Don't Eat Slugs

You know - when "friends" dare you to do something stupid - just don't do it. Back in 2010, Sam Ballard of Australia took an ill-advised dare from his friends - and just died from complications related to that challenge. He was only 27 years old. Eight years ago, during a night of drinking, his buddies egged him on to eat a slug. Yes - a live slug. Ballard did, and soon after he started feeling pain in his legs. Then came the vomiting and dizzy spells. He ended up falling into a coma for more than a year, and the reason was stunning: He'd been infected with rat lungworm, a parasite usually found in rodents, but which can occasionally end up in snails and slugs if they eat rat excrement. As a result of the parasite, Ballard contracted a type of meningitis tied to rat lungworm, and things went downhill from there. The former rugby player had since had limited movement in his limbs, needed help going to the bathroom and eating, and had trouble communicating. Ballard's mother, who has said she doesn't blame his friends for the slug-eating dare, has been fighting the Australian government since at least last October, when her son's disability funding was significantly cut. Reportedly, Ballard's final words to his mom were: "I love you." (New Zealand Herald)

Eat More Donuts - for A Very Good Reason
The word is out in Seal Beach: If you want doughnuts at Donut City, get there early. The Southern California shop is usually sold out and closed by noon, sometimes even by 10. Yes the donuts are good - but that's not why they're selling out every day. It's because longtime patrons learned that the woman who has run the place with her husband for nearly 30 years is ill-and they're buying in bulk so her husband can spend more time with her. John Chhan, whose 63-year-old wife, Stella, suffered a brain aneurysm in September and is recuperating in a rehab facility said, "Oh, I feel warm, very appreciative." Customers began organizing buying sprees after longtime patron Dawn Caviola learned about Stella's illness on a recent visit. She said, "I have never done anything like that before, but I just thought if everyone can just buy a dozen doughnuts, it might help him out." She blogged about her idea on the community network site Nextdoor, and it took off. John Chhan actually turned down the idea of a GoFundMe site on the couple's behalf- saying he'd prefer the extra time with his wife rather than donations. (Orange County Register)

Death on TV?
In Argentina, former boxer, 56-year-old Mario Melo, choked to death during a televised croissant 
eating contest! His sister, Aida Melo, was watching as her brother collapsed behind the contest's announcer as he was choking on a medialuna, a traditional Argentine croissant. She said at first many thought he was pulling a prank. But he kept desperately gesturing to the announcer for help. She said a doctor finally was summoned from the audience and Melo was rushed to a local hospital where he was later declared dead. He was a light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of South America in the 1980s and 1990s. (Newser)

Don't Spank, Don't Yell
It's been two decades since the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an official stance about discipline, and in that time, the group's opinion has changed quite a bit. Its 1998 guidance recommended that "parents be encouraged and assisted in developing methods other than spanking in response to undesired behavior." Its new guidance is much more direct and explicitly directs parents not to spank or yell at their kids. Specifically, caregivers are encouraged to use "healthy forms of discipline," including positive reinforcement and setting limits and expectations, rather than any form of corporal punishment or yelling at children. In the intervening 20 years, an author of the policy statement explains that research has shown a host of negative effects that can be associated with spanking. Spanking has been found to be ineffective and can actually make behavior worse. The news made waves on Twitter, where some were not happy at being told how to raise their kids. "Not on this momma's watch," reads one sample response. But, another pointed out, "Clicking on the American Academy of Pediatrics trending topic shows a steady stream of people mad because they think AAP said spanking was bad. Actually, what AAP mostly said was that it doesn't work." Specifically, the new policy statement says corporal punishment can be correlated with aggression, depression, and even less gray matter in kids' brains. The policy encourages pediatricians to discuss the matter with parents "so they can make their own decisions." (NBC News)

Amazon Really Wants Your Holiday Business
Amazon made another aggressive move for world online shopping domination, and is now temporarily offering free shipping to all customers-Prime or not-on all purchases! It's the first time Amazon has made such an offer without a minimum order requirement. In a release, the company said the offer is available for a "limited time" without providing specifics. The best guess is that it will run through the holiday season until a week or so before Christmas-while Amazon can still guarantee delivery by the holiday. One caveat: While Prime members still get free two-day shipping, the new offer requires customers who partake to settle for the five- to eight-day variety. The move comes after Target announced free two-day shipping to all customers through Dec. 22, also without a minimum order requirement. Walmart also offers free two-day shipping, though it requires a $35 order to qualify. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime members will get extra perks, too, including more items eligible for same-day shipping. Amazon has more than 100 million Prime members around the world who pay $119 each. (Newser)

Trump is Apparently the Word of God in the Flesh
In St. Louis, a billboard on Interstate 170 near St. Charles Rock Road is causing some uproar. The large electronic billboard features President Donald Trump's picture with the bible verse, "The word became flesh." In the top right corner, the billboard says "Make the Gospel Great Again" playing off Trump's famous slogan. The advertisement is owned by DDI Media but there is no clear message on the image about who paid for it. The billboard has left residents like Sherri Chisholim searching for the meaning behind the ad. She said, "I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't know what message it was trying to send but I felt like it was somewhat offensive, I didn't know if they were trying to equate Donald Trump to Jesus." (KMOV)

New Super-Opioid! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
They call it Dsuvia and it's up to 1,000 times stronger than morphine and up to 10 times stronger than fentanyl! It's a new painkiller from AcelRx and it somehow won FDA approval despite substantial fears it will just make our current opioid addiction problem worse. The big selling point of Dsuvia-which contains the painkiller sufentanil-is that it can be given to patients easily in place of an IV. The Pentagon, in particular, likes that option for soldiers on the battlefield. The FDA promises "very tight restrictions" on the drug, but that's not appeasing critics. "It is certain that Dsuvia will worsen the opioid epidemic and kill people needlessly," says Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the nonprofit Public Citizen's Health Research Group. The drug is expected to be available to medical facilities early next year and cost $50 to $60 per pill. (FDA)

What the What?

A 33-year-old British endurance athlete just became the first person to swim around the coast of Great Britain! Ross Edgley spent 157 days in the water and covered 1,791 miles. He swam in six-hour stints, sleeping in his support boat. He was joined for the final mile by hundreds of fellow swimmers, coming ashore at Margate in southeast England-the spot where he began his journey on June 1. Edgley, who had hoped to finish in 100 days, told family members who gathered on the beach to greet him: "Sorry I'm late." The World Open Water Swimming Association says Edgley endured spells of wild weather and was stung by jellyfish 37 times during his swim, which was sponsored by the energy drink Red Bull. Organizers said he also broke records for the longest staged sea swim-doubling the previous 73 days-and for the fastest swim between Britain's southernmost and northernmost points, Land's End and John O'Groats. He covered the distance in 62 days. (Newser)


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