said of the 23-hour period leading up to Christmas when volunteers work in two-hour shifts, backed up by dozens of sponsors ranging from Microsoft to the National Defense Industrial Association, Taco Bell and the local Amy’s Donuts in Colorado Springs.
In the past, VIPs like former first lady Michelle Obama have also taken a turn at the phones.
“It is the best two hours you’ll ever experience,” Schlachter added in an interview. “You are getting these calls from all over the world. One of the coolest things I like about the program is the multi-generational aspect of it. We are seeing feedback on social media, people who call in and tell us they tracked Santa when they were kids and they’ve introduced it to their kids and now they’re introducing it to their grandkids.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Woke Barbie’ Torches Mattel Profits, Company Anticipates ‘Margin Deterioration’ During Disappointing Christmas HolidayPosted: December 13, 2017
Chloe Aiello reports: Mattel anticipates “gross margin deterioration,” during what is typically the biggest shopping season of the year.
Struggling to stay afloat, Mattel released updated full year and fourth quarter guidance, anticipating a disappointing holiday season. The toy maker predicts “gross margin deterioration,” during what is typically the biggest shopping season of the year.
“The unfavorable year-over-year gross margin experienced during the first nine months of 2017 is expected to continue throughout the fourth quarter of 2017, as a result of unfavorable product mix, higher freight and logistics expense, and lower fixed cost absorption,” the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “In addition, continued negative trends in top line performance for the balance of the year could result in additional gross margin deterioration as a result of higher inventory write-downs and discounts offered to clear inventory.”
Mattel said it expects its fourth quarter operating income margin to be significantly lower year-over-year, and anticipates 2017 full-year gross sales will decline by the mid-to-high single digits compared to 2016.
The revised guidance hints at worsening conditions within Mattel, which has watched its margins suffer for years from cheaper imports, competition from big box retailers and the impact of technology on toys.
“Based on preliminary quarter-to-date data for the fourth quarter, Mattel currently anticipates its gross sales during the fourth quarter of 2017 will continue to be negatively impacted by key retail partners moving toward tighter inventory management and by challenges in the Toy Box and certain under performing brands,” Mattel said in the filing. Read the rest of this entry »
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, celebrates her Sapphire Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, has celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee as Britain commemorates 65 years since she ascended the throne.
The 90-year-old monarch, who became the kingdom’s longest-reigning sovereign in 2015, did not publicly mark the occasion herself, but a 41-gun royal salute was fired in a central London park to honour the landmark.
“Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
“It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration, but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life.”
Elizabeth became Queen aged 25 on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI.
She is the 41st monarch in a royal line that traces its origin back to Norman King William the Conqueror who claimed the throne in 1066.
When she overtook her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record of 63 years on the throne, she remarked it was not something to which she had ever aspired.
- 8 servings (1 1/2 cups mix)
- ACTIVE TIME
- 10 minutes
- TOTAL TIME
- 10 minutes
- For the hot chocolate mix:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup high-quality cocoa powder
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- For the hot chocolate:
- 1 cup whole milk
- Whipped cream, marshmallows, and cocoa powder (for serving)
Original newspaper strip by Stanley Smith, source unknown
Forgotten masterpiece: Original hand-colored printer’s proofs of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ from Panic #1Posted: December 24, 2016
Stephen Gutowski writes: It’s almost time for Santa Claus to make his annual trip around the globe to deliver presents for all the good little boys and girls. However, before he gets started, he’s blowing off some steam at the range with a bunch of silenced rifles, shotguns, handguns, and machine pistols.
“Unfortunately, the ATF have regulated them so much I can’t give them out to all the good little boys and girls.”
Or, at least, that’s how the latest ad from SilencerCo depicts things.
The video features Santa and Rudolph shooting a variety of silenced firearms out in the snowy North Pole.
“I used to have some pretty boring hobbies like whittling, baking, but then in the 9th century a magical thing happened: the Chinese invented a little thing called gun powder.”
“My name is Saint Nicholas,” Santa says in the video. “Most of you know me as Santa Claus. My job definitely comes with a lot of stress, but we all have our own ways of relieving that stress.”
“I used to have some pretty boring hobbies like whittling, baking, but then in the 9th century a magical thing happened: the Chinese invented a little thing called gun powder,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »
Conservatives, gun store owners, and Second Amendment activists are receiving ‘Christmas Cards’ from anti-gun advocates that include graphic photos of victims who have received gunshots to the face.
Lana Shadwick writes: The Christmas card includes the Bible verse, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked. And the one who loves violence His soul hates.”
The card also bears the inscription:
The NRA gives the gift of nonfatal gunshot wounds like these to 100,000 Americans per year. Your continued support of ‘guns everywhere’ legislation is directly responsible for this health epidemic. In your heart, do you honestly believe this is what Jesus wants? Shame on you for dishonoring Jesus Christ with your support of gun-pushing legislation.
The Christmas card is signed from “The Betsy Riot” which describes itself on the card as “a decentralized movement that nonviolently opposes gun culture.”
I’ll say it again: Gun control advocates are the most violent, dangerous people I have ever encountered. They have no regard for safety.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 18, 2016
The post on Facebook bears a graphic warning that must be clicked on before the photos can be seen.
The photos can also be found on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and the National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery, Official Publication of Maxillofacial Society of India. These sources do not tell how both of these victims sustained their wounds. The male victim can be found under a case report for “self-inflicting gunshot injury.” Read the rest of this entry »
This duet between the infamous Rat Packer and the voluptuous actress would still be weird if it happened when Martin was still alive…Surprisingly, posthumous Christmas duets aren’t unusual, with Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride teaming up with Elvis for “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” respectively.
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. “Little Drummer Boy” is a Christmas song written in 1957, while the “Peace on Earth” tune and lyrics were added to the song especially for Bowie and Crosby’s recording.
The song was recorded on 11 September for Crosby’s 1977 television special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas before singing “Little Drummer Boy” with a new counterpoint with original lyrics written for the special, “Peace on Earth”. Bowie’s appearance has been described as a “surreal” event, undertaken at a time that he was “actively trying to normalise his career” Crosby died on October 14, just over a month after recording the special. In the U.S., the show aired on 30 November 1977 on CBS.
“This is one job he wishes was all a dream.”
The vast majority of holiday travelers — more than 90 million — will be driving, and much cheaper gas prices will drive the costs of the holiday trips down.
Dad Nick Wolfe says their final stop is Vermont.
“Everybody is doing great. We had a DVD installed in the van, so we have been watching a lot of movies. It’s been great.”
For Alex Sphere and his family from Boston, highway driving has been great for the wallet, even if it means nearly running out of gas.
“We tried to make it to New Jersey without stopping so we could get the cheaper gas prices in New Jersey than New York, so we are running on just about empty,” Sphere said. According to AAA, the record 91 million people hitting the road is nearly 2 million more than last year.
Cheap gas may be fueling the increase. They are at an average $2 a gallon, down 37 cents from last year. A family of five driving a minivan from New York to Miami is paying just $130 one way — a savings of $80 compared to just two years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
The Body of Christ with Two Angels
Oil on copper, 45 x 39 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest
Image © The Beekeeper by Dan Des Eynon
|The Directory of Illustration and the Association of Illustrators (AOI) bring you the World Illustration Awards 2016 – a truly global competition that honors the most creative and inspiring commercial illustration from around the world.
Work entered by February 8 will be reviewed by a jury of distinguished international industry professionals. The competition shortlist reflects exceptional work by illustrators currently making an outstanding contribution to visual culture and is published in full on theaoi.com, which receives over 100,000 hits per month, many of these from commissioners looking for the perfect candidate for their next job.
The Swedish branch of ActionAid, an international charity working to fight poverty and further human rights, just released an album entitled “All I Want For Christmas is a Goat.” It’s one of the funniest things we’ve heard all year.
A cacophanous choir of goats sing eight classic Christmas carols including “Jingle Bells”:
Source: Archie McPhee’s
The original from Neptune’s Daughter
Neptune’s Daughter is a 1949 musical romantic comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalbán, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat and Mel Blanc. It was directed by Edward Buzzell, and features the Academy Award winning song ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside‘ by Frank Loesser.
Ferrell and Wahlberg, who previously teamed up for the 2010 action-comedy The Other Guys, will once again be at odds, as they hilariously attempt to outmaneuver one another while competing for the affection of two children.
Ferrell portrays Brad, a amiable radio executive who aspires to be a dad. Brad’s dream comes true when he marries Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and becomes the step-father to her two kids. But conflict arises in the form of the children’s biological father, Dusty, an outgoing special-ops agent played by Mark Wahlberg. Read the rest of this entry »
At least eight people have been injured and taken to hospital after a shooting at Hisingen in Gothenburg. It confirms SOS Alarm for SVT News . Eight people have been hospitalized after a shooting at Vårväderstorget on Hisingen in Gothenburg, says SOS Alarm.
“First we got into it was five injured , then it turned out that there were three more. We sent a total of ten ambulances to the scene. Right now , I can see that five of them are at the hospital and unload injured.”
Jack Soderberg at SOS , Expressen
Ten ambulances and a large number of police were sent to the scene. The alarm came to the police at 22:23.
BREAKING: Swedish police: Several people shot inside restaurant in Goteborg, some have died.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 19, 2015
The shooting took place inside a restaurant on Vårväderstorget says Jenny Widén, spokesperson for the police Western Region. Damage State of the shot is still unclear , according to police. Read the rest of this entry »
Dean Napolitano and Joyu Wang report: The blockbuster “Transformers: Age of Extinction” topped Hong Kong’s box office in 2014, a year in which big-budget Hollywood tentpoles again dominated local cineplexes.
The fourth installment of the “Transformers” franchise pulled in HK$98.2 million (US$12.7 million), according to Hong Kong Box Office Ltd. That far outpaced “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which came in second and earned HK$56.6 million.
Director Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” was something of a hometown film: A major part of the action takes place in Hong Kong, including the movie’s climax, in which much of the city is destroyed in a battle between giant robots
The movie held its world premiere at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, with stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Nicola Peltz hitting the red carpet while admiring the city’s dramatic skyline.
The cast also included popular Chinese actress Li Bingbing in a co-starring role, while other Hong Kong and Chinese actors took minor roles. Still, the movie failed to match 2013’s top hit, “Iron Man 3,” which made HK$106.4 million….(read more)
Top 10 Films by Box-Office Receipts in Hong Kong in 2014
- “Transformers: Age of Extinction” – HK$98.2 million
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – HK$56.6 million
- “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – HK$54.7 million
- “Interstellar”* – HK$51.1 million
- “X-Men: Days of Future Past” – HK$50.8 million
- “Golden Chickensss” – HK$41.3 million
- “Maleficent” – HK$40.9 million
- “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – HK$36.97 million
- “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”* – HK$36.5 million
- “From Vegas to Macau” – HK$33.6 million
The Party’s Over, detail from cover of Saturday Evening Post January 2, 1960. Art by Ben Kimberly Prins
This “bird’s-eye view” illustration by Harrison Cady is from an unknown issue of Boy’s Life magazine.