Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 3rd - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 3rd

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SEATTLE (AP) - Seattle police are looking for an arsonist who set fire to a homeless man's tent while two people slept inside.
The Seattle Times reports that the man called 911 Tuesday saying he used a beer to extinguish the fire after he awoke to the blaze. Neither occupant of the tent was injured.
The man told police that earlier that evening another man accused him of cheating at cards and threatened to burn down his tent.
Investigators did not immediately locate witnesses to the arson.

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A U.S. National Park Service paleontologist and Grateful Dead fan has been credited with identifying an extinct species of otter found in south-central Idaho and named it after the band's guitarist.
Self-described Deadhead Kari Prassack says traveling the country to see Bob Weir and the band gave her confidence to pursue her career.
When fellow scientists in April credited her with properly identifying the new species from a jaw bone found in the late 1980s at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, she named it Lontra weiri.
Scientists say it lived 3.8 million years ago and is the earliest known example of modern North American river otters.
The Grateful Dead disbanded after frontman Jerry Garcia died in 1995.
Weir continues to perform and is touring this summer with Dead & Company.

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- In a Romanian town, residents have a choice of three candidates for mayor in an election this weekend - but only one name.
Vasile Cepoi is running for a fourth term as mayor of Draguseni, a northeastern town of 2,500 people. Both of his challengers in Sunday's election also are called Vasile Cepoi.
Town hall official Viorel Munteanu said Friday that the three contenders are not related. Cepoi is a common family name in the region and Vasile is a popular male name in Romania.
Local media have suggested that the name coincidence could be a ruse by other parties to get their candidates elected. Munteanu would only say that that was "possible."

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DEBRECEN, Hungary (AP) -- Digging their way to the top, 18 two-man teams of Hungarian gravediggers displayed their skills Friday for a place in a regional championship to be held in Slovakia later this year.
Participants in the contest held in plot 37A of the public cemetery of the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen were being judged on their speed but also getting points for style - the look of the finished grave mounds.
Janos Jonas, 63, who teamed with his son, Csaba, saw the competition run by the Hungarian Association of Cemetery Maintainers and Operators as a sort of last hurrah as he was just a few weeks from retirement.
"We didn't have to prepare in any special way because we do this every day," said Jonas, from the nearby village of Hosszupalyi. "This is good earth, quite soft and humid, just right for the event."
Organizer Iren Kari said they hoped the race would help increase respect and recognition for the gravediggers' profession and attract more people to the job, which is under threat, for example by the increasing popularity of cremations.
"These men see death every day. Sometimes people joke about them while they work, but gravediggers are human, too," said Kari, who is advocating for gravediggers to get access to psychological support to better handle the strains of the job. "We are having difficulties finding replacements for our retiring employees. Young people today don't like to dig and work."
All contestants had shovels, rakes, axes and pickaxes to dig graves 0.8 meters (2 feet 7 inches) wide, 2 meters (6 feet 6 inches) long and 1.6 meters (5 feet 3 inches) deep, but no two teams seemed to use the same technique.
Some preferred to dig simultaneously, while others had one man digging while the other formed the dirt into neat piles around the gravesite. For safety reasons, like the collapse of a grave wall, only one member of each team was allowed to work in the grave after reaching a depth of 1 meter (3 feet 3 inches).
After every team finished digging - the fastest time was just over 34 minutes - there was a short rest and then the dirt was shoveled back into the graves, each topped with a burial mound about the size of a large casket.
"We take special pride in the burial mounds, on which we place the flowers and wreaths at the end of the funeral," Jonas said, relating how while drinking on the job was strictly forbidden, relatives often gave gravediggers a bottle of palinka, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy, as a gratuity.
Some teams wore white shirts, ties and elegant vests, while others were in t-shirts or overalls. One pair wore plastic coveralls, but everyone was sweating by the end of the race on a warm spring day.
"The hardest part of the job is to deal with the mourners," said Debrecen gravedigger Laszlo Toth. "But it's a good job, with good colleagues and a good environment."
Toth, who won the event with teammate Janos Racz, will compete in a regional race planned to be held in November in Trencin, Slovakia.

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Newborns at the Ohio hospital where LeBron James and Stephen Curry were born will get some special gifts during the NBA finals as those stars face off.
Akron-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is giving care packages to parents of children born in Akron-area hospitals through June 19.
James and Curry were born at Akron City Hospital. The stars are going against each other as James' Cleveland Cavaliers play Curry's Golden State Warriors.
Golden State won the first game Thursday in the best-of-seven series.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports families of the newborns will receive a set of four tires, an "Akron Born" one-piece outfit and a car seat.
Summa Akron City Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Akron General and Akron Children's Hospital are participating to help deliver the packages.

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DENVER (AP) -- Authorities say a man who held up a Denver bank got a cab ride to and from the robbery.
The Denver Post reports the FBI is asking for the public's help to find the suspect. Authorities say the man took a cab to the bank, asked the driver to idle while he went inside, and then had the cabbie drive him to Denver International Airport.
Officials say it's unknown if the suspect actually boarded a plane after going to the airport.
Video from inside the cab clearly shows the man's face, and pictures taken in the Public Service Credit Union show the man wearing what appears to be a white dust mask while inside the bank, where he threatened a teller with a small handgun.

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CUMBERLAND, Maine (AP) -- A Maine teen got some unexpected news when she received a handwritten letter from a fisherman saying that her message in a bottle had been found in Spain.
WCSH-TV reports Terra Gallo and her sister put messages into bottles and tossed them into the ocean while visiting their aunt on Monhegan Island three years ago.
The girls had forgotten about the bottles until they were surprised by the fisherman's correspondence last week.
Galo, now 14, studied maps of ocean currents and discovered her message traveled roughly 3,000 miles.
Gallo's message asked that whoever found her bottle put their own message inside with hers and send it back out to sea. The fisherman said he complied with her wishes in his letter.

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SEATTLE (AP) -- Fishmongers from Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market tossed salmon to grizzly bears at the Woodland Park Zoo to help raise awareness about the animals.
The famous fish-throwers were on hand Thursday to feed the bears and promote the zoo's upcoming Bear Affair conservation day Saturday and Washington state's Bear Awareness Week, June 4-12.
Grizzly bears have been listed as a threatened species since 1975, although they were briefly delisted in 2007 before a lawsuit reinstated the protections.

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CALAIS, Vt. (AP) -- A Vermont village is hosting a festival to celebrate a nuisance of spring in New England: the blackfly.
The 13th annual Adamant Blackfly Festival on Saturday includes a fashion show, a blackfly poetry slam and a blackfly pie contest in which entries are judged on their taste and blackfly homage. Blackflies aren't actually an ingredient in the pies, though. Some cooks try to make designs that resemble blackflies.
"It's just about being festive and happy, and damn the flies!" said Janet MacLeod, an artist with a studio in Adamant.
MacLeod said one year a participant actually made the pies fly by shooting them off into the woods.
Festival organizers say about 40 species of blackfly exist in Vermont, with only four or five that bite humans. In late April or May, they emerge from streams in droves in search of blood.
In other parts of the world, they spread diseases like river blindness but not in New England.
"Up here they are just basically protectors of our wild areas," said Alan Graham, Vermont state entomologist.
Adamant, a village in the 1,600-resident town of Calais in central Vermont, has conditions that blackflies like: clean moving water in the form of streams.
The festival schedule also includes live music, an auction and the annual Blackfly Parade, with a marching band, tractors and floats. Somebody might even bring their goats this year, MacLeod said.
"We never kind of know what's going to be there until 2:00 when people start lining up," MacLeod said.
The event, which is expected to draw 100 to 200 people, raises money for the Adamant Co-op, a community-run general store and post office.
The festival ends between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. at which time the schedule notes: "Blackflies all die."
"That's optimistic," MacLeod said.

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GRANTVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A dirty license plate has led to a $1,590 fine for a Georgia motorist.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on-ajc.com/19h2mCB) a Grantville police officer pulled Linda Ford over last fall, while she was on her way to a church yard sale to raise money for homeless women. The newspaper reports that soot blown from the car's exhaust made it difficult to read her license plate. The officer also discovered she hadn't attached a plate decal showing her registration was current.
The newspaper reports Ford was ordered to pay $720 - many times what other neighboring communities levy when a decal isn't affixed to a car tag. It said that when she couldn't pay, a judge later raised the fine to $1,590.
Grantville is about 45 miles southwest of Atlanta.

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