Mad Minute stories from Thursday, December 14th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Thursday, December 14th

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A cow in Philadelphia apparently wanted to be away from the manger, as it escaped twice Thursday morning from a church's live nativity scene.
Stormy, a 7-year-old brown and white Hereford, was back munching hay at Old First Reformed Church of Christ by 7:15 a.m. after two sets of adventures on snowy downtown streets.
Police first got reports of a cow near an Interstate 95 on-ramp around 2 a.m. Thursday.
One of the state police troopers who responded has a cattle ranch in New Jersey and knew how to handle the situation, WPVI-TV reports . Officers put a rope on the cow and walked her to a nearby parking lot with police vehicles helping shepherd Stormy back to church. Some lanes of the highway had to be shut down as the cow was wrangled.
But for Stormy, all was not calm and bright. She fled again around 6 a.m., despite Rev. Michael Caine's best efforts to stop the 1,500-pound animal. She then ambled toward a major thoroughfare as the morning rush got underway.
"If you're in the area of 4th and Market, beware of traffic delays. A cow is loose. Again. No, we can't believe we are tweeting this either," the police department tweeted just before 7 a.m.
This time, the bovine was tracked down on the fourth floor of a parking garage about a block south of the church.
By late morning, Stormy was loaded into a trailer to head back to the Manatawna Saul Farm, which is a high school 4-H club that owns her.
Scott Moser, who helps the students with the animals, told The Associated Press because Stormy figured out how to push open the gate - despite its beefed up latch system - it seems to have become a bit of a game for her.
They decided to use her understudy, a cow about half her size named Ginger.
As for Stormy, Moser said she has never been a troublemaker before.
"She's a very calm cow," he said. "Nothing really fazes her."

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A cat with an unlikely name has an important job at a training center for dogs.
Support Dogs, Inc. in St. Louis took in the black and white cat over the summer and named him D-O-G (dee-OH'-jee). He's more than a mascot - officials say he plays a key role getting the dogs comfortable around other animals. Assistance dogs need to be well-behaved and not be distracted in their job helping people who are deaf or have mobility problems.
Support Dogs president and CEO Anne Klein says D-O-G is "fearless" around the larger canines and plays with their tails, sleeps in their beds and eats and drinks from their bowls instead of his own.
The dogs go through a two-year training program before they're given to clients for free.
 
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PARIS (AP) - French police say a homeless man found a huge amount of cash last week at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport and was able to leave the complex with 300,000 euros ($354,000).
Two police officers, who are not allowed to speak publicly on the case, said Thursday that video surveillance showed the man looking in the trash and leaning against a nearby door.
Airport police union official Jean-Yann William Airport told France Info television that "to his surprise, the door is opening, he's entering and finds out there's huge amount of money" in the room of cash transport company Loomis.
Video then shows the man leaving the airport with two big bags.
Police recognized him as a homeless man living in the airport area. He is being actively sought.

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SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) - Police have charged a man they say rigged a parent-teacher organization raffle so he won two prizes and then stole a third prize.
Officials say 35-year-old Alexander Stewart, of Southington, is charged with forgery and three counts of sixth-degree larceny. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this week and was freed on $1,000 bond.
Police say Stewart placed almost 200 tickets he didn't buy into a drawing at a PTO event in October and as a result won prizes worth $40 and $45. He then allegedly took a third prize he hadn't won and walked to his car. He told police he inadvertently took the third prize.
He was arrested after not responding to requests to settle the matter out of court.

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ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - Police say a sweet tip led to the recovery of a bear statue that was stolen from outside a candy factory in central Kansas a year ago.
Abilene Police Department assistant chief Jason Wilkins says the Russell Stover Candies sculpture, depicting a sitting teddy bear covered in chocolate, was found Wednesday in a Salina home following a tip from someone apparently unconnected to its theft.
Det. Karmen Kupper says a suspect has been identified but hasn't been arrested.
Wilkins tells The Wichita Eagle that early leads in the November 2016 theft from the company's Abilene factory didn't pan out and that the bear investigation had "become a running joke."
Kupper describes the 150-pound, 4-foot tall (70-kilogram, 1.2 meter tall) sculpture as a "huge landmark" and a popular backdrop for pictures.

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A Gaza eatery is offering massive discounts to North Korean diners but there is just one problem - there are no North Koreans in Gaza.
Ibrahim Raba, manager of a shawarma restaurant in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, says he is offering the 80 percent discounts to show his appreciation for North Korea's rejection of President Donald Trump's recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
He has also placed a large photo of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the glass door entrance to his restaurant.
A new Kim fan, Raba likes to quote the North Korean leader, saying: "Trump proved he is mentally deranged."
And though Raba knows there are no North Koreans in Gaza, he hopes they will come someday, perhaps after joining other foreign aid workers.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer says a federal rule change that's stopping donated Christmas trees from being sent to American troops overseas is straight out of the Grinch's playbook.
The top Senate Democrat sent a letter to the U.S. postmaster on Thursday urging her to immediately waive procedural changes that are preventing New York residents from sending trees to military bases abroad.
Schumer says at least 40 trees donated by community groups and others this year were returned to New York farmers. He blames a last-minute policy change that strictly limits the size of packages that can be shipped to overseas bases in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.
The U.S. Postal Service hasn't commented.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Police say an airline passenger who was removed from a Los Angeles-to-New York flight for causing a disturbance that prompted a diversion to Las Vegas last weekend was not charged with a crime.
A JetBlue statement doesn't describe the disturbance, but passengers who shared cellphone video with KCBS-TV in Los Angeles said the man hit and bit other passengers late Sunday on Flight 1224 until he was restrained.
Las Vegas police Officer Larry Hadfield said Wednesday the man was met by officers after the unscheduled landing at McCarran International Airport, but no police report was taken and no arrest was made.
JetBlue says passengers stayed on the plane and it finished the trip to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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BERLIN (AP) - A pilot has traced a virtual Christmas tree over Germany on a test flight with an Airbus A380.
Airbus spokesman Heiko Stolzke told news agency dpa Thursday that the nearly 5½-hour flight the previous day was "a standard internal Airbus test flight before the delivery of a new aircraft."
He said the idea for the Christmas tree pattern of the flight, which took off from and landed at the company's plant in Hamburg, came from the pilot and engineers on the flight and it was carried out in cooperation with air traffic control.
The plane turned several corners and loops during its flight to produce a pattern in the shape of a tree complete with baubles.

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An artist's illustration shows the asteroid Oumuamua.ESO / M. Kornmesser
It's in the news because people want to know if it's a rock or a rocket.
The "it" in question is a weirdly oblong asteroid that goes by the barely pronounceable moniker Oumuamua. It was first seen about a month ago by Pan-STARRS, a collection of telescopes perched high above the handsome beaches of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Like a motorcycle on the freeway, it was observed by astronomers only after it had already sped by. Now it's halfway to Jupiter on its return to the dark spaces between the stars.
But what exactly is Oumaumua? Is it simply workaday cosmic debris - a spindly space rock booted out of another solar system after some close encounter of the planetary kind? Or, as some have wondered, could it be an alien spacecraft on a reconnaissance mission?
Astronomers and space buffs with inquiring minds want to know. What's less certain is that we ever will.
Oumuamua is different from your average asteroid - and for several reasons. It has a hyperbolic trajectory, not the usual elliptical orbit expected for an object born in our solar system. It's an interloper, and that alone is enough to warrant our attention: No one has ever seen an object passing nearby that hails from another stellar realm.
Oumuamua isn't humongous, as asteroids go. It's the size of the Rose Bowl. But it has an unusual shape - more like a cigar than a roughly spherical rock. Few asteroids have such a svelte figure - in fact, none that we know of.
So it's hardly surprising that fans of Arthur C. Clarke's 1973 novel "Rendezvous with Rama" have suggested that this thing isn't an interstellar dirt clod, but a hollow spacecraft built by aliens with a relish to roam.
There's no evidence to back that up. Not yet, anyway. Oumuamua's reddish hue and its unsteady brightness are typical of asteroids, not spacecraft. On the other hand, what are the chances that a rock kicked out of another star system would be so nicely aimed that it passes closer to the sun than Mercury's orbit?
Well, consider this: This object came from the direction of the constellation Lyra. That small constellation boasts a bright star, Vega ("Contact," anyone?), that is a mere 25 light-years away. So suppose, for argument's sake, that Oumuamua is a rock ejected from the Vega system. The chance of it passing so close to the sun is comparable to throwing a pebble and, by accident, hitting a nickel 75 miles away. That's hard to do, even if you have the arm to throw that far.
Of course, such precision targeting isn't so improbable if lots of pebbles are being thrown. And the fact that Oumuamua was discovered only seven years after Pan-STARRS was up and running suggests that there are plenty of pebbles. Natural pebbles. Asteroids that quietly cruise the galaxy, and occasionally get close enough for us to see.
But the long shot here is the more interesting one. Namely, that Oumuamua is someone's USS Enterprise - a ship large enough and sophisticated enough to manage an interstellar voyage.
How could we ever prove that? One way would be to detect artificially produced radio signals. The SETI Institute began scanning Oumuamua with its Allen Telescope Array on Nov. 23, 2017. So far, we've spent 60 hours checking for transmissions over a wide range of frequencies. Another SETI project, Breakthrough Listen, will soon devote 10 hours to scrutinizing Oumuamua using a large antenna in West Virginia.
The most likely outcome of these efforts will be to find nothing but radio silence. But it's never smart to rule out surprises, for they're the stuff of science. Who knows? Perhaps, just perhaps, Oumuamua is someone else's attempt to boulderly go.


 

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