Mad Minute stories from Monday, August 22nd - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Monday, August 22nd

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals didn't have a postseason prayer. Until, that is, a praying mantis showed up in their dugout.
Since then, the defending World Series champions are playing like world beaters.
Perhaps the Royals can thank Billy Burns for their 9-1 run. He's a spare outfielder, stuck on the bench almost all the time since being traded over from Oakland last month.
But Burns holds an important side job: He's the caretaker of Rally Mantis Jr.
"I think the only reason I'm taking care of him is I actually care about him not dying," Burns said. "So people are like, 'You can take care of him.' I spent one night researching, how to take care of him, so hopefully we can keep him alive."
See, the Royals were sputtering, their playoff hopes fading, when a praying mantis appeared in their dugout at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 6. They beat Toronto that night and suddenly the bug-eyed insect with a triangular head had a new home.
Really, who needs a Rally Monkey when you have a Rally Mantis?
"The first mantis crawled up on my hat and just kind of camped out there for a while," Burns said. "Some of the guys just thought it was funny."
Adopted by the team, it was christened the Rally Mantis and Kansas City went on to win five of six. Their new mascot traveled with the club to Minnesota, but died on Aug. 13 - the Royals lost that day, too.
"The first one lasted about five or six games," Burns said. "The first one was on his way out. The first one was dying when we found him."
Then Junior showed up.
"The second one flew in out of nowhere during the game the other day in Detroit," Burns said.
Burns said shortstop Alcides Escobar and pitcher Edinson Volquez "used the help of a fan to catch him." After that, with extra time on his hands, Burns took over.
The Royals swept their first three-game series in Detroit since 2008 and Rally Mantis Jr. boarded the charter flight for Kansas City, where the Royals beat the Twins on Thursday night to move back over .500. The surge has moved them back into the AL wild-card race.
Before the victory over the Twins, Rally Mantis Jr. was moved into what Burns described as "his new upgraded cage" with plants and food.
"Right now he's got some crickets hanging out in there, some moths," Burns said. "We've been catching bugs whenever we see them."
There was a photo opportunity with Junior in his new home this week and at least a half-dozen photographers swarmed to shoot Kansas City's latest celebrity. Royals fans are showing up with mantis masks and making Rally Mantis Jr. posters.
The club leaves Sunday night for Miami. Rally Mantis Jr. will make the trip.
"He's part of our team now," Burns said. "He'll be going everywhere."

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- Not even tornado sirens could stop a Michigan couple from saying "I do."
As the sirens blared across Grand Rapids, Brandon Warner married Breane Proctor in front of family members and guests at a church.
Despite the storm threat, Warner decided to proceed with Saturday's ceremony.
"Bree is ready and we're all here. Let's go through with this," he told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Monday. "Let's make it happen. I figured if we were going to get hit, maybe it was meant to be."
"We just kind of shrugged our shoulders and went down the aisle," said Proctor.
After exchanging vows, storm sirens sounded again and everyone stood beneath the church's balconies, away from its stained-glass windows. A little less than an hour after they said "I do," a tornado reportedly touched down less than three miles away, according to the paper.
"The church seemed so big and massive and sturdy," Brandon said. "I truly did not know how bad it was until everyone got on their cellphones and looked at the maps."
After the storm passed, the wedding party rode around to look at some of the storm damage.
Some trees were knocked over and power lines were downed across some parts of southwestern and western Michigan. No injuries were reported.

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A southeast Iowa family found a new home for $500. The catch is the home has to be moved to a new site to make room for a highway project.
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports ( ) that 31-year-old Steve Beighley and his fiancee, 32-year-old Crystal Dimick, still believe they got quite a deal.
Moving the home to a new site will cost about $75,000. Then there is the cost of land, a new foundation and a septic sewer system. Altogether, it will cost about $200,000 for a home that appraised at $443,000 currently.
The home was one of six the city of Dubuque sold earlier this month.
Assistant City Engineer Bob Schiesl says demolishing the home would cost roughly $25,000, so even a $500 purchase is a positive.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Three hundred people in Alaska looking to raise awareness of homelessness are the new world record holders in fist-bumping.
KTVA-TV reports a Guinness World Records representative verified each of the fist bumps passed along a line of registered participants in a fenced-off area Saturday.
An improper fist bump could have meant disqualification.
The United Way of Anchorage organized the event. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Alaska First Lady Donna Walker and people who work with homeless youth were among those who joined in.
United Way of Anchorage president Michele Brown said fist-bumping was chosen to represent a strong affirmation of what the community stands for.
The previous record was set by a chain of 250 people.

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Anette Mattsson had bid 200,000 euros ($226,500) for a prized gray Arabian mare but soon stopped. With the price rising rapidly and no sign of other bidders, she sensed that something strange was going on at the annual Pride of Poland sale on Aug. 14.
Mattsson, a Swedish breeder with 27 years of auction experience, was not alone in suspecting something was off in the bidding for a purebred Arabian named Emira. In the week since, the sale has become a political scandal, making Emira a household name and prompting calls for a criminal investigation.
Whatever truly happened, the suspicions have dealt a blow to the reputation of an Arabian horse breeding program considered among the best in the world and which many Poles cherish as a national treasure.
Many people suspect that someone made fake bids to drive prices higher at the auction on the famed Janow Podlaski stud farm, a state-run enterprise in eastern Poland, an allegation the authorities strongly deny. Those who suspect wrongdoing believe that state officials would have acted to ensure a successful auction, which was considered a major test of new management.
After Mattsson pulled out, Emira's price kept rising, finally declared as sold for 550,000 euros. Unlike the other sales that evening, no buyer was identified. At the end of the auction, Emira was brought back and put up for sale again.
Mattsson said she saw that coming. Following her first, failed bid, a bid taker asked her how much she would pay for the mare.
"I said, 'well, you sold her.' He said again, 'how much are you willing to pay for Emira?'" Mattsson recalled.
Eventually she and another Polish official agreed on 200,000 euros and shook hands, only for him to back out a short while later. The mare was put up for auction again.
Mattson then placed the top bid, 225,000 euros, for a client in Qatar.
"Now people are saying that Polish sales are fake," said George Zbyszewski, the manager of Hennessey Arabians in Ocala, Florida. "This sale lost the stud's reputation. It was destroyed in one evening."
The program was fighting for its reputation after a political purge of three top breeders in February by the country's new right-wing government. Power shifts in Poland typically bring management changes in state enterprises, but the firing of the breeders was extremely controversial because it hit three respected professionals - Marek Trela, Jerzy Bialobok and Anna Stojanowska - who had worked for many years on the farms and produced world-class horses sought out by celebrities, Arab sheikhs and other millionaires.
Trela, the manager of Janow Podlaski, was initially replaced by a ruling party loyalist who lacked experience with horses but said, "I feel it will be my new hobby." Amid uproar over that appointment, Slawomir Pietrzak, whose expertise is in sports horses, was installed as manager in June.
One order of business for Pietrzak was apologizing to British breeder Shirley Watts, wife of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who had two of four mares on loan to Poland die after the management change.
Mattsson told The Associated Press that she believes "foul play" was involved at the auction. She couldn't tell who else was bidding for Emira, considered the best of 31 horses up for sale that evening.
"People at my table were getting up and looking to see who was bidding," Mattsson said. "Even if a person bidding is silent you can always see the ringmaster focused on the table where the bids are coming from. I didn't see any another bidder so I started to question if there even was one."
The 16-year-old mare was considered the superstar of the auction and officials had set a reserve, or minimum price, of 700,000 euros. The reserve price is usually kept secret but the auctioneer let it slip out. It's not clear why the authorities accepted so much less.
After the sale, the state official in charge of the auction, Karol Tylenda, called Emira an "old mare" and said they were lucky to have sold her given problems she has had with foaling.
Tylenda later apologized, attributing his words to his emotions. In the following days he declared the auction a success and then stepped down, though denying that was connected to the scandal.
Pietrzak, the stud farm manager, told the AP that the authorities did not engage in any kind of fraud, and blamed the auctioneer, an American, for declaring Emira sold when there was no apparent buyer. "We are absolutely not guilty," Pietrzak said.

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) -- A firefighter who left his dog with friends as he battled wildfires in Washington state will get back his dog weeks after the animal ran away and got adopted by another family.
The Humane Society for Southwest Washington says the family decided over the weekend to return Hunter the dog to William Jones. They initially declined, saying they had bonded with the animal.
After Jones left, the black Labrador retriever jumped a fence, got picked up by animal control and was brought to a shelter earlier this month. Hunter was adopted 10 days later.
Jones told KOIN-TV in Portland that he called the Humane Society when he returned but was told nothing could be done because the adoption was legal.
The group says staff had tried to look for the owner, but the dog didn't have a microchip.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Police are searching for a man who bit off a bartender's finger after being kicked out of a San Francisco bar at closing time.
Officer Carlos Manfredi said Monday that the suspect had been drinking at the bar in the Marina District on July 17 and tried to go back inside after it closed.
When he wasn't let in, the man tried to get in through a small window, and the bartender stopped him again.
Manfredi said the two got into a fight after the man began kicking the door to the bar. Police say that during the confrontation, the man bit off the bartender's ring finger.
The bartender was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for an amputated finger, swollen eyes and bruises to his head.

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BRIDGEWATER, Conn. (AP) -- A simple plastic cup of beer has made history by being the first alcoholic drink sold in a small Connecticut town in 81 years.
The affluent bedroom community of Bridgewater had been the last dry town in the state until residents approved alcohol sales in 2014.
The News-Times reports that the first booze sold in town since 1935 was a cup of beer purchased Friday at the Bridgewater Country Fair.
Bridgewater native and volunteer firefighter Jim Lillis took the first sip before passing the cup to other firefighters and fair volunteers who gathered for the ceremonial sale.
Voters legalized alcohol sales two years ago as developers proposed restaurants in the western Connecticut town of 1,700 residents on the condition that they could sell booze. No restaurants have opened yet.

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PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) -- Canadian authorities stopped an invasion: 1,500 people on inflatable rafts and boats that drifted across the border from Michigan during high winds on the St. Clair River.
The 7.5-mile Port Huron Float Down is an annual event on the river that divides Michigan from Ontario, Canada. But the winds turned it into an international incident Sunday.
"The event has no official organizer and poses significant and unusual hazards given the fast-moving current, large number of participants, lack of life jackets, and as was the case this year, challenging weather conditions," the Sarnia, Ontario, Police Service said on its website.
Police said it took hours for a bus service, Sarnia Transit, to transport approximately 1,500 U.S. citizens back to Michigan.
"They were unprepared to be stranded anywhere," Staff Sgt. Scott Clarke told the Times Herald.
"It was a bit of a nightmare, but we got through it," he said. "There were long waits and long lines. They were cold and wet, but they all made it home."
The event started at Port Huron's Lighthouse Beach and was supposed to end at Chrysler Beach in Marysville.
Sarnia city workers spent several hours Monday picking up beer cans, coolers, rafts - even picnic tables - that washed up on the Canadian shore, said spokeswoman Katarina Ovens.
"I guess they were on the rafts," she said of the picnic tables.

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HOUSTON (AP) - Harris County authorities found more than bingo cards when they raided a Houston-area bingo hall.
Police and deputies say they made a dozen arrests and seized 100 guns, ammunition, body armor and about $87,000 in an underground bunker at the Paradise Day and Night Bingo Hall. Those arrested are charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity.
Authorities say back rooms at the bingo hall contained machines similar to slot machines that customers illegally could play to collect cash prizes. Prosecutors also say the hall's owners had their own ATM machines to launder an estimated $15 million in illegal earnings over the last four years.
An attorney for the owners, Stephen St. Mark, says the hall is a legitimate state-licensed bingo operation. He calls the raid ridiculous.

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