Mad Minute

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The director of Iowa’s social services agency was a huge fan of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, and he frequently let his subordinates know it.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven routinely sent messages to employees lauding Shakur’s music and lyrics even after at least one complained to lawmakers. Then last month, he sent another such email to all 4,300 agency employees. He was abruptly ousted from his job the next work day.

Foxhoven, 66, told employees that he had been a huge fan of the hip-hop artist for years. He hosted weekly “Tupac Fridays” to play his music in the office. He traded lyrics with employees and he marked his own 65th birthday with Shakur-themed cookies, including ones decorated with the words “Thug life.”

The agency released 350 pages of emails with the words “Tupac” or “2Pac” sent to and from Foxhoven during his two-year tenure in response to an AP request. They show that Foxhoven marked the anniversary of Shakur’s death, shared one of his lyrics about love on Valentine’s Day and used the rapper’s image to try to improve the agency’s culture. He told colleagues he was inspired by lyrics that included: “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.”

While some employees praised Foxhoven for using Shakur to inject levity and inspiration into a stressful workplace, at least one complained to lawmakers about it last year, according to the emails provided under the open records law. And when Gov. Kim Reynolds told Foxhoven to resign on June 17, it was his first work day after he sent an agency-wide email telling employees to mark Shakur’s birthday over the weekend by listening to one of his songs.

The timing of Foxhoven’s mass email, which featured a large image of the rapper smiling, and his resignation has fueled speculation among employees that the two events are linked. But like the question of who fatally shot Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996, the reason for Foxhoven’s forced departure remains a mystery.

A spokesman for the governor wouldn’t confirm or deny that Foxhoven’s email figured into her surprise request for his resignation.

“As the governor has said, a lot of factors contributed to the resignation of Jerry Foxhoven and now Gov. Reynolds is looking forward to taking DHS in a new direction,” said spokesman Pat Garrett.

The governor’s office has refused to elaborate on those factors, despite an Iowa law that requires state agencies to release the “documented reasons and rationale” when employees resign instead of being terminated.

Foxhoven’s ouster came amid multiple controversies involving the agency, which has a nearly $7 billion annual budget. They included difficult contract negotiations with managed care companies that run the Medicaid program, a trial detailing alleged mistreatment of boys at a state juvenile home, and an uptick in deaths at a center for the disabled. Still, Foxhoven’s job had not appeared to be in danger.

Reynolds had appointed Foxhoven, a longtime Drake University law professor, to run the agency in 2017 amid concerns about its handling of cases of children who died from abuse and neglect.

Foxhoven said in a text message that he believed Reynolds had made the decision to “go in a different direction” before he sent the June 14 email. He said he wasn’t given a reason for the resignation request but that he doubted Shakur was a factor.

The email included what Foxhoven called an inspirational quote from the artist: “Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back, it simply means that you are 2 steps ahead.” Foxhoven noted that, in addition to Shakur’s birthday, he was celebrating his two-year anniversary as director and he thanked the staff for their work.

Foxhoven said he sent the message, which was similar to an email he sent the prior year to mark the day, to break down racist stereotypes about rap music.

Several employees reacted positively with notes to Foxhoven — but one noted that the view wasn’t universally shared.

“I love your 2pac messages ... and the fact that you still send them (despite the haters) makes me appreciate them even more,” employee Lisa Bender wrote.

“I agree totally. I am going to hang in there on him -- despite all of the naysayers,” Foxhoven responded.


FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida man was arrested after deputies reportedly found him hiding drugs in a very personal place.

According to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, a deputy pulled Derick McKay over for speeding July 11.

When he started talking to McKay, he noticed that he seemed nervous and that there was a smell of marijuana. McKay claimed he didn't have anything illegal in his custody, but deputies investigated further.

After he was brought to jail for driving on a suspended license, McKay confessed to hiding narcotics in his buttocks, deputies said.

He then proceeded to remove more than a dozen small baggies from his behind, including a small baggie of crack, eight small baggies of heroin, two small baggies of Molly, a small baggie of marijuana, 12 Lortab pills and 12 Oxycodone pills.

McKay is now facing multiple charges and is currently being held without bond.

The sheriff's office said he has a criminal history dating back to 2008.


LONDON (AP) — A street in Wales has been designated the steepest in the world after a successful campaign by residents.

The title comes at the expense of a street in New Zealand, which has apparently been eclipsed in the steepness sweepstakes.

Guinness World Records said Tuesday that the street of Ffordd Pen Llech in the seafront town of Harlech, 245 miles (395 kilometers) northwest of London, has a gradient of 37.45%, two percentage points steeper than the former title holder in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island.

The Welsh campaign was led by businessman and architectural historian Gwyn Headley. He says he feels "jubilation" now that the street has been recognized.

He says he feels sorry for New Zealand, but that "steeper is steeper."


RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A Nebraska woman has been fined $1,000 for climbing the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

Authorities say Alexandria Incontro scaled the massive granite sculpture Friday with bare feet and no rope, making it to about 15 feet (4.5 meters) from the top.

The Rapid City Journal says Incontro chose a route between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose faces are about 60 feet (18 meters) tall. Several signs at the popular tourist destination warn against trespassing on or climbing the sculpture, which was completed in 1941.

A federal officer and national park ranger convinced Incontro to come down, and she was handcuffed and arrested.

Incontro, from Omaha, appeared Monday in Rapid City federal court, where she pleaded guilty to climbing the monument. Three other charges were dropped.


PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man who went to the doctor with an irritated eye got the unsavory news that it contained a tick.

WYMT-TV reports an optometrist used tweezers to remove the tick from Chris Prater's eye.

Prater works for an electric company and had left a job site where his crew had removed a tree from power lines when his eye started bothering him.

He noticed a tiny spot on his eye and tried to flush it several times to no avail. Finally, he went to the doctor and admits he got "scared a little bit" at the diagnosis.

After numbing Prater's eye, the doctor removed the tick. Prater was sent home with antibiotics and steroid drops.

Prater says he uses bug repellent before he starts each work day, "but you can't spray your eyes."


A North Carolina grandmother was arrested Monday morning after TSA officers at LaGuardia Airport allegedly caught her carrying a loaded gun into the security checkpoint.

TSA says officers spotted the handgun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine in a red roller-bag style suitcase. It was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber, according to TSA.

The woman, who was traveling with two of her grandchildren, told officials that she did not know that there was a gun in her carry-on bag because she had borrowed the bag, according to TSA.

She was arrested by Port Authority Police on weapons charges.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared, according to TSA. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition.

TSA also reminds the public that firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.


A man in Pennsylvania is accusing his delivery driver of speeding off with a bellyful of barbecue.

Chris Payton, of York County, claims he ordered six ribs from a local barbecue restaurant via DoorDash, only to discover that the driver had helped herself to two of the ribs, and some waffle fries, before dropping them off.

"I guess she just pulls over to the side of the road and just decides to have herself a little snack before she delivers," Payton told Fox 43.

Payton had also taken photos of his incomplete order, noting that the two ribs appeared to be "torn off" from the rest of the meat. Fox 43 reported that bite marks appeared to be left behind, too.

Surprisingly, the eatery that provided the ribs — Dickey's Barbecue, located in West Manchester Township — told Fox 43 that this wasn't the first time they fielded complaints about that very DoorDash driver, or "Dasher."

DoorDash has since confirmed to Fox News that the offending "Dasher" is no longer working with DoorDash.

"We sincerely regret that this incident fell short of the experience we strive to give our customers every day," a DoorDash spokesperson confirmed. "We reached out to this customer immediately after being notified of this event. We have since taken appropriate actions, including deactivating the Dasher from our platform for failing to follow and maintain our standards of food safety."

The company reportedly issued Payton a refund, but he's also hoping the driver learned a lesson in treating customers with respect.

News of the alleged barbecue bandit follows a similar complaint lodged against a DoorDash delivery driver earlier this year. In March, a customer in Stockton, Calif., claimed his "Dasher" took a sip of his milkshake before dropping it off, although he didn't discover the driver's dirty deed until later, when he watched his family's front-door surveillance footage.

DoorDash, which was founded in 2013, pays the Dashers that act as independent delivery drivers for restaurants in their area. Restaurants can apply to appear on the DoorDash app and website to be included among a specific area's delivery offerings.


(WCNC) A well-known Instagram model just sold her own bathwater for $30 a jar, broadcasting it out to all of her 3.9 million Instagram followers.

Insider reports the jars sold out in just three days.

Belle Delphine, 19, posted a photo with one of the jars with the caption "i am now selling my BATH WATER for all you THIRSTY gamer boys."

Newsweek reports the jars came with a disclaimer in her online store that added, "This water is not for drinking and should only be used for sentimental purposes."

"I sold around 500 units, far more than I expected and I had to rebuy containers as I didn't have enough! and I was very surprised at the huge response I got, I didn't think my bathwater would get this much attention," she told Newsweek.

She even seemed surprised with the success she had with selling the jars.

"So my bath water SOLD OUT...i will be making some more soon but its been honestly a weird couple of days taking SO many baths..." she wrote.

She told Newsweek the idea originally came after fans told her to jokingly sell her bathwater. So, she decided to do just that.

People have mixed reactions about her success.

"Can we all just be civilized and please not buy this?" one person wrote on Instagram.

Another person wrote, "She makes money with idiots. Best way to make money, take it from stupid people, make them spend all on this nonsense, plz!"


July 16 (UPI) -- An Illinois woman said she is trying to solve an intriguing mystery after a postcard showed up at her house that was postmarked 26 years ago.

Kim Draper said she initially thought the postcard had been delivered to the wrong address when it showed up July 8 at her Springfield home, but a closer look revealed it had been sent to a previous resident exactly 26 years earlier -- July 8, 1993.

The postcard, addressed to Leena and Muhammad Ali Kizilbash, is signed "Your Dad" and provides details of the man's travels in Hong Kong.

"It's in really great condition for being somewhere in the mail system for 26 years," Draper told The State Journal-Register.

Draper said she is hoping to find the people from the card, but she has not been able to find any promising leads.

"I was hoping that maybe if someone saw it in our local newspaper, maybe a family member, maybe they could reach out and let me know," Draper told CNN. "I'd really like to meet them. I don't want to just throw it in the mail."


(NY Post) A Catholic bishop in Colombia is going to new heights in efforts to perform an exorcism: He plans to spray holy water over an entire city from a helicopter, according to reports.

Monsignor Rubén Dario Jaramillo Montoya, bishop of Buenaventura, will use a navy chopper to spread the holy water Sunday in hopes of ridding the city of demons that he believes are responsible for violence, crime and corruption there.

"We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it … to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port," he told a local radio station, according to UPI.

"So that God's blessing comes and gets rid of all the wickedness that is in our streets," said Montoya, who was ordained in 2017 by Pope Francis.

"In Buenaventura, we have to get rid of the devil to see if we can return to the tranquility that the city has lost with so many crimes, acts of corruption and so much evil and drug trafficking," Montoya continued.

"It will be a great public demonstration for the entire community, where we will pour holy water to see if so many bad things end and the devil goes out of here," he said.

Buenaventura, the South American nation's biggest Pacific seaport, also will hold a feast for its patron saint that day.

In 2014, a Human Rights Watch report named Buenaventura the country's most dangerous place, saying that criminal gangs are active in many of the city's neighborhoods, where they dismembered people and dumped them in the sea.

Despite efforts to tackle violence by creating a "humanitarian zone" in the city, Montoya said there have been 51 murders there so far this year.

Last year, the Vatican announced a new exorcism training course because of the increased demand for "deliverance ministry."