The entire country is a-twitter with news that a hot-dog stand owner outside of Raleigh has discovered the image of Jesus in a telephone pole overtaken by kudzu. A number of news outlets have carried the story, turning the Kudzu Jesus into an overnight sensation.Oddly enough, this isn’t the first Kudzu Jesus to be found in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2009, believers spotted a similar structure just outside of downtown. The double-sighting is a bit worrisome. I’ll have to check my scripture, but I think that means this latest Kudzu Jesus is actually the Kudzu Jesus Second Coming, which would kick off the End of Days. Is it simply a coincidence that the Kudzu Jesus Second Coming is spotted within months of the proposed apocalypse (set for some time in October, I believe)?As all good Southerners know, kudzu will somehow play a role in the end of the world. Ever since kudzu was introduced in the ‘30s, it has been slowly trying to take over the Land of Dixie. It’s like a really slow version of eminent domain. After humans are long gone, planet Earth will be overrun by cockroaches and kudzu.But fret not, apocalypse-fearing Southerners. The Kudzu Jesus has been debunked! Yes, the plant/pole looks like Jesus, but it’s not real kudzu. It’s trumpet vine, a cheap kudzu look-a-like, according to some local folks who can tell the different between kudzu and trumpet vine. Given that this is the first reported sighting of a Trumpet Vine Jesus, I don’t think we have much to worry about. Although, I do foresee a few goth-rock bands adopting the name Kudzu Jesus in the near future.
Statewide—Duke Energy has increased its winter assistance funding for qualifying Indiana customers who may struggle to pay their winter energy bills.The company is contributing $650,000 for low-income customer energy assistance through its Helping Hand program this year. In addition, Duke Energy Indiana customers and employees have contributed more than $96,000 through November, and more is expected in December, raising this year’s total energy assistance to approximately $750,000. A portion of the company’s funding is the result of an agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.“We know the winter months can be a hardship for some, and each year our shareholders and customers contribute to help families and individuals who may be struggling to pay their winter energy bills,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Stan Pinegar. “This year, to reach more customers in need, we are increasing our shareholder contribution by $150,000. Last year, we were able to help more than 3,700 Hoosiers who needed assistance in paying their electricity bills.”Duke Energy works with the Indiana Community Action Association and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Energy Assistance Program, which determines eligibility and distributes the company’s assistance funds.“Our clients are most vulnerable during the winter, and no one should be left in the cold,” said Elaine Zeider, manager of Family Services for the Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services. “For years we’ve used Duke Energy’s Helping Hand funds to keep Hoosiers warm and relieve some of the stress of winter bills.”For more information on the Helping Hand program, including eligibility for funds, participating agencies and how to make a donation, visit duke-energy.com/community/customer-assistance-programs/helping-hand.Winter Energy Saving TipsReduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting when home, and bump the thermostat down a degree or two when leaving home.One of the easiest things customers can do to support heating efficiency is to change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, whichuses more energy.Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun’s rays to warm the house, but close them at night to help insulate your home.For more information on how to cut costs and stay warm this winter, visit duke-energy.com/home/savings/winter-heating-energy-savings. Duke Energy also offers energy efficiency products, services and information to help customers save energy and money. For more information, visit duke-energy.com.
Loughlin has agreed to serve two months behind bars and Giannulli has accepted a five-month sentence under the deal, which must be approved by the judge. They will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of money laundering and federal programs bribery that were added after the case was filed. An attorney for the couple declined to comment.Loughlin and Giannulli were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits.,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 May 21, 2020 Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditMLB-NEWSUnion makes counterproposal to ownersUNDATED (AP) — The Major League Baseball Players Association has given management a wide-ranging response to a 67-page proposed set of protocols for a season to be played during the coronavirus pandemic. In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:— Some Louisville football and basketball players will return to campus Wednesday in a phased approach and begin voluntary workouts in early June. The first phase of 30 football players and 15 men’s and women’s basketball players will arrive next week after being instructed on safety protocols. Testing and physicals will begin June 3, with voluntary training not directed by coaching staffs to begin five days later.— Indiana University hopes to have some student-athletes back by mid-June. President Michael McRobbie posted a 22-page plan on his web site to reopen the university in stages, which includes the return of at least a percentage of all students this fall. The release comes one day after the NCAA approved a measure to lift the moratorium on voluntary workouts for football and men’s and women’s basketball players.— East Carolina University is eliminating its men’s and women’s tennis and swimming and diving programs to help reduce a $4.9 million budget deficit created by the pandemic. The move affects 68 student-athletes and nine coaches and reduces ECU’s sponsored sports from 20 to 16, including nine for women. The NCAA requires Division I FBS schools to carry minimums of 16 sports, eight for women.— IndyCar has altered its schedule again amid the coronavirus pandemic, cancelling the June 27 race at Richmond and the July 12 street course event in Toronto. The open-wheel series is slated to finally begin June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, but its next event won’t be held until July 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race scheduled for June 21 at Road America in Wisconsin has been changed to a doubleheader on July 11-12. — Tom Brady’s journey to each of his nine Super Bowls with the New England Patriots will be the subject of an ESPN series released in 2021. Titled “The Man in the Arena: Tom Brady,” the nine-episode series will include a look from Brady’s perspective at his six NFL titles and three Super Bowl defeats.VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTSBoxing aims for June 9 return in Las VegasUNDATED (AP) — Add boxing to the list of sports on the comeback trail. Promoter Bob Arum says he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of fights over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel. A second fight card will be held two nights later, kicking off twice weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.No fans will be allowed, and Arum said fighters and everyone else will be tested at least twice during fight week for the new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets next week to consider the events along with two cards that UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas. They are also pending the reopening of the MGM and other Las Vegas hotels. Associated Press — English soccer club Manchester United says it believes it will miss out on $24 million because the Premier League will have to make refunds to broadcasters even if the season is completed. The league is in talks with its rights holders about rebates because of delays and changes to the broadcasting schedule. Empty stadiums will also change the TV product. The rebates will vary based on the final position in the standings and the number of games aired live.— Swimming’s governing body has postponed the short course world championships for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. FINA (FEE’-nuh) says the championships scheduled for December in Abu Dhabi will now be staged Dec. 13-18, 2021, in the United Arab Emirates because of the “the uncertainty related with the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.”VANDERBILT-ATHLETIC DIRECTORVanderbilt’s Lee becomes 1st black woman AD in SECNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt has removed the interim title and made Candice Storey Lee the first woman to run a Southeastern Conference athletics program. The union says it addressed protections for high-risk players, access to pre- and postgame therapies, testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel and sanitization procedures.Players viewed many of the concepts in the original draft submitted last week as over-the-top, such as arriving in uniform at the ballparks, a prohibition on them leaving without team permission and a ban on guests other than immediate family members.Players also objected to a ban on the use of showers and hydrotherapy.The union wants more frequent testing than management’s proposed “multiple times per week.”MLB is expected to make an economic proposal to the union within a few days. — Golf Digest is reporting the European Tour hopes to resume its season in England the first weekend in August as part of a four-tournament “bubble” in the UK. The magazine cited sources as saying the British Masters would be followed by two tournaments in England and one in Wales at Celtic Manor for 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in prize money. The European Tour has postponed nine tournaments and canceled eight others on its schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a memo, the European Tour says priority rankings will stay the same for 2021 and there will not be Q-school.— Little League has released a set of “best practice” guidelines it believes would allow baseball and softball to be played safely after local authorities give the groups the all-clear to return to play. The recommendations include eliminating all non-essential contact and banning the postgame handshake line in favor of lining up along the respective baselines and tipping your cap to the opponent. All players should wear masks while in the dugout and coaches and volunteers should wear masks and protective medical gloves at all times.— Horse racing’s National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has canceled its induction ceremony in August because of health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hall of Fame ceremony was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7. This year’s class will be inducted with next year’s group.— Tokyo Olympic organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto spoke Thursday about the need to take “countermeasures” to combat the coronavirus at next year’s postponed games. Muto acknowledged in an online news conference that “there are some in Japan” talking about holding the games without fans. Muto did not say this was going to happen.— German soccer club Dynamo Dresden has reported another case of coronavirus. The already quarantined second-division club has now had four players test positive. Dresden says on its website that another “category one” close contact of its coaching staff has also tested positive for COVID-19. Dresden’s entire team was ordered by local health authorities into 14 days of quarantine on May 9 after two players tested positive. Also around the majors:— The Cubs and Pirates are making tough financial decisions concerning their front office staff with the major league season still on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. A person with direct knowledge of the situation says the Cubs are instituting pay cuts based on compensation, but there will be no furloughs through the end of June. The Pirates announced today that they are instituting furloughs for several employees in business operations beginning on June 1. The Cardinals and Twins have informed their employees there won’t be any pays cuts or furloughs through the end of JuneNFL-NEWSNFL looks at adding “booth umpire” and tech adviser for refsUNDATED (AP) — The NFL is considering adding a “booth umpire” and a senior technology adviser to the referee to assist the officiating crew. Update on the latest sports The league also is looking at other rules changes, including an alternative to the onside kick.NFL clubs received a list of potential rules changes on Thursday. Owners will vote on the proposals at the upcoming league meeting to be held by video conference on May 28. If owners don’t approve adding a booth umpire and/or a senior technology adviser, the league could test a version of both rules in the preseason for possible future implementation.The proposal that would give teams another option instead of an onside kick permits a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play. The kicking team would attempt a fourth-and-15 from its 25-yard line. This could be done a maximum of two times per game. Onside kicks have become infrequent and rarely successful since the NFL changed rules on alignments for kickoffs.In other NFL news:— An NFL player is suing United Airlines, saying he was harassed and sexually assaulted by an intoxicated female passenger on a red-eye flight in February. The player said in a lawsuit that soon after boarding the cross-country flight, a woman sitting in the same row confronted him over a face mask that he was wearing as protection against the coronavirus. The player says the woman confronted him over his face mask, ripped off the mask and groped him. The NFL player and a companion who joined the lawsuit were not named. United confirms there was some sort of incident and a passenger was moved to a different seat but says it won’t comment further. Lee is one of only five women and the second black woman in charge of a Power Five program. Incoming chancellor Daniel Diermeier said Lee is the “living embodiment” of the university’s values and aspirations.The 41-year-old Lee is a former Commodores basketball captain. She took over as interim athletic director on Feb. 4 when Malcolm Turner resigned after one year on the job.COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERYLoughlin, Giannulli to serve prison time for college scamBOSTON (AP) — Court papers show actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have agreed to plead guilty to charges that will include prison time in the college admissions bribery case.