Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, November 28th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, November 28th

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska woman came home to find out a thief broke into her home and stole clothing, jewelry, prescription drugs and the mounted head of a zebra she had on a wall.
Stacy Scott tells Anchorage television station KTVA that she received the zebra head from a friend when she worked at a downtown boutique.
She named the head "George" and was planning to decorate him for Christmas.
A security camera recorded a woman carrying items, including George, out the front door of Scott's home last Friday and into a waiting cab.
Police arrested a 38-old woman at an Anchorage motel where the cab driver had dropped her off. The suspect is charged with felony burglary and theft.
Police have recovered some of Scott's items but George is still missing.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An investor scooped up one of the toniest private streets in San Francisco after its wealthy owners didn't pay property taxes for years, a sale that the well-connected homeowners want city leaders to reverse Tuesday.
By taking up the issue, officials have sparked criticism that the city is not as fair and equitable as it claims, but a playground for the rich who don't have to play by the same rules as everyone else. San Francisco has some of the most exorbitant property prices in the country and has become increasingly unaffordable for many people.
But those who live on Presidio Terrace say the city should never have sold their street without properly notifying them. They say the annual tax bills of $14 and auction notice were being sent to an outdated address.
City Treasurer Jose Cisneros says the association representing some three dozen homeowners was responsible for updating its address and should have paid its taxes on time. He backs new owner Tina Lam, a Silicon Valley software manager who bought the street, sidewalks and common areas for $90,000 in 2015.
The oval-shaped street in upscale Presidio Heights is lined with leafy palms, lush landscaping and multimillion-dollar mansions. Previous residents of the gated neighborhood include U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who wrote a letter that accused the city of bureaucratic bungling.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear the case and decide whether to rescind the sale or leave it alone. The issue is unprecedented in San Francisco, although supervisors in other California counties have reversed sales as allowed under state law.
Homeowners learned about the sale earlier this year and petitioned the board for a hearing.
The issue is giving at least one supervisor voting pains. Aaron Peskin said he would side with the new owner in a "hot second" if he could because of the way the association has behaved. However, he said that the homeowners make a reasonable argument that government should not take property without better notice.
Still, he was annoyed by Feinstein's letter.
"That was another damning piece of evidence to vote with the buyer, who bought it fair and square," Peskin said.
It marks the second time the association has defaulted, but it won back the street in 1985 after paying up.
Amanda Fried, a spokeswoman for the treasurer, said the group has not paid taxes since 2000, which is as far back as records go. In 2015, the office posted for auction a lot that owed less than $1,000 in back taxes, penalties and other charges.
Fried said the office sent certified notices to nearly 1,500 addresses that properties were being auctioned off and more than half were returned as undeliverable, including for Presidio Terrace. Homeowners say at that point, the treasurer's office was required to do more to notify them that their property was for sale.
"It's a constitutional issue," said Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the homeowners association. "If the process of that sale was constitutionally impermissible, it settles the question. It should not have been sold."
Michael Kirkpatrick, an attorney with national consumer-rights organization Public Citizen who won a similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, supported the homeowners. The court held that when a notice of a sale is returned undelivered, the government needs to strive further to alert property owners before selling.
"The government has to do more if there are reasonable alternative efforts available, and here, I think there are," he said.
Shepard Kopp, attorney for the new owner, argued in a scathing court brief that San Francisco should not give politically connected homeowners an out for failing to do what is expected of every other property owner in the city: pay their taxes on time.
He said the Supreme Court case might not apply because it involved a house and not vacant land.
"When people learn that this isn't the first time the homeowners association didn't pay taxes and lost title to the street, there's not a whole lot of sympathy for them after that," Kopp said.
 
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RENO, Nev. (AP) - Lindsay Weiss once lost her cellphone and got it back, so she and a friend knew what they had to do when they discovered a camera during the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert - even though it meant giving up their coveted shady seat for a musical performance.
The friends snapped a quick selfie and took the device to lost-and-found, so the owner could claim it and the pair could "forever be a part of their journey," Weiss said.
"Losing something out there on the playa makes its mark on your trip," she said of the sprawling counterculture gathering. "Kinda makes you feel like a loser."
Cameras and IDs are among the more common belongings that end up at lost-and-found after the event this summer billed as North America's largest outdoor arts festival. Other items left behind in the dusty, 5-square-mile (13-square-kilometer) encampment include shoes, keys, stuffed animals - even dentures.
Still missing are a marching-band hat with gold mirror tiles, a furry cheetah vest, a headdress with horns and a chainmail loincloth skirt.
"As of mid-November, we've recovered 2,479 items and returned 1,279," said Terry Schoop, who helps oversee the recovery operation at Burning Man's San Francisco headquarters. "We have about a 60 percent return rate."
Not bad for a temporary community of 60,000 artists, free spirits, old hippies and young thrill seekers who descend on a dried-up lake bed in the Black Rock Desert for an adventure combining wilderness camping with avant-garde performance 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of Reno.
The usual suspects top this year's list of most frequently lost in the land of drum circles and psychedelic art cars: 582 cellphones, 570 backpacks or bags, and 529 drivers' licenses, passports or other forms of identification.
Unclaimed items are listed on Burning Man's website with photos and numbers. They include more than 200 shirts, 100 jackets, 80 hydration backpacks, 50 pairs of eyeglasses, six suitcases and several dozen water bottles.
"Your item may look different after rolling in the dust," the website advises.
It links to an online forum that has brief descriptions of found items: a "big bag of ladies clothes," a piano tuning kit, a "small stuffed cow with cowboy hat" and one black Dr. Martens combat boot.
Other articles lost-but-not-yet-found include a wedding ring, a flute, "fire nunchucks," a stuffed bunny - "daughter's since birth," and a "dark-leafy-print bandanna lost on the playa somewhere around the giant flamingo."
The high rate of return doesn't surprise Mike Kivett, manager of a company that has provided portable toilets and trailers at Burning Man since 2003. He remembers when his co-worker dismissed his suggestion to check the lost-and-found for his missing phone, saying the odds of recovering it were slim.
"I told him there's a good vibe out here," Kivett said. "If somebody finds it, they're going to return it because they know what it's like to lose something out here - a sense of obligation, duty to fellow man."
Ninety minutes later, the co-worker had his phone back.
Burning Man has been collecting and returning items since the event moved to Nevada in 1992 from San Francisco, where it began in 1986 with about 20 people burning a wooden effigy in a celebration of art.
The event's technology team has developed a sophisticated database people can search onsite at a Wi-Fi center. Afterward, volunteers scour the web and emails.
Most institutions donate lost items to charity if they aren't claimed in about a month. Burning Man does that too - just not as quickly, said Schoop, who helps oversee recovery. Volunteers concentrate first on IDs and cellphones.
"We spend about three or four months trying to hook people up with lost items," he said.
His most unusual recovery?
"A partial pair of dentures," Schoop said. "The man showed up, took them out of the bag they were in, popped them in his mouth and said, 'See, I can prove it's mine: It fits!'"
Some lost items carry hefty price tags, while others have more sentimental worth. Schoop remembers a cellphone returned to a woman who lost it shortly after her father died and her home burned down.
"She said the phone we gave back to her was the only record of any photographs she had of her father and, I think, some voicemails from him," he said. "We thought we were just returning a phone, but it meant a lifetime to her."

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BERLIN (AP) - A reported fire in a Hamburg basement turned out to be a false alarm after firefighters determined that the smell of burning came from an alternative therapy being used at a neighboring gynecological clinic.
The fire department said Thursday they received a call at lunchtime Wednesday about a strong burning smell from the basement of a clothing store in the northern German city's St. Pauli district.
When the crew of 16 firefighters arrived they also smelled the odor, but could not find a source in the basement.
Upon further investigation they determined the smell came from an incense therapy for pregnant women in the neighboring gynecological clinic.
Authorities didn't seem irked by the false alarm, saying "Who knows, maybe one or two of the kids will later join the fire department."

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FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan city council member accused of pawning his publicly owned laptop nine times has been ordered to pay $300 and put in a week's worth of service on a sheriff's work detail.
Flint Councilman Eric Mays learned his punishment on Monday after pleading no contest in August to misdemeanor willful neglect of duty. The Flint Journal reports Genesee County District Court Judge William H. Crawford II said the councilman should focus on "regaining the public's trust."
Mays told the judge he "wishes the whole thing had not happened," but that he's ready to move forward. Mays was re-elected this month.
Police say Mays pawned his laptop computer for a $100 loan on nine occasions over two years. He last got the laptop back in May by paying $116.

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Richmond, VA - A 40-pound wild bobcat traveled more than 50 miles stuck to the grille of a car that hit her on a Virginia road.
The young bobcat suffered only a small scrape on her back after the harrowing ride on Thanksgiving morning.
"We just couldn't believe it," Richmond Animal Care and Rescue director Christie Chipps Peters told Fox News Monday. "It was so crazy. It's just so great that it ended well."
The woman who hit the animal knew she hit something after leaving her house in Gloucester County in eastern Virginia. She found out what it was an hour later when she reached her job at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Peters, who confirmed the bobcat was a female, responded to the scene with an animal control officer.
The woman who hit the animal was driving a Prius, WTVR reported.
"We got on scene and it really was true. It's really a bobcat stuck in the front of a Prius grille," Peters told the station. "When we walked by, (s)he hissed at us, so (s)he's alive and may be OK, which was so crazy since (the woman) drove from Gloucester to VCU."
The bobcat was freed after being sedated.
Peters said the bobcat was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro and eventually will be released back into the wild near the crossroads where she was hit.

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(Irish Times) We have all been there. You park your car and go about your business. Three hours later you cannot for the life of you remember where you left it. Was it on level 4B? Or was it 3D?
The difference between you and one German man, is that it usually only takes you a few minutes to find it. This week, an elderly German man was re-united with his car twenty years after he forgot where he parked.
He reported his car missing to the police in Frankfurt in 1997 and city authorities have just found it. The car was not stolen, but in fact parked in a garage in an old industrial building.
The car was discovered because the building was due to be demolished. The police set out to find the owner of the vehicle as it was in the way.
When the 76-year-old owner was found, he was driven by police and accompanied by his daughter to be reunited with the car, according to German regional paper Augsberger Allgemein.
The car was in disrepair, and could not be driven home.

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(Siberian Times) 'On November 16 he was hunting miles away from the nearest village and decided to stay at a forest cabin.' Picture: Internal Ministry in Irkutsk region
The brown bear brazenly walked into a remote forest cabin, and helped itself to the man's bag plus two guns, say police. 
The animal turned the tables on the 57 year old hunter when he went to a nearby river to get water deep in Irkutsk region. 
'On November 16 he was hunting miles away from the nearest village and decided to stay at a forest cabin,' said a statement from the local interior ministry. 
'He left his belongings in the cabin and went to get some water. On his return, he heard some suspicious sounds and spotted a bear. 
The traces of bear's presence - scratches on the logs and bitten plastic bucket. Pictures: Internal Ministry in Irkutsk region
'To avoid an encounter with the animal, the hunter scurried off into the woods where he hid for several hours.'
When he returned to the remote cabin, his bag and two guns were missing. 
The hunter went to look for his weapons in the taiga for several days but returned empty-handed. 
This then prompted him to contact the police.
The beast is in possession of a Vepr carbine and IZH shotgun, pictured here, according to police.
Crime scene pictures show the bear left its tooth marks on a bucket and scratched some logs. 
It is unclear if the man was hunting bears but the season is still open until 30 November. 
By now, many bears are hibernating for the winter. 
Other animals that can be hunted in Irkutsk region are moose, deer, boar, ducks, hare, fox, wolf, sable, and mink.

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BERLIN (AP) - A German restaurant owner is in hot water for allegedly marking playing cards with radioactivity to rig games.
Berlin police said Tuesday the 41-year-old woman daubed Iodine-125 on specific cards, which allowed them to be identified by a gambler with a concealed detector.
Police got on her trail after radioactive card fragments were found during a routine inspection of a garbage truck at a waste treatment plant a year ago. Investigators then followed the vehicle's route to determine the origin.
They raided the woman's restaurant and other premises earlier this month and found 13 radioactive card pieces.
Police said Tuesday that Iodine-125 is commonly used for medical purposes and only poses a health risk through direct contact with no protective clothing.
How much the scheme netted is still under investigation.

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(Huffington Post) Some music lovers are riveted by every note of an orchestra performance, while others use it as a chance to take a snooze. 
If you're in the latter camp, let this clip from California's North State Symphony orchestra be a warning. 
A woman apparently dozed off during a performance of "The Firebird" by Igor Stravinsky, only to wake up with a scream at the crash of a drum. 
Much of the audience laughed, and even music director Scott Seaton smiled and snuck a quick look over his shoulder as he conducted the orchestra. 
"Yes, Stravinsky can still be a surprise over a century later!" he later tweeted. 
 

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