Mad Minute stories for June 13, 2016 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories for June 13, 2016

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Uber driver returns lost money to World Series Poker player

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A World Series of Poker player says he hit an "emotional jackpot" thanks to an Uber driver who returned his $7,000 ante.

Jacob Brundage, of Lakeland, Florida, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/1RZJRBK) that he lost a tote filled with cash and playing chips June 1.

The 39-year-old says he realized the bag was in an Uber car that he rode from The Venetian to the Rio.

Brundage failed to reach the driver through the app and enlisted a group of waiting Uber drivers to help.

The driver, who wants to remain anonymous, called Brundage and returned the bag.

Brundage gave him $200 as a reward.

Uber spokeswoman Maui Cheska Orozo says this is likely the most expensive item ever left in an Uber car in Las Vegas.

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POOPING BATS TAKE OVER AUSTRALIAN TOWN

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Batemans Bay is a picturesque coastal town that always leaves the welcome mat out for tourists. But tens of thousands of visitors of another kind have more than outstayed their welcome - large bats.

Residents feel trapped in their guano-coated houses, and those who venture outside soon feel a disgusting "sprinkle of something." Then there's the early-morning screeching, so excruciating that Danielle Smith said it compelled her to go on anti-depressants.

Her 2-year-old can no longer play in the backyard, and "won't even sleep in his own bed anymore because he's so frightened of the bats," she said.

"I can't open my window at all because the smell is so bad," Smith said. "We can actually taste it - that's how strong it is."

The area's population of the gray-headed flying fox, Australia's largest bat, peaked at up to 140,000 in April - nearly three times the number seen there last year. That's about 12 bats for each of the 11,000 human residents of Batemans Bay, a tourist destination 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Canberra, the capital.

Civic leaders agree the stinking, noisy, messy and potentially diseased bats have got to go. The local council will consider methods of driving them away in the next week. But getting rid of the protected native species, which is listed as vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss, is no simple task. Some experts warn against even trying.

"It's an unprecedented event because we're in uncharted territory with how to manage it," Mayor Lindsay Brown said.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization estimates there are 680,000 gray-headed flying foxes in Australia, meaning Batesmans Bay has been home to one in every five of them. Each bat can weigh a kilogram (2 pounds 3 ounces) with wing spans exceeding a meter (3 feet 3 inches).

They fly out at dusk to feed on flowering spotted gum and bloodwood trees in forests, then wake locals with a cacophony of screeching on their return to town before dawn.

Thousands flew en masse into power lines, knocking out power to the entire town. It happened not once, not twice, but on nine consecutive nights in April.

Their acidic droppings can burn through the paintwork on cars if not washed off within hours. The pungent scent that the males use to mark out their roosting territory is sickening. A bite or a scratch from a bat carries the risk of the rabies-like lyssavirus that has claimed three lives in Australia in the past 20 years.

The bats have been returning to this habitat annually since 2012, making their home in an urban wetland known as Water Gardens and a nearby golf club. But this year's numbers are unprecedented; last year there were only 50,000.

Bat colonies in Australian urban areas have become increasingly common since the 1990s, Sydney University bat researcher Kerryn Parry-Jones said.

"We don't really know why there is this urbanization," she said. "It is a bad thing for everybody, including the bats. But it's probably concerned with habitat destruction."

They are more than nuisances. Children are losing sleep and the bats have been blamed for cases of depression with some residents complaining of feeling trapped indoors by the smell and noise, researchers found.

"It's just not pleasant," said resident Kim Swadling. "I do a lot of running and by 5:30 you're covered in whatever it is, pee or whatever. It's disgusting. I haven't been pooed on yet but you certainly get a sprinkle of something on you. It's the stench more than anything, and they poo on everything."

While thousands of bats have already migrated north, Mayor Brown wants the remainder "nudged" out of town in hopes they won't return to Batemans Bay next year.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council's plight has recently attracted a 2.5 million Australian dollar ($2 million) state government grant to get rid of the bats. The federal government has given the council an exemption from environmental protection law to disperse the bats without killing them.

The council is removing trees to create a "habitat buffer" between the colony and homes, Brown said.

Water Gardens resident Davida MaChing questions whether the cure will prove worse than the problem. She fears that native birds will stop coming if more trees are removed.

"I do agree that the flying foxes have to go, but I don't think they have to go to such drastic measures of chopping all the trees down," said MaChing, who has lived in Batemans Bay for 33 years.

The council next week will consider a plan to drive away the remaining bats by August by disrupting their roosting through smoke machines, loud noise booming from powerful speakers and bright lights before dawn. The council warns that humans nearby would also endure weeks of disturbed sleep.

Meanwhile the council is providing affected residents with free car and clothesline covers, as well as portable high-pressure water pumps to clean bat droppings off their property.

Parry-Jones, the bat researcher, warned against trying to remove the colony. She said such efforts usually result in the bats splitting into two or more colonies in the same area that annoy even more people.

"We have ... an ecological problem which has been generated over probably 50 years, and it's only now people are becoming aware of it. And now they want a complete and utter solution within 24 hours," she said.

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TEACH3ER WINS $1M, RESOLVES SHOPLIFTING CHARGE

EDGECOMB, Maine (AP) -- A shoplifting charge against a Maine teacher who won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize will be dropped if she meets terms imposed by a court.

The plea arrangement requires Nancie Atwell to stay out of trouble for two years, undergo a psychological evaluation and complete 100 hours of community service. The Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1VV9kn8 ) reports that the deferred disposition was formalized Monday.

Atwell founded The Centre for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb. She was selected from a pool of 1,300 applicants for the first Varkey Foundation award in 2015.

In April, she was charged with shoplifting a $14.99 blouse. The charge will be dropped if she meets the court terms that include proving she's donating the prize money.

She has called the theft charge a misunderstanding.

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PRIEST PUNCHES BEST MAN

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- The best man slapped the groom on the back, which is an old Cypriot wedding custom. The priest punching the best man would be an innovation.

But Cyprus police said Monday they are investigating an allegation that this happened at a wedding over the weekend.

Police say the victim -the groom's 22-year-old brother - was taken to a hospital but wasn't seriously hurt and that his family filed a complaint.

A family member - speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing - said the priest had initially gestured with a raised hand for the slapping to cease, then punched the brother in the chest and face when the warning went unheeded.

The family member told The Associated Press that the wedding unraveled during the ceremony's Dance of Isaiah, when the priest, holding the Gospel, led the couple around the altar three times. With the backslapping continuing, the irate priest put the gospel down and unleased on the brother.

"It's a tradition that I don't condone, but that was uncalled for. ... He could have just interrupted the ceremony," said the family member. He said although the priest hastily abandoned the ceremony after the kerfuffle, the couple did receive a marriage certificate.

"The wedding was spoilt after that with many people not showing up for the reception after word spread, but we made the best of it," the family member said.

Bishop of Paphos Georgios backed the priest, whom he hailed as one of the best clerics in his Diocese. He told the state-run Cyprus News Agency that the backslapping custom, dating from Ottoman times, doesn't befit the island's Orthodox Christian traditions.

The bishop said he had instructed priests to interrupt any ceremony where family or guests didn't demonstrate the appropriate respect. He added he would investigate the matter.

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HORROR MOVIES IN CLASS

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A Cumberland County middle school teacher is facing discipline after officials say he showed horror videos to sixth graders.

The Fayetteville Observer reports (http://bit.ly/1rgMLMD) Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said the unidentified teacher at Pine Forest Middle School violated school system policy and showed poor judgment. Till said the school system has a policy which says videos must be approved before being shown if they're not a standard part of the curriculum.

Pamela Packer said the videos badly scared her 12-year-old son, saying he wouldn't go to his room because he didn't want to be alone. She also said her son has been sleeping with the lights on.

Among the videos was a 6-minute animated film in which a young boy kills his abusive father.

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BALLOON TRAVELS CROSS COUNTRY

BOSTON (AP) — A balloon released by a young girl in Ohio with a loving message to her father has traveled about 850 miles to Massachusetts.

Boston.com reports (http://bit.ly/1U06OXO ) the yellow balloon was discovered Tuesday in Newton.

It says, "I love and miss you daddy. Eaton, Ohio. 5-25-16." It was signed "Elizabeth."

The finder wrote on the Eaton VFW Post's Facebook page, looking for the sender.

The message was shared more than 60,000 times.

The girl's grandmother saw it Friday.

Diane Helmig Salisbury says Elizabeth and her older sister, Isabella, release balloons for their father, Army Pfc. Gustavo Adolfo Rios-Ordonez, on his birthday.

Rios-Ordonez would've turned 30 this year. He was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2011.

The girls believe the balloon being found was their father's way of saying he misses and loves them too.

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HUNDREDS OF SHEEP RUN AMOK IN TOWN AFTER SHEPHERD FALLS ASLEEP

Here’s a good reminder not to fall asleep on the job.

Police in the Spanish city of Huesca posted this footage of 1,300 sheep roaming the streets on their Facebook page earlier this week.

Why were 1,300 sheep crossing a road outside of Huesca?

That would be because the (one!!) shepherd responsible for the entire flock fell asleep on the job, The Telegraph reports.

That shepherd was watching the sheep overnight, waiting to guide them north through Huesca — the capital of the province with the same name — in the morning. The flock was due in the Pyrenean uplands, where they go to graze during the summer months.

But all did not go according to plan.

Local Huesca police received phone calls from the city’s residents around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday alerting the authorities of the sheep walking through the center of town, according to CNN.

The police found the shepherd asleep. After waking him up, the herder helped the authorities round up the sheep and return them to their pastures, according to The Telegraph.

Neuroscience and management researchers have documented a number of ways being sleepy makes you bad at your job — from having trouble learning to having trouble focusing. And being sleepy on the job is a major national concern for commercial drivers as the dangerous habit has been linked to hundreds of accidents every year.

But falling asleep when you have 1,300 sheep under your watch brings a whole new definition to dangerously tired.

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GIGANTIC SHOPPING CART GOES 50 MPH

Even the express lane is too slow for this souped-up shopping cart.

The Shopper Chopper and it’s the world’s only street-legal drivable shopping cart.

The super-sized shopping cart is 9 feet tall and 12 feet long and can hold six people and 146 normal-sized grocery bags. 

The Shopper Chopper can reach 50 mph on the open road, which is a good thing since it’s too big to get inside the average grocery store.

Instead, it’s used for promotional purposes outside. 

Calvin VanSant built the colossal cart back in 2012 to help promote his son-in-law’s chain of Pennsylvania grocery stores, Musser’s Markets.

“He owns a grocery business and asked me to help him build something crazy to promote his stores,” he told Barcroft TV. 

Looks like he succeeded.

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NAKED RESTAURANT

We haven’t even seen the menu, but a new Tokyo restaurant has already left a bad taste in our mouths. 

Japan’s first “naked restaurant“ will open its doors in late July and it’s not the thought of dining in the nude with strangers that’s off-putting. The Amrita has some fairly offensive rules for entry that make it pretty clear they’re only welcoming a certain type of guest. 

On their website, the restaurant lists restrictions on entry, including weight, age and even body ink. Adult diners over the age of 60 won’t be welcome per the upper age limit, and neither will people who are more than 15 kg — or approximately 33 pounds — over the average weight for a person of their height. Oh, and no tattoos will be allowed either.

We’ve heard about alleged age discrimination faced by employees of restaurants, but this is a new one. 

As for the appeal of the restaurant, we’re not quite sure. Besides the prospect of being turned away for your height and age, the restaurant will require everyone who enters to wear disposable underwear that they will provide. Chic.

The restaurant does, however, promise hunky waitstaff who will be nearly naked. The tickets for the opening weekend are going for over 10,000 Japanese yen each — or about $94. But, before you eagerly fork over your hard-earned money, know this. Adding insult to injury, those who are deemed not to meet the ageist, sizeist entry requirements will not get a refund. 

Thanks, but no thanks. 

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FOOTBALL FULL OF DRUGS

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — An inmate involved in a plan to toss a football filled with drugs and cellphones over the fence of a Michigan prison will spend an additional three to five years in prison.

MLive.com reports (http://bit.ly/1Yo8lfK ) Monday that 22-year-old Myles Alexander was sentenced Wednesday for his role in the plot. He already is serving up to four years in prison for a 2012 felonious assault and discharging a weapon case.

The football contained marijuana, heroin, the phones and chargers. It landed between two security fences, but short of the prison exercise yard in June 2014 at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson.

Christen D. Moore, who threw the football, was convicted of furnishing contraband to a prisoner. The 24-year-old Moore was paroled in November.

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