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

Mad Minute stories from Thursday, April 20th

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MONACO (AP) -- It may not be quite like the Jetsons, but for over a million dollars you too can soon fly around in a car.
A Slovakian company called AeroMobil unveiled on Thursday its version of a flying car, a light-framed plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect, and is boosted by a hybrid engine and rear propeller.
It will be available to preorder as soon as this year but is not for everyone: besides the big price tag - between 1.2 million and 1.5 million euros ($1.3 million-$1.6 million) - you'd need a pilot's license to use it in the air.
"I think it's going to be a very niche product," said Philip Mawby, professor of electronic engineering and head of research at the University of Warwick.
Several companies are working on flying cars, either like Aeromobil's two-seater that needs a runway, or others that function more like helicopters, lifting off vertically. But not many companies are seriously looking at marketing these vehicles anytime soon, Mawby said.
"The technology is there... The question is bringing it to the market at an affordable cost, and making it a useful product."
Among the big questions is how to control the air traffic if there are hundreds of such vehicles zipping through the air. There is no control except for traditional aircraft, notes Mawby.
So while vehicles like the AeroMobil could be used for recreational purposes by people who have a large piece of land, flying cars are unlikely to become a mass market reality anytime soon, he says.
The AeroMobil has a driving range of about 100 kms (62 miles) and a top speed of 160 kph (99 mph). When flying, its maximum cruising range is 750 kms (466 miles), and it takes about three minutes for the car to transform into a plane.
"You can use it as a regular car," said Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of Aeromobil, at the unveiling in Monaco. Though it is not legal -yet - to take off from a highway.
The previous AeroMobil 3.0 prototype made news in 2014 when it was presented in Vienna, but no test-flight took place then. It crashed during a test flight in Slovakia in 2015 with its inventor Stefan Klein on board. He escaped largely unharmed.

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SPARTA, N.J. (AP) -- A man who wore a bunny costume and repeatedly blew an air horn inside a New Jersey police station has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Kevin Hemmerich (HEM'-er-ik) entered the plea Thursday and was fined $500. The judge also ordered a police officer charged with striking Hemmerich in Hopatcong (hoh-PAHT'-kahng) last November to stand trial July 6.
Hopatcong police Officer Nicholas Maresca Jr. has pleaded not guilty to charges of simple assault and harassment. More than 50 officers went to court to support him.
Kevin Hemmerich and his brother entered the Hopatcong Police Department lobby to turn himself in for an outstanding warrant. He was dressed in a bunny costume and repeatedly blew the air horn.
Maresca is seen striking Hemmerich on video taken by his brother .

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A Starbucks barista has taken to social media hoping to make orders for the coffee chain's much buzzed about Unicorn Frappuccino disappear.
Starbucks' entry into the unicorn food craze was released Wednesday and its popularity was too much for 19-year-old Colorado barista Braden Burson. He posted a video (now-deleted) on Twitter after his shift complaining that it was difficult to keep up with orders for the drink and he's "never been so stressed out" in his life.
The Unicorn Frappuccino is a sweet and sour pink and blue cream swirl topped with what Starbucks calls "fairy powder." Burson says in the video that a day of making the treat left him with sticky hands and residue from the drink stuck to his clothes and in his hair.
Burson tells The Associated Press that he didn't think his rant would get this much publicity and he didn't intend to "downgrade" the drink.
"It's a great drink. But it is difficult to make when there are like 20 fraps all at once both front and drive thru," he wrote in a Facebook message.
Starbucks said in a statement Thursday that the popular reception of the drink has "exceeded everyone's expectations." It added that it is reaching out to Burson "to talk about his experience and how to make it better."
Burson said he hadn't heard from the company as of midday Thursday.

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A bus ad promoting a Concord, New Hampshire, arts festival takes a detour through Europe.
Huge photos on a Concord Coach bus that travels between Concord and Boston feature images of the Merrimack River and a local clock tower, both associated with New Hampshire's capital city.
But the Concord Monitor reports that photos of people on a Prague hillside and a painter from Venice, Italy, also are in the ad for the May 6 festival.
Still, Concord Coach president Ben Blunt says: "I think you can get your message across."
Concord Coach paid for the ad. A festival volunteer chose the photos from a stock photo service.
Last year, Rhode Island hired a new chief marketing officer after its embarrassing state tourism campaign included a video featuring a scene from Iceland.

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LONDON (AP) -- British officials say they've been unable to trace the rightful heirs to a trove of gold coins found stashed inside a piano and worth a "life-changing" amount of money.
The school that owns the piano and the tuner who found the gold are now in line for a windfall after a coroner investigating the find declared it treasure. But a couple who owned the piano for three decades before donating it to their local school will likely miss out.
Coroner John Ellery said Thursday that, despite a thorough investigation and a public appeal for information, "we simply do not know" who concealed the coins.
The hoard was discovered last year when the piano was sent for tuning in Shropshire, central England. Under the keyboard - neatly stacked in hand-stitched packages and pouches - were 913 gold sovereigns and half-sovereigns minted in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Piano tuner Martin Backhouse said when he found the pouches and slit open the stitching, he thought: "Ooh, it looks like there's rather a lot of gold in this."
The hoard, which weighs 6 kilograms (13 pounds), has not been formally valued. But Peter Reavill of the British Museum has said the trove is worth a "potentially life-changing" amount.
Revenue from items declared "treasure" is generally split between the owner - in this case, the Bishops Castle Community College - and the finder.
The piano was owned for 33 years by Graham and Meg Hemmings, who donated it last year to the school near their home. But Meg Hemmings said she's not bitter at missing out on treasure that was right under her nose.
"The sadness is, it's not a complete story," she said. "They've looked and searched for the people and they unfortunately haven't come forward.
"It's an incomplete story - but it's still an exciting story."

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HULL, Mass. (AP) - An antiques collector in Massachusetts says he didn't realize he had an explosive 19th-century cannonball sitting in his home until a bomb squad detonated the device.
WFXT-TV reports that Bruce Wescott, of Hull, took the cannonball to a gun store Wednesday trying to sell it. He found the explosive, which he believed to be from the Civil War, in a box of antiques he bought a year earlier but never looked through. He said the owner of the gun store told him the cannonball was potentially dangerous and asked him to leave.
Wescott took the cannonball home and called police, who told him not to touch it.
Neighbors were evacuated as a state police bomb squad removed the device, took it to a landfill and blew it up.

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - California police say they've arrested a man they suspect of faking his own kidnapping to extort his mother.
The Orange County Register reports police arrested 31-year-old Robert Nunez on Tuesday. Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna says his mother called 911 Sunday after she received a text message saying Nunez was dead. The mother later received more text messages asking for a ransom in exchange for her son's safe return.
Police say they found Nunez in Anaheim. After questioning him, Bertagna says investigators determined that Nunez had sent the text messages to his mother.
He was arrested on suspicion of attempted extortion. Bertagna says this is the department's third fake hostage situation case in Santa Ana this month.
Nunez is scheduled to appear in court April 19.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Animal control officials in Philadelphia are investigating after a small alligator was found at the scene of a fire.
Police found the alligator Wednesday night after firefighters put out a blaze at a building in the city.
Police initially asked for help from a nonprofit that provides support to families with pets after a fire. The group told KYW-TV that they don't take in those types of animals and referred the case to Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team.
WTXF-TV reports the alligator is between 18 and 24 inches long and was found inside a fish tank.
Two people were treated for minor injuries after the fire. The fire marshal is still investigating the cause.

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NEW YORK STATE - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today the unsealing of three indictments charging Paul J. Newman, President of Cohesion Studios, Inc., with defrauding construction companies, business owners, and municipalities throughout the Capital Region by pretending to be a licensed and registered architect. 
The Attorney General's investigation, "Operation Vandelay Industries," revealed that Newman allegedly drafted architectural renderings for over 100 properties in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties. Newman allegedly submitted these architectural renderings, as well as foundation inspections, field reports, energy compliance certificates, and engineer letters, to various towns and cities, falsely certifying on the documents that he was a registered and licensed architect and affixing a forged New York State Registered Architect Stamp or Professional Engineer Stamp.
"As we allege, for over seven years the defendant has pretended to be a Registered Architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers - including families and senior citizens - with the sole goal of enriching himself," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on. Deceptive actions like these erode public trust - and my office will not tolerate them."
"The State Education Department's Office of the Professions investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct in more than 50 licensed professions to help protect New Yorkers," said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. "We are grateful for our continuing partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman and his team of professionals as we work together to ensure the safety of the public is protected against the dangers of unlicensed practice."
According to statements by the prosecutor at arraignment, since at least 2010, Newman has been presenting himself as an architect to multiple municipalities in the Capital Region.  Newman allegedly advertised his architectural services on various social media outlets until he became aware that a complaint had been filed with the New York State Education Department ("NYSED"), Office of the Professions. Soon after, Newman removed any reference to "architecture" in his ads and replaced it with "design."   In June 2015, investigators from NYSED, Office of the Professions received a complaint alleging that Newman was practicing architecture without a license. In May 2016, following the NYSED investigation, the matter was referred to the Attorney General's Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.
According to statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, Newman, as the sole employee of Cohesion Studios, Inc. ("Cohesion"), a Rensselaer-based architectural design company, was contracted to create architectural renderings and provide additional architectural services for the following projects:
The Pastures Project, Town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer, New York
Between 2010 and 2015, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 70 townhouses, receiving in excess of $50,000 for his services
The Livingston Project, City and County of Albany, New York
Between 2012 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $40,000
The Lofts Project, Town of Malta, Saratoga, New York
Between 2014 and 2016, Newman was the Project Architect for the construction of a 214-unit multifamily apartment community, receiving in excess of $35,000
The Vistas Project, Town of Clifton Park, Saratoga, New York
Between 2011 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 25 townhouses, receiving in excess of $35,000
The Hannoush Jewelers Project, Town of Colonie, Albany, New York
Between 2011 and 2012, Newman was hired as the architect on a renovation project for a jewelry store, receiving in excess of $20,000
The Ballston Senior Living Project, Town of Ballston, Saratoga, New York
Between 2012 and 2013, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $8,000
According to prosecutors, Newman allegedly took the license number of a registered architect that he found on the internet and created a fictitious Registered Architect Stamp using that number and his own name; Newman then affixed this fraudulent stamp to various inspection letters submitted to municipalities across the state.  Newman also allegedly took the Professional Engineer Stamp of a licensed engineer that he worked with on one or more projects and fraudulently affixed a copy of the stamp, with a forged signature, to over 1,000 pages of building plans for the projects listed above.  Finally, Newman allegedly affixed fraudulent stamps and used the title "architect" on energy compliance certificates, foundation inspections, field reports, and AIA certificates.
In Saratoga County, Newman is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; thirteen counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; three counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and thirteen counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.  Newman, 49, was arraigned on April 17, 2017 in Saratoga County Court before the Honorable James A. Murphy, III.  The defendant was remanded on the 31-count indictment.
In Rensselaer County, Newman is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; nine counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; one count of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and nine counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.  Newman, was also arraigned on April 17, 2017 in Rensselaer County Court before the Honorable Debra J. Young.  The defendant was remanded on this 21-count indictment, pending a written bail application.  
In Albany County, Newman is charged with two counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; one count of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony.  Newman was arraigned on April 19, 2017, in Albany County Court before the Honorable William A. Carter.  The defendant was remanded on this six-count indictment, pending a written bail application.  
If convicted of the highest count charged, Newman faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison.
The charges against the defendant are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  
Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the New York State Education Department, Office of Professions for their valuable assistance on this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Attorney General's Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Bureau is led by Acting Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton, and under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Jason Brown.
The OAG investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark J. Terra, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.

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A pet goat is being heralded as a hero after it saved an Arkansas family from a devastating house fire.
Last Thursday, Abigail Bruce of Weiner, Arkansas received an unexpected 10th birthday present - a small white goat that she promptly named Speedy. Abigail's father Nick Bruce told reporters he originally "didn't want anything to do with the goat," but his attitude quickly changed.
Two nights later, Abigail was awoken when Speedy barrelled into her room, jumping on top of her and braying. When Abigail finally woke up, she saw the smoke.
The Bruce's garage had caught fire while the family was sleeping, and the flames were quickly spreading to the rest of the house.
Abigail quickly ran into her parents' room and woke up her parents. The family jumped out the bedroom window and ran onto the front lawn.
The Weiner, Arkansas fire department arrived soon after and put out the fire. However, the home suffered significant damage in the blaze.
Despite losing their home, the Bruces are thankful for each other - especially the newest member of the family.
"I'm glad we got (Speedy) before the fire happened or we wouldn't be here," Abigail told KARK-TV. "... I think he means a lot right now. Well not just right now, but forever."

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