Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 1st - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Friday, June 1st

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BEIJING (AP) — A highly social giant panda out for a stroll surprised and delighted residents of a town in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan.
The panda was first spotted wandering among houses in Wenchuan county on Thursday, seemingly in search of food. She strolled beside a vegetable garden, trotted across a dirt road and climbed a tree, seemingly unfazed by the attention she drew from a large group of onlookers.
Researchers at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda confirmed that the panda was Zhenzhen, an 11-year-old female raised in captivity and recently released into the wild as part of a special breeding project.
After allowing her several hours to explore, researchers returned Zhenzhen to the Wolong Shenshuping Panda Base by mid-afternoon.
“When she’s in an amorous mood, we let her out of the enclosure, hoping that she will mate with wild pandas,” Wu Daifu, director of the Hetaoping panda training base, said in a telephone interview with China Central Television.
Zhenzhen was set free in the Tiantaishan Area of the Wolong National Nature Reserve on March 5. Freed pandas sometimes wander into settlements near the reserve, Wu said.
Back at the panda base, Zhenzhen will be looked after by staff members optimistic that she may already be pregnant.
“We are not exactly sure whether Zhenzhen had mated with wild pandas, so we just assume she already did and we will take great care of her, hoping she will surprise us,” Wu said.
China’s captive breeding program is credited with bringing giant pandas back from the brink of extinction.
The rare animals are China’s unofficial national mascot and live mainly in Sichuan’s bamboo-covered mountains.
More than 1,800 are estimated to exist in the wild, where they are threatened chiefly with habitat loss, and around 420 others live in captivity in zoos and reserves, the majority within China.

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FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say police impersonators have been fooling police, firefighters and the public for three years in and around Flint, Michigan.
The Flint Journal reports the impersonators are members of a group calling itself the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency. They were acting as police at parks, house fires, vehicle crashes and crime scenes.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton authorized charges against three people this week, including unlawful imprisonment. In one case, the impersonators allegedly handcuffed two people. Court records say there are at least five other potential defendants.
Leyton says the individuals sometimes were the first to arrive at crime scenes and "real police would ask them to perform tasks." An investigation started after a complaint about rude Genesee County park rangers who turned out to be impostors.
 
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The gubernatorial campaign of actress and activist Cynthia Nixon learned a hard lesson about New York state geography when it misspelled the name of the city of Ithaca in an email to supporters.
The Democrat's campaign repeatedly spelled the city "Ithica" in Friday's email, which invited voters to an event with Nixon on Sunday in the upstate city.
Nixon is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this year's Democratic primary.
A Cuomo campaign aide ridiculed the mistake, tweeting that while Nixon's "Sex and the City" character may have never left Manhattan, someone auditioning for governor should be able to hire better writers.
A Nixon spokeswoman says the email was sent in error. She provided a photo of a campaign worker writing "Ithaca" correctly several dozen times on a dry erase board.

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CAMILLUS, N.Y. (AP) — The 30-year-old man whose eviction from his parents' suburban home drew national attention finally left Friday, hours before a court-ordered deadline, with financial help from right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Michael Rotondo honked and waved to reporters as he pulled out of the driveway of his parents' split-level ranch in Camillus, New York, 2 ½ hours before the noon deadline set by a judge last week.
He said his parents had said goodbye, "more or less," and got his rumbling station wagon running after some false starts, according to the Post-Standard of Syracuse.
Rotondo had avoided TV crews staked out on the upstate New York road earlier Friday morning by leaving from the back, but returned around 9:30 a.m. in the passenger seat of a pickup truck. He loaded a cooler and garbage bags full of items into the truck then dealt with the station wagon, which has a broken coolant system, according to the newspaper.
"I gotta get going before that thing blows up," he said.
Mark and Christina Rotondo brought the court case against their son after several eviction letters offering money and other help were ignored. They offered him $1,100 "so you can find a place to stay" and nudged him to get a job.
"There are jobs available even for those with a poor work history like you," one letter they sent him reads. "Get one — you have to work!"
A May 22 court appearance drew national attention. Rotondo refused the judge's request to work things out directly with his parents, who sat quietly nearby. He failed to persuade the judge to grant him another six months with his parents.
Rotondo planned to spend the next week at an Airbnb in Syracuse. He credited Jones, who has asserted that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax, with providing a $3,000 check to cover rental and other costs. Later, he plans on moving in with a distant cousin, the newspaper reported.
He recently appeared on Jones' Infowars show.
Rotondo has said the eviction fight is connected with his efforts to get back visitation time with his 8-year-old son. He lost custody and unsupervised visitation with the boy in 2017.
He said he called the police because he believed the boy's Legos were in the basement and his father wouldn't let him look for them. Instead, the father offered to look for specific items and, if he found them, bring them out. The Legos were found after police arrived.
"This isn't a game show," Rotondo said, explaining to the newspaper why he called police. "I don't have to guess what's behind Door No. 1."
Calls made to Mark and Christina Rotondo's home on Friday were not answered.

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Vermont is willing to pay new residents who work remotely for an out-of-state employer in hopes of increasing its population and workforce.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a bill that will pay those new residents up to $10,000 over a period of two years in an effort to attract younger people to the state.
"Vermont isn't just a place to ski and try craft beers, it's an ideal state for raising a family and growing a business," Department of Tourism and Marketing commissioner Wendy Knight said Friday.
The Remote Worker Grant Program would cover relocation expenses and other costs. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. Scott signed the bill Wednesday.
The law defines a qualifying worker as working primarily from a Vermont home office or co-working space and employed full-time by an out-of-state based company.
The state would award grants on a first-come, first-served basis and has allocated $500,000 for the next three years to the program.
"The intent is to spread it to as many people," said Joan Goldstein, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. "If the program is successful, we'd probably ask for more funding."
Goldstein said that logistics and parameters need to be established before they can determine how many grants they will be able to support.
Vermont has the third highest median age (42.7 years) in the nation behind New Hampshire (43.0) and Maine (44.6), according to a report last year from the U.S. Census Bureau. Its population overall is flat or slightly shrinking. Last year saw the state's first increase in population in four years, and it was by a mere .05 percent, according to the bureau.
Another state program, Stay to Stay Weekends, aims to convert tourists into full-time Vermont residents. It was announced in March by Scott and the Department of Tourism. The three-day lodging and networking package connects visitors with local employers, entrepreneurs and community leaders during their weekend stay. It's been tried several weekends this year so far, but attendance has been sparse.
Knight said they have more work to do to turn the idea into a successful program. The program's next pilot weekend is in mid-August.
Several U.S. cities have provided incentives for newcomers to move, including New Haven, Connecticut and Detroit. Alaska uses oil royalties to pay its residents to live in the state.
Scott has called for measures he feels will make Vermont more economically attractive so young people will stay and others might move here, such as tuition-free college for National Guard members and construction of affordable housing.

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LISBON, Maine (AP) — An escape artist emu known as "The Bird" that got loose has been returned to its animal sanctuary in Maine.
Lisbon police, an animal control officer and much of the town searched throughout the day Thursday for the 5-foot-4-inch emu that escaped from its sanctuary. A spokeswoman for the sanctuary says the 19-year-old bird was captured near a neighbor's house.
The Bangor Daily News reports someone caring for The Bird was moving it to its summer residence when the flightless, ostrich-like animal bolted.
Police had said the 100-pound emu was somewhere in the woods. Animal officials say it previously attempted another escape a decade ago, but was caught.

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Florida police arrested a woman named Crystal Methvin for possession of crystal meth Saturday morning.
St. Augustine police said they arrested Methvin, 40, and her friend, Douglas Nickerson, 41, after getting an anonymous complaint about an unlicensed driver.
Officers responded to the parking lot of one-story office complex at 69 Dixie Highway and found Methvin, Nickerson and an unidentified third person sitting in a vehicle.
Police say the three consented to a search, and officers arrested Methvin and Nickerson after finding crystal meth and drug paraphernalia.
Both were taken to St. Johns County Jail. Online records show Methvin is being held on a $5,000 bond. She was charged with drug possession.
Nickerson's bond was set at $5,500. He faces charges of drug possession and drug equipment.

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A New Jersey realty company says that one of its advertisements lost during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 has been found washed up on a French beach.
Diane Turton Realtors, a company headquartered in Point Pleasant Beach, shared photos of the sandy sign on Facebook Wednesday. Sixty-four-year-old Hannes Frank told The New York Times that he sent an email to the realty company after he found the sign washed up near Bordeaux, France.
Company manager Perry Beneduce says the sign was posted at a waterfront listing in Brielle before it was lost during Superstorm Sandy. Beneduce notes the listing itself was not damaged and sold the next spring.
Over the course of 5 1/2 years, the sign traversed nearly 4,000 miles.

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June 1 (UPI) -- A pair of fishermen who landed a stingray in Texas recorded video of the moment the sea creature unexpectedly gave birth.
Jason Elizondo Stab of Houston said he was fishing alongside Nicholas Long of Fort Worth at the San Luis Pass in Galveston County when they spotted the stingray in the water.
The pair reeled in the stingray and soon realized it appeared to be pregnant.
"That would be awesome if it gave birth right now," a voice says in Stab's video, just before the stingray's water breaks.
The video shows the stingray give birth to multiple babies.
Stab said he and his fellow fishermen placed the mother and her new babies back in the water.

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June 1 (UPI) -- A woman in China was stopped by police after being spotted driving on the highway in a slow-moving pink bumper car.
Footage recorded on a highway in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, shows the woman driving a pink bumper car down the busy roadway while full-sized vehicles speed past her.
The woman was stopped by police and given a warning.
Police said they confiscated the bumper car from the woman, who operates a bumper car business in the city.


 

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