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Archive for November, 2011

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights up New York

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

“it makes you feel like Christmas,” she said.

The 74-foot-tall Norway spruce was illuminated by 30,000 lights during a ceremony that featured performances by Neil Diamond, Cee Lo Green and Carol King. Justin Bieber and Tony Bennett provided pre-taped performances.

It was the first time at the tree lighting for 13 year-old best friends Emily Solomon and Carmela Civello, of Brooklyn.

“it was beautiful,” they said in unison.

Though they partially attended the lighting ceremony to see Bieber and were a bit miffed his performance was prerecorded and shown on monitors, they said they were happy to be there.

“I’m ready to get my Christmas gifts!” Emily said.

Tens of thousands of people were penned in on the streets surrounding Rockefeller Center, in midtown Manhattan. Most caught glimpses of performances on screens set up on street corners.

Paloma Diaz, 11, called herself a Bieber “believer” and attended to see him perform.

“I love him, but I also want to see the tree lighting,” said the Queens resident, who was with her mother. “I’ve heard other people say it’s really pretty when it lights up.”

The tree-lighting ceremony happened on a day President Barack Obama was in town to raise money for his re-election bid. the combination of blocked-off streets and holiday visitors led to traffic jams across Manhattan.

The tree was cut down in Mifflinville, Pa. It’s decorated with 5 miles of lights. the lights will be on until Jan. 7. After that, the Christmas tree will be turned into lumber for the housing charity Habitat for Humanity.

Workers building Rockefeller Center set up the first Christmas tree there in 1931. the first official tree-lighting ceremony was in 1933.

Copyright 2011 the associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights up New York

Conference report urges restart of horse slaughter

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Advocates of horse slaughter as a way to manage populations, particularly on reservation lands and fragile grasslands, were cheering passage of a conference report on an appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For the first time since 2005, the bill does not contain a rider preventing the USDA from providing inspections of horse meat for human consumption.

The conference report, a consolidated appropriations bill for several agencies including Agriculture, this week is expected to go to the full House and Senate for consideration. It must be voted up or down, without amendment.

Advocates for resuming horse slaughter were confident Tuesday that the report passed Monday night could not be altered at this point to once again prevent processing facilities from handling horse meat.

The de-facto ban on horse slaughter, critics say, has led to dumping on reservations and elsewhere of unwanted horses that owners, particularly during the recession, did not want to feed. Wild-horse populations on reservations in the West, including on the Yakama and Warm Springs, also have soared.

With no market for the meat, there has been no impetus for the horse roundups traditionally carried out by tribes to cull the herds. On the Yakama reservation, wild-horse populations with no natural predators have built to some 12,000 animals and growing, up from 4,500 in 2006, and significantly over the carrying capacity of the landscape, according to tribal biologists.

Jump-starting markets for unwanted horses is key to better management, horse advocates have argued.

“It’s a major steppingstone,” Jason Smith of the Warm Springs tribe said of the conference report by telephone from Washington, D.C., where he was lobbying for the legislation as president of the National Tribal Horse Coalition.

Smith said the legislation, if it gains final approval and the president’s signature this week, clears the way for his tribe and others to discuss creation of a tribal horse-processing facility.

The legislation also means a market will revive for the sale of unwanted horses, which Smith said is key to managing herds that otherwise trample fragile lands. “We can start managing our herds again at our tribe,” Smith said.

Sue Wallis, vice president of United Horseman, a nonprofit focused on horse-management issues, said a key for the pro-slaughter side was a report published by the U.S. General Accountability Office last summer that found unintended consequences resulting from the termination of the USDA’s ability to conduct the inspections.

Those included soaring rates of reported horse abuse and neglect, and horses subjected to long haul distances to Canada and Mexico, where horses were slaughtered without the oversight of U.S. regulation.

The Humane Society of the U.S. has fought to retain the prohibition on the inspections, arguing slaughter is not an appropriate management tool for horses.

Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States wrote in an email Tuesday that, “Allowing federal funds to be used to inspect horse-slaughter plants would be a step backward for America’s iconic horses and a waste of tax dollars. Americans don’t eat horses, and they don’t want them inhumanely killed, shrink-wrapped and sent to Japan or Belgium for a high-priced appetizer.

“It’s time to stop the export of American horses for slaughter — not add money to the cash-strapped federal budget to open more slaughter plants.”

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or lmapes@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lyndavmapes.

Conference report urges restart of horse slaughter

Evangelist Billy Graham, 93, hospitalized for possible pneumonia

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Evangelist Billy Graham, who has been in failing health in recent years, was admitted to a North Carolina hospital Wednesday with possible pneumonia.

Graham, 93, was admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., for treatment and observation of his lungs, according to a statement released by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. in Charlotte, N.C. The Southern Baptist minister was alert, smiling and waving at hospital staff upon arrival, the statement said.

Graham’s personal physician, Lucian Rice, told the association that the evangelist’s condition is stable. The pulmonologist treating Graham, mark Hellreich, said he is being tested for possible pneumonia, according to the association.

Larry Ross, Graham’s spokesman, told the Charlotte Observer that Graham recently developed a cough, congestion and slight fever. after hospital tests, doctors decided to keep him overnight for observation, Ross said.

Graham was hospitalized for successful treatment of pneumonia in may. after his release, he resumed physical therapy and normal daily activities — including finishing his 30th book, "Nearing Home," according to his staff. his daughter told NPR last month that Graham, who began conducting evangelistic crusades in 1948, had recently been placed on oxygen therapy.

No discharge date has been set. Graham’s association said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family at his home in Montreat, near Asheville.

Shortly after the association released its statement, its website received 106 comments, most of them from people praying for Graham’s recovery.– David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

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Photo: Billy Graham, center, is helped in 2007 by his son Franklin Graham, right, and is followed by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, left. they had attended a dedication ceremony at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Chuck Burton / associated Press

Evangelist Billy Graham, 93, hospitalized for possible pneumonia