From the daily archives: Monday, December 28, 2009

Q: What additional security measures is TSA taking domestically?
A: TSA has a layered approach to security that allows us to surge resources as needed on a daily basis. We have the ability to quickly implement additional screening measures including explosive detection canine teams, law enforcement officers, gate screening, behavior detection and other measures both seen and unseen. Passengers should not expect to see the same thing at every airport.

Q: What additional security measures are being taken for international flights to U.S. destinations?
A: TSA issued a directive for additional security measures to be implemented for last point of departure international flights to the United States. Passengers flying into the United States from abroad can expect to see additional security measures at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.

Q: Do passengers need to do anything differently to prepare for checkpoint security procedures? Has anything changed in terms of what passengers can bring in their carry-on or checked bags?
A: At this time, security checkpoint requirements for passengers departing U.S. airports remain the same. Passengers do not need to do anything differently, but they may notice additional security measures at the airport.

Q: Should passengers plan to arrive at airports earlier than normal?
A: Passengers traveling within the United States should give themselves extra time to check in and proceed through the security checkpoint before their flight, especially during the busy holiday travel season. TSA advises that passengers traveling on international flights to U.S. destinations allow extra time for security and arrive an additional hour earlier.

Q. How long will these measures remain in place?
A: TSA will continuously review these measures to ensure the highest levels of security.

On Dec. 25, 2009, an individual on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 set off a device and was subdued by passengers and crew. TSA wishes to acknowledge the heroic efforts of those individuals.

As a result of this incident, TSA has worked with airline and law enforcement authorities, as well as federal, state, local, and international partners to put additional security measures in place to ensure aviation security remains strong. Passengers traveling domestically and internationally to U.S. destinations may notice additional screening measures.

The American people should continue their planned holiday travel. TSA encourages passengers to remain observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials.

Click here to read a statement about the incident from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


By Luke Phillips
The first New Year celebration was held more than 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia around the year 2,000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. Other ancient civilizations including the Egyptians and Persians celebrated the New Year during the Fall Equinox and the Greeks celebrated during the Winter Solstice.
The early Romans adopted a 10-month calendar (said to have been invented by Rome founder Romulus) around the year 753 B.C. and declared March 1 the beginning of the New Year.
The 10-month Roman calendar was in use for several hundred years and still has effects on the names of the months today. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”).
The New Year was first celebrated on January 1 around the year 150 B.C. when the Romans officially changed the holiday to match the beginning of their civic year  when newly elected Roman officials began their one-year tenure. The idea took a while to catch on though, and New Year was still widely celebrated on March 1.
In 46 B.C. Julius Cesar introduced a new solar based calendar far superior to the Roman’s lunar based calendar. The Julian calendar officially named January 1 the New Year and Romans widely celebrated on that day for the first time.
At the time, Medieval European Christians found the idea of celebrating the New Year on January 1 a pagan and unchristian idea and in 567 banned the holiday. At various times and various places, Medieval Europeans celebrated the New Year on Christmas, March 1, and Easter.
In 1582 the modern Gregorian calendar was introduced and New Year was restored to January 1. Most Catholic-based societies adopted the calendar quickly, but Protestants were slower to adopt the practice. New Year in Britain and the American colonies was still celebrated on March 1 until 1752.
The most commonly sung New Year song in English speaking countries is ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a song first published in the book ‘Scots Musical Museum’ in 1796. The author Robert Burns transcribed the song into his book after hearing it sung by an old man in Scotland, his homeland.
The song was popularized after singer  Guy Lombardo who sang it at a New Year’s Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929. Lombardo learned the song from Scottish immigrants in his home town of London, Ontario Canada. After that, Lombardo’s version of the song was played every New Year’s eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria. It was also broadcast on television and radio and quickly became a time-honored New Year tradition.
The practice of making New Year’s resolutions is believed to have begun with the ancient Babylonians, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. Early Christians saw the New Year as a time to reflect on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions today are losing weight, quitting smoking, getting out of debt, saving money, drinking less alcohol, eating better, volunteering more and reducing stress.
Probably the most famous American New Year tradition is the dropping of the New Year ball in Time Square in New York City. The first New Year ball, dropped in 1907, was made of iron and wood. Today the ball is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter.
Fireworks, another New Year tradition, are believed to have been used to celebrate the holiday in ancient China where they believed that the bright lights and loud noises would ward off evil spirits for the year to come. The tradition is still widely honored today.
A New Year tradition widely observed in the Southern United States is the eating of a dish called Hoppin’ John (Black Eyed Peas and Ham Hocks). Those who eat Hoppin’ John on New Year are said to have plenty of everything during the year to come.


Imperial Valley Mall Abbreviates Hours for New Year Holiday

El Centro, CA.– Along with most area businesses, Imperial Valley Mall will join the throngs of area businesses closing early on New Year’s Eve, Thurs., Dec. 31. The mall will open that day at 10am and will close at 6 pm so that employees can relax and usher in 2010.

On New Year’s Day, Fri., Jan. 1, Imperial Valley Mall’s hours will be from 10am-6pm. The mall will resume its regular 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. operating hours on Sat., Jan. 2, 2010.

Department store hours may vary from regular mall hours.

The hours will be posted on the entry doors of the mall and are also listed on the mall’s Web site,


By Mario Conde

The American Civil Liberties Union decided to go forward with the investigation against the County of Imperial since they did not break any Brown Act rulings but is still against the way they decided to intervene.

The County Board heard last Tuesday a lengthy discussion by the public in favor and against the intervention of the board in the Gay marriage issue.

The County Board of Supervisors decided to intervene in a lawsuit in the federal courts that is trying to overrule proposition 8 that passed in November 2008. The Board decided to intervene arguing that the voters of the Imperial Valley voted 70% in favor of this measure. The board gave direction County Counsel not to engage in separate discovery or participate through the introduction of new evidence at trial.

While reserving the right to present legal argument should become necessary, it is anticipated that in the District Court the County, Board and its officials will not present legal arguments but rather will likely adopt the arguments the official proponents in support of the constitutionality of proposition 8.

The Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed a motion in the Court in San Francisco on behalf of the County of Imperial to intervene in the federal lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. In a press release made by the group, they say this is the federal case that may decide the definition of “marriage” for the entire country and will likely end at the U.S. Supreme Court. Until now, the organization said, the cases challenging the constitutionality of laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman have generally occurred in state courts and have only concerned each state’s constitution.

The group said that the Federal Judge in San Francisco will look at the following issues during that case the includes: whether the characteristics defining gays and lesbians as a class might in any way affect their ability to contribute to society; whether sexual orientation can be changed, and if so, whether gays and lesbians should be encouraged to change it; whether the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage leads to increased stability in opposite-sex marriage or alternatively whether permitting same-sex couples to marry destabilizes opposite-sex marriage; and whether a married mother and father provide the optimal child-rearing environment and whether excluding same-sex couples from marriage promotes this environment

The participation of the County of Imperial is imperative to the defense of Proposition 8 to assure the case can be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are trusting God to provide the financial resources necessary to defend traditional marriage not only for California, but now for the entire nation. Please consider making a generous year-end gift to help us protect marriage for generations to come.” The group said.

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