Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 17th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 17th

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MIAMI (AP) -- What did a South Florida woman do when she lifted the lid on her toilet and found an iguana inside?
She closed it again and called 911.
Lt. Scott Mullin of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom One unit tells the Miami Herald it's the first time he's found an iguana in a toilet.
Mullin says when the call came in Tuesday night, he asked the dispatcher to make sure it was an iguana and not a snake.
He says the woman, her daughter and grandchildren were waiting when he arrived at their home in West Kendall, south of Miami. Mullin says the lizard likely came up through the pipes.
Mullin used gloves to lift the iguana from the bowl, put it in a box and drove it to a wildlife rescue center.

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ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) -- A Texas man is suing a woman he went on a date with for the price of a movie ticket after he says she texted through the film and left him at the theater.
Brandon Vezmar filed the claim for $17.31 last week. The 37-year-old tells the Austin American-Statesman he met the woman online and they went to see "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" on May 6. He says the 35-year-old woman refused to stop texting. Vezmar says he suggested she step outside to text. The woman then left the theater and never returned.
The woman tells the newspaper Vezmar asked her later for the cost of the ticket, but she refused because "he took me out on a date."
 
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch passengers on KLM flights might have recognized the co-pilot's voice when he introduced himself on the airline's Cityhopper services.
It was not just their co-pilot telling them weather conditions and estimated time of arrival. It was their king.
King Willem-Alexander told national daily De Telegraaf in an interview published Wednesday that he has ended his role as a regular "guest pilot" after 21 years on KLM's fleet of Fokker 70 planes and before that on Dutch carrier Martinair. He will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s as the Fokkers are being phased out of service.
While it is no secret that Willem-Alexander is a qualified pilot who sometimes flew KLM passenger flights, it was not clear how frequently it happened. De Telegraaf reported that he does it twice a month. As a guest flier, the king is always co-pilot.
The 50-year-old father of three and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens calls flying a "hobby" that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else.
"You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them," the king told De Telegraaf. "You can't take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying."
Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognized by passengers, especially since security was tightened on board planes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
"Before Sept. 11, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there," he said, adding that very few people recognize him as he walks through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in KLM uniform and cap.
And even when he makes announcements to passengers, Willem-Alexander says that as a co-pilot he doesn't have to give his name. So while some people recognize his voice, it is far from all passengers.
"But most people don't listen anyway," he added.

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SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's top judicial oversight board has decided it won't sanction a judge who allegedly got angry at a bakery cafe waiter and demanded the man address him as "Your Honor."
Witnesses say Judge Dilermando Motta Pereira was upset because the waiter did not put ice in his cup. The judge allegedly yelled at the employee, grabbed his shoulder and ordered the waiter to call him "Your Honor."
Chief Justice Carmen Lucia said in late Tuesday's decision that Pereira should have been more careful, but did not deserve to be punished for the 2014 incident in the northeastern city of Natal.
Pereira acknowledged the actions, but said he was mistreated by the waiter and complained other clients interfered.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- An Alaska man is resurrecting a strip club he operated on board his converted crab boat before he was convicted on waste disposal charges involving the vessel.
This time, he's billing the enterprise as a nightly protest.
Darren Byler says he will begin his summer-long "First Amendment Freedom of Assembly" demonstrations Thursday on the 94-foot Wild Alaskan.
He says the demonstrations will feature exotic dancers on board the boat, anchored off a harbor near the island city of Kodiak.
Byler has long alleged he was hit with the federal "poop" charges because authorities and others disapproved of the exotic-dancer business he ran in 2014. He is appealing his federal case.
"I'm protesting the fact that I was singled out and targeted for morality," he said. "I don't like being bullied by the government, and I'm doing this because I can. This is my way of winning."
Byler said the Wild Alaskan is no longer being run as a charter and he won't be serving alcohol or charging admission to the vessel, although participants will need to pay $25 for a round-trip, two-minute water-taxi ride.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the planned protests.
Byler was sentenced in January to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for a misdemeanor violation of dumping sewage in violation of the federal Refuse Act and for a felony charge of lying to federal authorities. He was convicted in 2015.
His wife, Kimberly Riedel-Byler, was found not guilty of the same charges.
Federal prosecutors have said Byler piped sewage from the Wild Alaskan bathrooms into the harbor near Kodiak in 2014. The Bylers were accused of telling the Coast Guard they were properly disposing of the waste - a contention Byler still maintains.
Supporters say the charges involve disposal practices that have long been routine among local boat owners who were never prosecuted.
The Wild Alaskan is now registered with the state as a pleasure boat, but operators of such vessels are still required to meet Coast Guard safety standards such as providing floatation devices for each passenger, according to Coleen Greenshields, a state administrative officer.
Byler said the Wild Alaskan can comfortably seat 50 to 60 people, and he plans to have enough life jackets on board.
He said the boat never had sewage problems, and in a May 5 letter to the Coast Guard announcing the planned protest, he wrote, "Please feel free to send your undercover sewer cops out to the vessel and put a dye pack in the vessel heads."
Coast Guard officials did not elaborate on how they will respond to the protests planned six nights a week until Sept 30. Officials said, however, that vessel owners are responsible for the safety of passengers, including following the correct load calculations and having basic lifesaving and other equipment on board.
"The Coast Guard will be monitoring the situation with the Wild Alaskan, like we do all maritime activities to the best of our ability, to ensure that Mr. Byler's guests are safe and the vessel safely operated," Capt. Paul Albertson said in an email to The Associated Press.
Police in Kodiak declined to comment, citing a directive from City Manager Mike Tvenge. He said the city has no immediate plans to monitor the boat.
"What happens down the road in the future is unknown," Tvenge said. "We'll see what develops in time, but we're not going to get into hypotheticals."
Rob Dierich, a commercial fisherman and longtime Kodiak resident, checked out the Wild Alaskan as a new attraction when he was single a few years ago. He believes Byler was targeted because of moral disapproval.
Still, he doesn't believe Byler needs to be "egging everybody that was on him the first time." As for the protests, Dierich doesn't think he'll be participating.
"I'm in different relationships," he said. "So I'm kind of staying out of places like that."

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BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -- A man's plans to take photos of his SUV by the Atlantic Ocean on a New Jersey beach didn't turn out as planned.
The vehicle started sinking as it was buffeted by waves.
WNBC-TV reports Island Beach State Park police responded on Tuesday to a report of a vehicle stuck in the sand. A tow company arrived around the same time to find the man trying to shovel the vehicle from the surf line
The tow company freed the vehicle, but witnesses say the man wanted to drive it, even though its engine was making strange sounds.
The driver had a permit allowing him to drive on the beach and was not ticketed.

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NEW YORK (AP) - A massive inflatable ballerina created by artist Jeff Koons is the latest public art installation at New York's Rockefeller Center.
The 45-foot (14-meter) work is called "Seated Ballerina." It was unveiled Friday and will be on display through June 2. The nylon sculpture is based on a porcelain figurine of a ballerina in a blue tutu.
Koons says the work "conveys optimism and a sense of potential for the future." He says the sculpture is intended to bring awareness to National Missing Children's Month.
"Seated Ballerina" is the third Koons work to take up residence at Rockefeller Center.
The artist's "Puppy" was installed there in 1992 and "Split-Rocker" in 2000.
Rockefeller Center officials say "Seated Ballerina" will be deflated for safety reasons during inclement weather.

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ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) - A former judge who offered a law enforcement officer beer and money to retrieve his wife's text messages has been sentenced to probation.
U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce said former Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to two years' probation, fined $5,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Jones pleaded guilty in March to promising and paying gratuities to a public official.
Prosecutors said that between October and November 2015, Jones gave, offered and promised cases of beer and $100 to a FBI task force officer to compel a cellular provider to produce text messages by Jones' wife. The former judge believed the messages would prove his wife was having an affair.

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FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) - A Southern California nature center has a flower that smells deathly.
Amorphophallus titanum, better known as the "corpse flower," emits a decaying flesh smell during its once-a-decade bloom.
Staff members at the Fullerton Arboretum's Nature Center noticed their flower started blooming Monday morning. The process lasts 24 to 48 hours and can stretch the plants to 10 feet.
The center plans to keep its flower on display until Tuesday.
The plant is native to an island in western Indonesia.
 
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Frustrated with his ever-growing weight that peaked at 675 pounds, Ronnie Brower began dieting and working out on his way to losing an astounding 458 pounds. His four-year fitness journey, chronicled on Facebook, earned him the admiration of a woman at his gym who similarly was trying to lose a lot of weight.
Brower and that admirer, Andrea Masella, formed a bond around that shared mission, and on Saturday they will get married in their hometown of Syracuse, New York, celebrating their new lives and all they've lost together, a combined 578 pounds.
"I was just really inspired by him and I thought he was super cute," said Masella, 24. "We started talking at the gym and I hate to sound cliche but it was love at first sight."
Nick Murphy, Brower's personal trainer who also will be his best man, calls it "a match made in heaven, a storybook movie."
Masella, who works as a hairdresser, said she and Brower plan to continue to support not only each other in their commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but to counsel and inspire others as well.
"Both of us had used food as a coping mechanism; I would just eat my feelings," Masella said. "We've gone through a lot of counseling to come to terms with that and change."
Brower, 32, is slim, trim and happy now, but he recalls that he hit his peak weight, and rock bottom, in 2013 when he was so heavy he could barely leave his parent's house.
"I was depressed, addicted to pills and alcohol, eating 10 double cheeseburgers or two large pizzas at a time," Brower said. "My turning point was, my doctor told me if I kept on like this I'd be dead before I was 30. I was 28."
At the urging of a friend, Brower contacted Murphy, owner of Mission Fitness. Under Murphy's guidance, Brower gave up drugs and alcohol, followed a low-carbohydrate diet and started working out for three hours a day, beginning with simply lifting his arms while sitting in a chair. Within 100 days he had lost 100 pounds and was able to leave the house and go to the gym for his workouts.
"My job 24 hours a day was to get healthy and save my life," he said.
After 23 months, he had shed much of his excess weight when he met Masella. At 5-foot-4, she had weighed 250 pounds in 2014 and was on her way to losing 120 pounds. Their first date was playing ping pong and basketball at the gym.
"We laugh all the time," he said.
Brower was grateful for Masella's tender loving care when he underwent four surgeries to remove 30 pounds of sagging skin. "It was really intense," he said.
Brower now works two jobs, as a school bus driver and a loading dock worker, and has moved out of his parents' house into his own place. He looks forward to married life after he and Masella take their vows at the Christian church where his trainer baptized him three years ago.
"People come to me all the time, asking for weight-loss advice," Brower said. "I just tell them there's hope out there. If you want it bad enough and put your mind to it, anybody can do it."

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