Mad Minute stories from Friday, July 7th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Friday, July 7th

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BARRE, Vt. (AP) -- Vermont's stock-car-racing governor is back in victory lane.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott won the 50-lap feature Thursday at Barre's Thunder Road, taking home a total of $1,200.
Scott, a part-time racecar driver, is the all-time winningest driver in the top division at Thunder Road. The win was his 30th and his first since becoming governor in January.
He can now add to his list of accomplishments that he is the first sitting governor to win a Vermont stock car race.
Scott easily won two preliminary heats Thursday before starting the feature in the pole position at the head of the pack. He led for the entire race.
Scott previously served three two-year terms as Vermont's part-time lieutenant governor.

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ROSS, Pa. (AP) -- A heating contractor has removed a beeping alarm clock that's been inside a Pennsylvania family's wall vent for nearly 14 years.
Keith Andreen and Dawn Michelucci of Low-Cost Heating and Air Conditioning saw the story on KDKA-TV last month, so they went to the Ross Township home and removed the clock this week.
Homeowner Jerry Lynn tells KDKA he tied the battery-operated clock to a string in September 2004 and lowered it inside the wall so the beeping alarm would pinpoint the spot he needed to drill for a TV cable. But the clock fell off the string and has been beeping at 6:50 p.m. or 7:50 p.m. each day, depending on whether it's Daylight Savings Time.
The contractors removed the clock through a garage vent.
A corroded battery was still powering the travel clock.
 
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WEST BRANCH, Mich. (AP) - A 76-year-old woman riding a mobility scooter down the shoulder of Interstate 75 in northern Michigan received a warning and a ride home from a Michigan State Police trooper.
State police say the woman had finished shopping in West Branch on Wednesday afternoon and instead of taking a safer, legal route home, decided to take the expressway.
The Bay City Times reports that after several people called state police to report the slow-moving scooter traveler, Trooper Jeff Devine flagged the woman down, loaded the scooter into his patrol car and gave her a ride to her home about 3 miles away. She had already traveled about 1 mile on the highway.
Devine issued the woman a warning.

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities found alligators and venomous snakes at a Southern California home where animal control officers say a cobra had gotten loose and terrified neighbors.
Los Angeles County officials served search warrants Thursday at a home in Thousand Oaks and a rural property just outside the city.
The Los Angeles Times reports the warrants were requested after a neighbor recently reported seeing a cobra slithering through the area. Animal control public information officer Don Barre says the neighbor drove a car over the snake, killing it.
In 2014 an albino monocled cobra escaped and eluded capture for days. That snake was eventually captured, but not before biting a dog.
No arrests were immediately announced. Authorities say the owners have permits but they appear to be in violation of animal-keeping rules.

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BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston-area transit system is hoping to kick manspreading to the curb.
The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has begun a lighthearted digital campaign to discourage men from sitting with their legs wide apart, crowding out riders who might otherwise squeeze into a seat on a packed rush-hour train.
The transit system is also asking people carrying large, heavy backpacks to take them off when boarding the train. The backpacks take up space and often bang into other passengers.
In a brief animated video that recently debuted at the Copley station, a fat cat rolls around on a chair with a message reminding passengers to take only the seats they need. It ends with the words "Courtesy counts."

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BANGOR, Maine (AP) -- A Maine resident celebrating her 100th birthday says wine is the secret to her longevity.
WCSH-TV reports Florence Bearse, of Bangor, turned 100 on Thursday. The Massachusetts native dedicated her life to running a restaurant and serving others before retiring.
The centenarian is known for both her sense of humor and her no-nonsense attitude at the Westgate Center for Rehabilitation.
Bearse says she also likes her wine. She adds that people shouldn't "take any baloney" if they want to live to be 100.

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MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - While Abby Arlt and Dustin Mershon, of Mankato, Minnesota, got their dream wedding, it was the flower girl who stole the show.
She was the bride's 92-year-old grandmother, Georgiana Arlt, of Chaska. Pushing her walker down the grass aisle Saturday, she tossed a path of flower petals as guests cheered and applauded. As she finished her duties and sat down, she said with a laugh, "That was hard work!"
Abby Arlt tells KARE-TV she always wanted her grandparents to be the flower girl and ring bearer at her wedding. But her grandfather passed away a year ago. However, he gave the groom his blessing just a week before he died.
Georgiana Arlt told her granddaughter she had never been in any wedding besides her own, 72 years ago.

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Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts chain whose devout Christian owners won a landmark Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom, is caught up in an antiquities-smuggling scandal that has opened the company to accusations of hypocrisy.
The Oklahoma City-based business agreed to pay a $3 million fine Wednesday over its role in what federal prosecutors said was the smuggling into the U.S. of ancient clay tablets, seals and other Iraqi archaeological objects that might have been looted from the war-torn country.
Online, many people piled on, with more than one saying things like: "I know Hobby Lobby's big on the Ten Commandments, but how about 'Thou shalt not steal'?" and "Hypocritical cretins. Preach one thing and practice another."
Hobby Lobby, whose president, Steve Green, has been collecting ancient artifacts since 2009 and is building an $800 million Bible museum in Washington, pleaded naivete in doing business with dealers in the Middle East.
"The company was new to the world of acquiring these items and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process," Hobby Lobby said in a statement. "This resulted in some regrettable mistakes."
Federal prosecutors described a scheme that involved lying and perhaps stealing. It included a number of middlemen and involved the use of phony or misleading invoices, shipping labels and other paperwork to slip the artifacts past U.S. customs agents, prosecutors said.
Among other things, cuneiform tablets were labeled "ceramic tiles," and items carried paperwork that said they came from Turkey or Israel. Also, artifacts were deliberately undervalued and shipped in small batches to multiple addresses in Oklahoma City to avoid drawing the attention of customs agents, prosecutors said.
Bob Murowchick, an associate professor in archaeology and anthropology at Boston University, cast doubt on the company's claim that it didn't know what it was doing.
"It's like that scene in 'Casablanca': 'I am shocked, shocked, that there is gambling going on here,'" Murowchick said.
Under the settlement with prosecutors, Hobby Lobby must return thousands of artifacts it brought to the U.S. in 2010 and 2011.
Hobby Lobby is a cultural powerhouse in the United States. Green doesn't open his 600 stores on Sunday so his 28,000 employees may observe the Christian Sabbath.
The privately held company successfully argued before the Supreme Court in 2014 that because of the owners' religious beliefs, it shouldn't have to supply birth control to employees under "Obamacare."
Because of widespread looting of cultural institutions and other sites in Iraq, U.S. law makes it a crime to possess or traffic in Iraqi archaeological treasures if they were illegally removed from the country since 1990, or if there are reasonable grounds to think so. Iraqi law also prohibits the export of the country's antiquities.
"Our goal is, if we can cut down on the demand or make the punishment severe enough, we will have a chain reaction and people will be unwilling to loot," Murowchick said.
According to prosecutors, Hobby Lobby agreed to buy more than 5,500 artifacts in 2010 for $1.6 million. Some shipments made it through, while others were seized.
The items included cuneiform tablets, cuneiform bricks and clay bullae, which are clay balls imprinted with a seal. Cuneiform is the wedge-shaped writing used thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia, the "Cradle of Civilization" between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq.
One shipping label listed 300 clay tiles valued at $1 each, when they were, in fact, clay bullae with a combined value of $84,120, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, Hobby Lobby was warned by its own expert that acquiring antiquities from Iraq carries "considerable risk" because so many of the artifacts in circulation are stolen. Cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals were "particularly popular on the market and likely to have been looted," the expert told the company.
In a statement, the Museum of the Bible said that none of the artifacts in the settlement were ever part of its collection and that the institution is still on track to open in November.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has a simple message for all his social media haters out there: Chill out and have a beer.
Walker posted a series of messages Thursday night on Instagram and Twitter in response to criticism that his use posts are typically really, really boring. Walker often posts pictures of what he's eating - including his standard lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich in a brown bag .
On Thursday, Walker posted a picture of a can of Miller Lite with the message: "For those in the liberal media who don't like my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, I have a simple response: Can I get you a beer?
He followed that up by offering cheese curds and bottles of Wisconsin craft beers.

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A 12-year-old girl playing hide-and-seek got stuck in a folding couch prompting emergency crews to rush to her home in Virginia on Wednesday.
Colonial Heights Fire Chief AG Moore told WTVR-TV that the preteen was playing with another girl when she got folded into the sleeper sofa. Her friend was not strong enough to get her back out and with no adults at home, called 911 for help.
"It sound like a very odd call. I wanted to see what was going on," he told the station. "I've never seen anything like it."
He added: "It's a situation where those sofa beds can be awkward and heavy to begin with. When you have a child in there, it takes a lot to pull her out with the additional weight."
Moore said it took emergency crews about two minutes to free the child, after confirming that she was not stuck on any metal pieces.
"When she got out, she was fine," he said.
Firefighters stayed to speak with the girl's parents, who were not home at the tIme.
"Don't try this at home," Moore said. "Pick another spot to play hide-and-seek."

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