Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "The Kennedy Assassination," Nov. 22, 2003

Unfinished business

Two Finnish would-be bank robbers-who ended up willing to settle for a loan-were nonetheless sentenced to jail this month, while a third received a suspended sentence. The three Finns reportedly stormed a bank in Haukivuori last year, one of them armed with a gun, and demanded 50,000 euros. A cool-headed loan officer, however, managed to convince them to discuss a loan application instead. He gave them a 10-euro advance and told them to return later to sign loan papers. Police then arrested the men.

Believe it

Five students at New York's public school for homosexuals, Harvey Milk High, allegedly tried crooked extracurricular activity. Police say the teenagers dressed up as female prostitutes and then told the men they had lured that they were undercover cops. After handcuffing their victims, the boys robbed them. "You couldn't put this in a book," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Nobody would believe it."

Caught in the act

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Edwin Geller allegedly tried to break into a Toledo diner earlier this month, but he was caught-literally. Police say Mr. Geller, unable to pry open the door to the Trilby Diner, went to the roof and tried to enter through the 16-inch-by-16-inch vent hood over the restaurant's grill. Waitress Kathy Addis found him lodged there the next morning, and it took nearly two hours for firefighters to free him. The crook might have been cooked had Ms. Addis not spotted his feet and heard muffled noises before employees fired up the grill. "We almost had a new item on our menu today-fried burglar," owner Debbie Braun told the Toledo Blade.

Thor's day

After being banished for centuries, the ancient Norse gods Odin, Thor, and Freya have now gained recognition from the Danish government. Minister of Ecclesiastic Affairs and Lutheran priest Tove Fergo this month granted the pagan group Forn Sidr the authority to conduct marriages. Denmark still maintains a state-run liberal Lutheran church, which, with advice from a panel of scholars, makes decisions on whether to recognize other religions. "Based on the commission's evaluation and what I have read," said Mr. Fergo, "I consider it a good religion."

Uncorked

Police in Cork, Ireland, are calling a drunk-driving arrest early this month "highly unusual." It wasn't that the driver was especially drunk, and he didn't resist arrest. But he was apparently driving his motorized wheelchair erratically. The Irish Examiner reports that the case marked the first recorded arrest of a wheelchair driver on drunk-driving charges. A typical motorized wheelchair can go only 6 mph.

Too fast

Muslims in the Turkish town of Akcakoca will have to spend an extra day fasting for Ramadan-all because their imam's watch was apparently a few minutes fast. The Reuters news service reports that Imam Veysei Mat accidentally broadcast the call to prayer ending that day's fast five minutes before sundown. He quickly realized his error and issued the call again, at the correct time. "I was one of the people who had just sat down for the evening meal when we heard the call to prayer again five minutes later," said local administrator Ali Uslanmaz. "It was very distressing." A provincial mufti told Reuters that the imam had been "reprimanded," but that rules are rules, and Akcakocans who ate before sundown must fast another day.

They get what we pay for

Rising tuition prices and growing federal aid are allowing some college presidents to live like kings. The Chronicle of Higher Education last week reported that compensation topped $800,000 for four presidents of private universities last year. Meanwhile 12 public schools plan to pay presidents more than $500,000 this year. College boards "don't apply any common-sense business principles to these decisions," said David Harpool, author of Survivor College and critic of wasteful spending on college campuses.

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