Mad Minute

July 31 (UPI) -- A British Columbia man who won nearly $75,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket said he chose his ticket because his girlfriend said he needed to work on his spelling.

Nikolaus Hamma of Abborsford told British Columbia Lottery Corp. officials he frequently plays scratch-off lottery tickets, but he owes his most recent choice to a suggestion from his girlfriend.

"I have always played scratch-and-win tickets and my girlfriend told me to play Crossword to help with my spelling," he said.

The Luxury Crossword ticket Hamma purchased from the McCallum Road Town Pantry was a $74,674.50 winner.

Hamma said he plans to use his winnings to take a vacation to Europe once it's safe to travel.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Authorities responded to an apartment complex in Florida when an alligator wandered into a building and trapped some residents inside an elevator.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office said two deputies responded alongside a trapper when a call came in about an alligator inside a building at the Estero Parc apartment complex in Lee County.

The sheriff's office said residents ended up trapped inside the elevator when they found the alligator blocking the door.

"Deputies responded and isolated the alligator until a certified trapper arrived and humanely removed the gator," the sheriff's office said. "The apartment complex community was extremely thankful for the deputies response."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Colorado woman lived out a childhood fear last week after she leaned over her apartment's toilet bowl and saw a four-foot corn snake slither out.

Miranda Stewart, of Fort Collins, told FOX31 Denver she got a rude awakening when she investigated why her toilet wouldn't flush Wednesday morning.

"I looked and leaned in closer and a snake head slithered up," Stewart said. "I was terrified. It's actually been one of my fears since I was a kid."

Stewart and her boyfriend called their apartment complex's maintenance man, Wesley Sanford, to help unclog the snake from the toilet.

Cole Mohs shot a nine-minute-long video from inside the bathroom showing Sandford take the toilet apart to wrangle the snake, which coiled up inside. It took Sandford nearly 40 minutes to finally free the snake, the station reported.

It's unclear how the snake ended up in the pipes and slithered to their toilet. They believe it may have been the pet of another tenant in the apartment complex and escaped through their toilet.

After their unsuccessful search for the snake's possible owner, Sanford decided to adopt the serpent.

"I took him home and my wife was very happy with me and we named him Boots," he told the station. "He's our little guard snake on the property."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A brewery in the German state of Bavaria has been forced to suspend beer production after a family of storks made themselves at home in one of its chimneys. The birds — a protected species in Germany — built a nest in the Zwanzger brewery in the village of Uehlfeld in early spring, bringing production to a grinding halt, brewer Christian Zwanzger told the AFP news agency.

Uehlfeld has long been a favorite haunt for the storks, which often return to the same spots every year to build their nests.

"We already had one last year (on the roof) and the young storks, when they come back, often come to the same place. So they looked for a place to build their nest and they did it on the chimney of the brewery," Zwanzger said.

He and his team had planned to wait until the nest was completed and then raise it out of the chimney — but then Germany went into lockdown due to the coronavirus.

That means they had to wait until now to get the specialist help needed to deal with the nest, as baby storks have since hatched. The brewery is now hoping to move the nest next week.

In the meantime, stocks of beer are running low -- and even if brewing resumes next week, the beer will not be ready until mid-September.

But Zwanzger is not bitter. "Storks love to come to us. Here in Uehlfeld we have about 35 nests," he said.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand that was spotted from above, authorities say.

The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and U.S. aircraft, the Australian defense department said Monday.

The men had apparently set out from Pulawat atoll in a 23-foot boat on July 30 and had intended to travel about 27 miles to Pulap atoll when they sailed off course and ran out of fuel, the department said.

Searchers in Guam asked for Australian help. The military ship, Canberra, which was returning to Australia from exercises in Hawaii, diverted to the area and joined forces with U.S. searchers from Guam.

The men were found about 118 miles from where they had set out.

"I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfill our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world," said the Canberra's commanding officer, Capt. Terry Morrison, in a statement.

The men were found in good condition, and an Australian military helicopter was able to land on the beach and give them food and water. A Micronesian patrol vessel was due to pick them up.

SOS is an internationally recognized distress signal that originates from Morse code.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BERLIN (AP) — Police at Munich Airport got a surprise during their search of a wooden box being transported by a 74-year-old passenger that turned out to contain the bones of the woman's dead husband, authorities said Tuesday.

Customs officials, a doctor and prosecutors were called in, and they determined no crime had been committed, German news agency dpa reported.

After questioning the woman and her 52-year-old daughter, police learned the pair were on their way from Greece back to their native Armenia via Munich and Kyiv.

The mother said her husband died in 2008 and was buried in Thessaloniki, Greece and that she and her daughter decided to bring his remains home to a final resting place in Armenia, police said.

Following the short investigation, the two women were allowed to continue on their journey with the boxed remains.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Forest Service in California shared photos of a vehicle that was broken into and ransacked by an unusual burglary suspect -- a hungry bear.

The U.S. Forest Service in Lake Tahoe said a bear broke into the parked vehicle at Bayview Trailhead by breaking through a back window.

The Forest Service said the bear ransacked the inside of the vehicle, which contained food items and trash that likely attracted the animal's attention to the vehicle.

"Before heading out, remove any food, trash, scented items from your vehicle or this could happen to you," the Forest Service tweeted.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(CNN) Police in Italy have identified a 50-year-old Austrian man who broke three toes off a statue at a museum as he posed for a photo with the artwork.

The 200-year-old plaster cast model of Antonio Canova's statue of Paolina Bonaparte was damaged in the incident on July 31 at the Gipsoteca Museum in Possagno, northern Italy, Treviso Carabinieri, the local law enforcement agency, told CNN.

The man, whose name has not yet been released, was caught on a surveillance camera jumping up onto the statue's base to get a picture when the maneuver inadvertently snapped its toes.

The damaged statue is the original plaster cast model from which Canova carved a marble statue that is housed in the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

Canova was a revered sculptor who lived from 1757-1822 and was famous for his marble statues.

Police told CNN that the man was with a group of eight Austrian tourists and broke away to take a selfie of himself "sprawled over the statue."

In doing so, he broke three toes off the statue's right foot and "there could be further damage to the base of the sculpture that the museum experts still have to ascertain," according to investigators.

Vittorio Sgarbi, the president of the Antonio Canova Foundation, wrote in a Facebook post that he has asked police for "clarity and rigor." He wrote that the man must not "remain unpunished and return to his homeland. The scarring of a Canova is unacceptable."

Coronavirus measures mean that all museum visitors must leave their personal information for eventual contact tracing in the event that an outbreak is tied to a museum visit. This is how the man was identified.

When police contacted a woman who signed in on behalf of herself and her husband, she burst into tears and admitted her husband was the toe breaker, according to a press release from Treviso Carabinieri.

The husband, who was also upset, then confessed and repented for the "stupid move," according to the release.

A court in Treviso is currently deciding whether to press charges.

It is not the first time a valuable piece of artwork has been damaged in an attempt to get a memorable picture.

In October 2018, a woman damaged two artworks, by Francisco Goya and Salvador Dali, after knocking them over while trying to take a selfie at a gallery in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(New York Post) ALBANY, NY — Ice cream in New York won't be so vanilla after this.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday legalizing the sale of frozen desserts infused with liquor in the Empire State.

State law already allows ice cream to include 5 percent wine, cider and beer — but the new law expands that menu to include hard booze.

Effectively immediately, liquor and craft beverage manufacturers, dairy farmers, food retailers and restaurants can make and sell spiked sweets in sealed packages.

But kids aren't about to start getting wasted on froyo — the boozy treats can only be sold to people 21 and older.

"The craft beverage industry has experienced explosive growth in New York and with that comes a responsibility to advance regulations that help ensure long-term viability, protect consumers and provide farmers with opportunities to increase their business," said Cuomo in a statement.

"This legislation will further grow a burgeoning industry and boost small businesses while helping to put them on a path of sustained growth that empowers both producers and consumers."

The bill's sponsors, upstate lawmakers state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton) wrote in the legislation's fiscal memo the inclusion could add to New York's state and local tax revenue collections.

New York has licensed over 820 farms statewide with craft beverage manufacturing licenses since 2012.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PHOENIX, Ariz. (CNN) – The arguably most famous cat on the internet might have an heir. A kitten in Arizona has such an adorable scowl that Humane Society workers started calling him "Judgy Roger."

After mourning the loss of its famed "Grumpy Cat" last year, Arizona now has another cat who might be heir to the throne of feline royalty.

Roger, aka "Judgy Roger," is going viral for his adoption photo. He was shot wearing a look of tired superiority, and Humane Society members say the image definitely matched Roger's attitude at the time.

"Roger's face had this perfect little scowl," Valerie Stockton, animal behavioral specialist, said. "He just looked so irritated."

Roger had a few behavior problems, including hissing, swatting and hiding in his litter box. While he was getting attention online, he was working with Stockton and making improvements.

"Luckily, he loves other kittens, so as soon as I gave him a friend, he turned into a very sweet, playful, pretty normal kitten," Stockton said.

Anyone hoping to adopt the passive aggressive kitty is too late. Patty McNeel swiped up Roger without even knowing he was semi-famous.

"The way he cuddled. He cuddled up when she brought him in the room," McNeel said. "And he purrs, sounds like a little motorboat."