Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Class warfare on vouchers," Aug. 23, 2003

Tortilla sunrise

Nebraska work-release inmate William Dolge wasn't supposed to drink alcohol during his release, but apparently eating it was OK. When prison officials accused him of violating work-release terms by drinking alcohol, he claimed that what they smelled on his breath wasn't booze, but burritos that a co-worker made with beer-and-tequila marinated meat. A prosecutor suggested that he washed it down with something stronger than Coca-Cola. So Lincoln County District Judge John Murphy asked for the recipe, which included beer, tequila, and dark ale. Judge Murphy last week accepted the strange explanation, saying the dish packed enough bite "for a preliminary breath test to register positive." But he advised Mr. Dolge to consume "less potent fare" in the future.

Cold feet

Add a frostbite victim to the list of casualties from Britain's recent heat wave. Reuters reported that Mike Ball, driving the 250 miles between London and Manchester, came down with the condition by having his bare feet too close to the car's air-conditioning vent. "I didn't realize anything was wrong until the next day," said Mr. Ball. One of his toes had turned black and another blue. His doctor expects him to make a full recovery.

Dog tricks

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A German man's dog tried to be his owner's best friend during an alcohol test last week, but ended up upstaging the man. As the drunken driver failed to perform the test's physical requirements, including a 360-degree turn, the dog executed them perfectly, Koblenz police told the Reuters news service. The supervisor's official conclusion: "Man: fail; dog: pass." The unidentified driver lost his license.

Money-for-nothing watch

Thailand's Communications Minister Suriya Jungrungraungkit is calling the fee for his automobile license plate an investment. Last week he bid $95,200 at the country's first-ever auction of "lucky" license plates, winning the number 9999. (Plate number 5555 drew the second-highest winning bid-$47,619.) The Thai official said the plate will either pay dividends in good luck or in a profitable resale: "This is better than investing in the stock market."

Politically dead man's curve

California Gov. Gray Davis may have a lot of places to go before the Oct. 7 recall election, but does he need to travel at almost twice the speed limit? Police reportedly this month clocked the governor's car and escort vehicle at 94 mph in a 55-mph zone. The Los Angeles Times reported the cars were speeding down a road in San Luis Obispo County nicknamed "Blood Alley" after numerous fatal accidents, including James Dean's legendary 1955 crash. A California Highway Patrol officer spotted the two unmarked cars and pursued them. Not knowing who was inside, he chased them for five miles, relenting only after another officer told him to back off. Little came of the incident. The Highway Patrol announced that it had reprimanded an unidentified sergeant in charge of the cars for violating traffic laws. That punishment was the mildest discipline available.

Parental prevention?

School officials in Maryland's Anne Arundel County want to make misbehaving pupils face the ultimate grade-school humiliation: having Mom chaperone them from class to class. Under the proposal, kids who disrupt class, skip school, or commit other offenses would have to bring a parent or guardian to school with them for an entire day. The district is also considering two other punishments: making vandals work off the cost of repairs and forcing truants to mop floors. The school board will decide whether to accept the proposals early next year.

Sleeping on the job

Amsterdam police didn't have to go far last week to track down a burglar who broke into an elderly woman's house; he never left the scene of the crime. Apparently exhausted after combing the woman's house for valuables, the burglar fell asleep on her living-room couch. "The police came and he was still asleep," said Amsterdam police spokesman Rob van der Veen. "They woke him up."

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