Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Lord of the Rings," Dec. 20, 2003

Wait and hurry up

Sean Leach of Jersey City, N.J., apparently had been too lazy to register his car-until a New Jersey patrolman pulled him over on Dec. 4. Then he used modern technology to register his 1992 Mazda 626 in the time it took officer Jason Zier to write him a ticket. Mr. Leach achieved the instant registration by using his cell phone to call a friend, who used his computer to register the car online. Mr. Leach, who obviously knew why he was being pulled over, still received a ticket for driving an unregistered car, but officer Zier canceled an order to have the newly registered vehicle towed.

Changing plea

Witnesses didn't have a hard time identifying Samuel Moore as the man who tried to rob a Long Beach, Miss., grocery store. An unusual tattoo gave him away. The statement on the tattoo: "not guilty." Prosecutors said they took the tattoo at its word. They were prepared for a jury trial when Mr. Moore this month decided to plead guilty.

Allergic reaction

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Some department-store clerks in Austria claim "Jingle Bells" jangles their nerves, and their union is demanding a cutback in Christmas carols on store sound systems. Austria's Union of Private Employees says the playing of the same songs over and over amounts to "psycho-terrorism," and it wants carols restricted to specific hours and seasonal departments. "Playing Christmas music such as 'Jingle Bells' and 'Silent Night' from early morning until late in the evening is psychological horror for shop workers," union spokesman Gottfried Rieser told the Times of London. "It makes them aggressive, and often they develop an allergy to Christmas music."

Run and hit

Edward Sanders may have had it coming, but he didn't see it coming. The 40-year-old robbery suspect allegedly stole a Salvation Army kettle outside a Tucson-area Walgreens store this month-only to be hit by a car as he tried to escape. Police arrested Mr. Sanders, who was treated at a nearby hospital and now faces charges of robbery and criminal damage.

Insensitive toward Osama

British prison guard Colin Rose had a spotless record during his 21 years at Blundeston Prison-until he insulted Osama bin Laden two months after 9/11. Prison officials say they fired him because three Muslim visitors may have heard his "insensitive" remark. Mr. Rose is still fighting the decision, even though the incident happened in November 2001. He had thrown some keys down a metal chute. When someone asked why he had thrown the keys so hard, he said: "There's a photo of Osama bin Laden there." Mr. Rose told a hearing this month that his career was wrecked over "barrack room humor." The three visitors never complained about the bin Laden remark.

Role reversal

A Dec. 3 traffic stop on Palisades Interstate Parkway in New York probably looked routine. But it was a citizen in the car with the flashing lights and an off-duty state trooper in the car being pulled over. Police impersonator Shalom Gelbman didn't fool Trooper Seamus Lyons, who turned the tables on Mr. Gelbman, arresting him for reckless endangerment, criminal impersonation, and having unauthorized equipment in his Mercury Grand Marquis.

Baby boon

Only eight bambinos were born in the small Italian town of Laviano last year, and this reluctance to procreate could prove to be a windfall for those who do. Mayor Rocco Falivena, worried about his town dying out, is offering new mothers a 10,000-euro (or about $12,000) "baby bonus." Since February, seven families have signed up to collect the cash, which the town pays out over six years. "This cash incentive is the only thing I could think of," Mr. Falivena told Britain's Observer. "If it works, we'll be saved, even though we'll be broke."

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