A 17-year-old Dyersburg, Tenn., student recently was sent to the principal's office for following a fellow student's sneeze with the words "bless you." When the teacher asked student Kendra Turner why she said it, she said she "was being courteous." When the teacher asked who told her the phrase was courteous, she said her pastor and her parents. That drew the trip to the office and an in-school suspension for the remainder of the period.
An assistant principal at the school said teachers are allowed to set their own classroom rules, which include avoiding distractions. Apparently, use of the words "bless you," along with "my bad," "hang out," "dumb," "stupid" and "stuff," according to Turner, are off limits. The assistant principal insisted it wasn't a religious issue but an issue where the teacher felt Turner's automatic response was a distraction.
No word has emerged on whether changes are planned to Mount Rushmore, but a Washington Times report says there are at least 18 roads and schools in the United States named after the current president, Barack Obama. But there is some opposition in the New Jersey town of Willingboro about a government building named after the current occupant of the White House.
Town leaders curiously say they weren't expecting the furor they created when the town council voted 3-1 earlier this month to change the name of a renovated recreation center from the John F. Kennedy Center. But Mayor Eddie Campbell Jr. said calls have been running at least 75 to 80 percent in opposition to the move, and he admitted the move may be a little premature. "He hasn't finished his job yet," Campbell said. "If we are going to name a building, I think we should wait until after the president finished his tour of duty."
Elsewhere, there is a Barack Obama Drive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; a Mount Obama on the island of Antigua; a Barack Obama gas station in Ireland; and a parasitic hairworm, "paragordius obamai," an all-female species that is able to reproduce without a male. It was discovered in Kenya, the homeland of Obama's father, Barack Sr.
When it comes to sticking it to the taxpayers, one of the U.S. Senate's biggest abusers is the third richest man in the Senate and a member of one of the nation's most wealthy families, Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Rockefeller, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of Senate travel records, returns to his nearby state almost exclusively by charter plane at $4,400 per trip. An alternative would be one of as many as six commercial flights a day from Washington, D.C., to Charleston, W.Va., which cost as little as $206.
The state's senior senator, who is chairman of the Senate committee with -- ironically -- jurisdiction over transportation issues, is retiring in January but averaged returning home only 11 times a year over the past three years, less than almost any member of Congress.
In three years, Rockefeller's chartered trips cost taxpayers $141,408. One round trip earlier this year totaled $9,657.
For comparison, Tennessee's senior senator, Lamar Alexander, returned home 82 times in the three years at a cost of $118,944. The Volunteer State's junior senator, Bob Corker, came home 98 times at a cost of $91,799.
During the runup to her 2012 election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois in an interview with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune vowed to return 10 percent of her pay. Confronted with that promise four years later, she's not quite ready to pony up $34,800 and, according to her campaign manager, "misspoke" when she made the promise.
The editorial board interview clip, available on RedState.com, leaves no room for ambiguity. Indeed, the interviewer asks her three times to make sure the point is clear. In the last pass, the interviewer says, "You would do it [take a 10 percent pay cut] regardless of how the vote turns out?" "Yes," says Bustos.
The first-term congresswoman is in a repeat of her 2012 race with Republican Bobby Schilling, who was elected to the seat in 2010 and served one term before losing to Bustos in a redrawn 17th District.