Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, February 1st - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, February 1st

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- How does a primate find a date when they're confined to an urban jungle?
Orangutans in a Dutch zoo may get a high-tech helping hand thanks to a research project that is being likened to a Tinder dating app for apes.
The research at the Apenheul primate park, on the outskirts of the Dutch city of Apeldoorn, is investigating the emotional responses of orangutans and bonobos to images of the same species they are shown on a touch screen.
Biologist Thomas Bionda said Wednesday the screen could help determine an ape's preference between prospective mates as part of a breeding program.
"We want to help our animals and maybe other zoos' animals to make a choice," Bionda said in a telephone interview. "Animals have to like each other."
Bionda hopes that having apes check out images on a computer screen could help determine the compatibility of a prospective pair.
In the meantime, the primate park has another problem - building an orangutan-proof touch screen. The screen in the primates' sleeping area was recently destroyed by a young female called Samboja.

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PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) -- Police in northern Oklahoma say they've arrested a substitute teacher on an indecent exposure complaint after she reportedly did a cartwheel in front of students while wearing a skirt but no undergarments.
The Pawhuska Police Department says a student recorded the incident on a cellphone. Police Chief Scott Laird says the incident reportedly happened during a high school choir class in Pawhuska, about 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
The substitute teacher, whose name has not been released, was arrested Tuesday afternoon. Pawhuska police say she remains jailed Wednesday morning.

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WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- A Massachusetts mayor is apologizing after a live microphone captured him calling protesters "freakin' morons" during a public meeting.
The Telegram and Gazette reports that Worcester (WU'-ster) Mayor Joseph Petty apologized Wednesday, a day after making the remarks.
A video of the meeting posted on the city's website shows Petty attempting to quiet protesters. The demonstrators had gathered earlier to protest the immigration policies of Republican President Donald Trump.
At around the three-minute mark of the video, as protesters' shouts delayed the start of the City Council meeting, the Democratic mayor can be heard uttering "freakin' morons. Morons, morons, morons" and calling them uneducated.
On Wednesday, Petty said in a written statement that he was caught in a moment of frustration and he was wrong and embarrassed.

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SHAMOKIN, Pa. (AP) -- A central Pennsylvania mayor has been accused by authorities of disturbing 14 graves through work on a cellphone tower planned for the cemetery where he serves as board president.
Police charged Shamokin Mayor Bill Milbrand with vandalism over the plan to build the cellphone tower over the graves. He has denied the charges and said he had little involvement in the project, which would have generated money for cemetery upkeep.
Some of the 16,000 graves at Shamokin Cemetery date to 1919.
Milbrand told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he could not discuss the situation until he met with a lawyer. He was arrested and handcuffed Tuesday at his tour bus company.
Police accused him of letting construction crews cover more than a dozen graves with dirt in order to place the cell tower at the back of the cemetery. Milbrand hoped it could generate $900 to $1,200 a month.
"If it is proven that graves were disturbed, with my own money I will see that it gets righted," Milbrand told the Daily Item of Sunbury.
The arrest followed a complaint from local resident Thomas Ward. According to court papers, Shamokin Patrolman William Miner used burial records and photographic evidence to determine that 14 graves had been disturbed, and spoke with a contractor who said he had done work there at Milbrand's direction. Other residents complained that rocks and rubble had fallen onto graves.
Milbrand worked as a bus mechanic for the school district before buying the local tour bus company in 2010. He was charged with 14 felony vandalism counts along with lesser charges. He has been released on $20,000 unsecured bail.

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Residents in Arizona cities who spot a rat or snake in their yard will be able to shoot the animals using a small-caliber gun loaded with tiny pellets under legislation that Republicans gave initial approval Tuesday.
A group of scientists opposed to the proposal say it endangers people by encouraging firearm use in populated areas and puts them at risk as they approach venomous snakes. In Phoenix and other cities in Arizona, neighborhoods are commonly built on or near the desert.
Democrats failed to persuade Republicans who control the state House that the measure would lead to more injuries and waste officers' time with additional gunfire calls. Wildlife advocates and residents worried about stray gunfire also oppose it.
Rep. Jay Lawrence said his legislation isn't about shooting reptiles or rodents, despite the definitions in his bill referring to "rat or snake shot."
"This is not a kill-animals bill, it has nothing to do with killing snakes, it has nothing to do with killing rats, cats or dogs," Lawrence said. "This is a firearms bill, strictly and totally."
The National Conference of State Legislatures said it does not track such legislation, so it's unclear how many other states have similar laws.
Gun-rights advocates support House Bill 2022, which changes a landmark 2000 law against celebratory gunfire enacted after a stray bullet struck and killed a Phoenix teen. The law made it a felony to fire a gun within city limits.
It has an exemption allowing people to shoot nuisance wildlife but opponents have argued that the new measure will encourage more gunfire in cities and towns.
"I'm concerned about relaxing the restrictions on use of firearms within city limits," said Democratic Rep. Kirsten Engel of Tucson. "Generally, I think those two do not mix too well and we could see an increase of injuries to people as a result of this bill."
Engel also worries about people approaching snakes, noting statistics that show many snake bites happen when people try to kill or capture them. Plus, killing snakes isn't necessarily a good thing.
"I'm concerned because snakes are a beneficial part of our ecosystem," she said. "They actually get rid of rats."
For his part, Lawrence said a BB gun shoots farther and higher than the type of ammunition he's looking to legalize for use inside city limits.
Republicans who routinely approve reductions to firearm restrictions backed the bill. Rep. Eddie Farnsworth said allowing the use of tiny shotgun shells is safer than a .22-caliber round.
"Believe me, we aren't the Soviet Union yet, so we do have a legitimate use for firearms," he said. "By having this shot included in what we can use within a quarter-mile (of an occupied building), we actually are making people safer."
The original 2000 law stipulates 1 mile, but another change awaiting House action narrows the distance someone must be from a building to shoot a gun.
The chamber approved the rat shot measure on a voice vote, and it awaits a formal vote to determine if it advances to the Senate.PHOENIX (AP) -- Residents in Arizona cities who spot a rat or snake in their yard will be able to shoot the animals using a small-caliber gun loaded with tiny pellets under legislation that Republicans gave initial approval Tuesday.
A group of scientists opposed to the proposal say it endangers people by encouraging firearm use in populated areas and puts them at risk as they approach venomous snakes. In Phoenix and other cities in Arizona, neighborhoods are commonly built on or near the desert.
Democrats failed to persuade Republicans who control the state House that the measure would lead to more injuries and waste officers' time with additional gunfire calls. Wildlife advocates and residents worried about stray gunfire also oppose it.
Rep. Jay Lawrence said his legislation isn't about shooting reptiles or rodents, despite the definitions in his bill referring to "rat or snake shot."
"This is not a kill-animals bill, it has nothing to do with killing snakes, it has nothing to do with killing rats, cats or dogs," Lawrence said. "This is a firearms bill, strictly and totally."
The National Conference of State Legislatures said it does not track such legislation, so it's unclear how many other states have similar laws.
Gun-rights advocates support House Bill 2022, which changes a landmark 2000 law against celebratory gunfire enacted after a stray bullet struck and killed a Phoenix teen. The law made it a felony to fire a gun within city limits.
It has an exemption allowing people to shoot nuisance wildlife but opponents have argued that the new measure will encourage more gunfire in cities and towns.
"I'm concerned about relaxing the restrictions on use of firearms within city limits," said Democratic Rep. Kirsten Engel of Tucson. "Generally, I think those two do not mix too well and we could see an increase of injuries to people as a result of this bill."
Engel also worries about people approaching snakes, noting statistics that show many snake bites happen when people try to kill or capture them. Plus, killing snakes isn't necessarily a good thing.
"I'm concerned because snakes are a beneficial part of our ecosystem," she said. "They actually get rid of rats."
For his part, Lawrence said a BB gun shoots farther and higher than the type of ammunition he's looking to legalize for use inside city limits.
Republicans who routinely approve reductions to firearm restrictions backed the bill. Rep. Eddie Farnsworth said allowing the use of tiny shotgun shells is safer than a .22-caliber round.
"Believe me, we aren't the Soviet Union yet, so we do have a legitimate use for firearms," he said. "By having this shot included in what we can use within a quarter-mile (of an occupied building), we actually are making people safer."
The original 2000 law stipulates 1 mile, but another change awaiting House action narrows the distance someone must be from a building to shoot a gun.
The chamber approved the rat shot measure on a voice vote, and it awaits a formal vote to determine if it advances to the Senate.

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ORD, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska roads supervisor was fired after state auditors alleged he exchanged asphalt millings for beer.
State auditors shared the allegations of the unnamed employee with Nebraska Department of Roads officials in November. The employee was relieved of his position a month later, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Auditors alleged that the millings were saved from a 2016 resurfacing project on Nebraska 70, northeast of Ord.
Asphalt millings are normally used for filling worn road shoulders or are recycled for new pavement. They're also sometimes sold to local governments.
Several people in the Ord area also admitted to receiving the millings for their driveways in place of gravel. At least one person said the employee allegedly "received payments of beer in exchange," according to a letter from state Auditor Charlie Janssen's office.
Auditors said the employee may have violated laws governing use of state equipment by using Nebraska Department of Roads trucks to deliver the millings.
The newspaper was unable to reach Valley County prosecutor Brandon Hanson for comment on whether the employee will face misdemeanor criminal charges for misuse of state property.
Audit Manager Cindy Janssen, who is unrelated to Charlie Janssen, said the office was unable to determine the quantity of millings given away because the Roads Department doesn't track millings unless they're sold.
"NDOR will continue to ensure that state assets are accounted for and safeguarded to the best of our abilities," the department said in response to the audit.
NDOR officials said they will review policies for handling millings statewide.

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HONOLULU (AP) - Federal agents say a man used a mango picker to steal six guns out of a Maui storage unit.
Court documents say Sancho Agtaguem (AHG-tahg-uem) allegedly used the long pole attached to a basket for grabbing fruit to lift the weapons out of the unit.
The owner of the guns didn't realize the two revolvers, two rifles and two pistols were missing until contacted by police.
The documents say Agtaguem allegedly traded one rifle for drugs. Agents say one of the handguns ended up with a convicted felon who was pointing the gun at people at a Walgreens.
Agtaguem is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday. His attorney, Megan Kau, says she hasn't been able to speak with him because he needs a Tagalog interpreter.

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BEL AIR, Md. (AP) _ A deer that had a plastic pretzel container stuck on its head for several days has been freed in Maryland.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Sunday evening tranquilized and then freed the deer, nicknamed "Jughead" by residents of Bel Air who had been tracking it since the container got stuck on its head since Jan. 19. Department officials also spotted the deer several times, but weren't able before Sunday to capture it.
Department spokesman Gregg Bortz says the Wildlife Response Team released the deer from the container, monitored him until he recovered from the tranquilizer and then released him into the wild with new ear tags.

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Police in St. Pete say they've caught the man who broke into a home this morning, startling a sleeping woman inside, then was later spotted spying on another woman as she was getting dressed.
It was around 7:15 a.m. when a woman called police to report that she had awoken on her couch to find a man standing over her.  The man, whom police said was dressed in "Spongebob clothing," ran from the home as the woman called police.
That scene was in the area of 21st Avenue S and 7th Street.  About 20 minutes later, a man was seen near 22nd Avenue S and 5th Street looking through the window of a home where a woman was getting dressed for work. As officers arrived, the man ran and was chased to a yard along 25th Avenue S.
That's where police say he tried -- unsuccessfully -- to hide in a trash can and was arrested.
According to police, the man in both incidents was Steven Charles Kirkland, who was already wanted for two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12 from back on January 22.  The 32-year-old is also a suspect in an indecent exposure case at Bay Vista Park that same day.
Kirkland now faces several new charges, including burglary and trespassing. 
Police fear there may be even more victims, though, and they are asking anyone with information to contact them.

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TULSA, Okla. - Authorities say 31 pounds of cocaine that was accidentally discovered stashed in the nose of an American Airlines aircraft in Tulsa is worth around $434,000.
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Justin Green says the plane arrived in Miami from Bogota, Colombia, on Sunday. It was flagged for maintenance and sent later that day to Tulsa International Airport, where American Airlines has a maintenance base.
While working on the nose gear, an airline employee noticed what looked like a clump of insulation or a brick-like object and called the sheriff's office to inspect the suspicious find.
Authorities discovered seven bricks of cocaine, worth at least $14,000 a pound.
Green says the case has been turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami.
 

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