Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oregon Middle School Bans Hugging

Students at a Portland middle school are being forced to embrace a new no-hugging policy after complaints of inappropriate touching and tardiness, reported television station KPTV.

Principal Allison Couch sent an e-mail to West Sylvan Middle School parents earlier this month informing them of the new rule.

She said some students complained they felt uncomfortable or were touched inappropriately while being hugged. The excessive hugging also made students late for class and, in the most extreme case, girls would hug boys in an attempt to arouse them, the principal said.

West Sylvan students said their classmates weren't shy about showing affection before the ban.

"I saw people hugging a lot," said Frankie Coan, a seventh-grader at Sylvan Middle School. "Even more than hugging -- just kissing, also. And that was kind of weird."

"I saw people hug in the hallways and they get in big groups and they wouldn't separate," said sixth-grader Christopher Kappes.

Michael McDonald is a high school senior but once attended West Sylvan. He said he remembers the "two-second rule," when students were allowed to hug for a brief moment.

"Under these circumstances, where there are inappropriate things going on, I think it's the right thing to do," McDonald said.

Beverly Dickson, a parent of a West Sylvan student, said she also supports the ban.

"I just feel they're doing what they feel they need to do to protect the kids and make sure everyone is happy," Dickson said.

But other parents think the new policy goes too far.

"I think it's a little bit too much," said Mark Rose. "I think the kids should be able to regulate their physical contact and their space around them and interact with other kids."

Elusive Monkey Romps In Tampa Bay Area

In the hours after a monkey on the lam fell into a woman's pool and then swiped some fruit from her backyard tree, fans of the wily primate cheered it for avoiding capture.

"Go little monkey, go! No cages for you," wrote a guy named Jack on the "Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay" Facebook fan page. (There were more than 21,000 fans of the elusive monkey as of Wednesday morning.)

"I sure hope 'they' don't catch you!" wrote a woman named Kathleen. "Why can't 'they' just leave you alone?"

Why, indeed?

The rhesus macaque monkey has avoided capture for nearly a year. Authorities don't know where the animal came from, but some believe it could have gotten separated from a troupe of wild monkeys in an Ocala-area state park, some 118 miles north of St. Petersburg. Another possibility: the animal could have escaped from an owner who doesn't have a permit and is therefore not registered with authorities.

The creature has captivated people in Tampa Bay and beyond -- possibly because of his ability to outwit the humans trying to catch him.

"It's something that you can kind of cheer for," said Amy Ellis, a Pasco County employee who has become a fan of the monkey on Facebook. "Every day there's so much bad news. He's kind of like a little hero."

The monkey was even featured two weeks ago on "The Colbert Report" with host Stephen Colbert poking fun at the creature, who has been shot numerous times with tranquilizers, apparently unfazed. One trapper claimed the monkey was becoming a "drug addict" because of all the shots.

"You took a monkey on the lam and put a monkey on his back," Colbert wisecracked.

Wildlife trapper Vernon Yates has tracked the monkey through three counties, and heard reports of it rummaging through trash bins, scaling the wall of an apartment complex and even hanging out by a pool behind a foreclosed home.

Yates swears it is the same monkey because of its size, coloring and behavior.

"He is an extremely intelligent monkey," Yates said. "He is very, very street-wise. He knows to check traffic. He knows to look both ways so he doesn't get hit by cars. He knows to stay out of power lines."

Yates said he worries that someone will shoot or kill the monkey. If he catches it, Yates will have the animal tested for disease. If negative, the trapper will try to find the monkey a home, likely a private individual who has a permit to care for exotic wildlife.

State wildlife officials are also serious about catching the evasive primate.

"That animal is so much quicker and more powerful than people perceive," said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "That monkey would absolutely tear an adult male up. People have no idea how fierce their bites would be."

Morse said monkeys can harbor communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and herpes, and can become aggressive if cornered.

On Sunday, St. Petersburg resident Renee Barth got a laugh when she spotted the monkey swinging from a tree in her pool enclosure. She managed to get a photo -- then watched it fall into her pool.

Barth said the monkey climbed out, then took off with some grapefruit.

Facebook Reunites Mother, Daughter

A woman and her daughter have Facebook to thank for an emotional reunion 32 years in the making, reported WJXT-TV in Jacksonville. Sonya Brown had to give up her baby for adoption and had not seen her since. Brown said the state of Kansas made her give up her child because she was 15 years old when her daughter was born.

"I just want to put my arms around her because I never ever got to hold her. They took her from me," Brown said. "And I just tried to block it out all these years."

Decades later, the two women found each other on the Internet.

"When I was on Facebook, her picture came up. And I looked into her eyes, I knew that was my child. I knew it was her," she said. "I sent the message first. And she sent a message back saying, 'Oh my god, are you serious?'"

Emily Singleton said she knew she was adopted at a young age and always wondered about her birth mom. She said she was overwhelmed when she received the message on Facebook.

"I was hoping it wasn't a joke," Singleton said.

Singleton flew from Kansas City to Jacksonville to meet her mom for the first time. The two women hugged and will spend time getting to know each other.

"I don't think I have any words right now," Singleton said. "I'm just really happy right now. It's been a long journey."

Singleton has a few kids of her own and Brown said she looks forward to meeting her grandchildren sometime this summer.

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