Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, March 16th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, March 16th

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A veterinarian helped save the life of an ailing New Mexico dog after discovering the source of the pup's pain - a 6-inch long, 2-inch wide stuffed polar bear.
Santa Fe Animal Humane officials told KRQE-TV in Albuquerque that the bear was discovered in the dog's stomach during surgery.
A veterinarian said the dog named "Honey" had been sick for about a week and would have likely died within two days.
The dog is now expected to survive.

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FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- The North Dakota Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who was tried last year on a 20-year-old drunken driving charge.
Jason Gale was arrested for drunken driving in 1995 in Grand Forks but wasn't called to court until last July, when a jury found him guilty. Gale's attorney, Scott Brand, argued to justices in December that the delay violated Gale's right to a speedy trial.
"The government was clearly negligent. It's 20 years, memories are going to fade and that was obvious at the trial," Brand told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "The officer just memorized his report. He didn't have any independent recollection as to what happened on that night."
Grand Forks city prosecutor Kristi Pettit Venhuizen did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
The opinion released late Tuesday said justices can't presume that a 20-year-old case was "diligently prosecuted when there is no evidence of any prosecution at all" and that two decades is an unprecedented amount of time for a DUI case to remain idle.
"I have never seen a case like this in my life or even so much heard of one," Brand said.
Venhuizen had argued that Gale made a concerted effort to avoid prosecution and that there was ample evidence to pursue the case. But Brand said Gale moved to Colorado shortly after the DUI arrest and was told by his previous lawyer that he would settle the case in Gale's absence. Later, Gale was involved in separate court cases in two North Dakota counties and authorities failed to flag the outstanding warrant.
Venhuizen said the city sent Gale three notices two decades ago telling him the case was not settled. Gale said he wasn't aware of the warrant until he discovered it while applying for a job earlier this year. A judge rejected his request to dismiss the case and it went to trial. Gale lost and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
"This shows that justice may not be swift," Brand said, "but it will come when the right case presents itself."

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SPRINGFIELD, Mich. (AP) -- A murder of crows? Dozens of dead birds have been found along railroad tracks in southern Michigan, and wildlife officials are trying to figure out what happened to them.
Some area residents estimated there could be as many as 300 carcasses stretching at least 200 yards along the tracks, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. They were discovered Tuesday in Springfield, southeast of Grand Rapids.
A Calhoun County official found 57 dead crows along the tracks Tuesday, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Tom Cooley told The Associated Press. Two birds were found to have fractures and may have been struck by a train, Cooley said.
Several dozen crows were found dead near tracks in the same general area last month. About half a dozen were looked at and determined to have been killed by a passing train, he said.
Birds are susceptible to the weather, especially windy or stormy conditions, according to Cooley.
"With these, there's got to be something in that general area that makes them prone to be struck," he said.
The livers of the two birds brought to Lansing on Tuesday will be tested to see if pesticides played a role in their deaths.

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EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- A New York college that went on lockdown over a report of a gun on campus says the weapon turned out to be a light saber.
Students and staff members at Farmingdale State College on Long Island were told to shelter in place Wednesday while police investigated a report that someone was assembling a rifle in a school parking lot.
College spokeswoman Kathryn Coley says the rifle was actually a "Star Wars" toy.
Farmingdale State is part of the State University of New York system. It has about 8,700 students.

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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The driver of a souped-up Volkswagen who jumped embankments, spun out in parking lots and tore through San Diego neighborhoods in an online video seen by more than a million people has been sentenced to 45 days in jail.
The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday that Blake Wilkey pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges including reckless driving. He was also ordered to serve three years' probation.
Wilkey was seen grinning in the 4 1/2-minute video posted on YouTube in January.
The 27-year-old gunned the gray off-road vehicle through downtown, Ocean Beach and other areas, spinning out and catching air as amazed and enraged residents looked on.
At the end of the video he stops at a drive-through restaurant for an ice cream cone.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A woman who says she was hurt when her toilet exploded in 2014 is suing Baltimore officials and two city contractors.
In her lawsuit, Angela Wright says she was using her bathroom toilet when it backed up and blew her off the seat, covering her in feces and injuring her.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Baltimore City Circuit Court, names the city council, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and contractors Spiniello Companies Inc. and Heitkamp Inc. WBFF-TV in Baltimore reports the city had hired Spinello to use high-pressure hoses to clean out the sewer line in Wright's neighborhood.
Wright's attorney Louis Glick says they will seek about $225,000.
The contractors did not immediately respond to requests for comment from news agencies. The mayor's spokesman, Howard Libit, didn't comment, citing pending litigation.

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Looks like luck doesn't run in the family.
A Pennsylvania judge won $291.4 million while on vacation in the Florida Keys this week, while his brother won a slightly less impressive prize in the same drawing: a measly seven bucks.
James Stocklas, 67, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was wrapping up a month-long fishing trip with friends and relatives when he and a couple buddies stopped at a convenience store Tuesday to buy a bag of ice and some lottery tickets, the Florida Lottery said.
It wasn't until Friday morning over breakfast back at his favorite local diner in Pennsylvania that Stocklas saw the winning numbers - and realized they were his.
"I was yelling and I bought everyone in the diner breakfast," Stocklas told The Morning Call newspaper in Pennsylvania. "When I found out, I was shaking for an hour straight."
Stocklas' ticket was the sole winner of the monster Powerball lottery, but he is sharing the prize with the two friends he was with when he bought it. He opted for a one-time, lump-sum payment amounting to $191,470,307.58, the Florida Lottery said in a press release.
The three friends will take home more than $40 million each after taxes, Stocklas told The Morning Call.
There were no additional details provided about Stocklas' brother Bob's whopping $7 win, for which the Florida Lottery also printed out on an oversized check, just like they did for James Stocklas' $291.4 million win.
Neither brother immediately returned requests for comment from NBC News on Saturday.
James Stocklas and his friends - Barry Bartakovits of Hellertown and a Pennsylvania woman who Stocklas didn't identify - immediately decided to put their winnings to use when they learned of their good fortune: They rented a private jet to go back to Florida to claim their money. At $3,000 an hour, the jet cost around $20,000, Stocklas told The Morning Call, and the three sipped champagne onboard.
But it hasn't been all highfalutin glam for the trio since they won. On Friday night, before flying back home, they grabbed dinner at an Applebee's restaurant.
"I know, Applebee's," Stocklas told The Morning Call. "We are really going top shelf, right?"
The massive jackpot followed a series of Florida Powerball rollovers with no winners that began on Jan. 16.
Stocklas, a senior district judge in Northampton County, says he will go back to work on April 1 - and he swears that isn't an April Fool's joke.
"I'll be back on the bench," he told the paper. "There's no doubt." 

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MADRID (AP) -- More than three years after a botched fresco restoration by an octogenarian painter became a major tourist attraction for a northern Spanish town, local officials are looking to inject new life into the phenomenon by opening a center that celebrates the fresco.
Borja Mayor Eduardo Arilla said 160,000 people had come to see the fresco since the story of Cecilia Gimenez's restoration of a Christ fresco in a town sanctuary went viral in 2012. He said with the new center, the town hoped to keep attracting up to 30,000 visitors annually.
Gimenez became a sensation when pictures spread on the Internet of an "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the Man") mural she disfigured while trying to restore it. Twitter users redubbed it "Ecce Mono" ("Behold the Monkey").
"It's to give the painting a new impetus," Arilla told The Associated Press. He said Gimenez, 85, will be at the inauguration later Wednesday, along with the granddaughter of the little-known Spanish painter of the near 100-year-old original, Elias Garcia Martinez.
The new center will bring together stories, photographs and videos documenting the impact of the restoration. Visitors will be able to see the fresco in the adjoining chapel - and for those feeling inspired, there will be canvases to try to paint your own version.
The center will also display the fresco's new official merchandise - ranging from T-shirts to teacups - which also will be available on Amazon. Proceeds are to be split between Gimenez and the sanctuary's home for retirees.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Former college coach Bobby Bowden proved football isn't his only sport when he recently shot his second hole-in-one.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports that the former Florida State coach was playing Monday at the Golf Club of Quincy, about a half-hour from Tallahassee. The 86-year-old was swinging his 3-wood when he aced the par-3 12th hole.
Bowden was in a foursome with former college football coach and FSU player Gene McDowell and two local players. They all signed Bowden's scorecard.
Bowden told the newspaper he recorded his first hole-in-one several years ago while playing in Mobile, Alabama.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Denmark, perhaps better known for its fictional, suicide-agonizing prince Hamlet and fierce marauding Vikings than being a nation of the happiest people, has just won that very accolade. Again.
Even U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have singled out the small Scandinavian country as an example of a happy, well-oiled society. On Wednesday, the United Nations made it official: It found Danes to be the happiest people on Earth in a study of 156 countries.
Knud Christensen, a 39-year-old social worker, knows one reason why his compatriots are laid-back - they feel secure in a country with few natural disasters, little corruption and a near absence of drastic events.
"We have no worries," Christensen said, smiling as he stood on a Copenhagen street near the capital's City Hall. "And if we do worry, it's about the weather. Will it rain today, or remain gray, or will it be cold?"
The Scandinavian nation of 5.6 million has held the happy title twice before since the world body started measuring happiness around the world in 2012. The accolade is based on a variety of factors: People's health and access to medical care, family relations, job security and social factors, including political freedom and degree of government corruption.
Egalitarian Denmark, where women hold 43 percent of the top jobs in the public sector, is known for its extensive and generous cradle-to-grave welfare.
Few complain about the high taxes as in return they benefit from a health care system where everybody has free access to a general practitioner and hospitals. Taxes also pay for schools and universities, and students are given monthly grants for up to seven years.
Many feel confident that if they lose their jobs or fall ill, the state will support them.
Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University, one of those behind the report, says that happiness and well-being should be on every nation's agenda.
"Human well-being should be nurtured through a holistic approach that combines economic, social and environmental objectives," he said in a statement before the World Happiness Report 2016 was to be officially presented in Rome on Wednesday.
The Roman Catholic Church welcomed the study, declaring that happiness is "linked to the common good, which makes it central to Catholic social teaching," according to Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, one of Pope Francis' key advisers.
Kaare Christensen, a university professor in demography and epidemiology in Odense, where fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen was born, says it doesn't take much to satisfy Danes.
"They are happy with what they get. Danes have no great expectations about what they do or what happens to them," she said
Christian Bjoernskov, an economy professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark's second- largest city, believes feelings of self-assurance and self-determination have a lot to do with it.
"Danes feel confident in one another... when we stand together, we can succeed," he says. "And they also have a strong belief they can decide their own lives."
After Denmark, the next happiest nations last year were Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, followed by Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.
The United States was 13th place, two spots higher than the previous year.

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