Oddly enough

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The Independent Online
Godspell: Jody-Anne Maxwell, 12, from Jamaica, won the 71st Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, ascribing her victory to "God and training". After spelling "chiaroscurist" (an artist in lights and darks) correctly to see off the other contenders, she said: "God just happened to choose me". The losing finalist was felled by "prairillon" (a small prairie), and the bronze medallist failed on "maieutic" (referring to a teaching method of Socrates).

KO for A and P: The Japanese Ministry of Education has objected to the inclusion of a story by John Updike in a high school textbook. The story, A and P, is about a teenaged supermarket worker and his observation of three young female shoppers in swimsuits. The ministry has identified six parts of the story as offensive and liable to embarrass young readers and interfere with classes.

Young slapper: A 15-year-old boy in Singapore has been accused of "voluntarily causing hurt to a public employee" after he allegedly slapped a teacher who had asked him to redo a piece of work. When the boy then tossed his assignment on a table, the teacher sent him to the headmaster who suspended him from school. The student then confronted the teacher in the classroom. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of two years probation.

Young shavers: Three male and two female students at Washington & Lee University, in Virginia, face criminal charges after a student prank that got out of hand. After a drunken party, the two women allegedly shaved the pubic area of a male student after he passed out. Later, three other men, who offered the women lifts home, drove them to a deserted road and, according to local authorities "attempted to shave the women's pubic areas in retaliation". The women escaped and called the police. The three men were later charged with abduction, conspiracy to commit abduction and assault and battery. The two women were charged with aggravated sexual battery.

Suspended by a pin: A 15-year-old girl in Indiana has been suspended for pricking 10 of her classmates with a safety pin which she said was contaminated with her own blood, then telling them: "Now you have Aids." Health officials pointed out that the risk of hepatitis B was greater than the risk of Aids.

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