Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 26th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 26th

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MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The U.S. Air Force says its tweet declaring Santa Claus "isn't real" was just a bluff, part of a threat to steal Christmas from two feuding bases.
Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri jostled on Twitter about which fleet was better. KFGO radio reports the official Air Force account responded that if the bases couldn't get along, Santa would "bring you nothing this year because he isn't real!"
After the tweet generated widespread ridicule, the Air Force reversed itself. It declared Santa in fact "is real" and that the previous message was just an attempt to get the bases "in line."
The Air Force stressed its North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa's Christmas Eve sleigh travels using satellites, radar and jets.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - In Alaska, it's not uncommon for wildlife like polar bears to wander onto an airport's runway, but a lounging seal is far more unusual.
But that's what workers found at the airport in the nation's northernmost city on Monday. A seal estimated to weigh 450 pounds (204 kilograms) was removed from the runway at the airport at Utqiagvik (pronounced (oot-GHAR'-vik) by way of sled, KTVA reported .
A photo and video of the bearded seal lounging on the runway in the town formerly known as Barrow was shared by Scott Babcock on Facebook .
The state Department of Transportation got in on the fun by warning pilots of "low sealings" at the airport.
Meadow Bailey, the department's communications director, said Utqiagvik, an Arctic Ocean coastal community on Alaska's North Slope, experienced heavy storms Monday. Staff found the seal while clearing the runway.
The department's staff members are not allowed to handle marine mammals, so the seal was removed by North Slope Animal Control.
The workers have seen birds, caribou, polar bears and musk ox on the runway, but the seal sighting was a first, Bailey said.
"Wildlife strikes to aircraft pose a significant safety hazard and cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year," Bailey said. "Birds make up over 90 percent of strikes in the US, while mammal strikes are rare."
 
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HONOLULU (AP) - Of all the beautiful scenery to see in Honolulu, officials want to make sure residents and tourists get a good look at the street.
Honolulu this week became the largest city in the U.S. to make it illegal for people to look at cellphones, tablets or video games while crossing a road or highway. It comes as a few states still have not outlawed texting while driving.
It remains to be seen how the law can be enforced on an island that draws tourists from across the globe. The tourism industry is trying to educate visitors, but a smattering of tourists interviewed Wednesday - the day the law took effect - said they had no clue.
Amy Pawlowski, who was visiting from Phoenix, had not heard about the new restrictions on mobile devices.
"It seems as though the enforcement aspect would be quite difficult and almost that the government efforts would be better spent with the law prohibiting drivers from being on their phones while driving," she said just after glancing at her phone while crossing a Waikiki street. "Perhaps they (pedestrians) are using a navigation device that is helping them navigate Waikiki or Honolulu."
The law applies to the entire island of Oahu, where it is also illegal to drive while using handheld mobile electronics. A first offense for the distracted walking ordinance carries a fine of between $15 and $35. It increases to between $75 and $99 for a third offense within a year of the first violation.
Officers in tourist-heavy Honolulu have discretion to issue a warning or a ticket, police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.
"We realize not everyone is going to know," she said. "Local laws could vary."
The National Safety Council, which has been looking at the issue of distracted walking since 2015, praised Honolulu for being a leader on the issue. The small Idaho city of Rexburg passed an ordinance in 2011 making it illegal to text while driving or crossing a street or highway. Other cities have considered similar measures, said Tatyana Warrick, a council spokeswoman.
The ordinance aims to reduce the number of injuries after the state ranked as the 13th most dangerous for pedestrians from 2010 to 2014, said Honolulu Councilman Brandon Elefante, who wrote the measure.
Elefante said he pushed the measure partly because a high school in his district with nearly 2,500 students is on a busy highway. Students at Waipahu High School did a survey and found 1,000 classmates in a 20-minute period jaywalked, crossed against traffic lights and used electronic devices while crossing, he said.
The law went into effect 90 days after the mayor signed it in July. During the 90 days, police say they have passed out informational fliers across the island.
Jim Cartisser, a tourist from Twin Falls, Idaho, said getting a ticket while on vacation "could leave a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouth leaving Honolulu."

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RAHWAY, N.J. (AP) - Teenagers who are getting a jump on Halloween by dressing up as bushes and surprising people in a New Jersey park could face arrest.
The Union County Police Department fears the self-proclaimed "Rahway Bushmen" could cause someone to fall and sue the county.
Two of the high school students cover camouflage suits with brush while a third acts as lookout. They stand in Rahway River Park and say "hi" to unsuspecting visitors.
One of the teens, who would not give their names, told NJ.com it's more or less an idea to try to make people smile.
Elisa Rodriguez, who heard funny voices and ruffling of leaves, says it was hilarious and the teens should be applauded.

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SNELLVILLE, Ga. (AP) - Authorities say a pesky woodpecker has been breaking car mirrors in Georgia.
WSB Radio reports over a dozen cars in a Snellville neighborhood were damaged last week. Snellville police took several written reports and stepped up patrols before receiving a tip about the likely suspect.
The police department said in a Facebook post that a witness observed a pileated woodpecker breaking her car mirror in the neighborhood. Authorities say they'll continue their patrols, although they believe that the case is solved.
WSB reports some residents are covering their mirrors with bags to prevent any further damage.

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JERUSALEM (AP) - While Albert Einstein's theory of happiness may be relative, it fetched $1.3 million at a Jerusalem auction on Tuesday.
The Nobel-winning scientist's musings, handwritten on a note, may not be as famous as his groundbreaking theory of relativity, but they still shed light on one of the great modern minds.
Winner's Auctions and Exhibitions said Einstein was traveling in Japan in 1922 when he was told he would be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. In Tokyo, Einstein scribbled the note in German to a bellboy after he did not have cash to give him a tip.
"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness," it reads.
Gal Wiener, CEO of the auction house, said Einstein told the bellboy that because of his fame, the handwritten note "will probably be worth more than a regular tip."
Wiener said bidding began at $2,000 and quickly escalated, with the bidding war lasting around 25 minutes.
Another note Einstein gave the bellboy, which read "Where there's a will there's a way," was sold for over $200,000, Wiener said.
He would not identify the buyer or seller of either note.
Einstein was a founder of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and left it his literary estate and personal papers. He declined an invitation to serve as Israel's first president. Einstein died in 1955.

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Police say a 29-year-old Florida man slapped a police horse on the hindquarters while it was on patrol with an officer.
News outlets report Casey Waldner was walking down a street early Sunday when he was accused of slapping Izzy, a 13-year-old horse that has been with the Orlando Police Department for five years. The slap startled Izzy, who spun around.
A police report says Waldner ran, but was caught by a nearby officer.
The report says officers searched Waldner and found cocaine.
Police spokeswoman Michelle Guido says Izzy didn't need veterinary care.
Waldner was charged with injuring a police horse, resisting arrest without violence and cocaine possession.
Waldner, who lives in Pace in Florida's Panhandle, was released on a $1,250 bond. Jail records don't list an attorney.

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HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Astros will soon have the most sparkling smiles in baseball.
Grammy-nominated Houston rapper Paul Wall has offered free grillz - precious metal covers worn over teeth - to every member of the team to congratulate them for reaching the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It's a celebratory thing," Wall told The Associated Press. "We want to celebrate with them, congratulate them, here's a memorable, commemorative grill."
Wall made the offer on social media Sunday , a day after the Astros beat the New York Yankees to capture the American League championship and advance to the second World Series in franchise history. Wall is offering the mouth jewelry through Johnny Dang & Company which he co-owns with Johnny Dang, who is better known in the rap world as TV Johnny.
Several players or their representatives have already contacted Wall to let him know they'd like one, and right-hander Lance McCullers tweeted that "a lot of the guys are hype for this."
But would McCullers actually wear one?
"Definitely," he said. "I would definitely get a grill."
Wall, a lifelong Astros fan who watched games at the Astrodome from $1 seats as a child, said he got the idea to offer the team grillz after running into pitchers Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Tyler Clippard at a local steakhouse before the ALCS began.
"I was just joking around with them about it," Wall said. "I said: 'Hey man if y'all go to the World Series, I'm going to hook y'all up with some grillz.' And they were like: 'Hell yeah we want some grillz."
Wall believes that grillz are a representation of the culture in Houston and his Grammy-nomination came for an ode to the jewelry he did with Nelly in 2005 that is aptly titled "Grillz."
Wall's grillz vary widely in price depending on what metal they're made of and if they are encrusted with diamonds or other gemstones. The rapper himself has a platinum one with 20 carats of princess cut diamonds that set him back about $25,000. But to be clear, that isn't the model he's gifting to the Astros.
"The offer is solid gold grills maybe with the Astros emblem engraved on them," Wall said.
But those aren't just a drop in the bucket, with Wall estimating that a style like that would cost about $500.
"One or two is not too expensive, now if the whole 40-man roster wants a grill, oooh it could start getting expensive," he said with a laugh. "But I'm a die-hard Astros fan and for me and TV Johnny to make grillz for them and congratulate them with a grill it means something, and that they would even accept or want a grill means a lot to me."
He's also open to getting grillz for people associated with the team who aren't players, and loves the idea of buttoned up owner Jim Crane sporting one.
"We need to hook him up with a grill. (But) he probably doesn't even know what a grill is, he'd be like: 'What is it, gas or charcoal,'" Wall said cracking up.
He also wants Verlander's model fiancee Kate Upton to know that he's available if she wants to match her man.
"We're going to hook her up with a rose gold, pink sapphire grill," he said. "Yep, yep, we've got her grill ready, too. His and hers."
Wall released an Astros-themed rap to commemorate Houston's first trip to the World Series in 2005. But he has no plans for anything like that this time after the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox in that series after his song dropped.
"We jinxed them," Wall said. "A lot of the rappers in town, we've got a rule right now where we're not making no songs until it's over. We need to chill out on these songs."
That doesn't mean he hasn't put a few things together in case they finally win it all this season.
"I've already got like three of them wrote," he said. "I'm just waiting to put them out."

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Police in one Connecticut town have waived their department's grooming policy ahead of No-Shave November.
The Connecticut Post reports the Fairfield Police Department announced Wednesday they will allow officers to grow their facial hair in support of the national campaign.
The nonprofit organization No-Shave November was launched in 2009 as a way to raise awareness and funding for cancer prevention, education and research.
Members of the Fairfield Police Department are encouraged to donate the money they would spend on shaving equipment to cancer causes.
The department is also fundraising through No-Shave November's website . They have currently raised $325 of their $1,500 goal.

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PROVO, Utah (AP) - A Utah mom in her final days of pregnancy gave her baby an eviction notice and made it official with a judge's signature. Incredibly, the baby obeyed.
Kaylee Bays was pregnant with her third child, a girl, and thought she was going into labor last week, but it stopped.
She went back to work to her job as a judicial assistant at the Fourth District Court in Provo, and jokingly asked Judge Lynn Davis to serve an eviction notice on her baby.
He did. And It worked. Less than 12 hours later, baby Gretsel was born, the Daily Herald reported .
Bays said Davis told her it was his first baby eviction notice in his 31 years as a judge.
"He told me, 'If it really works, I want it framed.' It did, and I'm going to frame it for him," Bays said.
Bays said the eviction notice gave her baby three days to "vacate the premises."
The notice was addressed to Gretsel at Mommy Belly Lane, in Womb, Utah.
"She came 12 hours later. So far, she's a good listener," she joked. "She didn't want to be in contempt of court."
 

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