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By United Press International  |  June 25, 2007 at 6:30 AM
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Church of England offers 'Simpsons' advice

CANTERBURY, England, June 25 (UPI) -- The Church of England is trying to reach today's youth with a new book from a most unusual source: the edgy U.S. animated TV staple "The Simpsons."

A book called "Mixing it up with 'The Simpsons'" will be sent to youth advisers across the nation to give them a modern example of the church's teachings in a more entertaining format, The Sunday Telegraph said.

The book offers tips on such things as determining whether teens can resist temptation, by showing them a plate of doughnuts labeled "don't touch."

The book compares Christians' patient wait for the return of Jesus Christ to the antsy nature Bart Simpson displays toward an upcoming "Krusty the Clown" show.

The Rev. John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, said the book's message has support from many within the Church of England.

"Jesus was a great storyteller -- as are the creators of 'The Simpsons,'" he said, "and the power of a good story lies in meeting people where they are, making them laugh and then giving them something to think about afterwards."

Santa is already preparing for Christmas

DALLAS, June 25 (UPI) -- It was Christmas during the weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, as mall Santas brushed up on their skills in two days of Santa classes.

Tim Connaghan, or "Santa Tim," leads the seminar, in which future mall Santas learn the dos and don'ts of the modern Santa, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"Behind the Red Suit -- the Business of Santa" offers tips for etiquette, like toning down a booming "ho ho ho" when small children are around. Also, Connaghan advises Santas never to correct, reprimand or deny a child.

The seminar also offers tips on how to get around modern obstacles like the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Seasons Greetings" controversy -- which has become a stickier issue as U.S. culture has become more ethnically diverse.

"Here's my best advice," Connaghan told the newspaper. "If someone says 'Merry Christmas' to you, say it back to them. Otherwise, say 'Season's greetings' or 'Happy holidays.'"

Sixteen Santas -- and even a few Mrs. Clauses -- attended Connaghan's seminar, which he calls the International University of Santa.

Tobacco trumps health concerns at rodeo

GREELEY, Colo., June 25 (UPI) -- Health workers scrapped plans to distribute tobacco education literature at a rodeo show in Greeley, Colo., after accusations that such action is anti-rodeo.

The Weld County Health Department was accused of being anti-rodeo because one of the event's sponsors is the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which represents brands such as Skoal and Copenhagen.

The company usually sets up a trailer inside the gates where it hands out free cans of chewing tobacco. In return, the rodeo gets a scoreboard and staff, The Rocky Mountain News reported.

Although health officials scrapped plans for the weekend anti-tobacco education effort, activists in the area plan similar moves for next year's rodeo in Greeley.

Nationally, less than 4 percent of males ages 18-24 chew tobacco. However, in Weld County, the number is as high as 15 percent, the newspaper said.

New York student suing to overcome an 'F'

NEW YORK, June 25 (UPI) -- A 27-year-old man is suing New York's Columbia University for a failing grade he received on a recent exam, alleging school officials acted unfairly.

Nicholas Perrino said he was forced to miss an exam when his grandparents became ill. He is suing the Ivy League school to regain entry to its School of Nursing, The New York Post reported.

The Illinois native said that while he spoke to his professors about his absence, he returned from caring for his relatives to find he had failed the test and been cut from his degree program.

Perrino said school officials then rejected his academic grievances and appeals in the matter.

"It's insane," he said. "It's not like I killed someone."

As part of his Manhattan Supreme Court suit, Perrino is seeking to have the failing grade expunged from his record. He also wants to be reinstated at the university and receive tuition reimbursement for previous classes.

A school spokesman would not comment on the matter due to privacy regulations, the Post said.

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