Mad Minute stories from Friday, March 18th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Friday, March 18th

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- For cats, hell is high water.
And that hell became reality for two California felines on Tuesday, when high flood waters left them stranded in trees half-submerged in the Sacramento River.
The Front Street Animal Shelter created a ramp that would lead the cats to safety, but they refused to cross.
The animals were eventually saved when the Sacramento Fire Department organized a water rescue, using a small boat and ladder.
Both cats are safe and uninjured.

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PARIS (AP) -- With their beloved baguette already available 24 hours a day, it seems only logical that Parisians can now get the Bayonne ham and Basque pate that goes so well with the bread from the first meat vending machine installed in the French capital.
In a city filled with small shops where long lunches remain a crucial part of the French "art de vivre," the gleaming red machine set up on the lively Rue de Charonne in eastern Paris seems a bit incongruous.
The area has at least two dozen butcher's shops and no shortage of meat, but that didn't deter the owners of one of those shops, Florence and Michel Pouzol of "L'ami Txulette," from investing 40,000 euros ($45,000) to set up their project, selling vacuum-packed meat from the refrigerated machine.
"We're closed two days: Sundays and Mondays," Florence Pouzol told The Associated Press. "So this is to cater for customers over the weekend. ... The idea was also to serve people after the shop's closing hours. We close at 8 p.m. but some people leave work very late and find the shop closed when they walk past it."
L'ami Txulette specializes in products from the Basque Country. From their machine, which takes cash or credit cards, customers can also get a large choice of traditional delicatessen including duck confit and beef carpaccio. There are also faux-filet steaks on display, priced at 34 euros per kilogram. On average, the products are 20 euro cents more expensive than those sold inside the shop.
A majority of shops remain closed on Sundays in France, but the Pouzols are confident that France is changing fast and so are their customers' habits.
"Our customers are young. There are also quite a few bars and restaurants along the boulevard," Florence Pouzol said. "When we see them during the day, they tell us: "Last night, I bought this, or that, and it was really helpful." We also have those who work in the cafes and restaurants and who come off work at 2 a.m. They tell us they were happy to buy an entrecote or something else to eat."
But not all residents, especially the older ones, seem ready to stop running errands at their favorite shop and switch to the meat dispenser.
"I'm so happy that I can actually go to the butcher's shop now that I'm retired and go there in person", said local resident Lydie Aparacio. "I think that it can be useful for people who are busier than a retiree. I don't use it because I have time."
While baguette dispensers have enjoyed success across France over the past five years, the meat vending machines business remains in in the embryonic stage in France. The first machine of this type was installed three years ago in the small western town of Garat by a butcher who set it up outside a bar.
According to the bar owner, it adds extra comfort in an area lacking services.
"We don't have a butcher's shop in town, the first one is located three kilometers (two miles) away," Jo Ferreira told the AP in a phone interview. "When you finish work at 7 p.m., it's very convenient to have this machine available. I love their minced burger steaks."
In the central medieval town of Mennetou-sur-Cher, popular with tourists, Pascal Bidron has installed a machine to sell his locally made andouillette, a sausage prepared with pig's intestines.
He bought a second-hand machine and put it next to his shop, which is closed for more than three hours during the daytime.
"I have customers coming from afar to buy my andouillettes and I wanted to serve them even when the shop is closed" Bidron told the AP. "I recently went away for two weeks and managed to sell 250 andouillettes during my vacation thanks to that machine. It's more than I expected."

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Long-distance runners are water-obsessed by necessity, but Mina Guli is on another level. She's trying to run more than 1,000 miles through seven deserts on seven continents in seven weeks to raise awareness of worldwide water shortages.
She has completed six of the runs, having jogged an average of 150 miles each through harsh conditions in Spain, Jordan, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa and Chile.
Now, the Australian is in drought-stricken California to run her final leg through Death Valley and into Nevada. She hopes to finish Tuesday, which the United Nations has designated World Water Day.
If she does, she will have run the equivalent of 40 marathons.
Guli said she was feeling tired but inspired as she spoke to The Associated Press by phone in Santiago, Chile, where she was boarding a flight to Los Angeles on Thursday.
"I'm excited about the momentum we've created," the 45-year-old said. "Rest has been few and far between. I really want to do this in seven weeks, so it's been a rush. A lot of time is spent flying, driving into deserts. They're not always on the doorsteps of big cities."
In Jordan, on the second leg of the trek, Guli said she almost made her point about water shortages too well. She planned to use local water supplies along the way but faced a taxing set of days when there was little of the precious liquid to be had.
"The wells are dry," she said. "Jordan is having major water problems. Places where you expect to get water, you don't get water anymore. Even places where people assured me there would be water to find, there was none."
From there Guli made the otherworldly transition to snow-white Antarctica, whose meager precipitation makes it the world's largest desert.
"It is white from the sky to the ground," she said. "The only sound you can hear is your own heartbeat."
Guli, who now lives in Beijing and runs Thirst, a nonprofit dedicated to water issues, said it was almost frustrating to be atop all that ice.
"You're standing and running on all this fresh water that is inaccessible to the rest of the planet," she said.
From there came another drastic change, in temperature and scenery, to the red sands of central Australia's Simpson Desert.
Guli's desire to run during the day and stay on local time so she can meet and talk to people about water has made things especially complicated.
"Jet lag has been a major issue each time we've had a big time-zone change: between Australia and South Africa, I found that extremely challenging," she said. "I felt like I was running with lead weights around my ankles."

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Police in Camden, north London found some humor in busting a drug dealer. 
When they found his stash of marijuana in a hole near a canal, worth about $60, they confiscated it and left a note. 
The note had just one word -- "unlucky."
Officers tweeted a photo of the drugs when they first found them, in what the officers described as a "sneaky hidey-hole."

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SYDNEY, Australia - It's hard to blame anyone for wanting to cuddle up to a koala. But the opposition Labor Party in Australia is accusing the government coalition of spending far too much money (around $400,000) on events related to koalas and other marsupials. 
The party's website says government officials are obsessed with hugging koalas, citing when the foreign minister payed $133,000 to fly four of them to the Singapore Zoo.
Another time, the party claims the government spent nearly the same amount flying political leaders to Western Australia to hug wombats.

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(NEWSER) - An Oxford professor is now $700,000 richer for solving a 300-year-old math mystery, the Telegraph reports. In 1994, Andrew Wiles, 62, cracked Fermat's Last Theorem, which was put forth by 17th-century mathematician Pierre de Fermat. Wiles will be traveling to Oslo, Norway, in May to collect the 2016 Abel Prize (including the honors and the cash) for his proof, which the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters calls an "epochal moment" in the mathematics field. "Wiles is one of very few mathematicians-if not the only one-whose proof of a theorem has made international headline news," the academy said in an announcement of his numerical feat. The puzzle had haunted Wiles for years. Times Higher Education notes he had been intrigued by it since he was a boy, leading to seven years of intense study at Princeton before he stumbled upon his eureka moment.
He found the proof he was looking for using a method involving three disparate fields that mean nothing to the layman but everything to braniacs trying to solve this problem: modular forms, elliptical curves, and Galois representations. "Fermat's equation was my passion from an early age, and solving it gave me an overwhelming sense of fulfillment," he tells the Telegraph. (For the record, the theorem states that there are no whole number solutions to the equation xn + yn = zn when n is greater than 2.) Wiles says he hopes his work will serve as inspiration for up-and-coming numbers aces "to take up mathematics and to work on the many challenges of this beautiful and fascinating subject." (Prime numbers just got a little weirder.)

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - A South Texas woman has been charged with aggravated assault after police say she stabbed her common law husband because he wouldn't get out of bed.
Officers were called on Wednesday to a Corpus Christi home where the husband told police that his common law wife, 39-year-old Melinda Hinojosa, had hit him on the head with a pot and punched him three times in the face.
Police say the man told officers that Hinojosa then grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him in his left hand.
Hinojosa was arrested. She is being held in the Nueces County Jail on a $30,000 bond.
Jail records did not list an attorney for her.
Police say Hinojosa's husband declined medical treatment for his injuries.

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Officials say a wildlife trapper removed four alligators from a school campus in one day this week.
Pine View School principal Stephen Covert says alligators have been spotted on the sprawling Osprey campus in the past, but the four that were captured Thursday was an unusually high number.
Covert says the trapper played a mating call from a recorder, removed them from the school and let them go at an unknown location. One of the gators was more than 8 feet long.
The animals were caught during the school day, but Covert says it was not a disruption to the students.
Covert told The Sarasota Herald-Tribune that the alligators likely came from fenced-in nearby retention ponds in search of mates.

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The Cincinnati zoo says its two curious polar bears wandered into a behind-the-scenes service hallway through an open den door.
Luckily they weren't as curious as they could have been. They wandered out past their habitat, but they never left a secondary containment area. 
Both bears were returned to their den, and nobody was hurt.

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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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