Mad Minutes stories from Friday, February 24th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minutes stories from Friday, February 24th

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Add this to the long list of problems caused by buzzing drones: Frightening 1,500 elk into stampeding at a time of year when too much stress can be deadly for the animals.
This winter already is one for the books in western Wyoming. More than twice as much snowfall than usual has fallen in many areas, and more than 3 feet has accumulated at the National Elk Refuge in the scenic valley of Jackson Hole.
Typically the National Elk Refuge provides a winter haven for elk. But on Monday, David A. Smart, 45, of Washington, D.C., got a $280 ticket for allegedly launching a drone from a highway pullout and flying it over hundreds of elk resting there.
The device caused the elk to stampede half a mile through the snow. Smart was trying to film the animals and afterward was apologetic, refuge deputy manager Cris Dippel said Friday.
Nonetheless, wildlife managers take animal harassment seriously. The federal crime of which Smart was accused, disturbing wildlife, is punishable by an up to $5,000 fine.
The deep snow is a bane for animals, including bison hit by vehicles as they sought easier walking along plowed roads.
Elk, moose, mule deer and antelope fatten up during green months so when winter hits they can subsist on less-nourishing forage often covered up by snow and ice.
"It's a crucial time of year for those animals and they don't need to be burning up additional energy stores unnecessarily," said Doug Brimeyer, deputy wildlife division chief at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Wyoming has several laws and regulations against harassing wildlife, including one that prohibits antler collecting during winter and part of the spring. Bull elk drop their antlers during late winter and early spring and too many avid antler collectors scaring elk with their snowmobiles prompted that state regulation in 2009.
At the refuge, wildlife managers put out alfalfa pellets and other feed to help elk and bison survive the winter, a practice environmentalists worry could encourage disease.
Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease that causes elk and deer to lose weight and eventually die, has been slowly spreading into western Wyoming over the years.
"The concern is if it is found on those feedgrounds, it could be exacerbated by the elk concentrated in those areas," said Chris Colligan with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "It's slowly creeping toward our fed elk populations."
The state operates 22 other elk feedgrounds in western Wyoming. They serve to keep elk numbers up not just for the animals' sake but for the benefit of hunters and the millions of tourists who flock to the region every summer.
"Anything we can do to afford those animals an edge to help them survive is pretty critical," said Brimeyer.

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- For a Venezuelan skier who had only trained on wheels beneath a bright sun, the slopes of Finland proved a mighty challenge.
Adrian Solano wobbled nervously backward as he exited the starting gate at the Lahti2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships this week. He fumbled into the white powder after sliding down a small hill. And he tried awkwardly walking up an incline while others raced by him.
By Thursday, sports commentators circulating videos of his near-comedic cross-country performance online had dubbed him the worst skier alive.
Solano, however, teetered along, unfazed.
"From here to the Olympics!" he proclaimed in an interview with Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet.
Solano's saga has hit a nerve among Venezuelans and angered the country's highest officials, who are denouncing France for deporting the athlete in January while he was trying to get to Sweden to train on snow. Airport migration officials in Paris allegedly doubted his story, thinking his journey to the slopes was a ploy to leave his beleaguered country.
"We will issue a strong statement to the French government for their affront against a Venezuelan athlete," Venezuela's foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, wrote in a Tweet Wednesday.
Stuck back in Caracas, Solano's supporters started a GoFundMe page that brought him to Finland just in time to compete.
The only problem: He hadn't practiced skiing on snow, only on wheels in Venezuela's scorching heat.
In the first race, a 10-kilometer qualifying round, Solano failed to finish. He completed the first 3.5 kilometers in 37 minutes and 39 seconds - the same amount of time it took other competitors to finish the entire course. In the 1.6 kilometer cross-country sprint he finished last in 156th place.
"Embarrassing!" wrote one critic on his Instagram page, who went on to accuse him of receiving sponsorship from the Venezuelan government while countless go hungry.
"My friend," he wrote in response, "I swear I am not here because of the government. I arrived thanks to people who heard my story and supported me."
Still, many others are rallying to support Solano and his dream of one day waving the Venezuelan flag in the winter Olympics.
"I achieved a dream," he said in his interview with the Norwegian newspaper. "This pushes me to try more every day."

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee woman held up at gunpoint by two men rebuffed their attempt to rob her and got an apology before they fled.
Kristy Welch was returning home Monday following a ceramics class when the two men approached her while she was still in her car. Welch told them she just had surgery and didn't have any money. That's when the two men apologized and said "God bless you" before taking off.
The encounter was caught on video surveillance.
Welch's husband, Alfred, tells WTMJ-TV he installed a motion-activated camera outside their home many years ago.
Welch says that without the video, no one would have believed that someone put a gun to her face then blessed her and left without causing any harm.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A Democratic candidate's run for the Pennsylvania Legislature is down the drain - partly because he used too little water at the house he claimed as his residence.
A state judge on Thursday threw Frederick Ramirez off the ballot in the race for an open House seat in Philadelphia.
The judge found that low water and electric use at the house Ramirez claimed as his residence showed he really didn't live in the district.
According to testimony, for 11 months he was billed for a total of about 3,000 gallons of water, or the equivalent of less than two toilet flushes a day on average.
His lawyer said the low numbers, showing zero use in some months, are misleading because of how bills are calculated.
Neighbors testified they never saw Ramirez on their block, the bedroom light was always on and the home never seemed to put out trash for curbside pickup.
"The fact that there are no photographs or pictures on the walls, combined with the fact that his daughter's room is still decorated for an infant, more strongly reveals that (the) candidate is not domiciled at (the house), but merely uses that location as a convenient place to stay" when he is working at a nearby clinic he owns, wrote Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey.
The seat became vacant with the Jan. 3 resignation of Democratic Rep. Leslie Acosta. She had been re-elected in November, about two months after her secret guilty plea of conspiracy to commit money laundering to a federal judge became public.
Ramirez's lawyer, Adam Bonin, said the property is indeed Ramirez's home. Bonin said he is considering his options, including a potential appeal.
"Obviously, and especially given when this decision was handed down, time is of the essence," Bonin said.
The judge's ruling leaves just one candidate on the ballot for the March 21 special election, Republican Lucinda Little, in what is an overwhelmingly Democratic district.
"I feel that justice has prevailed," Little said Friday. "We need a representative that actually lives in the district, that actually cares about the district."
A spokeswoman for the Department of State, which oversees elections, said the agency's lawyers were examining whether Democrats are legally allowed to pick a new candidate.
The head of the state Democrats said he expects his party to take some sort of action in the coming days.
"If he's not the candidate, we need to find somebody, even if it's for a write-in," said Marcel Groen, the party chairman. "That said, it's certainly preferable to have someone on the ballot."
The race will not affect partisan control of the state House, where Republicans hold a 121-82 majority.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- A politician in northern Sweden wants to list sex as an officially approved activity for civil servants during their daily paid lunchbreak.
Per-Erik Muskos of the city council of Overtornea on the Arctic Circle says he made "a serious and formal" proposal Monday to add sex to the list of acceptable activities, which also include going to the gym or getting a massage, as well as eating.
He said Friday that benefits could include improving employee morale and increasing the population of the town of about 4,500.
Muskos said the municipality's 550 employees are now assessing his proposal before it is discussed in the city council in a few months.
The 42-year-old lawmaker said negative reactions to his proposal came chiefly from "some elderly employees who find it embarrassing to talk about what happens in the bedroom."

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal agents are searching for a man they say robbed a northeast Albuquerque bank while wearing a Wal-Mart vest.
The FBI said Friday the man hit the bank Tuesday while sporting a blue Wal-Mart vest and a black rag on his head. Agents say he gave a demand note to a BBVA Compass Bank teller and made verbal threats before leaving with an undisclosed amount of money.
Authorities say the man was last seen around Albuquerque.
No arrests have been made.

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FRANKFORT, KY (WCMH) - A Kentucky lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction to jump through several hoops beforehand.
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) introduced House Bill 369.
The bill would require that a man visit a doctor twice before the doctor can prescribe any drug for erectile dysfunction, be married and get a signed and dated letter of consent from his spouse. The bill also calls for the man to "make a sworn statement with his hand on a bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse."
The bill's requirements would apply to medications like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Avanafil as well as other treatments and procedures for erectile dysfunction.
You can read the full bill here: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/16RS/HB396/bill.pdf

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Erie, PA - There's no use crying over spilled milk, but what about beer?
Well, we don't know if anyone cried, but it was quite the scene early this morning in northwestern Pennsylvania.
That's when a semi-truck carrying thousands of plastic bottles of beer crashed, dumping them onto the roadway.
The truck went over an embankment on an exit ramp from Interstate-90.
Authorities don't know what caused the accident, but it is under investigation.
The driver of the truck suffered only minor injuries.
The beer was not as lucky.

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ROME (AP) -- Fifty-five employees at a Naples public hospital, including doctors and nurses, are under house arrest for allegedly clocking in, then disappearing from their posts, including one physician spotted hopping a cab to play tennis, another suspect who allegedly worked as a hotel chef while on duty at the hospital, and others who slipped off to go shopping.
Carabinieri police said Friday that 94 Loreto Mare hospital employees are being investigated in the fraud probe. Over two years, police trailed suspects and filmed them, including one person who swiped the electronic badges of as many as 20 other no-show colleagues to make it appear they were at work.
Previously, workers elsewhere successfully challenged in court the government's vow to fire goldbrickers.

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Akron, OH - One man is turning heads on the campus of the University of Akron.
He wears sandals when he rolls, and they call him "Longboard Jesus."
He's gotten quite a following on campus and online.
20-year old Joe Gerin, the young man in the spiritual robe, says he doesn't mean to offend anyone, he just wants to make people smile.
It all started with a cheap halloween costume that seemed to go very well with the long hair and beard he already had.
"I got like a nine-dollar costume from like Halloween Spirit or something," Gerin said. "It's just a robe with like a red stash. And then I put on some sandals, because I already had the hair and the beard and the mustache."
Once he had the look, he started making viral videos, and now he may have an opportunity to make some money as a skateboarding messiah.
The mechanical engineering student is taking the semester off, but you can still see the man they call Longboard Jesus.
 

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