Facts Matter: Precious stones are not dropping from the sky

  • A widely shared social media post claimed the Kilauea volcano was causing it to "literally rain gems." But scientists say that's not the case.

    A widely shared social media post claimed the Kilauea volcano was causing it to "literally rain gems." But scientists say that's not the case.

  • Snopes says it didn't happen, though a social media post claiming a child was expelled for dressing like President Donald Trump still got a lot of views.

    Snopes says it didn't happen, though a social media post claiming a child was expelled for dressing like President Donald Trump still got a lot of views.

 
 
Updated 6/30/2018 5:28 PM

The Hawaiian islands offer beautiful beaches and tropical vegetation. But you won't find semiprecious crystals falling from the sky.

Olivine, a common mineral formed underground and found in lava, has been brought to the surface during the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, according to USA Today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It is literally raining gems," Tucson meteorologist Erin Jordan said on Twitter. She included a photo sent by a friend living in Kalapana, Hawaii, near areas where lava fissures have opened since May, the newspaper said earlier this month.

Not so fast.

USA Today corrected the article last week after The Associated Press reported, "The story of the green crystals falling from the sky turned out to be totally false."

According to AP, most of the reports were based on Jordan's social media post. Cheryl Gansecki, a geologist at the University of Hawaii's Hilo campus, told the AP that olivine raining from the sky would be in "clumps of lava" and the minerals do not separate from the lava by themselves.

Mini Trump post fake

The Last Line of Defense on Monday posted a picture of a 6-year-old boy and claimed the youngster was expelled from school because he dressed as President Donald Trump for Superhero Day.

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The post was fake and The Last Line of Defense is a page that publishes memes in an attempt to troll its viewers, according to Snopes.com.

The photo shows the boy made up to look like the president, sporting bushy orange hair, a red tie and a "Trump" button. The meme states, "For 'Superhero Day' at Fresno's Rodman Piper Elementary School, 6-year-old Basil Karlo dressed as President Donald Trump. He was sent home immediately, and later, expelled."

Basil Karlo is the alias of Batman villain Clayface in the DC comics.

The photo has been around since 2015, Snopes said, and was included in a Huffington Post story featuring children in Trump costumes who would "make Halloween great again."

No free flights

An offer recently showed up on social media claiming Delta airlines is giving away free flight tickets to commemorate its 93rd anniversary. Other offers claim the giveaway is celebrating 94 years in business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo told The Associated Press the offer is fake and the company will mark 89 years in business this month.

Users interested in the deal were linked to a survey that must be filed out to receive the free tickets. The site appears to be a Delta boarding pass and at the end of the survey users are asked to share it.

A similar false offer for free tickets appeared online in 2017, the AP said.

Gator sighting a prank

A video of a man saving his friend from an alligator attack is real, but the reptile is fake.

Earlier this month footage of a man swimming away from an alligator as another man crashes down on the approaching predator with an elbow drop received millions of views on social media, according to Snopes.com.

The courageous rescue attempt was just part of a longer YouTube video posted by prankster Jay Karl titled "Hidden Camera & Practical Jokes." Karl begins the presentation by describing his prop: a floating alligator head decoy fitted over a remote control toy boat.

The video contains a variety of kayakers and swimmers desperately trying to outrun the "alligator" until they see Karl on the shore, operating the remote control.

False Craigslist ad leads to arrest

A Utah man who posted a fake Craigslist ad seeking women to help in developing a new medical device is charged with sexual abuse.

Borzin Mottaghian, 34, is heading to trial in December after pleading not guilty to 17 felony charges, <URL destination="https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/provo-restaurateur-pleads-not-guilty-to-charges-including-object-rape/article_34166fca-a8c5-5500-b6af-b7be635a9d46.html">according to the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah.

</URL>Mottaghian, a former restaurant owner, is accused of posing as a medical examiner offering women $200 for their help in conducting "anatomy research" to develop the device.

Women who met with Mottaghian were told to sign a nondisclosure form and undress before he sexually abused them under the pretense of an examination, the Provo Daily Herald reports.

Two of the women went to police. A female undercover officer set up an appointment with Mottaghian. He told the detective he was a doctor conducting medical research and what the examination would include. That's when he was arrested by Utah County sheriff's deputies.

Mottaghian does not hold any medical certification, according to the report.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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