Mad Minute

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) — A couple who came under attack for displaying the Norwegian flag outside their mid-Michigan inn because some observers mistook it for a Confederate flag have found another way to show their Scandinavian pride.

Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker, who own The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns, outside Lansing, took Norway’s flag down last month after being accused of promoting racism, the Lansing State Journal reported.

They are replacing it with a vimple, a type of long, pennant-shaped flag that can be seen displaying various designs across Scandinavia. The Offenbecker’s vimple will have the colors of the Norwegian flag — a red background with a blue cross superimposed on a white cross — in a nod to Kjersten Offenbecker’s grandfather who was born in Norway.

The colors of the Norwegian flag are similar to the Confederate flag, but the patterns and symbols are different. The Confederate flag is red with a blue “X” containing white stars.

After they removed the Norwegian flag last month, people around the globe contacted them and urged them to put it back up, Kjersten Offenbecker said. Many suggested different ways to display the flag. Someone in Norway suggested a vimple, which isn’t an official national flag.

Offenbecker said they are often displayed as an alternative to Norway’s flag, which traditionally is only displayed during certain times of the day.

“Apparently, when you drive through the countryside this is what you see,” she said.

“When you look at it, it has the feel of the Norwegian flag,” she added. “I’m sure we’ll get a lot of questions about what it is but no one will ever make a judgment about it that’s incorrect.”


(FOX) Arizona police are looking for the owner of an escaped emu after one of the world's largest birds was found wandering near a Scottsdale golf course Tuesday morning.

Scottdale police said officers responded to calls of an emu roaming near Legend Trail Parkway and Roadrunner Drive. A photo shows the bird strolling along a bike lane.

Officers tracked the emu to a nearby golf course, FOX10 Phoenix reported. Police told the station that residents helped to pacify the emu with birdseed long enough for them to lasso the escapee.

"As he was sitting there eating, they come in with the lasso and get it over him," Sgt. Matt Pearson told the station. "He stood right up and they walked him out and right into the trailer."

The police department is housing the bird at the station until they locate its owner.

Arizona has seen its share of lost emus recently. In May, the Arizona Department of Transportation found an emu wandering near a highway.

Last year, Phoenix police responded to "a large bird loose in the area," wrangling and returning an emu to its owner in Scottsdale, the Arizona Republic reported.


Aug. 5 (UPI) -- An Oklahoma woman who lost her class ring during a trip to a lake was reunited with the ring 36 years later when it was returned to the school.

Tammy Risher, who was a mascot for Kingfisher High School during her senior year in 1984, said she saved up for three years to buy her class ring, but lost it only a week later during a trip to Canton Lake with some friends.

"I put it in my shoe because I didn't want to lose it in the water, and it slipped out of my shoe," Risher told KFOR-TV.

Risher said she thought the ring was lost forever until a man recently contacted Kingfisher High School to return a ring his late father had once found while treasure hunting at the lake.

"Both of his parents just recently died and he found this ring and said he wanted to find the rightful owner," said Amy Woods, who works as a payroll clerk at Kingfisher High School.

School employees went through old yearbooks and contacted Risher's classmates until they were able to track her down.

Risher visited the school Tuesday and was pleased to discover the ring still fits.

"It fits just like Cinderella," Risher said.

An Indiana man who lost his class ring under similar circumstances was recently reunited after an even longer period of time.

Sam Wagner, a Jasper High School graduate, had given his ring to then-girlfriend Susan to wear during a trip to Beaver Lake beach in 1974 and the ring was lost in the sand.

Wagner's ring was found 46 later by Haddie Hollingsworth, 9, who discovered the item at the beach while building a sandcastle.


Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A team of artificial intelligence researchers are teaming with theater professionals in the Czech Republic to create the world's first play written entirely by "robots."

Researcher Rudolf Rosa of Charles University said his team is working together with Svanda Theater and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague on the project, dubbed THEaiTRE.

Rosa said the idea was suggested by entrepreneur Tomas Studenik as a means of celebrating the 100th anniversary of R.U.R., aka Rossum's Universal Robots, a 1921 play by Karel and Josef Capek that is credited with originating the term "robot."

"Tomas thought that this should be properly celebrated and came up with the idea of turning the story around: 100 years ago, a man wrote a theater play about robots; what if today, robots wrote a theater play about men?" Rosa told TechXplore.

He said the team is working with artificial intelligence models that were previously successful in generating pieces of text, including poetry and dialogue.

"Thanks to the approaching anniversary, our main target is clear and fixed: by January 2021, we need to have a play ready for premiere," Rosa said.

He said the team is aiming to have a script finished in September to give the theater group time to turn it into a full-fledged production.

"Even though we are developing a general tool for theater script generation, at the moment we only really need to generate one script," he said.


DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Maine property owner used a sawzall to solve a property dispute, carefully cutting down a portion of his neighbor's garage that went over the line.

Gabriel Brawn, who works in construction, cut the structure that was over a surveyor's line and are installing a fence along the boundary, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The Brawns had an amicable relationship with their neighbor Steve Ritter until he died in 2016. Ritter's wife took over the property but rarely visited it. At one point, the Brawns unsuccessfully tried to purchase the property.

In April, the dispute got heated when the Brawns put wood chips on a portion of the established boundary so heavy equipment could get to downed limbs on the back of the property. Blake Ritter, Steve Ritter's son, put a stake in the pile of wood chips and told Brawn it was their property.

Brawn called a surveyor who indicated the property line went through the Ritter's garage. The tenants moved out that night.

"There's been a property-line dispute for a couple of months and obviously that was the result between Mr. Brawn and the owner of the other building," Dover-Foxcroft police Chief Ryan Reardon said. "We were aware of the situation and believe it's been resolved at this point."


Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A Virginia man's unusual gamble paid off when he bought 25 identical lottery tickets for the same drawing and won 25 times for a total prize of $125,000.

Raymond Harrington told Virginia Lottery officials he visited the Wegman's store in Virginia Beach and decided to buy 25 $1 tickets for the July 17 Pick 4 drawing.

"Something just told me to play 25 times," Harrington recalled.

The gamble paid off when Harrington's number combination came up: 4-6-4-0.

Each of Harrington's tickets won a $5,000 top prize, earning him a total prize of $125,000.

The winner said he plans to use his money to help his two sons, who are in college.


Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A pair of long lost twin brothers were reunited in Vietnam after being adopted by different families 43 years earlier.

Tran Van Canh and Tran Van Truong, both 52, said they were given to separate families at age 5 when their parents lost their home and found themselves impoverished due to mounting medical bills for the men's father, Tran Van Trang.

Tran Van Canh said he was a teenager when he met a woman who was believed to be his biological mother, but he later discovered the woman's son had been given up around the same time under different circumstances.

Tran Van Thanh was reunited with his biological family at age 25 and joined his mother, Pham Thi Lien, in searching for his twin brother.

Canh and his mother's family had separately sent letters in 2007 to TV program Nhu Chua He Co Cuoc Chia Ly -- As If There Was No Separation -- which specializes in reuniting family members.

The show's producers eventually made the connection between the letters, but they were unable to contact Canh until this year because he had moved and changed his phone number.

Canh requested a DNA test to confirm his relation to the family, and after the test came back positive he was reunited with his mother, twin brother and the rest of the family. He said he was unaware that he had a twin brother and was shocked to discover the other man looks exactly like him.

The twins said they were surprised to learn they share the same sense of humor and have similar food preferences.


Two kids learned that it's a fragile world after all when they accidentally smashed a $64,000 glass replica of a Disney castle at the Shanghai Museum of Glass.

In a statement on the Chinese social media site Weibo, a museum spokesperson wrote that the youngsters "hit the exhibit counter when they were chasing each other." The tower was "demolished," while other parts were damaged.

Spanish artisan Miguel Arribas spent approximately 500 hours perfecting The Fantasy Castle, which features 30,000 individual pieces and 24-carat gold.

But Miguel is taking it in stride, according to Rudy Arribas, president of Arribas Brothers, the company behind the shattered masterpiece.

"Luckily it's not destroyed. As soon as the coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, Miguel will go to Shanghai and do the repair. He loves to travel," Rudy told TODAY Parents. "Miguel just is glad people are looking at his beautiful work."

Rudy added that Arribas Brothers, which specializes in Disney collectibles, has stores at Disney parks and resorts around the world.

"We're used to kids and this kind of stuff happening," he explained. "Glass breaks. Nothing is done on purpose."

This is the second time The Fantasy Castle will require repairs. The first time was due to vibrations caused by local trains going back and forth, Rudy said.

The Shanghai Museum of Glass apologized online for the temporarily "imperfect" castle and urged patrons to "follow museum social courtesy."

"Do not climb over barricades, do not touch the exhibits. No chasing," the museum's statement said. "We have to do our duties together to protect the exhibits and the museum environment."


Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A New Mexico woman who arrived home to find a large snake in her driveway called authorities for help when the reptile slithered up into the wheel well of her truck.

Yolanda Borunda said she arrived home from getting dinner with her family Sunday night when she spotted what she suspected to be a snake in her driveway.

"I got out of my vehicle to see if it's in the road and sure enough it had slithered into the tire of my white truck that I have in my driveway," Borunda told KRQE-TV.

Borunda said she got close enough to confirm that the object she spotted was indeed a snake and snapped some photos before calling Animal Control for assistance.

Animal Control doesn't respond after hours, so the Roswell Police Department dispatched some officers to capture the snake, which was identified as a python.

"When the RPD personnel arrived, the python moved into the vehicle's engine. Eventually, one of the sergeants was able to remove the snake from the engine and turn it over to Animal Services," the police department said in a Facebook post.

Borunda posted on Facebook in the hopes of finding the owner of the apparent escaped pet. Animal Services said the snake will be put up for adoption if it is not claimed within four days.


Brussels (AFP) - Belgian scientists have named a new "very large and robust" Vietnamese sub-species of praying mantis after British television naturalist David Attenborough.

According to the Royal Belgian Society of Entomology, a recent expedition to the Annamite mountains in central Vietnam uncovered a mantis now known as Titanodula attenboroughi.

The Belgian Journal of Entmology describes 94-year-old Attenborough as "one of the world's most beloved naturalists".

It describes the new-found insect as a "very large and robust praying mantis. Head triangular, antennae filiform. Long but robust pronotum, with smooth dorsal surface."

Mantises were once assigned to the catch-all Herodula genus -- dubbed a "wastebasket taxon" by the journal -- but species of this group display a great variety of male genitalia, suggesting they are separate.

The research has allowed scientists to assign Attenborough's eponymous mantis to a new group, Titanodula.

Attenborough was director of programming for British public broadcaster the BBC in the 1970s, but is best known for presenting an ambitious series of wildlife documentaries, beginning with Life on Earth in 1979.

He is a much-loved public figure and has received other honours, including a knighthood.

In 2016 the British polar research vessel was named the RRS Sir David Attenborough despite a poll of Internet users suggesting it be dubbed "Boaty McBoatface".