Shocker:  New York state cigarette tax collections have plunged by about $400 million over the past five years, says the New York Post. Cigarettes are over $10 a pack there with most of that going to taxes.  The decline in revenue is blamed on more cigarettes being bought cheaper out of state and 19 percent of smokers just quit.  Raise your hand if you predicted this.  Raise both hands if your cat could've predicted it.

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That sound you hear from college campuses right now is blissful silence after a couple months of college students rioting. Everything from a perceived lack of diversity at Missouri University to a food fight  at Oberlin involving poorly cooked cultural/ethnic foods was protested. This account from the campus newspaper shows Dartmouth College was particularly hard hit when a BlackLivesMatter group started a demonstration then "encouraged " student participation :

"Students who refused to listen to or join their outbursts were shouted down.  “Stand the f--- up!” “You filthy racist white piece of s---!” Men and women alike were pushed and shoved by the group.  “If we can’t have it, shut it down!” they cried.  Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting “filthy white b----!” in her face."

These actions may seem like a harmless protest, but away from safe spaces it's called assault and battery. But that was then. Now, they're back at home regaling mom, dad and preachers with their adventures at college and all the change they helped manifest. This is the calm before the storm as students head back to campus after the first of the year.  Now what? Did parents pull funding over the break? Did athletes lose scholarships over bad behavior? How many transcript transfer requests did colleges receive as students, seeking more academic pursuits, signed up elsewhere?  I can't wait for next week. That's when we should find out if students, parents and academic staff learned anything from the recent semester of discontent.

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A Thought. I haven't seen a new poll in days and am going through withdrawals. Of course they don't mean anything! But I neeeed them. Strictly for recreational use, mind you.

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There's a new deflate-gate going on, of sorts.  This one doesn't involve underinflated footballs, rather the deflated hearts of big and little football fans around the nation.  Allegations from the Al Jazeera network surfaced claiming Denver quarterback Peyton Manning took Human Growth Hormone in 2011, a year in which he did not play due to repeated neck surgeries.  This Denver Post story recaps everything you need to know to get up to speed.  BTW, the story involves a former pharmacist who now says the information he gave was "false and incorrect". For his part, Manning called the claims "completely garbage".

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How many Republican candidates spent part of their Christmas holiday thinking up ways to grab a few Donald Trump supporters?  At least one Democratic candidate did. Bernie Sanders was on Face The Nation today and made an appeal to Trump loyalists. The Hill has up his whole thought process, but in a nutshell he says:

"I think for his working-class supporters, I think we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about… that we need policies that bring us together… and create a middle class that works for all of us...” 

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Be Ready:  "I've got 12 months left to squeeze every ounce of change I can while I'm still in office. And that's what I intend to do," -  President Barack Obama.  That's part of what the president sent out in an email to supporters. If you didn't get one in your email box, The Weekly Standard has it up.

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Texans will see a lot more weapons in a few days.  Oh, most were already there, but the open carry law takes affect 1/1/16 so you can expect to actually see them now.  Some places can still say no to wearing the weapons out in the open. Fox News has details on a restaurant saying no to open carry while a large church near Dallas welcomes one and all...and their visible guns.

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If you dropped in here to get a few minutes away from holiday well wishers and exploding electronic gadgets then consider this sanctuary. Comment below on any of the stories above. Or, if you discovered something else of interest but don't want to do a diary there's plenty of space for you, too. Open threads are like that.

 (all emphasis mine)