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Mad Minute stories from Friday, November 26th | National

(Sky News) A council in Australia appears set to effectively ban cats from being outdoors unless they are on a lead.

Planned changes to laws in Freemantle, Western Australia, would see felines prohibited from all council owned areas, including roads, verges and bushlands.

Members of the council voted to approve proposals tabled by Councillor Adin Lang, on the basis it would protect wildlife and remove the risk of cats being hit by cars.

“In the 1970s dogs would roam our streets and I expect roaming cats will also become a thing of the past,” he told Perth Now.

“While we have prohibited areas in our natural bushland, cats are still entering.

“At a minimum our bushland areas need a prohibited area buffer. Many of our native verge gardens which also act as a wildlife refuge also need protection from cats.”

Speaking to Western Australia Today, he added: “This is about protecting our wildlife and it’s also about helping to keep people’s cats safe from cat fights or getting hit by cars.”

The newspaper reported that WA Feral Cat Working Group chairman Tom Hatton recently gave a presentation to the Fremantle council about why cat owners should keep their pets at home.

“There are two good reasons to keep your cat at home,” he said.

“The pressure that domestic cats that are allowed to roam put on urban wildlife and, secondly, the science that says that domestic cats that are not allowed to roam live much longer and are much healthier.

“Urban cats kill 30 times more wildlife than adult cats out in the bush.”

The changes tabled and agreed by councillors this week said: “An amended Cat Management Local Law would focus on expanding cat prohibited areas beyond our natural bushland areas, to include other refuges for wildlife such as verge gardens, median strips, and street trees.

“Other City managed assets like roads would also be included as prohibited areas to help protect the safety of individual cats who are at risk of being struck by vehicles.”

Officials will now draft a proposed amendment, which the council will then decide whether to advertise for public feedback for at least six weeks.


(NPR) While high gas prices have pushed President Biden to tap into the US’s strategic oil reserves, America’s neighbor to the north is also dealing with a shortage of another so-called “liquid gold”.

The Canadian group Quebec Maple Syrup Producers recently announced it was releasing about 50 million pounds of its strategic maple syrup reserves — about half of the total stockpile.

Quebec produces nearly 70% of the world’s maple syrup, with the US being its biggest client for the sweet stuff. However, this year producers weren’t able to keep up with worldwide demand, which jumped 21%, according to Bloomberg.

Maple syrup is made from the sap from maple trees, which is traditionally harvested by installing a metal tap into the tree’s trunk. Modern sap harvesting typically involves a system of plastic tubing and vacuums to collect the sap from multiple trees to a central location where it can be refined into syrup.

This is a seasonal process though, as maple sap can only be harvested in specific weather conditions. So, this year’s short and warm Spring resulted in an uncharacteristically low yield for producers.

“That’s why the reserve is made, to never miss maple syrup. And we won’t miss maple syrup!” said Helene Normandin, the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers’ communications director.

While it’s hard to predict what next year’s crop will look like, Normandin said they were already planning for the future.

“What we can figure at this moment is maybe the season here in Quebec will start a bit earlier in February, instead of March, and end earlier also,” she said.

This is not the first time Quebec’s maple syrup reserve has made headlines. In 2012, more than 3,000 tons of maple syrup were stolen from the stockpile over the course of months. The value of the heist was estimated at nearly $19 million Canadian dollars.

The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers will be tapping 7 million more trees in the near future to replenish their reserves and to make sure they can meet demand next year.

So go ahead and top off those pancakes and waffles with the Canadian liquid gold this holiday weekend.


(Shepherd Express) Jerry McDonald of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was with an acquaintance when he passed out from drinking. His friend, trying to help out, took McDonald’s phone to text his boss that he wouldn’t be in to work that afternoon. But instead, the friend found alarming texts in which McDonald detailed a plan to kill an unnamed woman and take her money: “Please kill her babe, please. I’m begging you. There’s over a million in her dad’s safe. I’m saying I won’t get caught,” McDonald had texted, according to NewsChannel9-TV. But, of course, he did get caught, and now is held in the Hamilton County jail on $75,000 bond.


Nov 24 (Reuters) – The United States Department of Defense late on Tuesday said it will establish a new group to investigate reports on the presence of UFOs in restricted airspace.

The formation of the group comes after the government released a report in June, encompassing 144 observations, which said there was a lack of sufficient data to determine the nature of mysterious flying objects. read more

The new group, Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, will be overseen by the Under Secretary Of Defense for Intelligence, the director of the Joint Staff and officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in a separate statement the presence of unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) in restricted airspace poses a potential safety of flight risk to aircrews and raises potential national security concerns.

The new group which will succeed the U.S. Navy’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, will work to detect, identify and attribute objects, assess and mitigate any associated threats, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. military have spent decades deflecting, debunking and discrediting observations of unidentified flying objects and “flying saucers” dating back to the 1940s.


(Yahoo) A mom in Florida helped her son out in a pinch. Actually, more than a pinch.

In video shared to his social media earlier this week, Martin County snake wrangler who goes by the names Trapper Mike and Python Cowboy posted amazing content of his mother assisting him at work.

The quick clip shows how they both were able to get a sizable python out from under a white sedan parked in a Florida home’s garage.

The woman, wearing an apron and flip-flops, pulls at the reptile’s tail as Henry Mancini’s classic song “Baby Elephant Walk” plays in the background.

“My hands are freezing,” says the woman.

While mom tugs, Mike Kimmel is busying himself at the back tire, where the roughly 6-footer is entangled.

What happens when you allow hundreds of snake hunters in the Everglades? You get a winner

Finally, the unwanted visitor is out, but then begins to wriggle outside the garage perilously close to the Florida shero.

“Oh, Michael!” she screams.

“Nice job, mom! You’re a freakin’ natural,” Kimmel says, while the person shooting the video nervously laughs.

Not only is she a natural, she’s also a social media star.

The TikTok post, with the hashtag #snakesgiving, has already received more than 3.5 million views.

It’s unclear how the python got to the house; Trapper Mike did not immediately return the Miami Herald’s request for more information. But one thing is for certain: That snake will never be anyone’s pet.

Pythons are an invasive species — meaning not native to Florida — brought to the United States in the 1980s as exotic pets. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, folks are allowed to remove and humanely kill the pythons on private land without a permit.


(Boston Globe) The boy got the idea to build the tiny village at the abandoned lot this summer after he spotted “a bunch of invisible things” digging holes in the ground and planting seeds.

Were they fairies? Or gnomes? No, something else, he says. They were elves, he’s sure of it.

Once the magical creatures burrowed underground, they needed some help. Or maybe they wanted to make friends and knew just the way. So small signs — which, like the elves themselves, could only be seen by children — began to appear, asking their human neighbors for some assistance, he said.

“Can anyone build us some houses?” they read.

And that’s what the boy and his family did.

From the imagination of an 8-year-old boy sprung “Elfland,” a miniature makeshift village for the diminutive creatures to call their own. What began as a modest display at the corner of School and Summer streets has become a whimsical community project that’s brought a bit of childlike wonder to weary residents facing a second pandemic winter.

In August, the boy and his parents started building Elfland from the ground up, giving new life to a vacant dirt lot filled with chunks of rock and overgrown weeds. But a month later, as word of the fairytale village spread, neighbors who discovered the secret realm started quietly making additions of their own.

Now Elfland is perhaps the city’s most talked-about new neighborhood, an enchanted place its creator says is filled with “flying cookies” and “spiky green hats and green clothes,” and where the average height is 1 inch.

When you search “Elfland” on Google, it brings up a map of the neighborhood and labels the village a “tourist attraction” that’s received several five-star ratings.

So what’s it like to live in Elfland?

“They keep crickets as pets, and mainly live underground,” said the boy, whose family asked to stay anonymous to preserve the fun and fantasy of the project and because the empty lot is private property. “Each family has about 22 elves, and all of the elves don’t age.”

Before the elves carved out a corner of the lot as their own, the property was home to a gas station and repair shop, which were torn down earlier this year.

Fences line sections of the property, but an opening to the left of the lot, where residents of a building next door park their cars, makes it easily accessible.

“It’s really an eyesore and it’s been there for years,” the boy’s father said.

In a city where new apartment buildings seemingly sprout up overnight, the lot was ripe for development. The boy and his parents started out placing wooden, house-like structures at the site, which they arranged on the churned earth. They later added painted birdhouses to complement the existing infrastructure. Then came “Elfland’s” hospital and its tiny library.

They are perhaps proudest of “Dino Farm,” a gated collection of plastic dinosaurs.

The project became something special the family and a few close friends could share, a secret all their own.

“Just a little bit of levity and light,” the boy’s mother said.

Then came a magical twist. One day, model houses from a railroad set appeared in the village. Another time, a skating rink manifested as if from thin air, its tiny oval of “ice” surrounded by a perimeter of string.

Someone else — the family doesn’t know who — brought solar-powered lights and planted them in the dirt. When they glow at night, shining over the village, they look like miniature versions of the sidewalk lamps on Beacon Hill.

One person left a pint-sized yellow swing set, and a fenced-in “community garden” took shape. And there’s a water tower now, not far from the miniature church.

Elfland’s spell won’t last forever, with the Planning Board slated to meet about a potential development there on Dec. 16. On a chain-link fence around the lot hangs a notice about the meeting, beside handmade signs that proclaim “Defend Elfland!”

Someone even made T-shirts with the slogan, which were featured on “Elfland’s” Instagram account, a place where the “elves” and the family who built them homes keep more than 250 followers updated on the latest news in the town.

It seems every time the family visits Elfland there’s something new, adding to the village’s mystique.

“It’s exciting anytime someone adds something new,” the boy’s father said. “The first time was like, ‘Yes, that’s so awesome.'”

On any given day, people passing by can be seen peering through the metal fences that surround it, marveling over the expanding display and the delight it inspires.

“Elfland keeps growing … in a torn up lot around the corner from our street … and it both brings immense joy and a deep longing in my heart,” one person posted on Instagram last month with a picture of the village.

The family who created Elfland said they hope it inspires other kids to find their neighborhood elves and give them homes for the winter.

“Our family is always focused individually and collectively on creating community and creating relationships,” the boy’s mother said. “And this is a great way to get people involved.”


(NPR) BANGKOK — One of Thailand’s major fast food chains has been promoting its “Crazy Happy Pizza” this month, an under-the-radar product topped with a cannabis leaf. It’s legal but won’t get you high.

Veterans of the backpacker trail, familiar with the legendary pizza parlors of neighboring Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh that offer powerful marijuana as an optional condiment, might feel downright cheated.

“Of course, they cannot get high,” Panusak Suensatboon, general manager of The Pizza Company, said in an interview this week. “It’s just a marketing campaign. and you can taste the cannabis and then if you have enough, you maybe get a bit sleepy.”

The Crazy Happy Pizza is a mashup of toppings evoking the flavors of Thailand’s famous Tom Yum Gai soup along with a deep-fried cannabis leaf on top. Cannabis is also infused into the cheese crust and there’s chopped cannabis in the dipping sauce. A 9-inch pie costs 499 baht (about $15). Customers preferring a do-it-yourself variety can choose their own toppings, with a 100 baht ($3) surcharge for two or three cannabis leaves.

The cannabis plant has been used for two major purposes: as hemp for making rope and clothing, and as an intoxicating drug, known as pot, ganja and dagga.

In recent years, a kind of middle-ground product has emerged: cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical found in cannabis that can be processed into what is touted as a cure-all medicine. CBD can be separated out from tetrahydrocannabinol — THC — the chemical in cannabis that produces marijuana’s high.

CBD has legitimized products made with cannabis, drawing on the mystique of marijuana without flouting the law or raising major health questions. It’s become a boom industry, especially in the United States.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand, and can earn you a fine and time in jail, even though drug laws have been liberalized in the past few years. Cannabis is regulated for medicinal use, and individuals are allowed to grow a small number of plants for their own consumption.

Thailand last December became the first country in Southeast Asia to remove specific parts and extracts of cannabis from its controlled narcotics list, and in February this year allowed them to be used in foods and beverages. The amount of THC in the CBD product must not exceed 0.2% of its total weight, virtually eliminating the possibility of getting high.

Cannabis products even before being decriminalized had become a cottage industry in Thailand, but their adoption by The Pizza Company — operated by Minor Food Group, a subsidiary of the Stock Exchange of Thailand-listed Minor International — boosts them into the commercial big-time.

Crazy Happy Pizza has been available at all of The Pizza Company’s branches in Thailand, but sales have been lackluster, according to Panusak. It has faced several handicaps — it cannot legally be advertised or sold to anyone under the age of 12. He estimates that when the company ends its sales promotion on Tuesday, it will have to throw away about a fifth of the cannabis leaves it acquired.

“I don’t think the market is ready for cannabis products yet. We knew this since the beginning,” said Panusak. “We only wanted to be the first mover to launch something new and innovative in the market.” He cited durian pizza, incorporating the exotic and pricey tropical Asian fruit known for its pungent smell, as another example of his company’s innovations.

“We try to get some new ingredients, anything that is in trend, and we use it and we want people to talk about it,” he said.

Associate professor Wilert Puriwat, dean of Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn Business School, believes that using cannabis for marketing can be effective in an initial stage, but business owners need strategies to make it work in the long run.

“In general, people who try it will not expect to get high,” he said. “They just want to keep themselves trendy and take photos to post on their social media to show they have tried something that was once illegal.”

He said cannabis has an emotional value that builds on a product’s core value. “When people walk into your restaurant, they should come for your food and service, not for cannabis.”


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The St. Petersburg Police Department arrested a woman for stealing and then selling her neighbor’s cars for scrap.

Rosalee Baker, 55, of St. Petersburg allegedly tried to sell her neighbor’s 2001 BMW and a 2000 Ford F-150 to a scrap yard in Hillsborough County, according to an affidavit from SPPD. Baker allegedly took the car and truck and contacted a buyer from Small Planet Recycling, LLC.

She pretended to be the owner to sell the vehicles for scrap. Baker was arrested on Thanksgiving.

According to St. Petersburg police, Baker and a representative from Small Planet completed a bill of sale, a derelict motor vehicle form and a request to cancel a title for the BMW. She did the same for a silver Ford F-150.

Baker gave her Florida ID number and a thumb print on the cancel title form, then got $300 for each car.

The car and truck were then towed to a salvage yard, where they were listed as stolen while in the yard’s possession, the affidavit states. Due to the salvage yard’s location, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the stolen vehicles.

A latent fingerprint was confirmed by a print examiner, according to police, and the owners of the BMW and the F-150 intend to press charges.

AG Garland orders more aggressive strategy for mile high crimes in memo to Justice Dept.

Baker was arrested on six charges. She faces two counts of felony dealing in stolen property, two counts of felony false verification of ownership and two counts of felony grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Bond was assessed at $130,000 according to Pinellas County jail records.


(CNN) After an accidental Thanksgiving invite in 2016 introduced Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench, they celebrated yet again.

Thursday marked the sixth year the pair celebrated the holiday together. Hinton shared a photo on Twitter, writing “Thanksgiving 2021.”

The two first met in 2016 when Dench, from Mesa, Az., sent a text inviting Hinton over for dinner. It was meant for her grandson, who had changed his phone number. Instead, Hinton, who was 17 at the time, got the message while sitting in class at Desert Vista High School.

The two figured out the mistake, then sent selfies to each other, with Hinton asking if he could still come over. Dench texted, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do … feed everyone.”

Hinton had told his social media followers last week that the two would be celebrating the day together again.

“We are all set for year 6!” he wrote, alongside a picture of a text message from Dench inviting him, his girlfriend Mikaela and his family over. He also included a photo of himself, Dench, Mikaela and Dench’s late husband Lonnie, who died in April 2020 after a battle with Covid-19.

Hinton has documented the holiday each year on his social media. In 2019, he shared a snap, writing, “Blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.”

After Dench’s husband died, they still spent the holiday together.

“This Thanksgiving, along with all the holidays coming up, aren’t going to be the same as past ones but we will make the best of it,” Hinton wrote in a post last year. “Rest In Peace to Lonnie and everyone else we lost this year we will miss you greatly. Thank you for being in our lives.”

In an interview earlier this week with azfamily.com, Dench and Hinton reflected on their friendship.

“I would have missed out on a wonderful relationship,” Dench said, when asked what would have happened if she hadn’t invited Hinton over years ago. “I’ve changed my view so much on the younger generation, and now that I’ve reflected back on all these years, I didn’t change their life; they changed mine.”

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