PETA Has a Beef With Slaughterville

An animal rights group is asking the residents of Slaughterville, Okla., to reconsider the town's name.

The alternative? Veggieville.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search) sent a latter to Slaughterville administrator Marsha Blair suggesting that the town undergo a moniker makeover to sound less hostile to furry and feathered friends.

"Veggieville [is] a friendly name honoring a heart-healthy and compassionate alternative to animal corpses," the letter said.

The group said it's even willing to cough up a lot of lettuce — $20,000 worth of veggie burgers — for Slaughterville students if the town will change its name, according to Bruce Friedrich, director of PETA's vegan campaigns.

But Slaughterville residents apparently think PETA is full of beans.

"We do not intend to change the name," Blair told Reuters.

Slaughterville was named after a grocery store run by James Slaughter, who helped found the town in the early 20th century. 

For Blair and other residents, the Slaughter family's lingering reputation makes the town's name a sacred cow.

Friedrich, who once lived in the town of 3,600, said that though some might think his offer is a joke, he hopes his pro-veggie message will resound.

"People find our requests amusing, and they chuckle," he said. "But when they're laughing, they have the opportunity to consider the animal abuse it brings up."

Hometown Slogan Too Suggestive for 'Climax'

Talk about town spirit.

High school students in Climax, Minn., were so upset that T-shirts with the town's slogan were banned that about a dozen of them wore the shirts to school in protest. 

The school superintendent, however, didn't appreciate the students' pride in their hometown, calling the shirts inappropriate

The shirts read: "Climax — More than just a feeling."

Shirley Moberg, superintendent of Climax-Shelly schools, said the slogan's double entendre is not OK for students to wear

But one student said the shirts have been allowed in the past and the ban seemed to come out of nowhere.

"When I wear my T-shirt, it's a sign of pride for my town," Ali Tweten said. "I don't really wear it to be meant in that way."

School officials had allowed students to don the shirts until recently, when a teacher wore one to school and someone complained.

Climax, a town of roughly 270 near the North Dakota border, adopted the "More than a feeling" slogan in 1996 for its centennial. A contest was held to pick the slogan. Some of the other entries included: "No End to Climax," "Cling to the Culmination: Climax Forever" and "Bring a Friend to Climax."

"Climax — More than just a feeling" came out on top, and the slogan was used in advertising and promotions. The T-shirts have been around for years.

Only now, they no longer are suitable for high school kids. The superintendent said the school dress code prohibits clothing or jewelry with objectionable signs, words, objects, badges, symbols or pictures communicating a message that is racist or sexist.

Administrators have the authority to judge if students violate the code and ask them to modify their clothing, Moberg said. Students who refuse can be sent home and their parents notified.

The students who wore the shirt to school were told to go to the bathroom and turn it inside out. All did, except 18-year-old Bethany Grove, a senior, who was suspended for the afternoon.

"The T-shirt has been a tradition," Grove said. "It's been around for almost 10 years. A lot of people have them."

Climax, after all, is the town's name, she said.

Be Careful Where You Stargaze

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — It started out as a tranquil night watching the sun set and the stars rise. But, for three Charleston young people, it turned into a harrowing 22-mile ride atop a moving freight train.

Jack Lowther, 22, his 18-year-old girlfriend Jacklyn "Blair" Gary, and Mary Allison Morris, 21, were watching the sky from a bridge Tuesday evening when they decided to climb aboard a parked freight car for a better view, he said.

They soon discovered that was a bad idea.

"We were on top, and it started moving," said Lowther. "I started trying to get everyone off the train, but the girls were too scared because it had already started to pick up speed."

They lay down on top of a box car as the train picked up speed, slipping under bridges that were too low for comfort.

The young people were too far back on the train to signal the conductor and there was no one along the wooded tracks to call to. Lowther then climbed down between two freight cars and helped his companions do so.

Although the reception was poor, Morris managed to call 911 on a cell phone and Shawanna Curnell, a dispatcher with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, knew something was wrong.

"You could hear the wind blowing, so I knew she was outside somewhere," Curnell said. "She was screaming and asking for help."

The dispatchers contacted rail lines to determine what trains were running that evening and CSX and Amtrak notified their trains to stop and check for trespassers.

By the time the train slowed, it was nearing Adams Run, about 22 miles from where their journey began.

Misty Skipper, a spokeswoman for CSX, said freight trains in the area generally run no faster than 59 mph.

When the train slowed to about 20 mph, Gary jumped, banged her head and was knocked unconscious, Lowther said.

Lowther and Morris waited for the train to slow more before they jumped themselves. They found Gary and helped her about two miles through a marshy area toward some lights.

They reached U.S. Highway 17 and Lowther's mother was able to reach him on his cell phone and call deputies who picked them up.

Gary, who also banged her head while on the train, seemed better Wednesday but had no recollection of the ride, he said.

Deputies charged the three with trespassing.

"I just want to tell everyone else not to try this," Lowther said. "It's not fun."

A Diamond in the Rough Lost in Space

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If anyone's ever promised you the sun, the moon and the stars, tell 'em you'll settle for BPM 37093.

The heart of that burned-out star with the no-nonsense name is a sparkling diamond that weighs a staggering 10 billion trillion trillion carats. That's one followed by 34 zeros.

The hunk of celestial bling is an estimated 2,500 miles across, said Travis Metcalfe, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"You would need a jeweler's loupe the size of the sun to grade this diamond," said Metcalfe, who led the team that discovered the gem.

The diamond lies about 300 trillion miles from Earth, in the constellation Centaurus.

The galaxy's largest diamond is formally known as a white dwarf, or the hot core of a dead sun.

Astronomers have suspected for decades that white dwarfs crystallized, but only recently were able to verify the hypothesis.

A paper detailing the discovery has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters for publication.

Compiled by's Marla Lehner.

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