Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Terror on trial," Oct. 18, 2003

High-tech Amish

It took an act of God to convince the Amish that productivity can be godly. The Knight Ridder news service reports that Amish leaders in Lancaster County, Pa., decided to let Amish farmers use modern machinery-as well as workers from the outside "English" world-after winds from Hurricane Isabel left many cornfields flat or tangled messes. The leaders also set up a telephone hotline to coordinate the new tools. Normally, the use of telephones and heavy machinery is strictly verboten among the Amish, but farmers faced the prospect of losing their crops if they could use only horse-drawn methods to harvest their damaged fields. This was only a one-time concession, though. The use of technology to help farmers do their jobs better will be off limits again next year.

Robert's rules

Apparently Robert Torricelli still thinks that rules don't apply to him. A witness says the former Democratic senator backed into a parked car outside a New Jersey supermarket in late August, stepped out of his car to check the damage, and then returned to his car and drove away. The accident had caused $700 in damage to the parked car. Confronted about the incident, Mr. Torricelli said that he had not thought the other car was damaged and that, in any case, his ex-wife had been driving and, besides, the other car had been parked illegally. Last year, Mr. Torricelli dropped out of his reelection race over charges of unethical dealings with a donor. He and other Democrats then maneuvered to have Frank Lautenberg's name placed on the ballot even though New Jersey law said it was too close to the election to change the ballots. Mr. Lautenberg won the seat.

Time traveler

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Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark is still light years away from the White House, and a recent sci-fi comment probably won't move him any closer. Wired.com reports that the former NATO supreme commander believes humans will one day travel through time. "I still believe that e-equals-mc-squared, but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go," he reportedly said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "I happen to believe mankind can do it," he said. "It's my only faith-based initiative."

Lion's choice

Someday the lion will lie down next to the lamb, but Antoine Yates jumped the gun a bit. The 31-year-old New Yorker housed a lion and an alligator as pets in his apartment because he wanted "to show the whole world that we can all get along." But as the lion grew to its present 425 pounds, Mr. Yates reportedly had to move to a nearby apartment and feed the beast by flinging meat into the room and then quickly shutting the door. Last week, Mr. Yates didn't move fast enough, and the lion bit his leg, ripping the flesh down to the bone. "My leg is not the problem," said Mr. Yates, who faces reckless endangerment charges. "It's my heart."

Rough justice

An angry schoolteacher in Morocco last week threw two noisy schoolboys from a first-floor window, injuring one of them seriously. An Education Ministry official blamed the children. He told the Reuters news service that the children had been warned to be quiet and that they should have understood that their teacher had emotional problems. "They did not listen," he said. "They should have listened. She suffers depression."

To catch a thief

Joe Francis of Crescent City, Calif., was on his way to buy a new truck last month when he saw a passing vehicle that looked familiar: It was his own truck, which had been stolen the day before. Mr. Francis followed the truck to its new home, waited until the driver left and went inside, and then stole it back. "I knew the key gets stuck in the ignition," he said, "so I figured it would be there."

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