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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

December 31, 2009

As of 2008, the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball has been a 12-foot geodesic sphere (twice the size of the old New Year’s Eve Ball), weighing 11,875 pounds. It is covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals.
Source: Times Square Alliance

December 30, 2009

In 1904, the first subway line in New York City opened, and the city’s first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square took place.

Source: Times Square Alliance

December 29, 2009

Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate a college bowl game on Dec. 26, when she worked as the line judge in the Pizza Bowl between Ohio and Marshall.
Source: Associated Press

December 28, 2009

Poinsettia plants got their name from an American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, who brought the plant to the U.S. from Mexico in 1828.

Source: History.com

December 27, 2009

Greek Orthodox churches that follow the Gregorian calendar observe Christmas on Dec. 25, like other Christian churches. But those that still follow the old Julian calendar observe Christmas 13 days later, on Jan. 7.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

December 26, 2009

Boxing Day, Dec. 26, is celebrated in Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand. It began in Britain with a practice of giving to the less fortunate the day after Christmas. But there are several theories about its exact origins.
Source: Snopes.com

December 25, 2009

On April 29, 1975, Armed Forces Radio broadcast Bing Crosby’s rendition of "White Christmas" as a code to signal the U.S. evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam.
Source: Military.com and Time.com

Health Care and the Founding Fathers

Expect January to be dominated by House-Senate wrangling over the final shape of the gargantuan bill to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
Some opponents of the measures, though, are readying themselves for another potential fight, this one in the courts. An Arkansas group called the Conservative Action Project says it believes the overhaul is unconstitutional, and it is preparing to sue to stop it from taking effect, according to several conservative blogs (we attempted to reach someone at the organization but were unsuccessful).

Whoppers of 2009

Although 2009 was not an election year, it kept us exceptionally busy, and led to millions of visits to our site. In this year-end summary, we offer some of the worst examples of the falsehoods we encountered during the first year of the Obama administration. The list of howlers includes the false claim that the stimulus bill would dictate …

December 24, 2009

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written for Judy Garland to sing in the movie musical "Meet Me in St. Louis."
Source: Entertainment Weekly