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美军追踪圣诞老人行踪 第一夫人接听儿童电话
US military to be used to 'track Santa Claus'

[ 2013-12-26 16:43] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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美军追踪圣诞老人行踪 第一夫人接听儿童电话
Norad’s Christmas Eve Santa Tracker is expected to hit another record this year


From the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the personnel of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) scrutinise the skies for such aerial threats as missile attacks and hijacked planes.

But for the next 24 hours, Norad will not just be monitoring all aircraft, missiles and spacecraft with its network of satellites, ground and airborne radar and fighter jets.

The US and Canadian military will also track the global flight path of a distinctive rotund red-clad individual on a sleigh and his team of reindeer, for the entertainment of children around the world.

Deploying the latest social media tools to chart the progress of an ancient traveller, Norad’s Christmas Eve Santa Tracker is expected to hit another record this year, bolstered by an unusual dose of controversy about the “militarisation” of the season.

Last year, the operation attracted some 22 million website visits, 1.2 million Facebook followers, 950,000 smartphone application downloads and 129,0000 Twitter followers as well as 114,000 old-fashioned telephone calls.

Michelle Obama is among the 1,200 volunteers expected to help handle enquiries this Christmas Eve, fielding calls forwarded to the first family’s holiday retreat in Hawaii, as she has since 2010. More than a fifth of the enquiries come from Britain.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular question are variants of “where is Santa and when is he arriving at my house?” But volunteers also handle inquiries ranging from his age and elf workforce to whether he leaves presents for dogs or delivers to heaven. And from some older children, there are inevitable doubts about whether Santa does exist.

Major Jamie Humphreys is among those who will be dealing with the incoming barrage. “Nearly all the kids want to know when he’s going to be delivering their presents,” he said. “We tell them that we can’t give a firm time, but they do have to be asleep. When we say that, we can often hear the parents on the line adding ‘yes’ or ‘did you hear that?’ in a relieved tone.”

“For those who ask his age, we tell them that Norad intelligence indicates that Santa is at least 16 centuries old. And if they are sounding sceptical, I tell them to believe in their dreams.”

Nothing can prepare the Santa tracking team for some questions, however – like the boy who called the hotline last year, 10 days after the Sandy Hook school massacre.

“I’m from Newtown, Connecticut, where the shooting was,” he said. “Is it possible that Santa can bring extra presents so I can deliver them to the families that lost kids?”

Sara Berghoff, the volunteer who took the call, was briefly taken off guard, not least as she was just 13. “If I can get ahold of him, I’ll try to get the message to him,” she said, answering on her feet.

The programme began by accident when Colorado children flooded the hotline of Norad’s predecessor with calls after a local newspaper mistakenly printed its number in a Christmas advertisement in 1955.

It is of course intended as feel-good festive fun, not to mention some good public relations for the US and Canadian militaries in what has become the defence department’s biggest public outreach operation.

But an unexpected tinge of controversy was thrown into the mix this year when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood criticised an animated video on the Norad Santa website.

The clip, which showed two unarmed Canadian F-18 fighter jets briefly escorting Santa’s sleigh, injected “militarism” into a beloved tradition, the children’s advocacy group complained.

It was a criticism that rather bemused those at Norad, not least as this indeed a joint US-Canadian military operation that oversees patrols of the skies. And Norad has long shown its fighter jets in its tracking imagery.

As to Santa’s route, there is of course no advance flight path, but he usually sweeps down from the North Pole, heading across the world from east to west, before looping into the Pacific to Hawaii and a traditional final stop in Alaska en route back to his Arctic home.









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