Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Soldiers in harm’s way," Nov. 15, 2003

A doll with an attitude

Here's a stocking stuffer that only political animals could love: the Ann Coulter talking action figure. The collectible doll comes with sound bites recorded by the controversial columnist. Among them: "Swing voters are more appropriately known as the 'idiot voters' because they have no set of philosophical principles. By the age of 14, you're either a conservative or a liberal if you have an IQ above a toaster." "Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil. What do Hollywood celebrities imagine fuels their private jets? How do they think their cocaine is delivered to them?" "Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post-9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

Getaway trike

Oswaldo Valenciano tried to hijack a car while toting a gun-and riding a tricycle. Police in Salem, Ore., call what happened "bizarre." Witnesses called the police after they saw the man on the tricycle slam into a car and fire shots. He jumped into the back seat and ordered the driver, Marion Rodriguez, to take him to the hospital. Mr. Valenciano had apparently shot himself in the foot. Mr. Rodriguez refused, and Mr. Valenciano retreated to his trike, which tipped over. When police arrived, he got back into the car, drove it into a street sign, and then tried to hide in a nearby SUV. The suspect was finally taken to a hospital and charged with several felonies.

Bronx cheer

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Oct. 30 was a long day for Edwin Gallart of the Bronx, and he made it a long one for thousands of other New Yorkers. The 41-year-old commuter on a Metro-North train got his arm stuck in a toilet while trying to retrieve the cell phone he had dropped-all during rush hour. With his arm stuck for 90 minutes, the train had to stop-forcing delays on other trains as well-as rescue workers dislodged Mr. Gallart. A Metro-North spokesman said the toilet, which rescue workers had to dismantle completely, would cost an arm and a leg to repair, with the bill running "several thousand dollars." Mr. Gallart's cell phone never was recovered-as if it would be in working order had it been found.

Plaid police

St. Maria Goretti's High School for Girls in South Philadelphia doesn't have a football team, but some of the Catholic school's students late last month proved that they can tackle. Angered by a lewd exhibitionist, 20 of the students chased him down, tackled him, and subdued him until police arrived. The man had allegedly harassed the students regularly since September.

When in New York ...

Arrogant foreign diplomats may accomplish what U.S. reformers have long failed to achieve-an end to foreign aid. On Oct. 28, the Senate approved a measure to reduce a country's foreign-aid package by whatever that country's diplomats owe in unpaid U.S. parking tickets, plus a 10 percent penalty. Contrary to popular belief, diplomats do not have the right to ignore parking laws as a job perk, and New York City officials say diplomats owe $21 million for 186,000 unpaid tickets. The worst offenders include Indonesia, Morocco, Brazil, Pakistan, Senegal, Angola, and Sudan. Egypt owes nearly $2 million and Nigeria owes almost $1 million from thousands of violations. Kuwait owes $1.2 million, more than it receives in foreign aid.

Honest reward

Dana Hughes knew not to take what wasn't his, and now he's nearly $2,000 richer. The homeless man was wandering past the Bartholomew County (Ohio) treasurer's office last month and found $1,956 in a bank envelope. Rather than walk away with the money, he went inside and gave it to Treasurer Vernon Jewell. Two people tried to claim the money but couldn't give an accurate description of the bills or the envelope. So Mr. Jewell gave the cash to Mr. Hughes. "I never dreamed no one would claim that money," he told The Republic newspaper.

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