Monday, July 17, 2017

WEIRD NEWS

Witches Finally Get Their Due

Back in the late 1600's a group of good God-fearing Christians murdered 19 women on a rocky ledge on the outskirts of Salem, Mass - the result of the infamous witch trials. All these years later, a new memorial aims to respectfully commemorate those who lost their lives because of superstition and intolerance. Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll plans to dedicate the site below what is called Proctor's Ledge on July 19, the same day in 1692 when five women - Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes - were hanged from a tree on the ledge. The site gets its name from the local Proctor family. Wealthy landowner John Proctor became a victim of the historic hysteria after he condemned the witch trials and was hanged himself. His grandson, well aware of the site's history, later bought the land. Today, especially around Halloween, tourists flock to Salem to indulge in "ghost tours" and visit sites like the Witch House, where some of the trials took place. Salem is also now home to many practitioners of the Wiccan faith. (Smithsonian)

Still Think You Can Text and Drive?

What is it about the extreme danger of texting and driving that people aren't getting? Police in Ohio say 24-year-old Natasha Boggs was texting and driving when she struck and killed two 14-year-old girls with her car! She was arrested, jailed, and is now charged with voluntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, driving while texting, and other offenses. She actually hit three teenagers, killing Taylor Galloway and Amber Thoma. A 15-year-old boy was seriously injured. Coventry Township is about 9 miles south of Akron. Authorities say the teens were walking on the right side of the road around 4:45pm when Boggs' car drifted over the white "fog line" and struck the kids. (Newser)

Too Late

When Costansa Litellini ran into Florida's Skydive DeLand, she begged them not to let her husband go up in a plane - but she was too late. The plane, with 27-year-old Capotorto Vitantonio on board, had already taken off. A short time later, his body was found face down in a field. Officials say Vitantonio sent a "disturbing" video to Litellini right before his jump - telling his wife he was "not going to pull the cord and that he was going somewhere wonderful." A Skydive DeLand employee had radioed the plane after Litellini's intervention, but the message was received moments too late. Vitantonio was an experienced skydiver with around 600 jumps, and both he and Litellini worked for a parachute manufacturer. It's not known why he chose to die after jumping from an altitude of 13,500 feet. A Skydive DeLand employee who saw Vitantonio before his jump says he "seemed normal."(Orlando Sentinel)

Damn You Big Insurance Companies!

Two of the insurance industry's most powerful organizations say a crucial provision in the Senate GOP health care bill allowing the sale of bare-bones policies is "unworkable in any form," delivering a blow to party leaders' efforts to win support for their legislation. The language was actually crafted by Sen. Ted Cruz, and leaders have included it in the overall bill in hopes of winning votes from conservatives. But moderates have worried it will cause people with serious illnesses to lose coverage, while some conservatives say it doesn't go far enough. The criticism of Cruz's provision was lodged in a rare joint statement released Friday by America's Health Care Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association. "It is simply unworkable in any form," the letter said. They said it would "undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions," increase premiums, and lead many to lose coverage. The provision would let insurers sell low-cost policies with skimpy coverage, as long as they also sell policies that meet a stringent list of services they're required to provide under the Affordable Healthcare Act. The two groups say premiums would "skyrocket" for people with preexisting conditions, especially for middle-income families who don't qualify for the bill's tax credit. They also say the plan would leave consumers with fewer insurance options, so "millions of more individuals will become uninsured." (Newser)

Serial Cat Killer Going Away for 16 Years

A horrific and bizarre case of animal cruelty has ended in San Jose, with a serial cat killer sentenced to 16 years in jail. Police say Robert Farmer killed at least 16 cats after stealing and torturing them in 2015. He had pleaded guilty to 21 counts of animal cruelty prior to sentencing. Pet owners celebrated the maximum sentence, though Farmer's attorney says he could be released in about 4 years. In a letter written by Farmer and read by his attorney in court, Farmer said, "It's so hard to grasp I did this. It feels like another man committed these crimes, but I know it was me." Neighbors in the Cambrian Park community began sharing stories when their cats started disappearing without a trace. Farmer was arrested after being captured on a pet owner's surveillance camera snatching the family's 17-year-old pet from the property. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Could Emoji at School Help Language Skills?

Using smiley face, poo and broken heart emoji at school may sound like a strange idea but it could improve children's language skills according to at least one expert. Vyvyan Evans, a former professor of linguistics at Bangor University, has a new book called The Emoji Code and says that if emoji were part of regular school lessons they would stimulate something we don't at the moment. He added, "Emojis are actually making us more effective communicators in the digital communication space because they're filling in something that's actually missing... the non-verbal cues that tell us how the message should be interpreted." So if he gets his way kids could soon be putting a thumbs up at the end of their sentences and not getting in trouble for it. (Metro)

What the What?

Surgeons found no less than 27 contact lenses stuck in a woman's eye while preparing her for cataract surgery. The lenses, which resembled a "blueish mass" in the 67-year-old patient's eye, were causing the woman discomfort that she simply attributed to dry eye and old age. Rupal Morjaria, a specialist trainee ophthalmologist who dealt with the case at Solihull Hospital near Birmingham, England, told Optometry Today: "None of us have ever seen this before. It was such a large mass. All the contact lenses were stuck together. We were really surprised that the patient didn't notice it because it would cause quite a lot of irritation while it was sitting there." The patient said she had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for 35 years but did not attend regular appointments. (Metro)

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