Dad dressed as Elf on the Shelf perches on school roof, surprises kids

Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 @ 4:47 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 @ 4:47 AM

This time of year, many children wake up excited to find out where their Elf on the Shelf is and what it's been up to overnight.

Students' jaws dropped open when they arrived at Lavalette Elementary School in West Virginia last week to find a life-sized elf perched on the roof.

>> Watch the news report here

The bearded fellow was wearing a traditional elf uniform of red and white. It turned out to be one of the parents, Shawn Adkins.

The father behind the elf suit said he had been planning the surprise for about a year. While it was chilly on the roof, he said the looks on the children’s faces made it worthwhile.

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“Big smiles,” Adkins said. “Most of them ... 95 percent of the kids were all smiles when they saw me on the roof, when I saw their jaws drop from the road as they were pulling down to get out of their cars.”

Like other elves, Adkins said he's planning to return to the school next Christmas season.


Posted by Janel Fulton on Thursday, December 8, 2016

12 camels booted from beauty contest at Middle East festival over Botox use

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 6:16 PM


Camels were once prized across the Middle East for transportation, for use in war, for food and even as companions, as guides and partners. Now they’re prized for a whole different set of reasons, including their beauty and racing abilities, and are celebrated at annual camel festivals across the region.

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But it was a little surprising when news reports began surfacing that at least 12 camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia after their handlers were caught using Botox on them.

The camels were among 30,000 of the desert beasts competing in the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, according to The National, a United Arab Emirate-based news service.

Because a “perfect pout” is so valuable, camel owners will go to great lengths to ensure their camel has the proper assets, including “a full, droopy lip and large features,” The National reported.

“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular at Gulf camel festivals and the son of a top Emirati breeder told the online site.

“It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose,’” features the camels are prized for. They’re also prized for small ears and some handlers have been known to take matters into their own hands and perform plastic surgery on the ears to achieve a perfect ear.

It’s no wonder camel handlers are so serious about the appearance of their beasts and willing to risk disqualification to enhance their features: $57 million is at stake in prize money at this year’s festival.

>> Related: Giant burning spider spreads flames in apartment, after torched by tenants

Some 300,000 visitors have attended the second annual festival since it started in early January. It runs through the end of the month.


14-year-old accidentally shot, killed by older sister

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:53 PM


A 14-year-old Indiana boy was accidentally shot and killed by his older sister Sunday as they and their father prepared to go target shooting.

Rex William Pruett was shot at his father’s home in Campbellsburg, a small Indiana town located about 50 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. Rex, a seventh-grader at Orleans Junior-Senior High School, died a short time after his father rushed him to a hospital. 

“The father received a phone call and, while he was on the phone, the daughter, in what appeared to be unintentional, shot her brother with a .22-caliber revolver,” Indiana State Police spokesman Chad Dick told The Times-Mail in Bedford.

Officials at the boy’s school, where his sister is a ninth-grader, said that extra counselors were brought in Monday to help students cope with the tragedy. Police investigators waited to release the boy’s name until those measures were in place. 

“The first-period teachers had a written statement to read about the incident and then, for any students that need additional help, we have counselors standing by,” Orleans Community Schools Superintendent Gary McClintic told the newspaper.  

Chris Stevens, principal of the siblings’ school, showed a news crew from WAVE 3 News in Louisville Rex’s locker, which was adorned Monday with photos and letters from his classmates. 

“This does remind you quite a bit of Rex,” Stevens told the station. “There were a lot of tears and a lot of smiles today.”

Stevens said that faculty members and administrators have made it clear to students that the shooting was accidental. When Rex’s sister returns to class, they will offer her their support, he said. 

Family and friends also offered the girl their support on Facebook, where she described her younger brother as “such a sweet little boy.”

“Much love, Rexy, much love. We will all keep you in our hearts,” the girl wrote. 

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Stevens described the rural community as one in which guns are part of everyday life.

“In our elementary, at the sixth-grade level, we have a gun safety course that all of our students are allowed to go through,” Stevens told the news station

McClintic, who said he taught Rex’s father when he was a teacher, described the boy’s family as a good one that had been involved with Orleans’ public schools for multiple generations. 

“It’s hard on the community, just as much as it is on the school,” McClintic told The Times-Mail

Johnny Henderson, pastor of Lost River Missionary Baptist Church in Claysville, said that Rex and his family attended services there the morning of the shooting.

“He was an outstanding young man,” Henderson said.

The pastor said the Pruett family needs support, not criticism over the shooting.

“They need support and people to pray for them for peace and comfort,” Henderson said. “They still have a hard time going forward. They still have a funeral to go to.

“They are going to be living without this young man.”

Portman warns Trump: killing NAFTA will kill jobs in Ohio

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:25 PM

            Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
            Mark Wilson
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)(Mark Wilson)

With President Donald Trump threatening to scrap a trade deal with Canada and Mexico, Sen. Rob Portman Tuesday said it would be “a mistake” to terminate a pact that allows manufactured goods and agriculture products to cross the borders of those countries largely free of tariffs.

In a conference call with Ohio reporters Tuesday, Portman said killing the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement “would have a negative impact on auto workers, farmers and service providers in Ohio,” adding “we should improve the agreement,” not scrap it.

“Most of our exports from Ohio go to Canada and Mexico,” said Portman, who served as U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush.

RELATED: Ohio farmers fear disruption if NAFTA is retooled

As trade negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico gathered Tuesday in Montreal for a key round of talks on whether to renew NAFTA, Trump told reporters that the talks were going “pretty well.”

But in an interview last week with Reuters, Trump said he may “terminate NAFTA.”

The agreement has long provoked intense opposition from organized labor, which contends the lure of cheap labor in Mexico encouraged American manufacturers to shift production there and cost tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S.

RELATED: Whirlpool celebrates new Trump tariffs; plans to add 200 jobs in Ohio

Trump’s tough anti-NAFTA stance resonated with blue-collar workers in the key manufacturing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump’s victories in those four states allowed him to capture the presidency in 2016.

The Business Roundtable, an organization in Washington that represents many of the nation’s largest companies, warned that scrapping NAFTA would cost 1.8 million jobs in the United States.

In particular, the major automakers claim they would be badly hurt because NAFTA essentially integrated the North American automotive market.

RELATED: Mexico slams U.S. decision on solar panel tariffs

According to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio companies and farmers exported $49 billion worth of goods in 2016 to Canada and Mexico, a slight dip from 2015. The state will release the 2017 statistics next month.

Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, both approved of Trump’s decision Monday to slap tariffs on imports of washing machines from South Korea, a move designed to help Whirlpool’s production facility in Clyde, Ohio.

Portman said he backed the tariffs because if “other countries are not following the rules of trade, they have to be held accountable.”

Should adolescence last until age 24? A group of scientists think so

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 4:53 PM


Adolescence is thought to end at about age 18, but a group of scientists wants to extend it to 24, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from hospitals and research institutions in Australia recently conducted an experiment, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, to determine the span of years that should define adolescence.

Traditionally, it is the period between childhood and adulthood, or generally from age 10 to 18. However, the researchers believe the biological and societal shifts over the last several decades indicate the need for an extension of adolescence. 

“Adolescence is the phase of life stretching between childhood and adulthood, and its definition has long posed a conundrum. Adolescence encompasses elements of biological growth and major social role transitions, both of which have changed in the past century,” they said.

>> Related: CDC: Adolescent habits with contact lenses risk eye infection

Young girls and boys develop earlier than previous generations, they noted. For example, many preteens begin menstruating at 10, while their parents and grandparents started at 14. 

They also pointed out that the adolescent brain does not stop developing until a person is in their 20s and that wisdom teeth now generally grow in at 25. 

Furthermore, young adults are getting married later in life. It’s more common for youth to settle down in their 30s as opposed to their 20s. And they’re leaving the nest later, too, which is expected by parents and society, they said. Analysts used the United States as an example, because insurance companies are now allowing adults to keep their kids on policies longer. 

>> Related: Gender stereotypes and gender norms effect on children

“Rather than age 10–19 years, a definition of 10–24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings,” the authors wrote. 

Researchers believe the extension will encourage governments to better frame laws meant to protect youth and help young people on their journey through adulthood.

>> Related: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?