Daily Archives: December 22, 2009

Holtville High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team

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Supervisors Reject Opportunity to Create Green Jobs

Once Again, County Supervisors Reject Opportunity to Create Green Jobs for Imperial County Residents

Program Would Have Provided National Model for Green Job Creation, Skilled Workforce Training and Positioned County for Stimulus Funds

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FBI Releases Michael Jackson Files

Investigative Files Released

FOIA documents on Michael Joseph Jackson

In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the Bureau has released its investigative files on the late entertainer Michael Jackson, who died earlier this year.

The records total 333 pages, divided into seven files. They detail the FBI’s investigation of a man who threatened to kill Jackson, as well as various forms of assistance to California authorities in two cases involving allegations that Jackson had abused children. It should be emphasized that none of these allegations were ever proven in court.

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The Real History Of Christmas?

Chris Furguson
DSC_0003The middle of winter, after the Solstice when the longest night and shortest day occur in nature, was a time to celebrate long before a child named Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
The Norse, for instance, celebrated Yule from the 21st of December (The Winter Solstice) to January 6.  The story goes that with the returning of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home huge logs that they would light, feasting until the log burned out.  Sometimes, this took 12 days, hence the 12 days of Christmas.
In other parts of Europe, the celebration began as soon as most of the family’s cattle were slaughtered, providing fresh meat for the first time all year for many.  Winter was also when beer and wine finally fermented, allowing for the joy that those beverages provide.
In Rome, the Saturnalia was celebrated.  Starting the week before the solstice and going for an entire month, Saturnalia was a time when society was flipped, much like the English Boxing Day.  Owners became slaves; peasants ruled the city while businesses and schools were closed so that everyone could enjoy the fun.
Another celebration in the Roman Empire was Juvenalia, a feast in honor of Rome’s children.  The Upper classes in the city also celebrated the birth of Mithra, god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25.
In early Christianity, Easter was the main holiday, as the birth of Jesus was not celebrated, as the Bible does not mention the day that Jesus was born.  In the fourth century AD/CE, after Christianity was legitimized by Constantine I, the leaders of the church decided to find a date to celebrate the birth of their church’s founder.
Although evidence existed that Jesus was born in spring (why would shepherds herd their sheep in winter for one), Pope Julius chose December 25 as the day of celebration.  It is believed that Julius chose this date to make the celebration more popular as it was already the time when other established celebrations took place.
While the likelihood of Christmas being accepted was high, the Church gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.  During the Middle Ages, early Christmas celebrations resembled the pagan holidays.  The faithful would go to church in the morning, and then hold a celebration similar to the drunken festivals of Mardi Gras of today.
By the 17th Century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christians looked at Christmas.  Oliver Cromwell, the man who overthrew the reign of Charles I, decreed that Christmas was too decadent and banished the holiday until Charles II restored the holiday when he regained the throne.
The pilgrims, an offshoot of English separatists that came to the Americas in 1620, were stricter about celebrations than Cromwell.  In fact, Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681, with a 5 shilling fine for “showing the Christmas spirit.”  In contrast, Christmas was celebrated in Jamestown without incident.
After the American Revolution came a discarding of many things English, including Christmas.  Congress was in session on December 25, as were most businesses.  Christmas wasn’t declared a holiday in the United States until 1870!
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that Christmas, one re-invented by Americans, was embraced in the country.  Turmoil in some of the immigrant-heavy eastern cities followed by the publication of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, which showed a Victorian influenced America and England the importance of celebrating the day, led to a creation of a conglomeration holiday influenced by immigrant Christians and Episcopalians.

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Former Holtville Resident Releases Christmas CD

By Luke Phillips
7732_1226930919572_1418017057_648846_742273_nA former Holtville resident is helping spread holiday cheer with her new album ‘Believe Christmas’, a collection of traditional Christmas tunes with a modern twist.
Terry Maston grew up in Holtville and moved away when she was 24 to become a youth minister in the Los Angeles area. That’s where she met music producer Nelson Rios, who proposed the idea of a Christmas album to Maston.
“He asked me, and because it was something that came to my mind ahead of time, I went ahead and joined with him,” Maston said.
Maston says the title of the CD is a big part of what made her want to do the album.
“Three years ago I felt that God dropped that one word (Believe) into my heart and spirit and just said ‘hold on to this word’ and since I’ve been holding on to it, it’s been popping up everywhere. So I wear it on my neck, I wear it on shirts, I wear it everywhere,” Maston said. When Rios told her that he wanted to call the album ‘Believe Christmas’, Maston says she was floored. “It was kind of like a little God thing, you know? Which is why I actually went through with it, because the signs were all there.”
‘Believe Christmas’ was recorded over 9 months and released last October on an independent label run by Maston’s church.
Maston said that the caliber of producers and musicians working on the album made the experience incredible. She says the albums’ recording engineer has won both a Grammy and an Oscar, and two other musicians who play on the album are also Grammy winners.
Maston says the resulting album is easy-listening, but far from traditional.
“We wanted to create a CD that was not your typical, traditional Christmas CD,” Maston said, “So it has a smooth jazz, and maybe a little bit of a Latin flavor, but with a couple little surprises thrown in. It has more of a grown up sound, so it’s not your little bebop type of CD. The producers are Brizillian, so it does have that flavor laced through it.”
Besides singing at a women’s conference in Imperial earlier this month, Maston says she doesn’t plan on performing live in the Imperial Valley, but is open to the idea.
“We’re leaving it open to see what God wants to do with it,” she said.
Maston did, however, take some time to honor one of her hometown inspirations. Maston says she stopped to visit with former Holtville music teacher Jack Kelly and give him a copy of the CD.
“He was my choir director in Middle School and I just felt that I wanted to honor him in that way because of the influence he put in me as a kid,” she said.
The CD of ‘Believe Christmas’ is available at Revelations in El Centro for $9.99 and digital downloads of the album are available online at iTunes.com and Amazon. KGBA, El Centro’s Christian radio station, is also playing 4 tracks from the album for the Christmas season.
Maston says that she hopes her work is able to make the holidays a little more inspirational for people.
“I just want to inspire hope for people to believe in Christmas again, to believe in the meaning of Christmas, to believe in the dreams that God has put on their hearts and not to give up hoping,” she said.

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