Mad Minute stories from Monday, November 30th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Monday, November 30th

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- When Donnie Walters took son Zeke to have his picture taken with Santa Claus, the 6-month-old boy couldn't stay awake while they waited in line.
So Santa obliged Walters and posed asleep with the snoozing child resting on his belly.
Walters posted the photos of the sleeping pair on Facebook. The photos taken Nov. 25 at Evansville's Eastland Mall and posted the following day have been liked 371,000 times and shared more than 195,000.
Walters tells USA Today that "everyone has been very kind." He says most comments referred to how much the pictures have brightened people's day.

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YORK, Pa. (AP) -- Emergency workers in Pennsylvania got an unpleasant surprise when they wheeled a patient out of a home to their ambulance, only to find it wasn't there.
Police in York tell the York Dispatch 21-year-old Leonard Eugene Smith took the vehicle for a joy ride Friday before ditching it. They say an in-vehicle camera captured his actions and a tracking device led them to the ambulance.
Jim Arvin, president and CEO of White Rose Ambulance, says the video shows Smith "having a good time" behind the wheel, adding he "seemed excited."
Smith is charged with felony theft and a misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person. He's jailed on $75,000 bail.
The patient, who was having breathing problems, got to the hospital without much delay after another ambulance was called.

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SWETT, S.D. (AP) -- The southwestern South Dakota ghost town of Swett is once again for sale, and this time the asking price is a lot cheaper.
Swett is home to about 6 acres of land, an empty house reputed to be haunted and a closed bar. It first went on the market in June 2014, for $399,000. It generated interest around the world, but the three written offers fell through for various reasons.
Real estate agent Stacie Montgomery told the Rapid City Journal that she's put the town southeast of Rapid City back on the market, at a reduced price of $250,000. The tract was cleaned up, with three decaying mobile homes and an aging transport truck removed.
Swett isn't the only town in the area put up for sale in recent years. In 2011, a Philippines-based church bought most of the town of Scenic, paying $700,000.
Montgomery said when Swett went on the market last year, she got hundreds of emails and calls from prospects as far away as China, Russia and Australia. She said she got several verbal offers in addition to the written ones.
Those who showed interest in buying the town included people who wanted to be mayor or live off-grid, and production companies considering reality shows, Montgomery said.
One pitch, Montgomery said, was from a Nebraska man who wanted to bring in 2,000 women from Russia and 600 men who are felons, build houses and run cameras nonstop.
Montgomery still gets phone calls about the town, she said.
"It's been a year and a half and people still want to know about Swett," Montgomery said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A resident of New York's capital city has an unusual economic development plan to harness what he says is one of Albany's most abundant renewable resources: political corruption.
For a $12.50 or so "bribe," visitors to the planned Museum of Political Corruption will get a tour of the state's long history of crooked politicians, shady deals and backroom power brokers, as well as a chance to learn about individuals who have fought corruption and suggested solutions to the state's chronic problem.
The museum is the idea of Bruce Roter, a professor at Albany's College of Saint Rose, who is now raising money for the museum, which he envisions as both an educational institution and a tourist destination that focuses on the state Capitol's reputation for corruption.
"Let's use it as a resource. ... The attention is already there," Roter said. "If we can get ahead of the late-night punchlines."
That the recently disgraced leaders of the New York Senate and Assembly are now on federal trial, accused of selling their mighty influence and lying about it, doesn't make this a particularly ripe time, Roter said. He recalled a century-old newspaper story by muckraker Nellie Bly reporting she was able to kill a random piece of state legislation by paying $1,250.
Roter has been working on the project for two years after talking over coffee with Kathy Sheehan, who has since become mayor of Albany. The question came up: What Albany resource could yield tourism revenue? Corruption fit the bill and has a certain advantage: "It's a renewable resource," he said.
Roter has already established a nonprofit museum organization with a website, mugs for sale and some heavies from the academic and museum worlds on its boards of directors and advisers. They include Philip Mark Plotch, political science professor at Saint Peter's University, and Zephyr Teachout, Fordham law professor and former gubernatorial candidate. Roter, a classical composer who has written compositions inspired by the Camp David Peace Accord, former New York Gov. and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and the first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is president.
Now the serious fundraising begins. He's keeping close to the vest what's come in so far. But Roter believes he can get a brick-and-mortar museum running in about four years, including what he intends to call the "cozy crony cafe." It could launch sooner with an interim, mobile museum exhibit.
It's meant to be satirical and entertaining, but grounded in the rigors of research, education and museum science. Roter sees school groups visiting.
The legendary Boss Tweed and a certain Mr. Phelps, who engineered Bly's bill spiking for cash, are likely to be featured. He has already obtained vintage political cartoons from the late 1800s from the periodicals Harper's Weekly and Puck.
For the current crop of officials, entry is neither certain nor immediate. Like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, there will be a waiting period before someone can be added. Roter noted that former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who resigned while under federal investigation, was first convicted, appealed and later acquitted of two charges that he sold his official influence for money.
Since news of the project was first reported, Roter says he's received nods of support from Republicans and Democrats and no pushback so far.
Sheehan said there is much the public could learn from Albany's checkered past, as long as it is presented as a "cautionary tale" and not glorified. She said Albany as a whole has been unfairly judged by the actions of corrupt state leaders.
"The frustrating thing for me is when Albany is used as a synonym for corruption or dysfunction," she said. "Because there are those of us who live here, who say, 'wait a minute, this is a great city.'"

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco Police are asking for help leading to those chaining up spiked baseball bats to poles throughout the city.
San Francisco Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak says officers first received reports of wooden or metal baseball bats appearing on poles and parking meters in the city on Thanksgiving morning.
Andraychak says 27 bats with spikes running through them have been found since then. The latest discovery was Friday in the Fishermen's Wharf area.
Andraychak says the spikes on the objects allow them to be considered a prohibited or deadly weapon, which is a felony.
Investigators ask anyone with more information to call them.

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A bust of Abraham Lincoln that was stolen from outside a museum near where he delivered the Gettysburg Address has been found.
Hall of Presidents and First Ladies Museum manager Rose Little says the bust was found in a nearby cemetery's bushes by some out-of-state visitors on Friday.
She tells the Gettysburg Times the visitors called the museum to report the discovery and delivered the bust to her.
Rose says it appears to be in good shape, with just a bit of mud caked on it.
She says the museum will clean it and "put President Lincoln back up on the pedestal where he belongs."
The bust was stolen sometime between Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, and just days after the city celebrated the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19.

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A Yorkiepoo puppy certainly has an unusual appetite. The 1-year-old dog named Boogie ate 10 hearing aid batteries, after tearing through the packaging. 
The owners, Cathy and Jim Bernard say their puppy has eaten unusual things before. At one point the 7 pound pup had to be treated for eating too much popcorn. 
This time though, they rushed the dog to the North Houston Veterinary Specialists in Willowbrook, Texas, where the vets took an X-ray and confirmed what had happened.
The doctors went in for surgery and successfully took that batteries out of Boogie's stomach. A few days later, the dog was released. He's now at home, recovering.

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A man in Sarasota, Florida is showing his support for presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. 
Frank Murray, who has previously been accused of animal abuse, decided to paint "TRUMP MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" on the side of one of his Asian elephants, and then brought the animal to a rally. 
Murray is a circus elephant exhibitor, and he decided to "donate" his elephants time for the event. 
He owns the company "Elephant Walk," and rents elephants out across the country for different fairs and circuses. 

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- An Australian set his third Christmas-themed world record in as many years Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights.
Guinness World Records confirmed that David Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. That 36-meter (118-foot) Japanese tree had set a new benchmark of 374,280 lights this month.
Richards, a Canberra lawyer and businessman, brought together a team of volunteers including an electrical engineer, structural engineer, welders, carpenters, masons and steel fixers to erect the dazzling display on a 22-meter (72-foot) steel tree.
Richards creates such Christmas extravaganzas to raise money for Canberra's Sudden Infant Death Syndrome charity, SIDS and Kids, by drawing large crowds and inviting them to donate.
"Some people say I've got quite a knack for getting people to do things for nothing," Richards said.
"I get people to do things for nothing because they know that I do things for nothing and I'm contributing my own money, resources, time and effort as well - so maybe they feel sorry for me," he added.
He set his first Guinness World Record in 2013 for the most lights on a residential property by covering his suburban home with 502,165 bulbs.
Traffic snarls in his neighborhood created by 75,000 sightseers who visited the display over four weeks made it difficult for his family to get to and from their home and irritated some neighbors. So Richards promised never to try to better that record.
He set his second record a year ago by stringing up 1,194,380 LED lights in a public space. The 120 kilometers (75 miles) of multicolored wire woven in the shape of three interconnected giant, wrapped Christmas gifts in a Canberra mall was the largest ever image made of LED lights.
But records tumble fast in the competitive world of light displays. Richards' 2014 record was smashed in June at a hotel in Myoko, Japan, by an image of a dragon comprising 1,529,103 lights.
His 2013 record for lights at home was beaten within days by a family in LaGrangeville, New York, that decorated their home with 601,736 Christmas lights, reclaiming their 2012 record.

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Police in Bavaria, Germany have revealed their new protective gear, which looks strangely familiar if you've seen the movie "Spaceballs."
Some people think the new helmets look like the one worn by Darth Vader in Star Wars, but other say they look much more like Dark Helmet from the 1987 parody movie. 
The gear has ceramic composite plates and a titanium helmet, which is supposed to be bullet proof. 
But while it can protect from gunshots, it can't protect from mockery. 

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