Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, January 31st - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, January 31st

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(FOX News) -- Birds of a feather may flock together, but United Airlines recently shot down one traveler's request to bring her emotional support peacock on a flight departing Newark Liberty International Airport.
Live and Let Fly reported earlier this week that even though the unidentified woman claimed that she had a second ticket for the peacock, the airline denied her request.
A spokesperson for United further tells FOX News that the traveler(s) with the peacock were told they would not be able to bring it on board.
"This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport," said United in a statement.
Photos of the unusual scene were shared to Facebook by travel talk show The Jet Set, sparking online commenters to both condemn and champion United's decision.

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SAUGATUCK, Mich. (AP) - Michael Ryder had been approved for $360 every week in Michigan unemployment benefits - until the state learned he'd been dogging it at the Detroit-area restaurant chain where he supposedly worked.
Ryder is a German Shepherd owned by attorney Michael Haddock on the other side of the state in Saugatuck.
WZZM-TV reports that Haddock received a benefits letter addressed to "Michael Ryder" from Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency. The station says Haddock contacted the agency about the letter.
The agency says its computer system sent the letter, but the claim later was flagged as suspicious and denied.
Investigations administrator Tim Kolar wrote in a tongue-in-cheek email that he knows "first-hand it is rare for 'man's best friend' to contribute financially to the household and that will continue in this instance."
 
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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Talk about one heckuva an explosive donation.
Authorities say a grenade launcher, loaded with a live grenade, was left with other donated items at a Florida Goodwill store.
The Bradenton Herald reports that employees at a Goodwill store near Tampa reported the weapon on Sunday.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says the store manager told deputies that the grenade launcher had come in a shipment from another store several days earlier. The employees at the other location said they sent it along because they didn't know what it was.
Deputies say they disposed of the active grenade in a Hazmat locker, and the launcher was stored in the agency's property room.
It's not clear who donated the items.

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - A Sydney Harbor ferry christened Ferry McFerryface three months ago has been renamed after a political squabble.
New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said in November that McFerryface came second place in a competition after the now famous choice, Boaty McBoatface.
But Constance said Wednesday that McFerry was only a temporary name to entertain children during the southern summer and the ferry had been permanently renamed after Australian children's author May Gibbs.
"Over the summer period, we decided let's have a bit of fun with the kids with Ferry McFerryface and now I've named the ferry May Gibbs," Constance told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Constance's rationale for rejecting the trendsetting McBoatface in November as the name of the new ferry was that choice had already been taken.
McBoatface was the most popular choice in an online competition in 2016 to name a British polar survey vessel. But that ship was christened Sir David Attenborough in honor of the naturalist and broadcaster and McBoatface became the name of one of its remotely operated submarines.
"Given 'Boaty' was already taken by another vessel, we've gone with the next most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders," Constance said in November.
Nine Network television reported late Tuesday that McFerryface attracted only 182 votes in the online poll and was ineligible under the competition's rules, while at least one unsuccessful candidate attracted more than 2,000 votes.
The state opposition demanded Constance's resignation for "rigging the ballot."
"He flat out lied about the competition, repeatedly saying Ferry McFerryface was the popular choice when he knew it was anything but," opposition lawmaker Jodi McKay said.
Constance denied misleading the public, saying McFerryface came from an initial open call for public nominations in which people could vote for any name without stringent criteria.
Gibbs was one of the names voted on by the public in both public ballots, and attracted 2,082 votes, he said in a statement.
McFerryface joined the ranks of Trainy McTrainface, a Swedish express train, and Horsey McHorseface, a Sydney racehorse, after a trend started by a suggestion from a former BBC radio host.
But many argued the joke was stale and that the Sydney ferry should have been named after a prominent Australian.

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BANGOR, Maine (AP) - Residents in Bangor, Maine, came just 28 beer cans short of setting a world record.
Attendees at the city's annual Chamber Dinner last week were attempting to break the record for simultaneously opening beer cans. WABI-TV reports the vast majority of the beers were supplied by Geaghan Brothers Brewing, and hundreds of attendees did the honors of opening them at the same time.
The Brewer-based beer maker says it sent video of the attempt to Guinness World Records and got word that the effort did not break the record.
The record was set in Japan in 2016 with 1,149 cans opened simultaneously. The Bangor attempt managed 1,122, which is a record for the city itself.

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - An American teacher in Vietnam is in trouble for making offensive comments about one of the country's most revered figures.
Daniel Hauer, an English teacher in Hanoi, commented on Facebook that he was getting a genital piercing with a part in the shape of late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, a national hero who fought the French and American invaders. Giap died at age 102 in 2013.
The comments drew a furious public response, with many calling for his deportation.
In a meeting with the Ministry of Information and Communication Tuesday, Hauer apologized to Giap's family and the people of Vietnam. He said he hoped the public to give him a chance to correct his mistake.
State media quoted ministry official Le Quang Tu Do as saying that Hauer could be fined up to $2,200 but a final decision will be made soon depending on his behavior.
Hauer declined to comment Wednesday. He has been living in Vietnam for five years and is married to a Vietnamese woman with a child.
State media quoted his wife, Le Thi Hau, as saying she was living in fear following the incident with people texting and calling with threats. She also said that English learning centers cut contracts with her husband.
In a video clip posted on his Facebook page following the comments last week, Hauer said he only made sarcastic jokes after a fellow English teacher vowed to have the Vietnamese flag tattooed on his chest if the Vietnamese soccer team won the Asian Football U23 competition. He said he did not think that the Vietnamese would take his jokes seriously.
"Dan just wants everybody to understand that Dan has no intention whatsoever to vilify Vietnam or vilify Vo Nguyen Giap," he said in the video clip, speaking in Vietnamese. "Dan learnt a lesson to be careful in using names and images of others in a joke, particularly famous Vietnamese historical figures."

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EPPING, N.H. (AP) - An effort to cook calamari has gone awry at a New Hampshire middle school science class, forcing the school to be evacuated.
Police in Epping, New Hampshire, say students were dissecting the squid Tuesday at Epping Middle School, and it was being cooked up as calamari.
Fire Lt. Paul St. Cyr tells the Portsmouth Herald a boiling pot of oil caused a lot of smoke. School District Superintendent Valerie McKenney said the smoke set off fire alarms.
St. Cyr said students were evacuated and moved to the elementary school to keep them out of the cold for about an hour. No one was hurt.

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The head of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency has resigned and the employee who issued a ballistic missile alert to residents -- causing mass panic for nearly 40 minutes earlier this month -- has been terminated, officials said.
The announcement came during a news conference Tuesday by Gov. David Ige, state Adjunct General Maj. Gen. Joe Logan and investigating officer Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira.
One employee also resigned prior to disciplinary actions being taken and authorities are in the process of suspending another worker without pay, Logan said.
It was reported earlier that the employee intentionally sent the message thinking the island was being attacked, the FCC said in a stunning reversal after officials had insisted the alert was the result of a mistaken keystroke.
Vern Miyagi, who oversaw the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency before stepping down on Tuesday, said in an earlier news conference the worker who pressed the alert button "feels bad."
Miyago added, "This guy feels bad, right. He's not doing this on purpose - it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it."
The alert was sent to people in Hawaii on Jan. 13 and caused mass panic and fear.
During the investigation, Oliveira said the employee, who had worked at the agency for more than 10 years, had a history of confusing drills and real-world events. In fact, the worker had made similar mistakes twice before, officials said.
In a written statement, the employee, who was not identified, said he believed there was a real emergency on Jan. 13 after hearing a recording that stated "THIS IS NOT A DRILL." But the employee did not hear the first half of the message that stated "EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE," the FCC said in its preliminary report Tuesday. Though the recording also ended with the "EXERCISE" message, the officer did not hear it.
"While other warning officers understand that this is a drill, the warning officer at the alert origination terminal claimed to believe, in a written statement provided to HI-EMA  that this was a real emergency, not a drill," the FCC said.
The language of the alert message reportedly strayed from typical scripts, although the recording ended with the "exercise" note, Oliveira said.
The employee followed emergency protocol and transmitted the "live incoming ballistic missile alert to the State of Hawaii," selecting "yes" when reaching a page asking: "Are you sure that you want to send this Alert?"
The FCC said the incident was caused by a "miscommunication" during a shift change between the overnight and day crews. Three other officers reported hearing the "exercise" portion of the message.  
After the mistake was realized, the employee reportedly "froze" and "seemed confused," forcing another worker to take over and send a correction, Oliveira said.
The FCC said Hawaii officials were conducting an "atypical number of no-notice drills" that increased the chances of a mistake happening. The organization blamed the state's flawed system, including how the alert software failed to differentiate between testing and live production environments, for the error. The report added the Hawaii agency wasn't well equipped to send out a correction and the delay to send one made the mistake even worse.
"I do want to say it is astounding that no one was hurt in this accident," FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly said. "This could have been a catastrophe."
Following his investigation, Oliveira recommended a number of improvements on the system including a revised checklist to standardize the process of conducting drills and installing a computer process that would immediately send out an "alert cancellation," the latter of which has been instituted already, he said.
The emergency alert that was sent on Jan. 13 about 8:07 a.m. local time read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
By 8:20 a.m., Hawaii EMA tweeted there was "NO missile threat" to the state, but failed to send a follow-up phone alert for another 38 minutes, causing mass panic among people who weren't able to check social media. 
The FCC said Hawaii Emergency Agency has taken steps to update its system and create new policies to prevent another false alert. Agency supervisors will be required to receive prior warnings before a drill. Two officers will also be assigned to transmit and validate every alert and test before it is sent. 

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - The Australian government on Wednesday launched an urgent investigation into the loss of thousands of classified documents that were sold with two second-hand filing cabinets.
The cabinets were sold by a Canberra furniture shop at a discount price because they were locked and no one could find keys, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
The ABC has not identified the buyer who removed the locks with a drill and found thousands of Cabinet documents spanning more than a decade and four prime ministers, the most recent being Tony Abbott. Abbott was replaced in 2015 by the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Several businesses trade in what is described as ex-government furniture in Canberra, the national capital.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said the department boss initiated an urgent investigation into the disposal of the filing cabinets.
The ABC reported nearly all the documents are classified. The classifications include "top secret," "sensitive," ″Australian eyes only," and "cabinet-in-confidence."
The ABC has not said when the documents were found. But it has used them in recent weeks to report stories that have been embarrassing to the former administrations of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Abbott as well as a number of serving lawmakers.
Questioned about the ABC's reporting of Cabinet documents on Tuesday, Turnbull told reporters: "I think they've come across someone's bottom draw in Canberra."
The state-owned broadcaster said it had chosen not to report some documents on national security grounds.
The documents cover Australia's intelligence priorities and counterterrorism planning. They detail missile upgrades, profiles of suspected militants and Australia's desire in 2010 for more Indonesian cooperation to stop asylum seekers reaching Australian shores in fishing boats, the ABC said.
One document refers to an audit that revealed that the Australian Federal Police had lost almost 400 national security files over five years ending 2013.
The documents also reveal that a former finance minister left 195 top-secret papers in her old office when her government was voted out in 2013.
The papers left in the office - but not included with the sold filing cabinets - included Middle East defense plans, national security briefs, Afghan war updates, intelligence on Australia's neighbors and details of counterterrorism operations.
Australian Cabinet documents are usually kept secret for 20 years, before they are made public in a heavily redacted form.
Rory Medcalf, head of the Australian National University's National Security College, described the discarded documents as "very weird and embarrassing" from a national security and political perspective.
Australia's allies, including the United States, "would be concerned, but I wouldn't overstate it," Metcalf said.
"This is not catastrophically damaging for national security in the sense that that something like the Snowden revelations must have been," he added, referring to the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosing a cache of classified material in 2013.

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A University of Hawaii professor caused a ruckus in court on Wednesday when he refused to respond to a judge's questions in English and requested a Hawaiian interpreter.
Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo is facing trial on charges for his participation in a 2017 protest against the construction of a solar telescope on top of Haleakala, a volcano on Maui.
When Judge Blaine Kobayashi asked Kaeo to confirm his identity, the associate professor of Hawaiian studies repeatedly refused to respond in English. Instead he spoke in native Hawaiian.
Hawaii News Now reported Kobayashi said he couldn't understand Kaeo and issued a bench arrest warrant for the professor - who was sitting in court.
"The court is unable to get a definitive determination for the record that the defendant seated in court is Mr. Samuel Kaeo," he was reported saying.
Kaeo, who speaks English, is facing charges for disorderly conduct, obstructing a sidewalk, and obedience to police officers stemming from the August protest. All three charges are petty misdemeanors.
He told reporters and his supporters outside the courtroom on Wednesday that he had appeared before Kobayashi several times before and complained that "it was about the fact that I was speaking Hawaiian that he didn't like."
"I showed up," he said. "I dealt with this judge maybe 15 times before. So obviously, it had nothing to do with they couldn't recognize me. You see what the issue was? It wasn't about me. It was about the fact that I was speaking Hawaiian. But these small obstacles are the kinds of things we overcome."
A request had been made for an interpreter, but prosecutors objected, saying it was an unnecessary expense.
"There is no legal requirement to provide Hawaiian language interpreters to court participants who speak English but prefer to speak in Hawaiian," the state judiciary said in a statement to Hawaii News Now. "In those cases, judges have the discretion to grant, or deny, a request an interpreter."
In 1978, Hawaiian was recognized as an official language of Hawaii, along with English. However, court cases are primarily conducted in English, with interpreters provided for those who speak other languages.
"We have to put this in context. As a Hawaii person representing myself on a criminal issue due to fighting on behalf of the rights of Hawaiian people and using Hawaiian language is the best way to express that this is a Hawaiian issue and that being taken away for me," he told KHON2. "I will continue to demand through my words that I'll be recognized as a human being. That we as Hawaiians have a right for the human right to speak our language."
A hearing has been scheduled for his request, the judiciary said.
Kaeo said he plans continue to speak Hawaiian in future court hearings.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which is not representing Kaeo, said issuing the warrant was inexplicable, nonsensical and absurd.
"The court essentially ignored Professor Kaeo's physical presence based solely on his sincere desire to proceed and present his case in Hawaiian," the corporation said in a statement.
The chief executive officer of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamanaopono Crabbe, called the event an example of "punishing Native Hawaiians for speaking our native language."
He said it was reminiscent of Hawaii's past when Hawaiian "was prohibited in schools, a form of cultural suppression that substantially contributed to the near extinction of the Hawaiian language."
Others argued that the judge was correct in his decision to issue the arrest warrant.
"This gentleman is clearly and unequivocally, remarkably, proficient in the English language and what he's using this for is to follow up in the type of protest that he had on Haleakala," former city prosecutor Peter Carlisle told Hawaii News Now.

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