Only in America
March 16, 2012

Forget the "War on Christmas." This spring, in a "heavy-handed attempt to instill political correctness among impressionable fourth- and fifth-graders," students at Soule Roade School in Wilbraham, Mass., will be celebrating O'Green Day instead of St. Patrick's Day. The secular replacement holiday, apparently dreamed up by Principal Lisa Curtin, is observed by wearing green and (joy!) eating lots of green vegetables. This is "ridiculous," said one parent. "What's next, birthdays?"

This just in
3:20 p.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Twelve years after thousands of artifacts were looted in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's national museum in Baghdad reopened on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

Iraqi officials have worked for more than a decade to recover some 15,000 stolen artifacts. So far, about 4,300 pieces have been recovered.

The grand reopening was moved up, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, as a message of defiance to Islamic State militants. Recent video showed purported ISIS members breaking statues at a museum in Mosul.

"Our hearts were broken when those artifacts were broken in Mosul," said Qassim Sudani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. "Now the national museum has reopened, it will be a lung that allows the Iraqi people to breathe again."

Greetings from the Underworld
2:53 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Go to Hell, Michigan

For sale: Hell.

A small town in Michigan that bears the name is on the market to the highest bidder, as unofficial Mayor of Hell John Colone put his holdings up for sale for the low price of $999,666, The Huffington Post reports.

While living in Michigan, I of course visited Hell, and I can tell you: There's not much there. But, if you have a million bucks lying around and love the idea of owning Hell's souvenir shop, ice cream store, weather station, post office, and other holdings, then hey, go for it.

You may have some competition from DAMNED, though, a Detroit-based artist group that launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to buy Hell. DAMNED wants to build a performing arts center, and if you contribute, the group is offering such perks as your own, personalized parking space in Hell. Sold!

Foreign affairs
2:23 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration continued its crackdown on Islamist groups on Saturday, as an Egyptian court declared the Muslim Brotherhood-offshoot Hamas a "terrorist" organization, Al Jazeera English reports.

A senior Palestinian official called the verdict "very unwise."

"Hamas is part of the Palestinian national unity movement," Mustafa Barghouti, who is neither from Hamas or Fatah, told Al Jazeera. "This decision is not useful."

The verdict stemmed from two private suits filed by attorneys against the Gaza Strip group, and came just days after Egypt implemented a strict new anti-terrorism law. Egyptian authorities outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 military coup, and they have since blamed Hamas for aiding rebel militants in Egypt — allegations Hamas denies.

brrrrr
1:45 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Talk about a record you could do without.

Several Northeastern cities just suffered through the coldest February since reliable records began, NBC News reports. A slow-moving jet stream has funneled cold air down into the eastern United States, refusing to budge. On the ice block: Bangor, Maine; Syracuse, Buffalo, and Islip, New York; Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

"Usually these patterns last for a week or so. In this case it's been the whole month," Corey Bogel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said.

And while forecasters say people can look forward to warmer-than-average months ahead, that's not the case quite yet: Sunday's low for Albany, New York is an even zero degrees.

panda-monium
1:01 p.m. ET
iStock

Party on, pandas.

China's State Forestry Administration found in its latest census that since the last survey ended in 2003, the wild giant panda population has grown by 268, to a total of 1,864 pandas, The Associated Press reports.

"The rise…is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate," Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund, said.

Giant pandas still face threats to their habitats, though. The new survey noted that the development of such structures as hydropower stations, roads, and mining sites are replacing traditional threats to pandas such as poaching.

Rules are Rules
12:31 p.m. ET
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

That'll do it.

Photo-sharing app Snapchat posted new "Community Guidelines" on its website, imploring teens to stop sexting or face suspended accounts, the New York Daily News reports.

"Don't use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you're under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: Keep your clothes on!" the rules read.

You heard it, kids: Keep those shenanigans to those of the legal variety.

RIP
11:58 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Ron Frehm

The New York Knicks confirmed on Saturday that Anthony Mason, a former power forward with the team, has died at the age of 48, The Associated Press reports.

The 6-foot-7 Mason was known for his defensive toughness throughout a career that spanned a decade with several teams, but most memorably from 1991-1996 on coach Pat Riley's New York squads. He won the NBA's Sixth Man award in 1995 with the Knicks, and he made the 2001 All-Star team as a member of the Miami Heat.

Mason's son, Anthony Jr., played for St. John's University and then for overseas teams. Another son, Antoine, is playing for Auburn this season, having transferred from Niagara, where he finished second nationally in points per game last season.

Hacked
11:32 a.m. ET
iStock

Car-hailing service Uber announced on Friday that a data breach left the personal information of about 50,000 drivers vulnerable, The Wall Street Journal reports.

While the company said it discovered the hack in September, it waited nearly five months to report the breach, an amount of time one data-breach expert called "an unusual delay."

Most states leave the exact amount of notification time vague, but the maximum among those that do offer specifics is 60 days. Uber said it has not received any misuse reports from drivers, and noted that the 50,000 affected make up a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of drivers working with the company.

Going to pot (or not)
10:02 a.m. ET
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division released its first annual report Friday on the state's legal marijuana market, Time reports.

In 2014, 4.8 million marijuana edibles and nearly 150,000 pounds of marijuana flowers were sold, the authors concluded. The report noted that marijuana flowers were more popular in the medical market, while edibles did better in the recreational market.

The report's findings may influence Colorado's ongoing debate about whether or not to regulate the types of edibles allowed — proponents of limiting the products say some types currently on the market, such as gummy bears, appeal to children and could be accidentally ingested. But the strong sales numbers will likely make it harder to convince the industry to back such limitations.

campaign watch
9:27 a.m. ET

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's political action committee released a new ad on Friday that aims to set him apart from a crowded 2016 presidential field.

"There's only one individual that's ever had the uniform of this country on, and that's me. And that matters," Perry says in the ad.

Perry joined the U.S. Air Force as a pilot in 1974, leaving with the rank of captain three years later — "He never served in a combat zone," Politico notes.

Perry's ad aired after he spoke about the need for a more aggressive foreign policy at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, saying that, "ISIS represents the worst threat to freedom since communism."

Watch the full ad, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

See More Speed Reads