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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Songs of the season

Having now survived another annual bombardment of dreadful Christmas music by rock and pop music artists, I remain convinced that only five such tracks recorded since 1970 are worth listening to:

* "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
* "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono
* "2,000 Miles," the Pretenders
* "I Believe in Father Christmas," Greg Lake
* "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth," Bing Crosby and David Bowie

And I'll afford an honorable mention to Band Aid's 1984-85 hit "Do They Know It's Christmas?" It's not a very good song, but it went a long way toward raising awareness about (and money for) the problem of famine in eastern Africa, and it stands as the godfather of all charitable collaborations by popular musicians in the 28 years since its release.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown. Guns. Enough.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., I kept hearing people say "this is not the appropriate time to discuss gun control." Baloney. This is the perfect time to discuss it ... and act on it ... while Friday's horror is still fresh in our minds.

A knee-jerk reaction is exactly what we need right now. This may be our last best chance to collectively yell "Enough!" and toughen our gun laws once and for all.

That said, here's where I stand in the debate:
I have liberal views on many hot-button issues, but I'm in favor of the Second Amendment. Let me say that again, so it's clear: I'm in FAVOR of the Second Amendment.

I have no problem with people owning guns, but I do see the need for reasonable limitations. A single-shot rifle for hunting? Fine. A hunting shotgun? Sure. A handgun for self and home protection? Absolutely. An AR-15 semiautomatic that can fire 100 rounds in a matter of seconds and kill 20 children? Um, no.

But rather than prattle on, I'll simply offer this: If anyone can make for me a cogent argument about why individual citizens need to own automatic and semiautomatic weapons that are intended for nothing other than killing large numbers of people in a short amount of time, I'll come around to that person's way of thinking and no longer will hold the position that our laws must change.

But I've yet to hear one good reason not to ban these tools of destruction and seize as many as possible that already are in circulation, and I doubt I ever will.

We know those weapons aren't used for hunting. We know they're not small and compact, like weapons needed for personal protection. And we know, from our recent history, that they are the weapons of choice for deranged people bent on carrying out mass murder.

And that, quite simply, has to stop.