Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Isabel's slow march," Sept. 27, 2003

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A German gardener who gave up two fingers in a gory insurance scam will now have to give up some of his freedom. The Reuters news service reports that a German court in Wuerzburg convicted two men in the scam, in which one of the men, a truck driver, cut off the thumb and forefinger of the other in a fake chainsaw accident. The "victim" then filed insurance claims for 40,000 euros. But an anonymous tipster alerted authorities to the scheme, and it turns out that the scam artists had helped finger themselves. "One of the men had been blabbing about it," said presiding judge Juergen Treu.

H2uh-oh

Is tooth decay an unintended consequence of the bottled-water craze? Some Canadian dentists think so. They argue that a growing cavity problem up north is the result of Canadians drinking untreated spring water instead of fluoridated tap water. The problem, Toronto dentist Franklin Pulver told United Press International, is "parents thinking the tap water is no good, whereas, in fact, there is fluoride in it." Other dentists, however, trace the problem to a rise in junk-food consumption and a decline in brushing and flossing.

Courting problems

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Last month, WORLD reported in Quick Takes that Donna Wood of Southbridge, Mass., was taking it upon herself to interview potential suitors for her daughter and to choose one, all because of her daughter's bad judgment. What we didn't know was that Mrs. Wood planned to send her daughter and the chosen man to a Cape Cod "Cuddle and Bubble" hotel-where their room would include a Jacuzzi-before they would be married. Her daughter's bad judgment, it seems, runs in the family.

Sound off

America's telemarketers don't think Dave Barry is funny. Not after the popular Miami Herald humor columnist asked readers to call the American Teleservices Association's 800 number. "I'm sure they'd love to hear your constitutionally protected views!" Mr. Barry wrote. "Be sure to wipe your mouthpiece afterward." Readers responded to the call, flooding the switchboard and forcing the telemarketing group to screen its calls. The ATA called Mr. Barry's stunt malicious, and the Pulitzer winner apologized-sort of. "I feel just terrible," he said, "especially if they were eating or anything."

All in the family?

A German man not only lost his wife to another man, now a court is making him hand over his money as well. The Reuters news service reports that a court in Mainz ruled that a dead woman's second husband has a right to part of the pension of her first husband. The woman had received about 700 euros a month from her first husband, which, the court ruled, her second husband now inherits.

What about the 400 years of slavery?

An Egyptian lawyer is hoping that "plunder" doesn't carry a statute of limitations. Nabil Hilmi, dean of the law faculty at Egypt's al-Zaqaziq University, plans to sue the world's Jews for plundering Egypt thousands of years ago, as recorded in Exodus 12:35-36. "This is serious, and should not be misread as being political against any race," he told the Reuters news service. "We are just investigating if a debt is owed." Mr. Hilmi has not said which human court he plans to take his case to, but his problems may lie in a much higher jurisdiction. According to Exodus, it was after God "had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians" that the Egyptians willingly gave up their gold, silver, and clothing to the departing Jews: "Thus they plundered the Egyptians."

Six-year ache

Six years of stomach pains must have convinced Lamphan Yinsuth that something went wrong during her 1997 surgery at a hospital in southeastern Thailand. That something turned out to be 2.4-by-11.4-inch forceps that doctors had left lodged in her abdomen. The hospital compensated Ms. Yinsuth $9,500 for the first surgery, and last week performed a second to remove the instrument.

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