‘Oral sex’ definition prompts dictionary ban in US schools

Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for “oral sex”.

Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the “sexually graphic” entry is “just not age appropriate”, according to the area’s local paper.

The dictionary’s online definition of the term is “oral stimulation of the genitals”. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.

While some parents have praised the move – “[it’s] a prestigious dictionary that’s used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern,” said Randy Freeman – others have raised concerns. “It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground,” father Jason Rogers told local press. “You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next, pull encyclopaedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?”

A panel is now reviewing whether the Menifee ban will be made permanent. The Merriam Webster dictionary joins an illustrious set of books that have been banned or challenged in the US, including Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, which last year was suspended from and then reinstated to the curriculum at a Michigan school after complaints from parents about its coverage of graphic sex and violence, and titles by Khaled Hosseini and Philip Pullman, included in the American Library Association’s list of books that inspired most complaints last year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jan/25/oral-sex-dictionary-ban-us-schools

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California sees 4th day of rain, evacuations urged

Southern California authorities strongly urged residents of endangered foothill homes to obey evacuation orders Thursday as the week’s fourth Pacific storm blew into the region and flash flood watches were expanded to numerous urban areas including downtown Los Angeles.

The siege of storms has led to several deaths statewide and flooding in urban areas and on freeways.

Officials appeared concerned the lack of massive debris flows from wildfire burn areas was misleading for residents.

“It’s time to roll, it’s time to evacuate,” said Los AngelesCounty Public Works Director Gail Farber.

In the upper reaches of suburban La Canada Flintridge, where mountainsides rise sharply from the backyards of homes, authorities put pink ribbons on the mailboxes of residents who stayed behind so they would know where to search in the event of a catastrophe.

One person who didn’t leave was Delos Tucker, a retired geologist who has lived in the community since the homes were built in 1962.

“I’m just gambling it’s not going to happen,” he said. “Let’s hope I’m right.”

The county’s extensive flood-control system was working, but many of the basins designed to catch debris-laden runoff from fire-scarred mountains were full and evacuations remained necessary, Farber said.

“The Los Angeles County Fire Department is anticipating that a significant mud flow and debris flow is likely today,” said Chief DeputyJohn Tripp, announcing that fire departments in a five-county region had been put on alert that urban search and rescue teams might be needed.

The arrival of the new storm system shut down Interstate 5 in the snowy Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles for the second day in a row, interrupting travel on one of state’s major arteries.

The storm was expected to drop 2 inches to 4 inches of rain in the already drenched foothills and mountains, with potentially strong downpours and intense rain rates, said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt.

Rain was expected to taper off by night, followed by showers on Friday and a dry weekend.

The major area of concern has been foothill communities along the perimeter of the San Gabriel Mountains, where a summer wildfire denuded 250 square miles of steep slopes northeast of Los Angeles.

The number of homes under evacuation orders has grown to more than 1,200 since the beginning of the week. Estimates of compliance have ranged up to 75 percent in some jurisdictions but down to 40 percent elsewhere.

As an overnight lull gave way to more rain at midmorning, public works crews shoveled mud from yards, driveways and gutters along Ocean View Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge. The neighborhood was otherwise all but deserted, with newspaper and mail deliveries cut off.

Tucker acknowledged that with catch basins filled with mud, water and debris, things could become difficult. But he said he had seen regrowth in the fire-scarred hills and believed it would hold soil in place.

At one point he left to bring his wife back from a visit to their daughter and defied a deputy who threatened to arrest him if he returned to his house. The deputy didn’t follow through on the threat, and Tucker was not upset by the incident.

“They have to play it super safe,” he said. “Obviously there is danger of a major mudflow coming down from the canyon.”

Despite the statewide extent of the storms, the number of deaths remained low. Two people were killed by falling trees, and police in Newman were searching for the body of a man who tried to drive across a flooded road.

In San Jose, a man died after falling 30 feet from the side of a freeway after he got out of a car that spun out in the rain and then jumped out of the path of an out-of-control car.

In San Diego, the Border Patrol said three people were rescued and treated for hypothermia after being swept away while trying to cross the storm-swollen Tijuana River from Mexico.

California State University, Long Beach, remained closed after some buildings flooded Wednesday.

Air travel through Phoenix was expected to be disrupted by severe weather as the storms moved eastward through Arizona.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9DCAOBG0&show_article=1