Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 14th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 14th

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Law enforcement officials say a passenger arriving at New York's Kennedy Airport had 11 pounds of liquid cocaine packed into oil and vinegar bottles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the cocaine was found Oct. 5 when Andres Josue Leal Valle (ahn-DREHS' ho-SWAY' lay-AHL' VAH'-yay) arrived with three suitcases and a carry-on bag.
Agents say they opened bottles of oil and vinegar in Leal Valle's luggage and detected an unusual chemical odor.
Customs officials say the liquid in six bottles tested positive for cocaine. They say the total weight of the cocaine was 11 pounds and the street value was $194,000.
The case is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
No information on an attorney for Leal Valle was immediately available.
Leal Valle is a citizen of Guatemala.

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A union and workers are complaining about unhealthy working conditions at an unlikely place: the offices of a Pennsylvania county health department.
WPXI-TV reports that the Service Employees International Union Local 668 says the Allegheny County Health Department facilities in Pittsburgh have problems with mold and asbestos.
The health department has issued a statement saying it's "working proactively to address decades of deferred maintenance" on the county-owned buildings, including a clinic.
Workers say they've been told the health department will decide in December whether to renovate or sell the buildings, but they've already worked too long exposed to the health hazards.
Employee Dawn Back tells the station she's worked there since 1999 and "They've been telling us since then they're going to move us to a better building."

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LINCOLN CITY, Ore. (AP) -- A Subway customer says he found a dead mouse in a sandwich at a restaurant on the Oregon coast.
Matt Jones says spotting the mouse at the Lincoln City restaurant last week was the funniest thing he ever saw - and the most disgusting.
He tells Portland's KGW-TV his friend Jay ordered an Italian sub and wanted spinach. The employee scraped some from the bottom of a bin and plopped it on the bread. There was shock on both sides of the counter.
"I laughed because I was like, there is no way this just happened," Jones said.
Cheryl Connell, director of Lincoln County Health and Human Services, said a health inspector quickly went to the restaurant. The investigator studied the dead rodent and the bin from which it came before searching the entire restaurant for any sign of contamination or droppings.
"The investigation determined that the rodent problem did not come from inside the facility," Connell said. "It was probably in a bag of the bagged spinach product," Connell said.
Subway declined to identify the spinach supplier, saying it is proprietary information. In a statement, the company said the restaurant was thoroughly cleaned and the customer given a refund.
Connell said health inspectors consulted with doctors and decided that, though unappetizing, the dead mouse was unlikely to have sickened anyone who had spinach from the same bag.

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BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Park officials are warning of an aggressive owl that is believed to have attacked runners on a popular trail in Bethesda, a Maryland suburb of the nation's capital.
At least three runners on the Capital Crescent Trail have reported being attacked by a large bird, one of them identified as a barred owl. The attacks occurred after nightfall or before dawn in the past two weeks. Officials say the runners suffered only minor scratches when the bird swooped down on their heads from behind.
Montgomery Parks spokeswoman Melissa Chotiner says barred owls are typically active at night and are territorial. She suggests making noise as an owl approaches and tucking in any ponytails.
Park staff put signs up on the trail Tuesday reading, "Caution! An aggressive owl lives here!"

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal officials say a plane carrying 78 people was forced to abort a takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport when a car made a wrong turn onto a runway.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the incident shortly before noon Tuesday involved a Compass Airlines twin-engine jet bound for Kansas City.
The Los Angeles Times reports an alarm sounded in the control tower when a worker driving an airport vehicle mistakenly turned onto the runway from a taxiway.
After air traffic control canceled the takeoff, the pilot applied the brakes and pulled off the runway after traveling a few thousand feet.
No injuries were reported.
The newspaper says the jet and car were apparently several thousand feet apart when the airliner came to a stop.

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LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) - A man thought driving a van loaded with ammunition over a garbage fire in western Missouri would be a good way to extinguish the blaze.
He was wrong.
Clay County Sheriff's spokesman Jon Bazzano told The Kansas City Star a deputy saw a van burning in a field outside Liberty on Tuesday and heard live ammunition going off. The deputy also found the vehicle owner nearby watching the fire.
The owner had been burning garbage when the fire got out of control. He tried to put the fire out by driving the van over the flames, but the van tires ignited, sending him scurrying because his vehicle was loaded with firearms ammunition and a tank of gas.
Firefighters controlled the fire. The man wasn't immediately cited for any violations.

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(AP) A former meerkat expert at London Zoo has been ordered to pay compensation to a monkey handler she attacked with a wine glass in a love spat over a llama-keeper.
A judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court said Wednesday that Caroline Westlake must pay 800 pounds ($1,235) to Kate Sanders for assaulting her in a dispute over colleague Adam Davies, who had dated both women.
Judge Jeremy Colman also sentenced 30-year-old Westlake to 12 months community service for assault.
The judge said Sanders had suffered a "nasty" face injury in the fracas at a zoo Christmas party on Dec. 8.
Westlake had claimed that Sanders punched her first, and said she did not remember hitting her colleague with the glass.
She was fired by the zoo after the incident.

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BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) -- Students got a first-hand lesson in wildlife biology at a Bozeman, Montana, high school when a black bear wandered through the hallway before the start of classes.
Superintendent Rob Watson says members of the booster club were meeting in a cafeteria at about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday when a bear was spotted on the football field. The bear walked into the school courtyard and then through a garage door and down a long, locker-lined hall.
A Gallatin County sheriff's deputy who is in the booster club kept an eye on the bear, which stayed in the school for a few minutes before a police officer was able to usher it out.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Andrea Jones says agency workers responded, but had not located the bear.
No one was injured.

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MCKEESPORT, Pa. (AP) - A prisoner shackled to a hospital bed and guarded by a deputy somehow obtained a key to his handcuffs and used a nurse as an obstacle as he hopped off a gurney and escaped, the county's chief deputy sheriff said Tuesday.
Allegheny County Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said investigators were still trying to determine exactly how Alexander Erb, 26, of Glassport, escaped from UPMC McKeesport hospital and eluded authorities for more than 16 hours Monday.
Glassport police first arrested Erb after a domestic dispute, then took him to the hospital about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh for treatment.
Erb escaped at about 1 a.m. Monday and wasn't rearrested until about 5:30 p.m., when authorities found him in a residence about 2 miles away, hiding under a bed with a 16-year-old girl, Kraus said. Authorities haven't said how Erb knew her.
"There was a nurse in his room and he was able to unlock part of the shackle connected to the bed under his covers," Kraus told The Associated Press.
Erb then asked the nurse to adjust the thermostat, putting her in the deputy's path, according to a criminal complaint charging Erb with escape, resisting arrest and possessing an instrument of crime - the key.
Erb waited until the nurse was between the deputy and the door of his hospital room before jumping off the bed and running away, Kraus said.
The key Erb had was made of a composite material and smaller than the metal keys used by county deputies, so they know it wasn't stolen from a law officer, Kraus said, but they still don't know where or how he got it.
"It was a universal key for those types of restraints," Kraus said.
The sheriff's deputy was guarding Erb because he was wanted on an arrest warrant in another jurisdiction and was supposed to be transferred once he was discharged.
Kraus called the escape "unacceptable" and said investigators need to determine how it occurred so it doesn't happen again.
Online court records don't list an attorney for Erb.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A federal appeals court is again weighing the fate of 10 rare gold coins possibly worth $80 million or more that the government says were illegally taken from a Philadelphia mint and wound up in a jeweler's hands.
A lawyer for jeweler Israel Switt's heirs told the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that authorities gave up any right to the coins when they failed to respond to the family's seized-property claim within 90 days.
The Treasury Department insists the $20 Double Eagles were stolen from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia before the 1933 series was melted down when the country went off the gold standard.
They argued the heirs, Joan Langbord and her sons, cannot lawfully own the coins, which she said she found in a family bank deposit box in 2003. The government regained possession of the coins when the family brought them to the Secret Service to be authenticated.
So far in the decade-long battle, both sides have been declared winners.
In 2009, a judge ruled that the government improperly seized the coins and denied the family due process when officials at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia decided to keep them after the family asked that they be authenticated. Two years later, a jury found the seizure had been legal because the coins hadn't been circulated and must therefore have been stolen.
A three-judge appellate court flipped the result again in April, ruling 2-1 in favor of Switt's family.
Federal prosecutors then asked for another shot before the full appeals court, leading to Wednesday's hearing. No timetable for a ruling was given.
The coins are being held at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for safekeeping.
The Mint struck nearly a half-million of the Double Eagles in Philadelphia in 1933 but never released them. They were melted into gold bars after President Franklin D. Roosevelt abandoned the gold standard.
Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the Double Eagle with a flying eagle on one side and a figure representing liberty on the other.
One Double Eagle, once owned by King Farouk of Egypt, sold in 2002 for $7.6 million, then a record for a coin. Its later owner, a London coin dealer once jailed by the U.S. over it, split the proceeds with the U.S. Langbord lawyer Barry Berke brokered that deal.
The Langbords offered the government a similar split but were rebuffed.
 

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