Mad Minute

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who grabbed a McDonald’s worker by the collar because he couldn’t find a straw was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

A Pinellas County judge also ordered 40-year-old Daniel Willis Taylor to stay away from the restaurant and the workers he attacked in an incident caught on video. Taylor was credited with the 58 days in jail he already served. He also must pay a $1,000 fine.

Authorities say Taylor became irate when he couldn’t find a straw on New Years’ Eve. The video shows him standing at the counter, screaming at 20-year-old Yasmine James before grabbing and holding onto her shirt collar. She responded by hitting him several times.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Taylor kicked another worker while being escorted out.


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Prosecutors say a couple was panhandling along a North Carolina road when a foreigner pulled over with a proposal for the woman: Marry him so he could stay in the country, and they'd receive $12,000 along with payments for a house and car.

Citing court records, The News & Observer reports that 31-year-old Melissa Anne Godshall accepted the offer from 44-year-old Levan Lomtatidze, a native of the country of Georgia. Her boyfriend, 46-year-old Robert Kennerly, served as a witness during the marriage ceremony.

The U.S. attorney's office says all three are now indicted on charges involving marriage fraud. News reports didn't include comments in their defense.


JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Past ghost-hunting experiences have come back to haunt a man picked by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to serve on a compensation board for crime victims.

John Francis hasn't shied away from the topic, voluntarily bringing it up during a House hearing last week and calmly fielding pointed questions during a Senate hearing Wednesday. In an interview Thursday, he spoke of a life-changing event in which he felt the soul of a man "go through my body."

Francis said he was somewhat surprised by how much attention the ghost hunting has gotten. He said he expected more questions on criminal activity he was involved in many years ago, which he said included burglary and insurance fraud, though he acknowledged there were time constraints on Wednesday's hearing.

During that hearing, Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold focused on Francis' ghost hunting and his thoughts on the paranormal. She said she has been contacted by people concerned about the matter.

"If it's just for fun and all make believe, tell me that. If you're serious and there's investigative process and you believe this is real, I want to know that," Reinbold said. "I really don't want you to glaze over this because I think this is a real serious concern."

Francis, who testified via telephone, explained setting up recorders in people's homes as part of the investigations. He said what is found is almost always explainable and that sharing that provides a measure of comfort for those homeowners.

Reinbold asked if Francis believes in paranormal activities. He said he believed Jesus rose from the dead. Reinbold later told him that she would not support his nomination.

Francis is the latest Dunleavy nominee to raise eyebrows. A Dunleavy Cabinet member resigned after being accused of lying about his business background and a Board of Regents nominee withdrew after facing scrutiny over her social media activity, which included sharing derogatory tweets about former first lady Michelle Obama and two Muslim congresswomen. A candidate for a judicial conduct commission is drawing questions about a recall effort he faced while serving as a school board president.

It's not clear if Francis' ghost-hunting activities will be a deal-breaker for lawmakers who will decide whether to confirm him to serve on the Violent Crimes Compensation Board.

During last week's House hearing, Francis said there was nothing "weird or demonic" about the ghost-hunting group and he saw it as a way to help people.

"We do the opposite of what you see on TV," Francis told The Associated Press Thursday. "We try to disprove any noise or explain any noise or visuals that somebody might see."

He said they would sometimes do cleansings with sage. "We don't run around the house with crosses and stuff, either," Francis said.

He described the ghost-hunting group as inactive.

Francis believes he would be a good fit for the board. He said he has long since turned his life around and supports victims' rights. He said he has a computer business and has been involved with Facebook groups focused on crime and listing of stolen items.

Francis said he had a life-altering experience in the early 1980s, when he said he was involved in unsuccessful efforts to revive a man found on a boat.

"I swear I felt his soul go through my body because I was doing mouth to mouth on him; I was closest to his head," he said, adding that it "creeped me out."

"But I tell you what, that really changed my life," he said. "Prior to that I felt like other people were just objects, not people. But after that, it just changed everything. Everything."


PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a man is accused of breaking into a Phoenix apartment and helping himself to tortillas and soup.

Court documents show that 31-year-old Jerry Christopher Drane was arrested March 1 on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

According to charging documents, a female occupant smelled something burning. She found Drane in the kitchen cooking tortillas on top of a stove burner.

She yelled for her roommate and both women demanded Drane to leave.

They told police Drane then went onto the balcony and began eating a can of soup.

Responding officers say he showed signs of being intoxicated and was subsequently arrested.

He is due back in court later this month.

One of the women believes Drane entered when she left the door unlocked to go do laundry.


Caesar the "No Drama Llama" didn't exactly live up to his name over the weekend.

The llama — alongside his entourage which reportedly included handler Larry McCool, personal assistants and a social media director — was spotted Sunday riding Portland, Oregon's light rail service, known as the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX).

The group was apparently headed to Wizard Con at the Oregon Convention Center, The Oregonian reported.

But even with a valid fare, there's bad news for Caesar, a house-trained and "affectionate" llama: He isn't technically allowed on the rail system.

"While we appreciate that Caesar is promoted as 'The No Drama Llama' and that he apparently was well-behaved during his ride, TriMet policy only allows service animals on TriMet vehicles," Tim Becker, a spokesperson for TriMet, the rail system's operator, told the newspaper in a statement.

On Facebook, TriMet responded to the news with a short poem:

"Llama Llama on the train

Trying to escape the rain

But llamas aren't allowed on MAX

No matter how good your llama acts"

"I refuse to use TriMet until this policy is changed," one person wrote in response.

"Would it be okay if the llama was in a carrier?" another joked.

"Yes, where do I sign up to take the next Llama train," a third wrote.

"I bet that llama was better behaved than some other passengers of the human variety," a fourth said.

Ariel Knox, Ceasar's social media director, told Fox News in a statement that Sunday wasn't the first time the llama has taken a ride on the MAX.

"Caesar has ridden the MAX on multiple occasions without us ever being told it was not allowed," she said.

"Our mission is to spread llama love and make Caesar accessible to everyone regardless of their income. This translates to pausing and stopping to allow people to enjoy hugs and selfies for free. On occasion, we've hopped the MAX to get to our destination faster," she added, noting the llama's team is now aware they are not allowed to take Ceasar on the train.

According to his Facebook page, Caesar is "unusually affectionate and loves to make new friends."

The llama — which is apparently "much like a dog" — has made visits to retirement homes and schools and can frequently be spotted "walking down the street in the Willamette Valley."

The animal is also a so-called "llamactivist," his description continues.

"He promotes and protects civil rights and he's genuinely happiest whilst making new friends and bringing smiles to faces everywhere," it concluded.


A drunken-driving arrest in California took a surprising turn when it emerged that the suspect was driving a car that warned against drunken driving.

The driver had been weaving across lanes on Interstate 80 around 4 a.m. Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol's Oakland bureau.

The advertisement on top of the vehicle, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, read: "I should probably get a ride home" (with "probably" crossed off). It also said, "Buzzed driving is drunk driving."

"Ironic for someone driving drunk with a sign encouraging not to drink & drive," highway patrol wrote.

The unnamed driver's blood alcohol limit was past the limit, Officer Herman Baza told Bay City News. He said that the highway safety administration pays people to display the anti-drunk driving signs.

"It's a good message, but he's not necessarily the best role model," Baza said. "He was weaving all over the place. We caught him early enough that we prevented him from crashing."


We've all seen more than a few reasons for subway delays in the city -- signal problems, unauthorized people on the tracks, unruly passengers among them -- but on Friday morning, the MTA shared a surprising one: crew bathroom break.

"Jamaica-bound J trains are delayed while our train crew takes a restroom break at Crescent St.," the verified NYCT Subway Twitter account said at 10:23 a.m.

A flurry of rider comments came within the next few minutes, of course -- and they ranged from sad to mad to amused and straight-up meme. A

"Is this real?" wrote one Twitter user.

"Hello boss, I'm late due to the subway operator's explosive diarrhea," wrote another.

Yet another tagged a buddy in his reply tweet to the MTA, writing, "If you're not following this account by this point, you're missing out."

At least one Twitter user begged the MTA to err against transparency, at least in this case, saying, "please just go back to calling it 'Train Traffic.'"

The MTA addressed a few of the tweets by acknowledging the humanity of its employees and urging subway riders to do the same.

It's not clear how often crew bathroom breaks are cause for subway delays. An MTA spokesman confirmed the explainer tweet was part of its effort to increase transparency as it relates to delays.

For what it's worth, the delays had cleared up in less than 10 minutes. And don't forget, you can always get real-time commute updates from all your key transit sources using our module below.


March 8 (UPI) -- Fast food chain KFC is turning to crowdfunding to raise money for an unusual tie-in product: the Kentucky Fried Hot Tub.

KFC is raising money on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo to develop hot tubs designed to resemble the chain's iconic fried chicken buckets.

"Like a KFC bucket, but bigger and filled with soothing hot water instead of delicious fried chicken," the company said on the campaign page.

KFC said the hot tub would feature "wood-fired thermosiphoning heating technology," "capacity for five fried chicken-loving people" and "a full 360 degrees of Kentucky Fried Chicken branding."

The campaign is seeking $46,000 to kickstart development.


March 7 (UPI) -- A jewelry store owner in India reviewed security camera footage to find out what happened to a pair of diamond earrings and identified the thief -- a rat.

Dheeraj Kumar said he noticed two diamond ear tops were missing from his Patna, Bihar, store, and he suspected they may have been taken by one of his employees.

Kumar reviewed the security camera footage and discovered the thief was actually a rat that climbed out of the ceiling of the store.

He said the rat fled back into the ceiling after taking the jewelry, but he was unable to locate the studs.


March 6 (UPI) -- Officials at an Italian national park are warning tourists they could face steep fines if they are caught hiking in flip-flops.

Cinque Terre national park announced fines of $56 to $2,286 could be levied against park visitors found hiking the narrow trails in flip-flops or other unsuitable footwear.

"The problem is that people come here thinking they are at the seaside, but the paths above the villages are like mountain trails," Patrizio Scarpellini, the head of the Cinque Terre national park, told La Republica.

Officials said rescue teams have become overwhelmed with calls for help from visitors who attempted the difficult paths without adequate footwear.

"We use the helicopter to rescue a lot of holidaymakers. Usually they've fallen down along the road of the Cinque Terre or they've injured themselves because of a lack of experience or equipment," a rescue helicopter pilot told The Local.