Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Iraq: The WMD debate," Feb. 21, 2004

Crude awakening

Liela LeTourneau of Longview, Texas, wasn't as happy as most people who strike oil, perhaps because it really was that oil struck her. The Reuters news service reports that the nurse came home on Feb. 2 to find "Texas tea" gushing out of her sinks, toilet, and anything else connected to water drainage lines. Longview officials say the home was mistakenly connected to a disposal line used by oil producers. Ms. LeTourneau told the Longview News-Journal that she could see oil oozing out of her house as she arrived: "I thought, 'What have I left on? What has my son left on that's spilled over?'"

Cotton picked

Most Wal-Mart customers don't buy bolt cutters at 4:30 in the morning, but it was the handcuffs that really gave James Cotton away. Police say Mr. Cotton, arrested in Louisiana on narcotics and battery charges, escaped from a police car and made his way the next day to a 24-hour Wal-Mart store in Magnolia, Ark. He bought bolt cutters there but apparently didn't try to hide the handcuffs he still wore. A suspicious clerk summoned police, who found Mr. Cotton in a nearby bathroom trying to detach the cuffs.

Blind justice

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It's not unusual for robbers to flee when police arrive. But usually they don't hold hands as they run. That's what a police officer in Cordoba, Argentina, witnessed as he foiled a street holdup earlier this month. "Upon apprehending them, the officer found one of them was blind," Police Commissioner Luis Ceballos told the Reuters news service. The pair used a firearm in the holdup, and police say the blind man may have been the one holding it. "We don't know what they were thinking," said Mr. Ceballos. "This is the first time I've seen anything like this in my life."

Marital spat

Dallas James King is a victim of identity theft, but it's hard to feel too sorry for him: The thief was just trying to get the Ohio inmate to do the right thing. Someone apparently assumed Mr. King's identity, applied for a marriage license, and then married Mr. King to the mother of Mr. King's child. The bride, Tefawn Myers, sent Mr. King a certificate in jail, notifying him of his new marital status. Mr. King, however, wants to be as "free" as possible, and he persuaded a probate judge this month to void the marriage. Authorities are investigating the case as Mr. King continues to serve a three-year robbery sentence.

Candy candidate

Maybe a sugar high caused Howard Dean's infamous outburst after the Iowa caucuses. Campaign finance reports for 2003 show that Dr. Dean's presidential campaign spent $6,779 on premium truffles at Lake Champlain Chocolates in Vermont. The campaign last year spent $281,000 on such "paraphernalia," including $2,772 at Kentucky's Louisville Slugger Museum and $691 at Vermont's Cabot Creamery.

$10,000 bar

Richard Albert of rural Maine learned an expensive Romans 13 lesson about government authority as he drove home from church last month. Mr. Albert attends church in the nearby Quebec village of St. Pamphile, and with the local U.S. customs station closed on Sundays, he regularly drives around the locked gate instead of traveling 200 miles to the nearest open border checkpoint. That was legal until last year, when the U.S. government, citing security concerns, shut down a program that allowed locals to cross the border when checkpoints are closed. Security cameras caught Mr. Albert's crossing and the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection fined him $10,000. Mr. Albert has appealed the fine but hasn't gone to church in weeks: "I feel like I'm living in a jail."

Buff justice

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland can not only overrule lawyers who come before the court; she could lift many of them as well. The 61-year-old jurist lifted 198 pounds in the squat and bench-pressed 133 pounds to win her second national powerlifting championship last month and set national records for her age and weight in both events. She was especially happy to bench-press more than her weight, which is 130 pounds. "This is kind of a mark among people who lift weights," the jurist said. "At my age, I'm happy to do it."

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