Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Gay marriage backlash," Dec. 6, 2003

Buckeye justice

The annual football game between Ohio State and Michigan is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports, and this year it even found its way into a Columbus, Ohio, courtroom. Ohio State fan Jeff Renne was so desperate to watch the game that he agreed to plead guilty to forgery on one condition: that Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Sheward allow him to stay at the county jail through the weekend of Nov. 23 before transferring him to the state prison. The reason: Inmates can watch television at the county jail, and Nov. 22 was the day of the big game. The judge agreed ("I thought I should do my part for the Ohio State Buckeyes"), and Mr. Renne watched his beloved Buckeyes fall to the Wolverines, 35-21.

Test case

Floridian Denise Butterfield wasn't expecting to have to take a new driver's test when she went to the Daytona Beach DMV last month. But then, DMV officials weren't expecting her to plow into the front of the building. Arriving at the DMV building for a simple license renewal, the 69-year-old woman was trying to park when, she said, "the gas engaged itself." The car jumped the curb, nearly hit two people, and rammed the building, causing minor damage. Ms. Butterfield says she never hit the accelerator, but a police officer said the vehicle was working properly and gave her a ticket for careless driving. DMV officials decided that she should take a new written and behind-the-wheel test. She passed them both.

Clean but stalled

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Bill Clinton received what he requested-in a way. During a state visit to India in March, 2000, Mr. Clinton lobbied for strict controls on air pollution. When he returned this year for a Nov. 22 visit to the Taj Mahal, a special battery-powered, environmentally friendly bus that Indian officials use to transport dignitaries broke down. Mr. Clinton and his security detail had to walk to their hotel.

German justice

A German court last month banned a brothel in the southwestern town of Speyer, but its concerns weren't moral. Speyer, the court ruled, just doesn't have enough people for a house of prostitution. Under German law, a town must have 50,000 inhabitants to have a legal brothel. A local businessman had wanted to set up a brothel near Speyer's world-famous cathedral.

Drunk riding

Can a person drive drunk from the passenger seat? Authorities in Tinn, Norway, are saying yes. Nineteen-year-old Norwegian Oysten Haakanes was leaving a party last month with a friend at the wheel. They stopped for food, and as Mr. Haakanes was eating a hot dog, he reached over the manual gear stick to change a CD in the car's stereo. He apparently hit the stick and the car went into neutral, rolling about three meters before Mr. Haakanes pulled the emergency brake. This, said a police officer who witnessed the incident, constituted "driving," and he detained the drunken Mr. Haakanes. A court convicted Mr. Haakanes, who said he plans to appeal: "I wasn't even close to driving."

Fishy spending

Ever wonder how fish communicate or what pigeons are thinking? It seems we're paying to try to find out. A report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and Public Citizen accuses the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health of spending only 5.8 percent of its research budget on "clinically relevant" issues. The institute spends millions, the report says, to study the mental processes of animals. A spokesman for the agency, which had a $1.3 billion budget last year, would not comment on the report.

Gun patrol

The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, but can the government require the bearing of arms? The city council of Geuda Springs, Kan., passed an ordinance last month that would impose a $10 fine on residents who do not own a gun and ammunition. The tiny town of 210 residents doesn't have a police force, but Sumner County Sheriff Gerald Gilkey says his officers can protect the town: "This throws up red flags."


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