OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

E STREET - While a tired nation is demanding gun control (yet again), Springsteen guitarist Stevie Van Zandt is having none of it. No stranger to political opinions, the New Jersey icon tweeted "What happened to us? We are averaging 2 school shootings per week AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!" Many tone-deaf politicians on Capitol Hill surely scratched their heads, wondering how someone like Van Zandt missed all their "thoughts and prayers" extended on-camera and via press release and social media.

NUTLEY - At a time when school officials, parents and children are justifiably on edge, the Nutley schools decided to cancel school today following an alarming video posted on an Instagram account with 984 followers, TAPInto Nutley reports. The video shows images of a Nutley High senior, with his stupid friends at a firing range. The song playing in the video has these lyrics, "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks; You'd better run, better run, out run my gun; All the other kids with the pumped up kicks; You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet." Dumb stuff from idiot kids? Likely. But kudos to school officials for deciding to begin winter break a day early.

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TRENTON - Supporters of legalized pot have one sticking point: Do we really want stoned drivers on our congested network of intertwining highways and byways? The answer, obviously, is no. And perhaps that is why Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald has introduced a bill that would set a strict limit for "driving while drugged." That limit would be half of Colorado, to 2 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC within two hours of being behind the wheel, Politicoreports. (THC is the glorious compound in marijuana that creates the high.) The question now is if the cops can easily test motorists for marijuana, like they can for drunken driving. Blood-shot eyes and a box of pizza on the passenger seat may not stand up as the sole "evidence."

 

ON THE RAILS - As a full-scale audit of NJ Transit chugs along, the Murphy administration announced yesterday a series of smaller, incremental improvements intended to ease passengers' nerves. Namely, 20 cars now equipped with braking technology designed to stave off accidents will be returned to service as NJ Transit moves ahead on leasing rail cars from regional transit providers to increase passenger capacity, the Observer reports. Small improvement? Yes, but any movement, at all, is celebrated as progress. Meanwhile, NJ Transit cancelled 10 commuter trains this morning with no apparent explanation.

ON THE RAILS - Imagine NJ Transit trains are no longer allowed into New York's Penn Station. The doomsday scenario is being played out by the Federal Railroad Administration, ripping NJ Transit for only installing "positive train control" on less than 10 percent of its cars, and most NJ Transit employees haven't even been trained on how to use it, NJ 101.5 reports. Here's the threat: If NJ Transit can't get this safety system installed on all its cars by Dec. 31, preventing runaway trains from crashing, it will be banned from using the Northeast Corridor line that runs on Amtrak lines into NYC. State transportation officials say they will try their hardest to make this deadline, but don't appear overly confident. Much more, we assume, to come on this.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SCHENECTADY, NY - When you thumb through such a page-turner as "Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1791," you never know exactly what surprises lurk inside. In the case of a librarian at Union College, the surprise was an envelope tucked inside the leather book. That enveloped contained a lock of President George Washington's hair. The envelope was labeled, "Washington's hair, L.S.S. & (scratched out) GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871." Hamilton was the son of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton; the book was inscribed to Philip J. Schuyler, brother of Eliza and son of Gen. Philip Schuyler, a friend of Washington's. It may all seem weird to collect someone's hair, but apparently it was the rage at the time. But, in perspective, we are all ga-ga today when some reality TV star signs a piece of paper.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

You've probably been wondering when all those silver Goodyear blimps were painted blue and yellow. Well, that was on this day in 1992.

WORD OF THE DAY

Yuppify - [YUP-uh-fye] - verb

Definition: To make appealing to yuppies 

Example: With all the construction, it looks like the Newark downtown may finally be yuppified.

WEATHER IN A WORD

Soggy