I will be at Times Square despite security threat

By Alex P. Vidal

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

THERE are many reasons to stay away from the Big Apple’s Times Square, the epicenter of all New Year’s Eve celebrations worldwide, starting December 31.

As early as December 27, we have been warned there were concerns about international and domestic terrorism and a rise in hate crimes, and law enforcement follows up on all threats as about one million people are expected to ring in New York City for the New Year’s Eve countdown at Times Square.

But I am one of those who are unfazed and will definitely be there to witness anew the historic New Year’s Eve, which is for sure a bucket list item for many people visiting from around the world.

I believe once a journalist will always be a journalist wherever I go and in whatever political and social climate. The events (we’re hoping and praying they’re all good and positive) that will transpire will hopefully be part of the priceless episodes in history that can never be witnessed once again.

Braving the cold, the crowds and being squished in one space for hours will be definitely worth it despite the security threat brought by an overseas war between Israel and Hamas if we don’t want to miss witnessing history unfold before our eyes.

James Smith, assistant director in charge of New York’s FBI Field Office, said the FBI, which is working with dozens of local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies, is ready to pounce on potential threats.

But it’s just as important that revelers pay attention to their surroundings and follow the adage, “If you see something, say something.”

As what we, boxing referees, normally warn the protagonists before they tear each other apart: “Protect yourself at all times.”


I GOT an email from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, which she also sent to other New Yorkers:

Alex, I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season and are able to gather with your family and loved ones as we reflect on the past year together.

In an ordinary year, my holiday message to you would be a simple expression of peace and goodwill. But this year is different.

We have seen a spike in antisemitism and Islamophobia since Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7th, adding to the already troubling rising tide of hate, from anti-Asian hate to homophobia.

Today, as millions of families gather to celebrate Christmas, I’m reminded of Psalm 34 that tells us to “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

I believe New York can be the model for peace to the rest of the world and do more than simply stand up against hate. Instead of yearning for peace, let’s actively live it. Instead of hoping for goodwill, let’s cultivate it. Instead of just giving best wishes, let’s give people the best versions of ourselves.

This holiday season, I’m calling on all New Yorkers to recommit themselves to living the values that define us —

We must transcend wishes and platitudes.

We stand for hope, not hate.

We build bridges, not barriers.

We reject racism and denounce bigotry.

We must create a New York where everyone can thrive free from fear, free from persecution, and free from discrimination.

From my family to yours, I want to wish you a holiday season filled with the genuine joy and peace that every New Yorker deserves.

Ever upward, Gov. Kathy Hochul


SAVING OUR PLANET. Let’s look for the arrows by choosing recycled when it comes to fruit and vegetable packaging. Many supermarkets are catching on now–they’re starting to realize that the consumer wishes to reduce their stacks of garbage and are offering recycled and recyclable packaging. Let’s look for the universally recognized recycle symbol.

SEXUAL-HEALTH CHECKLIST. 1. Lift weight 3x a week. Not only will we gain muscle, but sexual satisfaction will also follow as well. 2. Open our mind. Increasingly, women are doing just that in their sex practices. Don’t let her leave us behind. 3. Presence, transcendence, and authenticity trump lust in the good-sex game. 4. Expand our social networks. 5. Emotional connection-even with casual partners-means better sex.

YES, I DRINK DR. PEPPER. During his downtime at a Waco, TX drugstore, pharmacist Charles Alderton liked to fiddle with recipes for syrup-sweetened sodas. His most crowd-pleasing concoction–a nose-tickling blend of 23 fruity flavors that Alderton dubbed Dr. Pepper–caught on fast and became one of the first fizzy fountain drinks. The popular pop is an American original. I drink it if I can’t find any Pepsi or Coke.

SAVING THE PLANET. Glassy eyed. Glass is excellent for recycling because there are many different grades to work through before it reaches the point where it can no longer be recycled. Let’s make sure to separate different colored glass and don’t include metal bottle tops or corks that can contaminate the process.

SAVING OUR PLANET. Let’s can the rubbish. Because metal doesn’t break down easily and can be used to make a wide range of different items, metal food and drink cans are great for recycling.

RABIES VACCINE. For centuries, few diseases were as feared–or as fatal–as rabies. A bite from an infected animal equaled death, and victims endured paralysis, hyperactivity, and coma prior to dying. So when the young Joseph Meister appeared at the Paris lab of Louis Pasteur after being mauled by a rabid dog, the 9-yr-old had one shot at survival: the microbiologist’s experimental rabies vaccine.

SAVING OUR PLANET. Let’s can the can. Recycling aluminum cans is a closed-loop system. Every can is infinitely recyclable, and recyclers paid nearly $1 billion a year for aluminum beverage cans. The energy saved by recycling just one can is enough to run a TV set for three hours! If we have to use them, let’s be sure to recycle.

DISPOSE OF CIGARETTE BUTTS: They are made of plastic; take 15-20 years to decompose; and release toxins into the environment. Over 50,000 cigarette butts and 160,000 pounds of trash are picked up from local beaches each year.

DATE QUESTIONS. Conventional wisdom says that a woman should ask a date question to draw him out instead of talking about herself. But science now says screw that. A recent study shows that guys dig chicks who use the word “I” often. Nobody would want to monopolize conversations, but telling personal stories and referring to yourself can go a long way, according to Cosmopolitan.

BUSY AT WORK. People who manage to stay busy at work are happier during time off. Some people bust their butts at the office on Friday so they can have a better weekend.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo. —Ed)