Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Monday, January 15th

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The Ritz Carlton in Saudi Arabia's capital may be reopening its doors in time for Valentine's Day, after serving for several months as a prison for the country's elite caught up in what the government has described as a crackdown on corruption.
The Ritz Carlton's website on Monday showed bookings available beginning Feb. 14.
An unidentified call center employee handling bookings for the hotel said: "Bookings are available from the 14th of February, but the hotel is not liable if the booking is cancelled. Local authorities might extend the hotel lockout for security reasons."
Sarah Walker-Kerr, a Dubai-based spokeswoman for Marriott, of which the Ritz Carlton is a subsidiary, declined to comment.
Phone lines to the hotel have been cut off since Nov. 5, when the crackdown began.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Dead men tell no tales, but there's new evidence that somebody aboard the pirate Blackbeard's flagship harbored books among the booty.
In an unusual find, researchers have discovered shreds of paper bearing legible printing that somehow survived three centuries underwater on the sunken vessel. And after more than a year of research that ranged as far as Scotland, they managed to identify them as fragments of a book about nautical voyages published in the early 1700s.
Conservators for Blackbeard's ship the Queen Anne's Revenge found the 16 fragments of paper wedged inside the chamber for a breech-loading cannon, with the largest piece being the size of a quarter.
The Queen Anne's Revenge had been a French slave ship when Blackbeard captured it in 1717 and renamed it. The vessel ran aground in Beaufort, in what was then the colony of North Carolina, in June 1718. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed Blackbeard in Ocracoke Inlet that same year.
Tens of thousands of artifacts have been recovered since Florida-based research firm Intersal Inc. located the shipwreck off the North Carolina coast in 1996 but few, if any, are as surprising as pieces of paper. To find paper in a 300-year-old shipwreck in warm waters is "almost unheard of," said Erik Farrell, a conservator at the QAR Conservation Lab in Greenville.
Eventually, the conservators determined that the words "south" and "fathom" were in the text, suggesting a maritime or navigational book. But one word, Hilo, stood out because it was both capitalized and in italics, said Kimberly Kenyon, also a conservator at the lab.
They turned to Johanna Green, a specialist in the history of printed text at the University of Glasgow, who pointed them to the Spanish settlement of Ilo - or Hilo - on the coast of Peru. The fragments eventually were determined to be from a 1712 first edition of a book by Capt. Edward Cooke titled "A Voyage to the South Seas, and Round the World, Peform'd in the years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711."
It's impossible to say who aboard Blackbeard's ship would have been reading the voyage narrative - a form popular in England in the 17th and 18th century - or whether it belonged to a pirate or some terrified captive. But some pirates were known to be literate, Kenyon said.
For example, Stede Bonnett, the "gentleman pirate" who joined Blackbeard in 1717, had his own library. It's not known if he brought his books on the Queen Anne's Revenge.
A history of pirates written in 1724 mentions a journal belonging to Blackbeard that was taken when he was killed. And when Blackbeard captured a ship called the Margaret in December 1717, the list of items taken from the ship included books, Farrell said.
"They were literate men," Kenyon said. "People always assume pirates are ruffians from bad backgrounds, and that wasn't always the case."
The survival of the paper fragments is perhaps even more unusual than their existence aboard the pirate vessel.
The chamber in which they were found was a separate piece of a breach-loading swivel gun that was likely kept on the top deck because it was used as an anti-personnel weapon, Farrell said. Conservators don't have the cannon itself, which likely was salvaged or stolen when the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground. In cannons of that period, "wadding" material such as cloth or paper would usually be stuffed behind a cannonball. So it's also possible someone just tore up the book without reading it to use it for firepower.
Conservators had removed a wooden plug from the chamber so they could clean it when they discovered the paper fragments stuffed in there, along with pieces of fabric in May 2016, Farrell said. That mass was removed easily enough, but prying the fragments from the fabric was more tedious and time-consuming, he said.
The combination of fabric and the plug likely protected the paper, which normally would have disintegrated in water, Farrell said.
But the ability to read doesn't change the evil character of pirates, who ransacked, raped and killed.
"The fact that they're literate doesn't mean they're not terrible, marauding people," Farrell said. "It just adds some nuance."
 
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LONDON (AP) - A British butcher who got locked in a freezer says he was saved by a frozen sausage that he used as a battering ram.
Chris McCabe says he became trapped in the walk-in freezer at his shop in Totnes, southwest England, last month when wind blew the door shut. The safety button to open the door had frozen in the -20 C (-4 F) chill.
McCabe said he tried unsuccessfully to kick the button free before picking up a 1.5 kilogram (3.3 pound) black pudding, a form of blood sausage.
McCabe told website Devon Live that he used the meaty tube "like a battering ram" and managed to unstick the button after several blows.
The grateful butcher told the Daily Mirror: "Black pudding saved my life, without a doubt."

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LUBEC, Maine (AP) - A fishing-industry building on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places is half-submerged in waters near a Canadian island, and conservationists fear it could disintegrate before legal tangles are resolved.
The Jan. 4 blizzard tore the brine shed from its mooring at McCurdy's Smokehouse off Lubec, Maine, and it was blown to nearby Campobello Island in New Brunswick, the Bangor Daily News reported .
The shed is among five buildings that comprise the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the U.S., and an organization called Lubec Landmarks has worked for almost 25 years to preserve it.
Lubec Landmarks President Rachel Rubeor said legal tangles, including salvage rights claims by some Canadian citizens, could doom the building.
"The bureaucratic nonsense is hampering us big time," said Rubeor, who said vandals with chain saws are threatening to dismantle the building.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said the senator's staff has worked to facilitate communication among organizations across all levels of government on both sides of the border "to help save and possibly preserve this historic landmark."
The shed's remains, which include significant portions of its roof, flooring and fireplace plus some side walls, floated under the bridge between Lubec and the Canadian island.
"It is just a miracle that it didn't hit the bridge. It just sailed right through the pilings," said Lubec Town Administrator Renee Gray.

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - Police say a gas station clerk in New Jersey trapped a woman in his store after she dumped a pot of hot coffee on him and swiped money from the register.
Authorities say 42-year-old Alicia Harris has been charged with robbery and receiving stolen property in the Wednesday incident in Jersey City near the Holland Tunnel.
A Port Authority police spokesman says the clerk was able to keep Harris inside the store by jamming the door shut with his foot. Police say she still had the coffee pot in her hand when officers arrived but was arrested without a struggle and found to have more than $360.
It wasn't immediately clear if she has hired a defense attorney. Authorities say she's being held in the Hudson County Correctional Facility.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A sea lion bit a woman swimming in the San Francisco Bay in the fourth such attack since December.
The woman's friend says the two members of the South End Rowing Club were swimming around 7 a.m. Thursday when the sea lion latched onto her and tried to drag her underwater.
The friend, Alice Ma, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the sea lion "chomped down on" the swimmer's knee and pulled.
Fire Department Lt. John Baxter said a retired San Francisco firefighter who also was swimming helped the badly bleeding woman as she came out of the water. She was taken to a hospital.
Baxter says officials are encouraging people who visit the popular swimming area to stay in pairs and keep a close eye out.

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WARWICK, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island police chief is apologizing for a Facebook post that labeled a woman "2017 Grandmother of the Year" after she was caught on camera swiping what police say was a $100 bill, then shushing a little boy to keep it quiet.
Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney made the apology on WPRO-AM about a post by the department last week. The department put out the video in an attempt to find the woman. A 76-year-old woman was later identified and arrested.
McCartney says the post was wrong and the woman in it should not have been characterized that way.
He says the department should be factual and professional on social media, and says they "dropped the ball" in this case.

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Authorities in South Carolina say a motorcyclist survived a 75-foot (23-meter) fall after being thrown from his bike after a crash.
Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis said officers were called at around 2:45 a.m. Friday and found a damaged motorcycle against a retaining wall of an Interstate 26 overpass in Charleston.
Francis said in a statement that officers found the motorcyclist - who was conscious - on the ground under the bridge in a fenced-off area owned by the city. Firefighters had to cut through a lock to reach him.
Francis said paramedics took him to the hospital, but his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. The driver's name was not released.

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STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) - A hand grenade found in the trash by Connecticut waste management employees has been disarmed.
Police responded to the Stratford trash company Thursday and after finding what appeared to be a hand grenade, called the state police bomb squad to disarm the explosive. Police say the grenade appeared to be from either World War I or World War II and was thrown out alongside garbage that ended up at the waste facility.
Police say there were no injuries reported and the scene was cleared without incident.

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - Police in New Hampshire are looking for a skier shown in an online video being dangerously pulled down a street by a car and then falling.
The video from last week got the attention of the Portsmouth police, which posted it on the department's Facebook page .
The skier is tethered to the car with a rope. At one point he clips a snowbank and crashes into the pavement.
Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner tells WGME-TV if an officer had observed that, the driver would be cited.
Merner says some residents use skis to get around the city after major snowstorms, but adds that what the skier is shown doing in the video is outrageous.
 

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