Mad Minute

CLAREMONT, N.C. (AP) — A pit bull intent on chasing down an opossum was foiled when he ended up wedged around 100 feet (30 meters) into a pipe in North Carolina.

Claremont Rescue Chief Eric Jones said in a Facebook post that his agency was called late Tuesday night to the scene, where Rocky the dog’s worried owner stood. The rescuers dug holes in different locations to try to find Rocky, eventually locating him at a junction between the cast iron and corrugated pipe.

News outlets report the rescue took around two hours. Aided by an electric saw, rescuers were eventually able to free the 2-foot-tall dog from the 1-foot-tall pipe.

City officials say Rocky and his owner were very happy to be reunited, and Rocky was instructed his opossum-chasing days were over.


STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — A Virginia woman is accused of embezzling more than $93,000, which she allegedly funneled toward her wedding and buttocks lift, among other expenses.

News outlets report 32-year-old Vanessa Cline worked as a bookkeeper for No Limits Construction, replacing another who was convicted of stealing more than $150,000 from the same company.

The Stafford County Sheriff's Office says the owner contacted authorities last week after American Express told him his company's credit card was behind on payments and would be closed.

An internal investigation identified Cline as the culprit and she was arrested Wednesday.

A search warrant affidavit says other unauthorized purchases included an all-terrain vehicle, airline tickets, perfume and groceries.

Cline is charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, forgery and passing a forged document. Reports didn't include comment from her.


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian appeals court on Friday dismissed a bullying case brought by an engineer who accused his former supervisor of repeatedly breaking wind toward him.

The Victoria state Court of Appeal upheld a Supreme Court judge's ruling that even if engineer David Hingst's allegations were true, flatulence did not necessarily constitute bullying.

Hingst said he would take his case to the High Court, Australia's final court of appeal.

The 56-year-old is seeking 1.8 million Australian dollars ($1.3 million) damages from his former Melbourne employer, Construction Engineering.

Hingst testified that he had moved out of a communal office space to avoid supervisor Greg Short's flatulence.

Hingst told the court that Short would then enter Hingst's small, windowless office several times a day and break wind.

Hingst "alleged that Mr. Short would regularly break wind on him or at him, Mr. Short thinking this to be funny," the two appeal court judges wrote in their ruling.

Hingst said he would spray Short with deodorant and called his supervisor "Mr. Stinky."

"He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day," Hingst said outside court.

Short told the court he did not recall breaking wind in Hingst's office, "but I may have done it once or twice."

Hingst also accused Short of being abusive over the phone, using profane language and taunting him.

The appeal judges found Hingst "put the issue of Mr. Short's flatulence to the forefront" of his bullying case, arguing that "flatulence constituted assaults."

The court found that Short did not bully or harass Hingst. Hingst had failed to establish that Construction Engineering had been negligent.

Hingst worked for Construction Engineering as a contract administrator from May 2008 until April 2009.

He argues he was bullied in the workplace until his job was terminated.

Construction Engineering argued his job was terminated because of a downturn in construction work due to the global financial crisis in late 2008.


BOSTON (AP) — Along with all the usual declarations and deductions, Massachusetts residents have been asked to keep something else in mind this tax season: pigeon droppings.

In an unusual and at times stomach-turning appeal, the state agency MassWildlife proposed that one way to fight back against the sticky messes befouling cars and damaging bridges is for taxpayers to check a box on their tax forms to support the state's endangered species program.

How so? Peregrine falcons are among the program's beneficiaries, and they prey on pigeons.

"Hate pigeon poop? Save peregrine falcons," begins the message on the agency's website and in a recent newsletter. It goes on to picture a typical motorist driving home from work over one of the state's major bridges.

"You're thinking about dinner as you wait in traffic when — PLOP! — something white and black falls onto your windshield," the post continues.

Next comes a scientific breakdown of the bird droppings that includes an explanation — for inquiring minds that need to know — of the precise difference between the dark and white portions.

And then, lest the reader believe it's all no more than a yucky nuisance, this warning: "This paste-like substance is so acidic and corrosive, that it can damage your car's paint job. And you guessed it, groups of birds all going to the bathroom in the same place can make man-made structures like bridges deteriorate faster."

Enter the peregrine falcon, a magnificent predator that can attain speeds of 240 mph (385 kmh) in high-elevation dives, no match for the slower and less agile pigeon, which just so happens to be one of the peregrine's favorite feasts.

Peregrine falcons disappeared from Massachusetts in the mid-1950s and soon after the entire eastern U.S., their demise largely blamed on the pesticide DDT, according to the state's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

After the chemical was banned, efforts picked up to reintroduce the raptor, sometimes confused with more common varieties of hawk.

To the surprise of some ornithologists, many of the newcomers eschewed their former rural habitats and became city dwellers. Instead of on cliffs, they began nesting on tall building ledges and bridges in urban areas where food sources — pigeons, especially — were more plentiful.

To help the falcons along, state officials and volunteers placed nesting boxes in strategic locations such as the Custom House Tower in Boston, the 28-story W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the heavily traveled Tobin Bridge spanning the Mystic River.

"Falcon cams" were even installed to offer a continuous livestream of peregrine comings and goings.

The restoration effort is partially funded by voluntarily donations from taxpayers, who can choose to contribute to "endangered wildlife conservation" on their state returns. The money supports more than 400 threatened or endangered plants and animals, from bog turtles to timber rattlesnakes, but the peregrine falcon is easily among the most "charismatic," said David Paulson, senior endangered species biologist for MassWildlife.

Contributions to the fund have been increasing but remain well below levels needed, according to state officials and wildlife experts. About 23,000 taxpayers gave $312,000 through the tax check-off in 2017, the last full year for which figures were available, compared with the $178,000 provided by approximately 18,000 taxpayers in 2013.

It's not just bird lovers and conservationists embracing the slow but steady revival of the peregrine falcons.

State transportation engineers have noticed a reduction in the pigeon population on bridges with nesting falcons, officials said. Fewer pigeons means less waste building up on bridge surfaces, rusting the steel and increasing the costs for maintenance and bridge replacement.

"It's almost like a symbiotic relationship," Paulson said. "The structure provides the habitat, and the falcons kind of provide the pest management, for lack of a better term."

Officials hope drivers when completing their tax forms will also see the peregrine as a feathered friend that can make an unwanted splattering a bit less likely.

The falcons "are never going to eliminate (pigeons), but they can help to manage them," Paulson said.


In a seemingly impossible mission, one lucky Queens resident defied the odds thanks to the Department of Sanitation and was reunited with his lost wallet after throwing it in the trash.

It all started when Avrohom Levitt's grey wallet fell into a shopping bag he used to throw away trash in his car when he was in Manhattan celebrating Purim.

"My wallet fell out of my jacket pocket," he tells NBC 4 New York. "I knew it fell between the two seats, I didn't know that it fell in the bag."

He apparently then dumped the bag, with the wallet still inside, in a trash can on W. 186th Street, before heading home.

Levitt had a tracking device inside his wallet. The tracking device posted its last known location as the Washington Heights apartment building where Levitt remembered throwing out the trash bag.

However, the garbage had already been picked up so Levitt called 311.

Fortunately, the Department of Sanitation has helped other people reunite with lost items in the past — like wedding rings — and so it arranged a lost valuable search at Interstate Waste Services, a waste transfer station, in Newark.

It was there that a sanitation worker dumped out garbage bags for Levitt to look through in hopes of finding his wallet.

In the end, he dug out his wallet — which contained $68 dollars and credit cards he needs for an oversees trip.

After recovering his lost wallet and finding himself in that stinky situation, he stopped on his way home to pick up his favorite cologne, which he doused on the wallet — and himself.

The experience left Levitt grateful and brought him "a whole new appreciation" for those who pick up the trash, he told The Post.

"I have a tremendous feeling of appreciation to everyone who was part of this," he told The Post. "They are the kindest and sweetest. Everyone was so kind and cheerful."

However, Levitt's adventure seems to be all in a day's work for the sanitation department, which tweeted "our pleasure to assist."


(FOX) Plastic Garfield phones have been washing up along the French coast for over 3 decades with no explanation, until now.

The mysterious cat headsets have perplexed the local communities and environmentalists since the 1980s.

"Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost every time we clean," Claire Simonin, the head of beach cleaning group Ar Viltansou, told the AFP news agency.

But after a French paper wrote about the strange feline phenomenon, a local resident came forward to reveal a 20-year old secret.

"Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost every time we clean,"

Rene Morvan and his brother went to the beach during a large storm two decades ago and found the phones blanketing the coast, according to franceinfo. They returned to the beach when it was low tide to enter into surrounding cliffs and find out where the cat trinkets were coming from.

"We found a container that was stranded in a fault, it was open, a lot of things were gone but there was a stock of phones," Morvan said.

He justified not sharing his knowledge with the community by only saying: "At the time, there was a lot of things that came to us from the sea."

Once learning of their whereabouts, Simonin ventured out and recovered an additional 23 Garfield headsets, on top of collecting over 200 plastic pieces and wires over the last few decades.

For the Ar Viltansou cleaning group, the discovery is bittersweet. The brightly orange colored cats have proven to be an environmental nightmare and they see the local ecosystem has been affected, thanks to the pollution the spillage has created.

Fabien Boileau, the director of the Ironise Marine Nature Park, said: "We will still go there to recover the remains of phones. It will always be less plastic and electronics in the sea. But I have little hope that we will be very effective."

There still remains a bit of mystery because no one has been able to determine how the shipping container ended up along the coast of France.

"We have no idea what happened at the time: we do not know where it came from, what boat," Fabien Boileau, the director of the Ironise Marine Nature Park, told AFP.

The phones are still popular among collectors and are being sold for around $40.00 each on eBay.


(FOX) A Michigan couple is worried their home may be haunted after they claimed they saw a ghost in their daughter's room that allegedly left scratches on her face.

Heather Brough, 30, and Joshua Higgins, 25, told WXYZ they think a ghost is lurking around their Highland, Mich., house after they saw a figure move across the screen on their nanny cam. In the video captured a few weeks ago, a figure appears to in front of their young daughter Lily's crib.

"It was chilling," Higgins said. "It was literally a chill down your spine, like that 'what if' factor – Is this what I just saw?"

Higgins told the media outlet when he saw the figure on the nanny cam he immediately "ran upstairs and grabbed" his daughter.

Brough said her daughter had mysterious scratches on her face and believed the ghost may have harmed her.

"It scares us that it could do something else," Brough said. "I mean, there was a morning I woke up and I felt like someone's hands were around my neck."

Paranormal investigators inspected the home but Higgins' father offered an explanation.

"The gentleman that lived here originally committed suicide apparently by jumping out this window, which is one story down," Jim Higgins told WXYZ.

The couple said they are hoping to save up enough money so they can move out of the home, which is owned by Higgins' mother.


A Missouri employee at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car said he spiked three co-workers' drinks with LSD because they were giving off "negative energy," police said.

Police began investigating the unidentified 19-year-old man this week after officers were called to the rental car location in Arnold, Mo., about two people feeling dizzy and shaky for an unexplained reason, KMOV reported.

The workers were taken to urgent care before being transferred to the hospital.

Police officers then questioned the 19-year-old, who admitted he put the hallucinogenic drug in two co-workers' water bottles and a third employee's coffee that day because they had "negative energy."

The employees were okay after the drug's effects wore off. The 19-year-old could face charges of second-degree assault and possession of a controlled substance when lab tests are completed, according to police.


March 29 (UPI) -- An Australian man's mistake in buying two identical tickets for the same lottery drawing paid off when he scored a nearly $33.2 million share of the jackpot.

The $50 million Oz Lotto jackpot was split evenly between three winning tickets, two from Victoria and one from Tasmania, and lottery officials said they quickly learned the Victoria tickets belonged to the same man.

The Melbourne man told officials he was playing his usual numbers and he had intended for the second ticket to be for a different drawing, but he later discovered he had accidentally bought both tickets for the same Tuesday night drawing.

The accident ended up earning him two thirds of the jackpot, instead of the half he would have received with only a single working ticket.

"I might think about retiring. First maybe a new home or a holiday," the winner said. "I'll definitely share it with my family."


March 29 (UPI) -- An Illinois sheriff's office said two deputies ran into a burning home to rescue an unusual resident -- a large snake.

The Kankakee County Sheriff's Office said Deputies Hayden and Zirkle ran into the smoke-filled residence in Bourbonnais early Thursday after being told the pet boa constrictor was still trapped inside.

The deputies were able to carry the boa to safety and reunite the beloved pet with its grateful owner.

The Bourbonnais Fire Department said the fire was sparked by an aquarium stand inside the home. No injuries to human or snake were reported.

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