Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, March 20th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, March 20th

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BERLIN (AP) - An Austrian man faces a 160-euro ($197) fine for describing police officers as "smurfs" in a warning about speed checks posted on Facebook.
The Austria Press Agency reported Tuesday that authorities in Tyrol province imposed the fine on the man, whose name wasn't released, for violating "public decency" by "defaming two police officers."
The man's post in a Facebook group alerted others to "two smurfs standing with lasers" on a local highway. A police officer who was also in the group filed a complaint.
The local Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper reported that the man maintains the term "smurfs" was meant as a harmless joke rather than an insult, and plans to defend himself at regional police headquarters.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A train transporting sewage from New York and New Jersey has prompted complaints of a rotten stench and fly infestations in Alabama with Birmingham city officials saying they're working with authorities to clear the air.
The stench is nearly unbearable, Birmingham City Councilman John Hilliard said this week at a city council meeting.
Numerous train cars transporting sewage sludge have been rolling across the South to an Alabama landfill since early 2017, sparking widespread complaints, Al.com reported.
The sewage sludge is being transported from New York and New Jersey, lawyers for the Alabama town of West Jefferson said in a January lawsuit. It smells like "dead, rotting animals" and human waste, and has caused fly infestations in the community, the attorneys wrote.
The sewage material has also sloshed out of trucks and spilled onto roads, where it sometimes sticks to vehicle tires, West Jefferson Mayor Charles Nix has said.
"When it's hot, if people go out to their mailbox and one of these trucks rolls by, they have to go in and shower. It's that bad. The odor is just horrific."
The stink has also been an issue in Parrish, where the town council held a special meeting recently regarding complaints about smelly train cars being stored at a rail yard there.
"The smell really started getting bad here," Parrish Mayor Heather Hall told Al.com. "I mean, it was terrible."
"It greatly reduces the quality of life of anybody that this is around," she added. "You cannot go outside, you can't sit on your porch, and this stuff, it's here in our town, it's not like it's an industrial area."
 
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A man who wrote that his Iowa hometown smelled of "rancid dog food" after an animal food processing plant moved in has sued the city, saying officials are trying to silence him.
Josh Harms with help of the American Civil Liberties Union seeks in federal court to block Sibley city officials from making legal threats or taking action to quiet him.
Harms says the city violated his constitutional free speech rights by telling him he must take down his website.
He says city officials aren't doing enough to reduce the odor from the Iowa Drying and Processing plant, which makes animal feed supplements from pig blood.
An attorney for the city declined to comment.
Sibley is a town of 2,600 people about 238 miles northwest of Des Moines.

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(New York Daily News) A custodian at a South Carolina school rummaged through students' book bags during a school walkout Wednesday - and took their cash.
Aisha Evans stole $180 from three Richland Northeast High School students while they participated in a national protest against gun violence on March 14, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
School administrators and the school resource officer conducted an investigation, and Evans was charged with three counts of petty larceny.
The 32-year-old was employed by Service Solutions, an agency that provides custodial services to the school, CNN reported.
Evans is no longer employed by the agency, according to CNN-affiliate WIS.
"On Thursday, March 15, Service Solutions notified Richland Two that Evans is no longer an employee of the company and was informed that she cannot come on any Richland Two property," the school district said in a statement.
Students across the country marched in a National School Walkout one month after 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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(The Scottish Sun) A woman in the Highlands has got people buzzing - by keeping a 'house trained' pet BEE in her home.
Library assistant Fiona Presly, from Inverness, rescued a buff-tailed bumblebee queen that had been born without wings.
After fondly naming the insect 'Bee', Fiona seemed to form a bond and would 'cuddle' her new pal.
Fiona said: "I found her when we were getting work done in the garden, and it was lucky I didn't stand on her.
"I put my hand down in front of her and she crawled onto it right away.
"I looked at her and thought 'something's not right here, she's got no wings'."
The pair became inseparable after Fiona made a makeshift garden and accepted Bee as her lodger.
Speaking to the Scotsman she continued: "She made sort of clicks, buzzy sounds when she was in close contact with me and was happy to sit and groom, eat, drink and sleep on my hand.
"We were both very comfortable with each other, and many people admired this bond. She was totally relaxed with me.
"People have a bond with their dog or cat and even their hamster. I think I've proved here that you can have a relationship with an insect."
Bee psychologist and professor of behavioural ecology at Queen Mary University of London, Lars Chittka, reached out to Fiona after hearing her tale.
He said: "The desired state for a bumblebee queen is to be surrounded by other bees, therefore it seems plausible that such an individual should feel something rewarding from being surrounded by living beings.
"Also the queen might feel the opposite of that when alone, because this would signify it hadn't succeeded in founding a colony."
Fiona has decided to keep a journal, logging details of her 'relationship' with the insect.

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TROY, Mich. (AP) - A suburban Detroit police department will get a police cat following a successful social media campaign.
The Troy Police Department launched an initiative on March 6 to reach 10,000 Twitter followers by April, with the incentive of adding a furry feline to their team. The department had just over 4,000 followers when the campaign began.
The #WeWantAPoliceCat movement took only eight days to reach the goal.
The department's Twitter account drew followers through a slew of humorous tweets, beginning with a photo of a cat wearing sunglasses and a sheriff's hat. The department announced it had reached the milestone Wednesday with a post featuring an image of dancing cats.
"We are very excited about a police cat coming to Troy PD," Sgt. Meghan Lehman said. "The Twitter campaign has shown us that there is immense support for cats in law enforcement. Seriously, we think this will continue to help us connect with the public and also help promote the adoption of shelter pets."
The department will work with the Humane Society to bring in a cat, she said. The department is now looking for a cat that would be a good fit and deciding on a handler. The animal will be used for therapeutic purposes and will make public appearances.
"The plans are in the works. We want to make sure we do this right," Lehman said.
The department is continuing to use its social media account to get public input on the feline addition, with a recent post asking for suggestions on what to name a police cat unit. Twitter users have suggested names such as "Claw and Order," ″The Purr Patrol" and "Pawlice."

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lab results have revealed the answer to a mystery at an Oklahoma zoo: Just what caused a female lion to sprout a mane.
The Oklahoma City Zoo says in its March newsletter that testing at the University of Tennessee found the African lioness named Bridget has an elevated level of androstenedione, a hormone that can contribute to developing male features.
Veterinarians compared Bridget's blood to samples from her sister, who has no mane. Bridget's blood also contained a higher level of cortisol, which regulates metabolism and the immune system.
The zoo says the results likely mean the 18-year-old lioness has a benign tumor that's producing the hormones, but that her health is excellent.
The zoo says female lions with manes are not unheard of, but they are rare.

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FRIDAY, March 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Thinking about a vasectomy? Now -- as March Madness begins -- might be just the time for the procedure.
The NCAA basketball tournament and other major "sporting events are a popular time for men to schedule a vasectomy because we advise them to take it easy for two to three days after the procedure," Dr. Jim Dupree, an assistant professor of urology at the University of Michigan, said in a school news release.
"For most men, this means sitting on the couch in front of their television, and sporting events offer them something to watch while resting," he said.
In fact, an athenahealth study found that urologists in its network did 30 percent more vasectomies during the first week of March Madness in 2016 than in an average week during the rest of the year.
Each year, about 500,00 men in the United States have a vasectomy, according to Dupree.
Men need to know that the procedure is quick and precise, he said. It takes about 20 minutes and is done under local anesthesia.
"Most of the time we don't need to use a scalpel, and we make a small hole in the scrotal skin with a pointed instrument," Dupree explained. "This no-scalpel vasectomy has less bleeding, swelling and pain, making it easier and more comfortable for men to recover."
Men should ice the area during recovery and take over-the-counter pain medications, he said. Most men can return to work the next day or the day after.
"Complications are rare, including a 1 percent risk of bleeding and infection," Dupree said.

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March 20 (UPI) -- A befuddled driver on a Chinese road captured video of a roller skater performing a dangerous stunt by road surfing at the back of a bus.
The video, recorded Sunday evening, shows a man on roller skates getting a free ride by clinging to the back of a city bus in Dalian City, Liaoning Province.
"What is he doing?" the filmer can be heard saying in Chinese.
The filmer said the bus-surfer held onto the back of the moving vehicle for more than a minute.

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March 20 (UPI) -- A Kansas Lottery player said he was shocked when gas station employees tracked him down to return a dropped Mega Millions ticket worth $1 million.
The Lincoln County man told Kansas Lottery officials he and his brother were on their way home to watch basketball when they stopped a gas station in Salina.
"My brother went in to check my tickets. He apparently dropped the unsigned Mega Millions ticket, and then we left to go back home," the man said.
Employees at the gas station found the dropped ticket and scanned it, discovering it was a $1 million winner.
The store owner's son came in to help the clerk's track down the man who dropped the ticket.
"We had already been home for about an hour, and then went out and ran another errand. As we passed the store, the owner's son pulled out behind us and flagged us down. He explained what happened and handed me the ticket, and I just couldn't believe it!" the man said.
The man, who collected his winnings at lottery headquarters Monday, said he had no idea that one of his tickets was a winner and hadn't noticed that one of his tickets was missing after his brother checked them. He said the actions of the store employees restored his faith in humanity.
 

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