Noticed that stuffs --
Much lighter on the eyes with the outer border being grey - (see caveat below)
Nice to see the visited contrast -- I've relied on that in the past since I rarely note the headline -
Framing lines are better - but could still be darker - again - thats me.
I still like the idea of the subhead background being a slightly offset shade -- it will help with the overall "whiteness".
The font size change on the hero pic is good but personally I still find the image too large. I get that mucking it down much farther will play hell with the overall layup of top of column, but I really really really do think it can shrink a bit... perhaps stuffing the subhead for the top article into column 3 of the header in finer print???? dunno - but thats just a thought.
The banner -- the christmas one is *much* easier on the eyes. Please keep this in mind, that large swath of red was a bit much for me - please also consider .... something ... to break up that large block of red with nothing but the title to break it up - black trim on the lettering or the vulture? dunno - but its a mite too much on its own.
Forward progress is good progress -- please keep working on things.
Beer 'cause yer workin on the last friday before christmas, and you don't have a chocolate and candycane icon