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'Heat days' proposed as schools in Hawaii swelter

Hawaii

'Heat days' are proposed as schools swelter

In her 90-degree classroom, Oahu teacher Sharon Nichols is so desperate to keep her third-graders cool that she walks around the classroom spritzing them with ice water. Like virtually all schools in the normally temperate state, her building lacks air conditioning, and that has been fine in the past. But Nichols and other Hawaii teachers say it has been so hot this year that students have showed symptoms of heat exhaustion. "It's very hard to focus,'' Nichols said. "I'm up here teaching, and I'm telling the kids, 'Come on, wake up,' and I'm falling asleep myself." The president of the Hawaii teachers union has called on the state to establish "heat days" — like snow days — and cancel school when it's too stifling to learn. Temperatures in Honolulu reached record highs at least 25 times in the last year, according to the National Weather Service, and experts say Hawaii's cooling trade winds have been declining for decades. Public schools in Hawaii typically start the year in late July or early August and end in late May.

Pennsylvania

Beauty queen's sad story turns out false

A beauty queen has been jailed on charges she faked having leukemia to benefit from fundraisers. Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, 23, of State College, faces charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. State police say an April bingo benefit raised $14,000 for the Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International pageant winner. Butler's Beauties, the company that sponsors the pageant, says in a statement that they were also "led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease" and are making her return her crown and sash.

United Nations

Official resigns amid sex abuse allegations

In a rare move, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said Wednesday that he had told his top official in the Central African Republic to step down after repeated accusations that peacekeepers there committed sexual abuses against civilians, including children. The official, Babacar Gaye, a former Senegalese army general who has served as the special representative of the secretary-general in the Central African Republic, has resigned "at my request," Ban said. His actions came a day after Amnesty International said that a police officer deployed by the U.N. in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, had raped a 12-year-old girl during a search operation this month. Last year, French peacekeepers sent to protect civilians were accused of sexually abusing boys in the capital. France says it is investigating, but has yet to announce charges.

Venezuela

Florida's no match for these lightning strikes

Amid the crackle and boom of Florida's thunderstorms, spare a thought for a very special place where our lightning strikes would seem tame by comparison. At a lake in Venezuela, a nine-hour display of thousands of flashes of lightning is the norm, with the concentration hitting its peak in the October rainy season. The mountain village of Kifuka in the Democratic Republic of Congo has long been hailed the most electric place on Earth, but Lake Maracaibo recently earned a spot in Guinness World Records for being home to the "highest concentration of lightning" on the planet, with lightning striking up to 300 days a year and often thousands of times each of those days.

Macedonia

Tale of love behind baby baboon kidnap

The mystery of a baby baboon abducted from Skopje's zoo had a bittersweet resolution: A mother says she stole it as a gift for her deaf son. The 26-year-old woman told Dnevnik newspaper that she lifted Luka, an 18-month-old crowd favorite, as a belated birthday present for her 7-year-old son. The woman said frequent visits to the zoo in Macedonia's capital had left her boy "in love with the monkey." She was not identified but has been charged with burglary-related offenses.

Times wires

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