BC Schools Won’t Even Consider Christmas

Kamloops-Thompson (British Columbia) school trustees have no intention of stirring up the same controversy as their Chilliwack counterparts by renaming the upcoming December holiday Christmas break.

“We’re so multicultural. It’s not Christmas to some people,” vice chairwoman Diane Dosch said Sunday.

The School District 73 website refers to the holiday as winter break. Dosch and other trustees interviewed by The Daily News say this has been the case for as long as they can remember.

The religiously neutral title is also used on the Ministry of Education calendar.

Trustees in Chilliwack are in hot water because they voted to call the break Christmas holidays. The Chilliwack Teachers Federation and the Parent Advisory Council dislike the decision, saying it’s important to be sensitive to various beliefs within the community.

Trustees in Kamloops agree. Dosch said she doesn’t bemoan Chilliwack trustees for trying something different, but has no intention of rocking the boat here.

“It doesn’t need to be discussed,” she said. “That’s just calling for trouble when you don’t need it.”

Trustee Kathleen Karpuk said Chilliwack has a prominent Christian community, which is perhaps why trustees there felt the need for a change.

But Kamloops is a diverse city and she believes it’s important to respect all cultures, said Karpuk.

Trustee Denise Harper said renaming the holiday Christmas break might delight Christians but it would likely offend others who believe religion has no place in schools.

Holidays in the school calendar are named after the seasons in which they occur. Chairman Ken Christian said it’s been that way for the 18 years he’s been on the school board.

“It’s not to be a connotation about religion one way or the other. It’s what those breaks are named after,” he said.

Winter break begins Dec. 20.

From Kamloops News.ca

Fox News Blows School Christmas Color Controversy Out of Context

Fox News rushed to report a Florida elementary school that had sent a letter dictating what could and could not be used in holiday celebrations in the coming weeks:

A school in Florida has not only banned Christmas – but everything associated with the Christian holiday.

Teachers at Heathrow Elementary School have been ordered to banish images of Santa Claus from classrooms – along with traditional Christmas colors like red and green.

“You can’t use red and green,” one outraged parent told WESH. “It’s ridiculous.”

The parent, who serves as a volunteer room mother, said she was recently given a list of guidelines that listed the holiday restrictions.

She said the basic theme of the letter was, “We don’t want to offend anyone who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or the Christian beliefs.”

It turns out the Fox reporter didn’t contact the school or verify the claims being made. Here is the text of a letter later sent by the school:

The school district of Seminole County would like to correct the recent news stories regarding the “ban of red and green” at Heathrow Elementary School in Lake Mary, Florida. The banning of red and green is simply not true.

Out of respect for their diverse community, the common practice for December classroom activities has been a winter theme which can include red, green, or any color.

Unfortunately the principal of the school was not contacted by any parent prior to the news stories. Parents are encouraged to contact the principal with any questions relating to school policies and practices.

Regina Murray Klaers
Public Information Officer
Seminole County Public Schools

Christmas Tree Event a Terrorist Target

Undercover agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van full of what he believed were explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, federal authorities said.

The bomb was a fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.

Yelling “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.

“The threat was very real,” said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale,”

The FBI affidavit that outlined the investigation alleges that Mohamud planned the attack for months, at one point mailing bomb components to FBI operatives, whom he believed were assembling the device.

It said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out, but he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this;” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show … a spectacular show.”

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday. Few details were available about him late Friday.

Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt.

Officials didn’t say if the suspect had any ties to other Americans recently accused of trying to carry out attacks on U.S. soil, including alleged efforts in May by a Pakistan-born man to set off a car bomb near Times Square or another Pakistan-born Virginia resident accused last month in a bomb plot to kill commuters.

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents to The Associated Press and the Oregonian newspaper that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an “unindicted associate” in Pakistan’s northwest, a frontier region where al-Qaida and Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents are strong.

The two used coded language in which the FBI believes Mohamud discussed traveling to Pakistan to prepare for “violent jihad,” the documents said.

In June an FBI agent contacted Mohamud “under the guise of being affiliated with” the suspected terrorist. But the documents did not say how federal officials first became aware of Mohamud.

An undercover agent met with him a month later in Portland, where they “discussed violent jihad,” according to the court documents.

As a trial run, Mohamud and agents detonated a bomb in Oregon’s backcounry earlier this month.

“This defendant’s chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people — even here in Oregon — who are determined to kill Americans,” Holton said.

Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.

They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.

Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nations, condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.

“Talk to them and tell them what you know so we can all be safe,” Jamal said.

Somalia Foreign Minister Mohamed Abullahi Omaar said his government is “ready and willing” to offer the U.S. any assistance it may need to prevent similar attempts.

“It is a tragic for the family of the young man, it is a tragic for the people he tried to harm. It is a tragic for all of us here,” said Omaar, whose government is holed up in a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, while much of the country’s southern and central regions are ruled by Islamist insurgents.

“Mohamud’s attempt is neither representative nor an example of Somalis. Somalis are peace loving people.”

Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991.

U.S. authorities have been struggling against a recent spate of terror plans by U.S. citizens or residents.

In the Times Square plot, Faisal Shazhad allegedly tried to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. U.S. authorities had no intelligence about Shahzad’s plot until the smoking car turned up in Manhattan.

Late last month, Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Virginia was arrested and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters. Similar to the Portland sting, the bombing plot was a ruse conducted over the past six months by federal officials.

And a year ago in another federal sting, 19-year-old Jordanian Hosam Smadi was arrested on charges he intended to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper. Federal officials said he placed what he believed was a car bomb outside the building but was instead a decoy device given him by an undercover FBI agent.

AFA Wins; Calls Off Boycott of Dick’s Sporting Goods

“Christmas” will dominate ads from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Gone is the nasty word “Holiday”. Let the party begin.

Dick’s Sporting Goods has told AFA that “Christmas” will become a huge part of their advertising beginning November 28.

According to Vice-Chairman Bill Columbo, in a phone conference with AFA today, “We have made significant changes from past years, when ‘holiday’ was the dominant theme of our advertising.” Mr. Columbo told AFA that these changes were already in the works prior to AFA’s boycott announcement. He apologized for not returning AFA’s phone calls and letters earlier to convey this message.

Dick’s issued a statement to AFA and its pro-Christmas supporters, outlining their plans to incorporate “Christmas” in their advertising:

– Beginning November 28, Sunday newspaper inserts will read “Christmas 2010.” It will continue each Sunday through Christmas.

– Dick’s website will display the Christmas message prior to the first insert (next week) in time for Thanksgiving day.

– Television commercials running after November 28th will also refer to Christmas season.

As a result of Dick’s response, AFA is cancelling the boycott.

It is amazing to see the culture change that is occurring inside corporate board rooms. All across America, companies are coming to realize they should include Christ and Christmas in their advertising

Now that the American Family Association has won this battle, it can focus on these retailers who STILL refuse to use the word Christmas in their marketing campaigns this holiday…er, Christmas…season:

Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria’s Secret

Is the War on Christmas Over?

AdAge.com says the War on Christmas is over and that the pro-Christmas crowd has won. Their article highlights the recent launch of the American Family Association’s famous list of retailers who won’t use the word “Christmas” in their advertisements.

Randy Sharp, director-special projects at the AFA, said that in the past five years the group has seen the percentage of retailers recognizing Christmas in their advertising rise from 20% to 80%. Just eight retailers are left on the group’s list of “Companies Against Christmas.”

It’s also become more challenging to find a large, national retailer to single out for the group’s annual boycott. This year, Dick’s Sporting Goods, which boasts an online “Holiday Shop,” will be the target of the boycott. The AFA is expected to send an Action Alert to its 2.3 million supporters on Friday morning. That alert will urge shoppers to boycott Dick’s between now and Dec. 25. It also calls for consumers to email President-Chief Operating Officer Joseph Schmidt and then call Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hennion. The retailer declined to comment. In the past, Target, Sears, Gap Inc. and Walmart have been targets.

We likewise have seen a dramatic drop in the number of media stories highlighting Christmas controversies around the world. From lighting displays to the traditional debates over Christmas in public schools there just doesn’t seem to be as much attention or publicity about the war on Christmas this year.

Even the news of a “holiday” tree in the State Capitol of Washingon — again — is drawing little response this year.

About the only brewing battle ground seems to the one fight being picked by atheists who argue against organized religion yet have organized themselves to select Christmastime as their moment to promote anti-God attitudes.

The war on Christmas has, in our view, always been a fad. Usually folks pick on Christmas to promote one agenda or another. It is rarely, if ever, about Christmas itself.