Common Sense: ‘Tis the season

The lights and sounds of what has made Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights such special communities each Christmas season are once again upon us.

The lights of Dyker Heights in particular receive national and even international attention with tour buses making the upper 80s around 11th and 12th Avenues stops for sightseers.

Many homes are professionally decorated with incredible displays, often with moving pieces as well as music. One homeowner even has a live Santa Claus and other characters on some nights.

Drop by Dyker Heights on a weeknight to avoid the crowds and traffic backups. Park your car and walk. You will enjoy the sounds and sights more as well as create less of a disruption for the community which enjoys the visitors, but can on weekends be overwhelmed.

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It seems that every year, a little more of an effort goes into what many would describe as taking Christ out of Christmas. This year, the mega stores like Macy’s and JCPenney went a step further and almost took the Thanks out of Thanksgiving by opening up for sales on Thanksgiving day instead of the traditional Black Friday.

Fortunately, there was a push back. Several states even went as far as banning the opening, creating a kind of blue law for retailers on Thanksgiving.

Locally, Conservative-Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and Democratic State Senator Diane Savino teamed up and called for a boycott of holiday-disrespecting big box stores, instead suggesting supporting small businesses and the larger stores that respected the holiday.

Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights have many of these small businesses and even a few larger ones like Century that should be considered before going out to the big malls to shop, not to mention there are definitely real savings involved when you do not have to pay the tolls or drive long distances.

The legislators noted that, by opening on such an important holiday, “they are taking away from the family values and community service we are meant to observe.” I certainly agree with their sentiment and hope that next year the big stores remain closed until at least midnight.

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I am not sure what to make out of the international deal to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Essentially, we are only releasing funds that were Iranian and had been frozen.

In return, Iran will only be allowed to possess enough uranium to support power plants with verification put in place. This would all seem well enough. Releasing the funds will help the dreadful Iranian economy. Considering its support for terrorism, that clearly cuts both ways.

And in that lies the real question. Did international powers simply buy some time with a country that has not and does not intend to change its ways? Certainly, Israel and Saudi Arabia –our nation’s most important allies in the region — think so.

Iranian rhetoric, which at its core advocates the destruction of Israel, certain Arab nations as well as the United States and many of our European allies, has often been backed by actions.

The formal government has changed, but behind it remains the religious zealots who wish death upon us. Possibly confronted with a terrible economy that was beginning to create major internal unease, the leadership was willing to allow a deal that protects them from overthrow at home.

Unfortunately, on a larger global scale, nothing has actually changed and Iran remains an enemy of the West and much of the Middle East.

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