Declaring war on the War on Christmas

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
Declaring war on the War on Christmas story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Tomorrow is the last day of November, and Thanksgiving is behind us, while Christmas is straight ahead.

For a variety of reasons, many don't use the word Christmas as often anymore, opting instead for the Holiday, or simply the Season.

In tonight's Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says please, though, don't blame it on some vast conspiracy.

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We are a people of euphemism's--always have been.

If there's a word that bothers us, we find some other, less bothersome, word or expression to take its place.

I guess the classic is the word "die."

We really don't like it. It's too final. Too cold.

So we say a person has "passed on" or "passed away". For the less sensitive there's always "bought the farm," bit the dust," or bit the big one."

We like "revenue enhancements" over taxes.

And we increasingly use words like "holiday" or "season," or both, instead of Christmas.

But with apologies to the gang over at FOX News, it's time to declare war on their long-running war against what they call the  War on Christmas.

It's good for ratings and profits for some TV people, like Bill O'Reilly and Pat Robertson, to tilt at windmills in the name of Christianity. Lots of people are quick to climb on board.

But the whole storm reeks of being a manufactured conflict. A blizzard in a snow globe.

It's a given that the United States is a predominately Christian nation. 85 to 90 percent. We know that.

But our government is not. Our first amendment—not the third or fifth or ninth—the first, makes it clear that our government will not choose or promote one religion over another.

So, no government-sponsored nativity scenes. No civic Christmas lighting ceremonies, but lots of lighting ceremonies for the holidays. Lots of enhanced "season's greetings."

Its a way of trying to please every religion: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, agnosticism, atheism, and who knows how many others.

They're all here.

And stores that promote "holiday shopping" and "seasonal savings," they're just trying to please everyone, too.
 
And in the process, avoid getting sued by someone who perceives an injustice by a baby in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in a public park.

That's the way it is.

If there's an enemy in all of this, as pogo once noted, it is us.

Christians may have built this treehouse, but the sign below says everyone is welcome—your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

And we never have, and hopefully never will, pull up the ladder based on a newcomer's religion. In fact more religions are represented here than in any country in the world.

That doesn't come without a problem or two.

In the meantime, its up to Christians to celebrate, with joy and conviction, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Who cares if our favorite stores don't cater to the religion most of us were born into.

It's Christmas.

There's magic in the air. Ya just gotta reach out and grab it.

Merry Christmas!

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
Declaring war on the War on Christmas
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Last Update on April 24, 2014 07:31 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

TOKYO (AP) -- Asian shares lacked a clear direction today as players took a mostly wait-and-see view ahead of talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama.

The focus is on what Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may say about negotiations on a wide-reaching trans-Pacific trade agreement, despite resistance from local interests on both sides to wiping out tariffs.

Sentiments on Asian markets were dampened by worries about the U.S. economy, highlighted by a surprise drop in new home sales as well as dismal earnings.

The pessimism overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 -- what's left when interest payments are stripped out.

The dollar fell against the euro and was little changed against the yen.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $101.50.

ECONOMY- THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON -- The government's weekly jobless claims report comes out today.

Also, the government will release March durable goods numbers and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates.

A slew of quarterly earnings reports will be released today.

Before the market opens, investors will hear from Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Altria Group, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, 3M , Caterpillar, Verizon, and UPS.

After the closing bell, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Visa and Microsoft will report their quarterly financial results.

EARNS-FACEBOOK

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook's first-quarter earnings and revenue grew sharply, surpassing Wall Street's expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The social network says it earned $642 million, or 25 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $219 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings were $885 million or 34 cents per share.

Facebook says its revenue was $2.5 billion, up 71 percent from $1.46 billion in the same period a year ago.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

Facebook says its finance chief, David Ebersman, is leaving on June 1 after five years. He'll be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

EARNS-TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

DALLAS (AP) -- Texas Instruments is giving an upbeat forecast for the current quarter after the chipmaker's first-quarter profit rose 35 percent.

Texas Instruments makes semiconductors used in consumer devices and industrial equipment and is reducing its reliance on chips used in smartphones and tablets. The company said that revenue from chips that convert analog signals to digital ones and from embedded technology such as microcontrollers accounted for 84 percent of first-quarter sales. Both segments grew by double-digit percentages.

Meanwhile, revenue from everything else tumbled by 28 percent.

Net income was $487 million, or 44 cents per share, including a gain of 2 cents per share from a sale that the company had not included in previous guidance to investors. The results compared with year-ago profit of $362 million, or 32 cents per share. Revenue grew 3 percent to $2.98 billion.

For the second quarter, the company predicted that earnings would be between 55 cents and 63 cents per share on revenue of $3.14 billion to $3.40 billion.

CHINA-INDUSTRY REFORM

BEIJING (AP) -- China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient.

The Cabinet announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at carrying out the ruling Communist Party's promises to give entrepreneurs and foreign investors a bigger role in the state-dominated economy.

The statement late Wednesday gave no indication whether private investors would be given any control over the newly opened industries, which include oil and hydro power.

Other industries cited by the statement were wind power, natural gas storage and distribution, solar power, coal, railways and port operations.

INTERNET NEUTRALITY

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

The proposed rules also call for enhanced scrutiny of such deals so they don't harm competition or limit free speech.

That's according to a senior FCC official familiar with the matter who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is to present the proposed rules to the other commissioners on Thursday.

The new rules are meant to replace the FCC's open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January.

While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, such dealings were discouraged.

TRAIN SAFETY-EMERGENCY ACTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says the Obama administration needs to take steps immediately to protect the public from potentially catastrophic oil train accidents even if it means using emergency authority.

Deborah Hersman, wrapping up a two-day forum on the rail transport of oil and ethanol, said the Transportation Department shouldn't wait for the usual federal rulemaking process to run its course. She urged regulators to use their authority to issue emergency orders or interim rules to bring about tougher standards for tank cars used to haul oil and ethanol.

She said the risks of such accidents are clear and waiting will only lead to a "higher body count."

Hersman praised Canadian authorities who announced Wednesday that they banning or phasing out older, more dangerous tank cars.

WAL-MART STORES-EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- The pay of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s outgoing CEO fell 73 percent in 2013 because he didn't get stock awards that are given in anticipation of future performance as well as a lower performance-based bonus.

The world's largest retailer gave Mike Duke, 64, a compensation package worth about $5.6 million including a base salary of $1.4 million and a performance-based bonus of $2.8 million for the fiscal year that ended on Jan. 31.

Other compensation totaled $490,090, including retirement contributions and $144,586 for personal use of company aircraft.

The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.

COCA-COLA-BUFFETT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Warren Buffett says he disapproves of Coca-Cola's highly contested pay plan for its executives.

Buffett, the beverage maker's largest shareholder, called the plan "excessive" in an interview on CNBC after the plan was approved at the company's annual meeting.

But Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway abstained from voting against the pay plan because he believes in Coca-Cola's management and CEO Muhtar Kent.

The pay plan came under scrutiny after Wintergreen Advisers took public issue with it last month. Wintergreen CEO David Winters said the plan was a "raw deal" for shareholders that would transfer roughly $13 billion to management over the next four years. He urged Buffett to vote against the plan.

In a statement, Coca-Cola Co. says it respects Buffett's "philosophical stance on equity-based compensation."

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