Mad Minute stories from Monday, February 12th

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Indiana State Police say they're investigating after a police officer in the western Indiana city of Crawfordsville fired a gunshot at a movie actor portraying a bank robber.

No one was hurt.

State police say Crawfordsville police were responding to a report of a possible robbery at Backstep Brewing Co. on Tuesday evening when they encountered actor Jim Duff.

Duff was wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun while leaving the brewery with his back to the officers. Police told him to drop the gun, but Duff turned toward them. An officer fired a shot that missed Duff.

Police say Duff dropped the gun, pulled off his mask and told officers they were on a movie set.

Police say the production company and the brewery didn't notify them or other businesses before filming.


BERLIN (AP) - A German court has ordered a donkey's owners to pony up 5,800 euros ($6,800) to the driver of a pricey McLaren sports car to cover damage caused when the animal chomped the backside of the vehicle.

Police said that Vitus the donkey may have mistaken the orange McLaren parked next to his enclosure as a giant carrot when he bit the back, damaging the paint and a carbon-fiber piece.

The dpa news agency reported that the state court in Giessen on Thursday sided with the car owner, who filed the suit after the donkey owner refused reimbursement for the incident last September.

At the time, Local media reported the owner of the donkey refused to pay for the damage, telling the McLaren owner he should have picked a better parking place.



MEXICO CITY (AP) - Civil defense officials in northeast Mexico say a light rain was accompanied by small fish that fell from the sky.

Tamaulipas civil defense says in a brief statement that rain Tuesday in the coastal city of Tampico included fish. Photos posted on the agency's Facebook page show four small fish in a bag and another on a sidewalk.

According the U.S. Library of Congress, it's a phenomenon that has been reported since ancient times. Scientists believe that tornadoes over water - known as waterspouts - could be responsible for sucking fish into the air where they are blown around until being released to the ground.


EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Authorities say a New Jersey woman made up a story that her granddaughter was missing inside a Walmart so that her son could steal clothes and candy.

Police in Egg Harbor Township say that Donna Hall and her son Nicholas Hall were charged after Tuesday's incident.

Police say Donna Hall told employees she had last seen the 8-year-old girl in the store's jewelry section.

Security guards say they saw Nicholas Hall filling bags with clothes and candy while the store was locked down. Police later determined there was never a girl missing.

Donna Hall was charged with creating a false public alarm and shoplifting and Nicholas Hall was charged with shoplifting and drug possession.

It wasn't immediately known if the pair had attorneys to comment on their behalf.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly 300 species of fish, mussels and other sea critters hitchhiked across the Pacific Ocean on debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, washing ashore alive in the United States, researchers reported Thursday.

It is the largest and longest marine migration ever documented, outside experts and the researchers said. The scientists and colleagues combed the beaches of Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia, Alaska and Hawaii and tracked the species to their Japanese origins. Their arrival could be a problem if the critters take root, pushing out native species, the study authors said in Thursday's journal Science.

"It's a bit of what we call ecological roulette," said lead author James Carlton, a marine sciences professor at Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

It will be years before scientists know if the 289 Japanese species thrive in their new home and crowd out natives. The researchers roughly estimated that a million creatures traveled 4,800 miles (7,725 kilometers) across the Pacific Ocean to reach the West Coast, including hundreds of thousands of mussels.

Invasive species is a major problem worldwide with plants and animals thriving in areas where they don't naturally live. Marine invasions in the past have hurt native farmed shellfish, eroded the local ecosystem, caused economic losses and spread disease-carrying species, said Bella Galil, a marine biologist with the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History in Tel Aviv, Israel, who wasn't part of the study.

A magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami on March 11, 2011, that swept boats, docks, buoys and other man-made materials into the Pacific. The debris drifted east with an armada of living creatures, some that gave birth to new generations while at sea.

"The diversity was somewhat jaw-dropping," Carlton said. "Mollusks, sea anemones, corals, crabs, just a wide variety of species, really a cross-section of Japanese fauna."

The researchers collected and analyzed the debris that reached the West Coast and Hawaii over the last five years, with new pieces arriving Wednesday in Washington. The debris flowed across the North Pacific current, as other objects do from time to time, before it moved north with the Alaska current or south with the California current. Most hit Oregon and Washington.

Last year, a small boat from Japan reached Oregon with 20 good-sized fish inside, a kind of yellowtail jack native to the western Pacific, Carlton said. Some of the fish are still alive in an Oregon aquarium. Earlier, an entire fishing ship - the Sai sho-Maru - arrived intact with five of the same 6-inch fish swimming around inside.

Co-author Gregory Ruiz, a Smithsonian marine ecologist, is especially interested in a Japanese parasite in the gills of mussels. Elsewhere in the world, these parasites have taken root and hurt oyster and mussel harvests and they hadn't been seen before on the West Coast.

The researchers note another huge factor in this flotilla: plastics.

Decades ago, most of the debris would have been wood and that would have degraded over the long ocean trip, but now most of the debris - buoys, boats, crates and pallets - are made of plastic and that survives, Carlton said. And so the hitchhikers survive, too.

"It was the plastic debris that allowed new species to survive far longer than we ever thought they would," Carlton said.

James Byers, a marine ecologist at the University of Georgia in Athens, who wasn't part of the study, praised the authors for their detective work. He said in an email that the migration was an odd mix of a natural trigger and human aspects because of the plastics.

"The fact that communities of organisms survived out in the open ocean for long time periods (years in some cases) is amazing," he wrote.


TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio sheriff's office says a system that shoots GPS-tracking darts at vehicles has led to the arrest of a man who fled after pulling out a handgun during an encounter with a deputy.

WTOL-TV reports the Lucas County deputy launched a dart from a StarChase unit mounted on the front of his cruiser, allowing deputies and dispatchers to track the man's vehicle. The man was arrested after stop sticks were deployed to flatten tires on his car.

The tracking system can help police avoid potentially dangerous pursuits.

The Monday encounter occurred after the deputy saw the man digging through a trash bin and asked him to leave.

The sheriff's office has bought five StarChase units with grant money.


BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) - Four soccer referees in the southern African country of Malawi have been banned for life for match-fixing after they received just $20 between them to fix a game and returned $15 to the team doing the bribing because it still lost.

Referee Aziz Nyirenda, assistant referees Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani, and fourth official Jimmy Phiri, were all found guilty of fixing a national cup match between lower league team Nchalo United and Chitipa United.

The match-fixing was revealed after Nchalo United, the team that bribed the refs, lost in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw and demanded its money back. When the referees could only stump up $15, Nchalo went to the authorities.

No sanctions have been announced against the team but there is a case against Nchalo pending.

The life ban for the four officials was announced by the Malawian referees association.

Although the result wasn't what they were aiming for, Malawi National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said there was still an "element of game-fixing" by the officials and "when you commit such a crime, a life ban is the punishment."

Chisambi, one of the assistant referees, denied wrongdoing, saying ""I never took (a) share of the money. It is so sad that my career has ended in this manner."

Last year, another referee in Malawi was banned for life for incompetence.


Snakes make for strange bedfellows.

An Australian couple learned that lesson the hard way when a venomous visitor slithered into their home Wednesday and cozily coiled up in their bed.

The couple, reportedly in their 30s, found the eastern brown snake at about 10 a.m. in their home in Murarrie, which is south of Brisbane. The pair quickly dialed a local snake catcher to come and seize the serpent, Daily Mail Australia reported.

"I received a call from a woman informing me about the snake. She told me that it was on their bedroom floor," Stewart Lalor, of Elite Snake Catching Services, told Daily Mail Australia. "But, when I got there, the snake had quickly moved up to the couple's bed and I eventually found it under their blanket."

Lalor captured the eastern brown snake, the second most poisonous snake in the world, and released it into a creek. Lalor did not reveal the exact location where he set the snake free, but he said the snake was placed in an area with "enough food supply" to keep it happy.

"It would be pointless to leave them in a big open area with no food source as they will only make their way back into homes," Lalor said.

Lalor posted photos on Elite Snake Catching Services' Facebook page Wednesday showing the snake in the bed sheets.

"Not exactly the best place to encounter a highly venomous snake," the post read. "Fortunately these guys have no interest in humans and are only dangerous when interacted with, however in a situation like this the outcome could have been unfavourable."

Eastern brown snakes are the cause of the majority of snakebite deaths in Australia, according to Australian Reptile Park.

The snakes are found throughout most of eastern Australia. 


Students at Yale University's newly-opened Pauli Murray residential college donned lemur costumes while performing a chant and dance Monday to reveal the winner of a mascot vote.

The residential facility, which opened its doors this fall semester, chose lemurs as its mascot, as the name of the animal is a play on the name the building is named after (Pau-LI-MUR-ray), Yale Alumni magazine reported.

"Welcome PauliMurs!" reads a message on the website of the residential college, which has a "coat of arms" showcasing Murray's "own sometimes transgressive gender expression."

Murray, a Yale alumna, is heralded by the school for her work on civil rights and the advancement of women. She became the first African American to receive a J.S.D. from the Yale Law School in 1965 and was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women.

"Pauli Murray represents the best of Yale: a pre-eminent intellectual inspired to lead and prepared to serve her community and her country," Yale President Peter Salovey said in April 2016.

According to the school, Murray also helped organize the March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr. and was appointed by former President John F. Kennedy to the Committee on Civil and Political Rights of the President's Commission on the Status of Women.

The college's coat of arms features three pierced, eight-pointed "mullets" that signify Murray's work to "spur" changes on issues such as race relations, women's rights and gender identities, according to its website.

"The blue and white circle is conceptually derived from a mark that consistently appeared on Murray's stationery. The counterchanging of its form reflects her transformational activism as well as her own sometimes transgressive gender expression. The red, white, and blue color scheme references the flag of the United States of America-recognizing that this nation has been profoundly changed by Murray's vision and actions," the website adds.


TRENTON, N.J. - Police say a New Jersey man asked his 11-year-old son to get behind the wheel when he became too drunk to drive.

Authorities say 33-year-old Jorge Garcia picked his son up on Friday from the child's grandmother's house in Hamilton. Police tell the Trenton man was too intoxicated to drive home and got disoriented.

Police say Garcia asked his son if he wanted to drive home, but the boy became frightened and called his grandmother. Authorities say the grandmother picked the child up and called the police.

Officials say responding officers found Garcia passed out next to his vehicle.

Garcia has been charged with driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of a child. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

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