US, Canada military tracking Santa — and any ‘Christmas gift’ from North Korea

NORAD say their “satellites’ infrared sensors let them ‘see’ the heat from missiles and the red glow from Rudolph’s nose.”. (NORAD)
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Updated 24 December 2019

US, Canada military tracking Santa — and any ‘Christmas gift’ from North Korea

  • Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, NORAD is a combined US and Canadian military command
  • For more than six decades, it has also offered real-time animated tracking of Santa Claus

DENVER: While the North American Aerospace Defense Command stays alert for any signs of a North Korea missile launch – what officials in Pyongyang have described as a “Christmas gift” – it is also tracking the legendary figure who delivers presents to children across the world, the command said on Monday.
Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, NORAD is a combined US and Canadian military command whose mission is to issue aerospace and maritime warnings and controls across North America.
For more than six decades, it has also offered real-time animated tracking of Santa Claus, also known as Kris Kringle, as his reindeer-powered sleigh traverses the globe delivering Yuletide gifts to children.


“As NORAD conducts its primary mission of defending North America from threats, we’re proud to continue our tradition of tracking Santa’s journey around the world,” NORAD said in a statement.
NORAD’s Santa tracking website www.noradsanta.org gets nearly 15 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories across the globe, the agency said.
NORAD in recent years has been tracking North Korean long-range missile tests. Pyongyang warned Washington earlier this month of a possible “Christmas gift”. That came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave the United States until the end of the year to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and reducing tensions between the two long-time adversaries.
NORAD’s Santa-tracking tradition started in 1955 when a Colorado Springs department store misprinted the phone number to the North Pole in a newspaper advertisement, according to its website.


The first call came from a little girl and went to US Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, director of what was then known as the Continental Air Defense Command.
The colonel assured the girl that Santa was en route, and when more children called the command center, the military added a new task to its defense mission.
Renamed NORAD three years later as a combined Canadian and US agency, the Santa mission has continued uninterrupted ever since. Santa watchers can now track his whereabouts through NORAD’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

 

 


You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

Updated 02 April 2020

You’ve got mail: Writer of mystery letters in Jeddah revealed

  • She leaves notes all over Jeddah to be picked up by strangers

JEDDAH: Ever wondered what it is like to find an uplifting letter from a stranger? If you are in Jeddah, then you are in luck as you might pass by and pick up a letter in a public area titled: “If you find me, I’m yours.”

These random acts of kindness were devised by an initiative called Garba’at Rasayl, Hejazi slang for “a mess of letters.” The group was created by 23-year-old Saudi freelance graphic designer Hadeel Felemban.

The simple white envelopes are covered in stickers and magazine cutouts. Felemban said letter-writing helps her express her thoughts and feelings while sharing it with the world, one letter at a time.

“Mess happens every time I write paper letters, a mess of words and feelings, a mess of scraps and colors used to decorate the envelope,” she told Arab News.

The act of writing letters is special to her as it brings a sense of connection to her father — who worked at the Saudi Post Office more than 20 years ago — and revives the exchange of letters in a world filled with technology. The initiative holds monthly meetings in different cities, where attendees gather to write letters to strangers.

“My father passed away when I was two, and the only way I knew him was through the stories my mother and his brothers share about him. I would write to him on my phone’s notepad sometimes, but I wanted something other than our names to connect us.”

The discovery of her late father’s stamp collection from different periods in her home two years ago prompted her to start the initiative.

“It was like finding a treasure. And ever since then, I’ve been looking for ways to reuse them and revive paper mail. I realized that in a period different than his, I became a mail carrier just like him.”

Felemban shared her interest in sending traditional mail on Instagram. She was able to send letters to some who responded, but she did not receive any in return.

“The waiting was suffocating, I felt devastated and I blame that we are not used to the mailing system and its hardship,” she said.

One night, she decided to write a letter and leave the envelopes in public places.

“Writing a letter to a stranger is probably the best solution to killing the unknown wait from the other party.”

She decorated the envelope of the message, and left it in a cafe in Jeddah without any contact information. “Then I found myself monitoring the cafe’s account on social media, and was disappointed yet again. I didn’t know what had happened to the letter, was it thrown away, picked up or neglected?”

In a family gathering in early October, Felemban placed her stationery supplies and envelopes on the dining table, ready to write a new letter. Her cousins and mother were curious and joined her.

“I was so happy to include them. I complained to them about the waiting and not knowing if the letter was abandoned.”

Her family members suggested creating a special tag for the letters so that strangers who received the letters could reach out to her.

“I created the Arabic hashtag for ‘mess of letters’ and created a post for my friends in Riyadh — where I was at the time — and asked them if they wanted to gather to write letters together. I received a lot of positive responses and then prepared for the event in one of the cafes in the city.”

She hosted the first gathering on Oct. 25 and was happy to see how the simple gesture of uplifting messages had an impact on her community.

“During exam week back when I was studying, it was such a mentally exhausting time, and I used to write encouraging words and quotes for myself and the visitors of the cafe I usually go to. I noticed they had a great impact on emotional well-being. I held on to that idea by writing letters to strangers in public places.”

This simple act of kindness from one stranger to another can go a long way toward making a difference in someone’s life.