Italy iGaming Dashboard – July 2020

first_img13th July 2020 | By Joanne Christie Email Address The reopening of retail venues last month boosted Italy’s sports betting market but thus far revenues have rebounded only to around the levels seen during the first month of the lockdown Regions: Europe Southern Europe Italy AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter The reopening of retail venues in June boosted Italy’s sports betting market, but thus far revenues have rebounded only to around the levels seen during the first month of the lockdown.Total sports betting gross revenue across retail and online was €73.6m last month, more than double the €35.4m reported for May.The June total was almost equal to that of March, when bookies made revenue of €75.3m after being hamstrung by the widespread lockdowns put in place early in the month.With retail outlets reopening only halfway through June, the bulk of last month’s revenues came from online, at €62.7m.However, there has already been a shift in the market shares of bookmakers in the country. Last month Bet365 lost its leading position in the overall (online plus retail) sports betting market, with its share falling to 12.6% from 17.8% in May.Snai had the highest overall market share last month at 13.4%, while SKS365 – one of the first operators to reopen its retail network – was in third place, with its market share rising to 12.3% in June, up from 10.9% in May.Bet365 continued to have the highest market share of the online market, at 14.8%, followed by Snai (13.0%) and SKS365 (12.1%).Potentially as a result of sports activity gradually resuming, Italy’s online casino revenues fell back slightly last month to €98.66m, down from €105.51m in May.Though a 6.5% drop on the previous month’s total, the June figure still represented a healthy 57.9% rise on the same month the previous year.While it remained market leader last month, for the second consecutive month PokerStars saw a fall in its market share, which dropped to 13.0% from 13.9% in May.However, it remains some way ahead of its closest rivals Sisal and Lottomattica, which hold market shares of 8.7% and 7.5%, respectively.PokerStars continues to dominate both the tournament and cash poker markets by a considerable distance. It holds a 57.1% share of the tournament market and a 46.2% share of the cash market.But both parts of the vertical suffered significant drops last month, possibly also as a result of sports betting activity resuming.In many markets there was a noted increase in poker revenues during the lockdown, but if Italy’s reopening is anything to go by, this could prove to be only temporary.In June, tournament play fell to €8.4m, down 41.4% from €14.4m in May. Cash games fell by 32.7% to €5.9m, down from €8.80m in May.All data and figures from the regulator are processed by leading European corporate advisory firm Ficom Leisure, a specialist in all segments of the betting and gaming sector.Ficom Leisure also provides monthly figures on the New Jersey online market in the New Jersey iGaming Dashboard, Pennsylvania in the Pennsylvania iGaming Dashboard, Indiana in the Indiana iGaming Dashboard and Iowa in the Iowa iGaming Dashboard, all of which are available on iGB North America.It also provides quarterly figures on the Spanish online market in the Spain iGaming Dashboard, the Portuguese market in the Portugal iGaming Dashboard, and the Danish market in the Denmark iGaming Dashboard. Italy iGaming Dashboard – July 2020 Tags: Card Rooms and Poker Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Bingo Topics: Casino & games Finance Sports betting Bingo Pokerlast_img read more

Chobe Holdings Limited (CHOBE.bw) 2012 Abridged Report

first_imgChobe Holdings Limited (CHOBE.bw) listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange under the Tourism sector has released it’s 2012 abridged results.For more information about Chobe Holdings Limited (CHOBE.bw) reports, abridged reports, interim earnings results and earnings presentations, visit the Chobe Holdings Limited (CHOBE.bw) company page on AfricanFinancials.Document: Chobe Holdings Limited (CHOBE.bw)  2012 abridged results.Company ProfileChobe Holdings Limited owns and operates eleven eco-tourism lodges and camps on leased land in Northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia through its subsidiaries. The holding company operates under two well-known hospitality brands; Desert & Delta Safaris and Ker & Downey Botswana. The eco-tourism group has a combined capacity of 314 beds, and provides added services for its guests such as transfers and private safari tours and game viewing. Safari Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chobe Holdings Limited which provides an air charter service to transport guests to and from its safari camps and lodges. The company also has interests in agricultural operations, property rental and a reservation service.last_img read more

Newrest ASL Nigeria Plc (AIRSER.ng) HY2017 Interim Report

first_imgNewrest ASL Nigeria Plc (AIRSER.ng) listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange under the Transport sector has released it’s 2017 interim results for the half year.For more information about Newrest ASL Nigeria Plc (AIRSER.ng) reports, abridged reports, interim earnings results and earnings presentations, visit the Newrest ASL Nigeria Plc (AIRSER.ng) company page on AfricanFinancials.Document: Newrest ASL Nigeria Plc (AIRSER.ng)  2017 interim results for the half year.Company ProfileNewrest ASL Plc is a multi-sector catering company in Nigeria specialising in out-of-home food services for the hospitality, aviation, mining and corporate sectors. It is the only multi-sector catering company in Nigeria. The company’s service footprint extends to 49 countries around the world. The catering operation is extensive with over 30 000 employees turning out more than a million meals a day. Newrest ASL Plc’s client base includes: airline companies, providing menu design, skills training, logistics management, picking and packing bars and dry stores and catering for airport lounges and VIP flights; railway companies, offering catering, cleaning and logistic services to railway operators through Newrest Wagons-Lit; oil, gas and mining companies, offering catering services for remote sites; and commercial and corporate entities, handling daily meal plans and catering for functions, inhouse restaurants and cafeterias. Newrest ASL supplies and markets its own inhouse brands which includes Le RDV, Daily Break, Caffé Lindo, Sky Shop and The Lunch. Newrest ASL Plc is majority-owned by its management where over 300 managers have a combined stake in the business of 88.7%. The company’s head office is in Lagos, Nigeria. Newrest ASL Plc is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchangelast_img read more

League stars’ candour about mental health can help those in union

first_img IT WAS a story that caught so many off guard in Australia. A few weeks back, Greg Inglis, a star at the NRL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs and an athlete considered by some to be amongst the greatest players in any code, had checked himself into a mental health clinic. It was a big call to allow the news to filter out there.After the news, Reni Maitua, ambassador for NRL’s State of Mind movement to raise awareness of mental illness, said: “This is Greg Inglis’s bravest act… admitting you need help is the hardest thing you can do. What he has done will save lives.”At the moment, in union in England, the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) has their Lift the Weight campaign pushing for more understanding of mental illness, as well as providing information, contacts and even a few case studies.Strong voice: former England prop Duncan Bell helped other pro players open up about depressionThat aspect is important – the more recognisable, relatable faces you can learn from, the more impact a message can have. In the past when former England and Bath prop Duncan Bell opened up about his own experiences with depression – which Rugby World covered in February 2013 – the RPA experienced an increase in the number of players contacting their confidential counselling service, Cognacity.To check out the latest Rugby World subscription offers, click here.With Lift the Weight being pushed by various and varied voices like Jonny Wilkinson, James Haskell, Nolli Waterman and Netani Talei, they have the chance to encourage more players to seek help. This is particularly important as in the past, while Rugby World have been compiling investigation pieces, there have been fewer testimonials on issues like substance abuse, gambling or mental illness from within rugby union. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS More and more voices from elite rugby union are talking about mental health, but inspiration and encouragement can come from other fields too Attacking the line: Greg Inglis attacks for Queensland in last year’s State of Origin center_img In researching our long read on painkiller use in rugby, I spoke with former NRL player Joe Williams – who has just signed a deal for his autobiography, Defying the Enemy Within – to see what union can learn from those in league who have opened up about their problems.Back in the day: Joe Williams, playing for the Rabbitohs in 2004, will address drug issues in his bookWilliams explained that he would take “tray-loads of different prescription pills, anything that got me away from the terror in my mind”. As he clarified, Williams used prescription and recreational drugs and alcohol to dull the “voices in my head”. Before he came back from the brink, Williams would even attempt suicide.Powerful stuff and worth hearing about, regardless of your sport. However, when asked what union could learn from elite league on the openness of athletes to admit they have a prescription painkiller problem, Williams replied: “It’s not just sport, it’s a societal issue.” That is a specific example of an addiction. Nevertheless, mental health issues can affect one in four in the UK each year. It is a societal problem, too. No matter the sport, we have to applaud the candour of any top athlete willing to seek help. The more recognisable voices talking about mental health issues, the more likely we are as a society to open up.To find out more, please visit https://therpa.co.uk/lifttheweight/last_img read more

What the Wales rugby jersey means to players

first_imgIt’s another opportunity for these players to create memories and fulfil those childhood dreams.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pictorial plan: The storyboard for the WRU shoot (Huw Evans Agency)Gareth Edwards, widely regarded as the greatest rugby player of all time, remembers receiving a red shirt every Christmas, but it was one with the white feathers on that he really wanted. He got to wear one at age-grade level but it was the moment he got to pull it on at Test level for the first time, against France in 1967, that really stands out in the former scrum-half’s memory bank.“I watched Wales play at Cardiff Arms Park when I was in school and every schoolboy was thinking the same thing: I’d give my right arm to be out there wearing the red shirt,” says Edwards.“I yearned to have that little white badge and what that represented, I dreamed about it and I’ll never forget it (when he first wore it).“I got capped in Paris and the masseuse, Gerry Lewis, used to enjoy presenting the shirts to the boys. I was sitting in the dressing room all excited, with the match coming and contemplating what wa ahead. Gerry said, ‘I have great pleasure to present you with your jersey’.“I picked it up and kissed the little white badge. I then did that every other time I played for Wales because of that moment. What a difference it made to have the badge and what it represented.”Pause for thought: Gareth Edwards looks contemplative during filming (Huw Evans Agency)Edwards brought one of his old shirts to the shoot. He’s not sure which of his 53 Wales Tests he wore it in – jerseys from his playing days did not have the match and date stitched on it as they do now – but impressively it still fits the now 71-year-old.Other players involved in the shoot brought the jersey(s) that mean the most to them. Halfpenny went to somewhat extreme lengths to bring the shirt from his first cap, taking the frame it was in down from the wall and removing the jersey.Ellis Jenkins and Cory Hill brought along the Wales jerseys they wore when captaining their country for the first time this summer as well as a significant club shirt. For Jenkins, the Cardiff Blues jersey he wore in last season’s victorious European Challenge Cup final; for Hill, his Pontypridd SWALEC Cup final jersey from 2011.Look who’s talking: Gareth Edwards and Alun Wyn Jones at Pinewood Studios (Huw Evans Agency)Jasmine Joyce highlights her Commonwealth Games jersey and the shirt she wore in a memorial game for former Wales wing Elli Norkett, which had ‘EN14’ embroidered on it. Norkett died in a car crash in 2017 and Joyce says: “She was one of my closest friends growing up and I lived with her for two years. It was so sudden. That was one of the best jerseys I’ve played in and it was an honour to play in it.”November is the next chance many of the players involved in the filming will get to wear the Wales jersey. The men play Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa at the Principality Stadium on successive Saturdays – buy your tickets here.“When you play in Cardiff and you taste what the Principality Stadium has to offer as a rugby venue, to have that opportunity over and over again – you feel very lucky to be a part of it,” says Wales centre Jonathan Davies. What the Wales rugby jersey means to playersPinewood Studios is synonymous with James Bond but a few weeks ago it was rugby players rather than film-star spies who were doing their thing in front of the cameras at the complex in South Wales. Instead of tuxedos there were red jerseys; instead of martinis there were bottles of water.The reason for this gathering of Wales players past and present, male and female in a film studio rather than a rugby pitch? They have come together to film a WRU promotional campaign that will run all the way through to next year’s World Cup. This is the first of the four films to be released: Lights, camera action: Alun Wyn Jones holds the Wales jersey during his shoot (Huw Evans Agency) Wales internationals past and present talk about what the red shirt means to themcenter_img Over the years the style and fabric of our jersey has changed. Players and coaches also come and go, yet the pride and passion it evokes remains the same.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ https://t.co/WjQzCKe6Zu#ForTheJersey pic.twitter.com/u7r1jQcoTO— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) September 1, 2018And the second film has recently been unveiled – take a peek here… It isn’t just a jersey.It’s everything we’ve trained for, fought for and dreamt of.Support Wales in the Under Armour Series this November and play your part in our iconic jersey story! https://t.co/LemGgaCXxL #ForTheJersey pic.twitter.com/I8XeT2g56O— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) September 17, 2018‘For The Jersey’ is the theme of the campaign, so Rugby World has asked some of those players taking part what the Wales jersey means to them.“It’s a childhood dream come true,” says Scarlets and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny of pulling on the red shirt. “It’s something I dreamed of wearing when watching Wales play when I was a kid; I just always wanted to be playing for Wales. When I’d be practising I just dreamed of kicking for Wales and pulling on the Wales jersey.”Alun Wyn Jones, who has played 117 Tests for his country, echoes that sentiment, saying: “It was an absolute dream as a kid. I think that gets used a lot but, in this case, I don’t think calling it a dream would be far from the truth.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALSlast_img read more

Motorpoint staff use sales skills to boost charity shop sales

first_img  274 total views,  4 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis7 Melanie May | 19 January 2017 | News Motorpoint second-hand car sales staff took their skills to a charity shop last month, to help boost its sales.Staff from the Castleford branch of used car supermarket Motorpoint volunteered at the town’s Prince of Wales Hospice shop: one of its charity partners. They spent the day helping customers, dressing mannequins and steaming clothes in preparation for the shop floor, using their sales techniques to help increase the shop’s sales.The amount raised on the day Motorpoint volunteered at the shop was £393.25: £110 (38%) more than a normal Saturday’s takings and the store’s highest performing Saturday of 2016.James Faulkner, general manager of Motorpoint in Castleford, said:“It was fantastic to step out of our comfort zone and transfer our skills in a completely different environment. I know the whole team had a great time helping out in the shop.”Katy Lee, events and community fundraising Officer at the Prince of Wales Hospice, added: Advertisement Tagged with: charity shops corporate donated services Motorpoint staff use sales skills to boost charity shop salescenter_img AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis7 “The staff from Motorpoint were brilliant on the day. They were very friendly and helpful throughout and quickly adapted from selling cars to selling ladies dresses and shoes.”  273 total views,  3 views today About Melanie May Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.last_img read more

BBC creates £4m fund in new partnership with UK arts councils

first_img About Melanie May Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com. Melanie May | 12 April 2017 | News  124 total views,  2 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis17 The BBC and the UK’s art councils have partnered in a programme to bring more people to the arts that will also include a £4m arts fund for new work.Culture UK is a partnership between the BBC, Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland, and aims to ‘excite the nation about the arts’.To encourage artists and arts organisations to create new works, the BBC is creating a new Artists First BBC commissioning fund, with £4m of funding available in the first year. The funding will be available to arts organisations to make content to be shown on the BBC.The programme also promises to develop UK-wide cultural festivals to reach new audiences, create opportunities to showcase emerging and diverse talent, and use technology to inspire new experiences in the arts.The partnership is committing to three UK-wide cultural festivals a year, forming a planning and development group with representation from across the UK to enable this. The BBC is also appointing cultural leads in each of its major national and regional offices to support the programme, and will share its digital platform for events such as Manchester International Festival, the Edinburgh Festivals and the Hay Festival, opening them up to audiences online.Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, said:“We’ve come together because we want the UK to be the most culturally engaged and creative country in the world, where everybody, wherever they come from, can take part. There are real challenges that make working together more necessary and more urgent than ever. Culture is one of the things that unites us all and expresses our identity. We ignore that at our peril.”  123 total views,  1 views today Advertisement Tagged with: arts BBC Funding AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis17 BBC creates £4m fund in new partnership with UK arts councilslast_img read more

Reflections on the protests and Black Liberation  – a WW commentary

first_imgPhiladelphiaOn May 30, after sleeping in after a long work shift, I decided to make my way down to City Hall for the protests planned in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Making my way down to the parkway and to the art museum, I was astonished by the turnout. Tens of thousands of people from every political spectrum to the left of the GOP turned out to protest. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever seen.Protesters in Oakland on June 5.For over two hours, protesters braved the heat, the escalating brutality of Philly’s  “finest” and COVID-19 to take a stand against the injustice that occurred in Minneapolis earlier in the week. I saw everything from tear gas being shot in the air to cop cars engulfed in flames.While I was enthused and exhilarated by the powerful show of solidarity, as I took the bus home, there was something in me that was unsatisfied with the day, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. At the time, I chalked it up to exhaustion and heat. After some hours of rest, I was able to recollect several images and sounds from the protest, and after a while, that disappointment turned to irritation.First thing that got me stirred up was the seemingly performative nature of many of the people who came out to the protest. I expected there to be protesters from a variety of leftists tendencies, Marxists, Anarchists, even some Social Democrats. What I found eyebrow-raising was the amount of centrists who showed up.Carrying meaningless signs such as “Vote blue no matter who” and “This is not America,” the liberals would prefer to individualize the tragedy in Minneapolis as indicative of Trump’s fascism rather that a symptom of a system which undergirds white supremacy and has harmed Black people for centuries.Where were these “resistance” members when Ferguson happened? Where was this outrage when Eric Garner uttered the same words George Floyd did as he lay dying?  Where was this allyship when Colin Kapernick knelt to protest the same injustices they suddenly noticed?Does it have to do with the fact that 2020 is an election year, and police brutality is a hot topic the blue team [Democratic National Committee] can exploit to elect Joe Biden, the author of the 1994 crime bill that laid the foundation for many of the horrific instances of police violence we see today?  If (or when) Biden gets elected into office, will many of these liberal protesters maintain the same interest in the injustices facing Black people?Will they wake up and realize that the United States is an oppressive settler-colonial state founded on racism and genocide, and that it is impossible to reform an inherently violent system. I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened (speaking from experience).Police violence is systemic globallyAt the May 30 protests, I saw a sea of posters and signs demanding justice for George Floyd. While it is important to keep his name alive, it is also important to bear in mind that there are marginalized members within the Black community who are also victimized by police brutality. I only saw a smattering of posters with the hashtag #sayhername in remembrance in Breonna Taylor, victim of a brutal break-in carried out by the police.To add insult to injury, some protesters appropriated the slogan that was meant to bring awareness to the lack of attention that Black female victims of police violence receive inside and outside the Black community. The hashtag #sayhisname appeared under drawings of George Floyd.The Black Lives Matter movement was started by three queer Black women and to see the continued erasure of Black women from the movement didn’t sit well with me. Worse, I didn’t see anyone remember Tony McDade’s name, a Black trans man who was killed by police in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27. That is further proof that transphobia is the only form of bigotry that is normalized. Black women and Black LGBTQ2S+ people have been the foundation of civil rights, feminism and LGBTQ2S+ liberation, and to see them tacked on as a footnote is an injustice that needs to change.The concern for Black people and other people of color cannot end at the U.S. border. Protests against the war in Iran didn’t draw a fraction of the crowd that the George Floyd protests received. The Western-backed assassination of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was met with jubilance by some liberals; the coup against Eva Morales in Bolivia was met with callous indifference.Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s ongoing battle with U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó is met with arrogant paternalism. The U.S. imperialist hegemony’s role in the destabilization of socialist countries has endangered the lives of people of color all over the world.Black people in African countries and elsewhere continue to suffer under the boot of neocolonialism, with Western countries exploiting Africa for its resources, enslaving children for literal pennies, and bombing and droning innocent families. What’s worse, so called “radicals” in the West continue to buy the lies and the propaganda Western capitalist governments manufacture in order to justify the horror they inflict on countries in the Global South. If Black Lives Matter then we have to care about Black lives all over the world.The protests on May 30 are signs of progress. But for lasting change to truly happen, we must care about fighting racism and imperialism every minute and every second, and not just every four years. Also all Black lives have to matter, not just those of U.S. cishet [cisgender heterosexual] Black men. This might seem like nitpicking to some, but it is imperative to keep all this in mind to guarantee liberation for all Black people.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

81 Percent of Indiana Corn and Soybeans Harvested

first_img SHARE Facebook Twitter By Andy Eubank – Oct 31, 2012 Home Indiana Agriculture News 81 Percent of Indiana Corn and Soybeans Harvested SHARE Facebook Twitter Harvest was slowed early in the week due to rain and muddy field conditions, according to the Indiana Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Some areas received heavy rain showers which saturated soils and temporarily halted harvest and tillage operations. Farmers resumed harvest activities midweek as sunshine returned to the state. Corn harvest is now about 12 days ahead of last year’s pace, and soybean harvest is about 2 days ahead of last year. Farmers continued seeding winter wheat and cover crops on soils that were dry enough to support planting equipment.FIELD CROPS REPORTThere were 4.4 days suitable for field work during the week. Eighty-one percent of the corn acreage has been harvested compared to 53 percent last year and 64 percent for the 5-year average. By area, 76 percent of the corn acreage has been harvested in the north, 81 percent in the central region, and 93 percent in the south. Moisture content of harvested corn is averaging about 18 percent. The national harvested percentage is up to 91.Eighty-one percent of the soybean acreage has been harvested compared to 77 percent last year and 82 percent for the 5-year average. By area, 83 percent of the soybean acreage has been harvested in the north, 80 percent in the central region, and 79 percent in the south. Moisture content of harvested soybeans is averaging about 13.5 percent. National harvest progress is at 87 percent.Eighty-six percent of the winter wheat acreage has been planted compared to 82 percent last year and 81 percent for the 5-year average. Fifty-five percent of the winter wheat acreage has emerged compared to 51 percent last year and 52 percent for the 5-year average.LIVESTOCK, PASTURE AND RANGE REPORTLivestock are in good condition. Pasture condition is rated 38 percent good to excellent compared with 27 percent last year at this time. Livestock operations have been very happy with the re-growth of pastures after the drought experienced through the summer months.Source: Indiana NASS 81 Percent of Indiana Corn and Soybeans Harvested Previous articleNew FTA with Panama Removes Tariffs in Next 15 YearsNext articleNorthwest Indiana HAT Field Update Andy Eubanklast_img read more

Santa Frustrated with Dietary Guiltiness This Christmas

first_img Santa Frustrated with Dietary Guiltiness This Christmas SHARE SHARE Previous articleSunday OutlookNext articleMorning Outlook Gary Truitt By Gary Truitt Home Commentary Santa Frustrated with Dietary Guiltiness This Christmas By Gary Truitt – Dec 14, 2014 Concluding the interview, I asked St Nick what he was going to do this Christmas. Were we all going to wake up on Christmas morning with kumquats under the tree? Taking a long drag on his pipe, he leaned back in his chair and smiled, “Well, yes, I have a plan. Just remember, there is a lot of magic in Christmas. I am Santa after all, and I am full of surprises.” With that, he gave me a wink and headed back to the workshop, muttering something about needing more hair for the Elsa dolls. The jolly old elf, who was not in such a jolly mood, also complained about some of the current foodie trends sweeping American culture, “Gluten free, GMO free — the stuff being left out for Santa on Christmas eve is getting really weird. Do you have any idea what tofu fruitcake tastes like? Believe me, it is not pretty.” The old man also expressed his personal concerns about food safety, “I used to really look forward to the hot cocoa and homemade cookies left for me, but now some of these nuts are leaving raw milk out for me. Heck, the reindeer won’t even drink that stuff!” “Hey look — Christmas is about celebrating, having fun, making people happy, giving them things they really want.  How am I supposed to do that with vegetables, whole grain, and no meat, sugar, salt, or fat?” The healthy food mandates being promoted by the First Lady and by public health and consumer groups are aimed at curbing childhood obesity. St. Nick, who has had his own struggles with obesity, says he is not against efforts to get young people to eat healthier food,  “Look, Christmas comes once a year so let’s relax the rules a bit. I mean, come on, are some Christmas cookies and candy going to hurt that much once a  year?” He added that, in all his year of bringing gifts at Christmas, never has he seen Brussels sprouts on a Christmas list.   “I never thought it would come to this back in the 4th century when I started with secretly passing out gold coins,” said an obviously upset St. Nick when, just a few days away from his famous ride, he sat down and talked with Hoosier Ag Today. “Each year it gets harder and harder to get the gifts on people’s lists.” He said the technology gets to be a bigger and bigger challenge each year, but the latest issue that put the big man in a funk are the dietary guidelines being pushed by the government. Facebook Twitter When I reminded Nick that the guidelines being promulgated by the Obama White House and USDA were only for schools participating in the school lunch program, he leaned forward and, in a hushed voice, revealed a shocking fact, “They called me and asked that I adhere to the guidelines this Christmas.” Twisting his beard in nervous animosity he added, “They implied that if I did not comply that NORAD would give me trouble.” Facebook Twitter Speaking of reindeer, I asked Santa if the animal activists were still giving him trouble. He replied, “No, not so much anymore. I put all the HSUS members on the naughty list, so they backed off. Besides, they couldn’t get any of the elves to make undercover videos for them. Nowadays they are all in New York trying to get the horses away from the carriages.”  last_img read more