Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 20th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 20th

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COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) -- A Mexican woman tried to smuggle liquid methamphetamine into the U.S. by hiding it inside Native American-style dreamcatchers when she crossed the border into New Mexico over the weekend, federal officials said Monday. 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the woman was detained Sunday in Columbus, New Mexico when she crossed from Puerto Palomas, Mexico, and a drug-sniffing dog alerted customs officers. 
The officers found six dreamcatchers in the woman's car with rings made of rubber tubing filled with a liquid that tested positive for methamphetamine, the officials said. 
Dreamcatchers, hoops of willow and feathers typically made by American Indians in the Great Plains, are intended to protect sleepers from bad dreams. 
The woman, from Nuevo Casas Grandes in Mexico's Chihuahua state, was handed over to Department of Homeland Security agents. Her name was not released. Officials said she was traveling with her eight-year-old and one-year-old daughters. The children were handed over by agents to a relative of the woman.
Robert Reza, director of the Columbus Port of Entry, said smugglers frequently conceal drugs in soft drink cans, framed artwork and other seemingly innocent items. 
"This is one of the most unusual smuggling episodes we have ever encountered," Reza said. 
U.S. border customs officials in Arizona last June arrested a 19-year-old man after agents he allegedly tried to cross the border with drugs disguised as tamales. 
The purported tamales contained about $3,000 worth of methamphetamine, officials said. 

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- An ordained Pagan priest finally has gotten the OK to sport goat horns in his Maine driver's license photo.
Maine resident Phelan Moonsong said that unless he's sleeping or bathing, he always wears his goat horns, which serve as his spiritual antennae and help him educate others about Paganism.
But Moonsong is questioning why he had to appeal his driver license's photo to the state after explaining his religious beliefs to Bureau of Motor Vehicle staff. Plus, he adds, the horns didn't obstruct his face.
The Maine Secretary of State's office said the state was not familiar with his choice of headdress and had asked Moonsong for more information to review the issue. A spokeswoman said the state allowed the goat horns because Moonsong cited their religious purposes and also because they didn't obstruct his face.
Maine motor vehicle staff can hold license photos for review if they have a concern about religious headdress.
Moonsong said after he applied for an updated driver's license in August and explained his religion to a motor vehicles employee, he was told to appeal his photo to the Secretary of State's office.
He said he provided more information to the Secretary of State's office. But when he contacted the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in late November, he said he was told his ID was rejected - which was news to him.
Moonsong then filled out an application for legal assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently told him it was unable to take his case.
"What I was requesting should have been accepted according to what was written in statute and in guidelines," he said.
It should be no different than a nun wearing a habit, or a Sikh wearing a Turban, Moonsong said.
But, he said, he was happy to receive his new driver's license last week.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Ride-hailing giant Uber is blaming a computer glitch for overcharging a "handful" of customers, including one Philadelphia woman whose bank blocked an attempt to charge her more than $28,000 for a ride.
Philly.com says that woman first said she got an email from Uber warning her that her financial information had been hacked. Six days later, Uber sent another email telling her that was wrong and that Uber's engineering team was aware of the error and fixing it.
The San Francisco-based company says its engineers are working to ensure a similar glitch doesn't happen again.
Uber says the woman's bank was never charged the $28,639.14, but a hold for that amount was placed on her account.

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NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- Police say a man accused of stealing Christmas gifts and ornaments in a New Hampshire home break-in might not have escaped up the chimney like the Grinch but was found on his rooftop.
Police say they got a call Monday from a Nashua homeowner who told them his back door had been kicked in and there was an unknown man in his house. They say the homeowner confronted the man, who fled with the gifts and ornaments.
They say a short time later they found and arrested Carl Kirsch, who was hiding on his roof a couple of blocks away.
Kirsch has been charged with burglary. He was in custody Tuesday and couldn't be reached for comment before arraignment. It's unknown if he has a lawyer who could comment for him.

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KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) -- The actor who portrayed the tights-clad Batman in the 1960s TV series is selling paintings he has created of villains from the show at an art gallery in the central Idaho resort town of Ketchum near where he now lives.
The opening night of "Criminals on Canvas" is Wednesday at the Gilman Contemporary art gallery, and West is scheduled to attend.
The 88-year-old West in a statement says his paintings capture the humor, zaniness and depth of Batman villains as well as the Freudian motivations of Batman.
West's deadpan portrayal of the comic hero in the campy 1960s series brought the Capped Crusader into the national consciousness as he battled Catwoman, the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin.
The Sun Valley and Ketchum area typically attracts many wealthy visitors during the holidays.

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ATLANTA (AP) - Authorities say a former U.S. postal worker is charged with delaying and destroying mail after investigators found about 4,500 pieces of mail in the woods outside Atlanta.
Prosecutors say 25-year-old Thomas O. Beaurem of McDonough was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charge. He has pleaded not guilty.
Investigators say they found the mail in a wooded area in Decatur, and some pieces of the mail that was dumped had cancellation dates as early as Oct. 5. The Postal Service was first informed of the undelivered mail Oct. 18.
Authorities said that some of the correspondence was too badly damaged to deliver, but other mail from the woods has since been delivered.
Federal court records do not list any attorney for Beaurem who could be reached for comment on his behalf.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Some Baltimore residents have been hit with water bills up to nearly $81,000 as the city switches to monthly billing.
The Baltimore Sun reports at least three residents say they've received bills for tens of thousands of dollars more than they owe.
City officials say they've corrected at least two of those residents' bills, and are determining the cause of the errors.
Public works officials began moving some 200,000 city water customers from quarterly to monthly billing in October, but acknowledge there have been some issues. They've also switched to wireless water meters that are supposed to improve billing accuracy, after years of complaints.
Some say they've yet to receive a bill under the new monthly system. Others say they've paid their bills but weren't credited for the payments.

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) - The newest member of the Massachusetts State Police is 8 inches tall and used to work for Santa Claus.
"Statie the Elf" has been appearing on the department's social media accounts all month .
It's the brainchild of Trooper Dustin Fitch, who got a custom-tailored uniform made for an "Elf on the Shelf" doll.
Statie has spent time with the motorcycle and mounted units, written reports and cleared snow from a car after a storm. He even got his driver's license at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, but not before getting his eyes checked.
Fitch says Statie has gotten a lot of positive attention, especially from kids. He says Statie is likely to only be around for the holidays, but he has a few more things planned before Christmas.

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SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) _ A Pennsylvania man isn't sure how much it costs his city to collect garbage, but he's sure the city's charging more than necessary.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune says that's gist of Adam Giuffrida's class action lawsuit against Scranton.
The northeastern Pennsylvania city raised its annual trash collection fee from $178 to $300 two years ago.
The lawsuit says the city code requires the fee to cover only costs directly associated with trash collection, but contends the fee is being used as a "general revenue source."
The city's garbage collection budget is $4.2 million this year and, through September, the city has spent about $2.8 million. But the lawsuit contends the city has collected $6.2 million in fees.
City council says it plans to study the actual cost of collecting garbage.

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Albany, NY - A pot bellied pig is hogging all the attention at the Albany International Airport in upstate New York.
"Bacon Bits" is the latest therapy ambassador to help travelers with their flying anxieties. He's a cute 20-month-old porker, who's been hamming it up in his Santa suit. 
"Bacon Bits" is now a proud member of the airport's Animal Ambassador Program, and needless to say he was a big hit as he pranced around the passenger terminal, taking his job seriously. 
He's the only pig in a crew of 30 canines that parade through the airport to add a little cheer to busy travelers.
But his furry friends don't seem to mind that he's the only qualified swine on the team.
Volunteers are pleased that he's become an instant celebrity, and that he's eager to pose for selfies.
 

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