Dispatches > The Buzz

Quick takes

Quick takes

Issue: "Spain waves white flag," March 27, 2004

Animal house

Dutch politicians have finally found a sexual practice that they simply cannot tolerate. Two political parties, List Pim Fortuyn and the Socialist Party, are calling for the Dutch government to outlaw bestiality after a man caught violating a pony was set free because no current law prohibits the practice. Their concern, however, isn't so much the inherent immorality of the behavior, but animals' inability to give consent. &quotThe animal can never consent to it," said parliament member Joost Eerdmans. &quotIt is pure maltreatment and should therefore be punished."

Metal cage

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A German man who tried to steal clothes from a metal bin fell down, and he couldn't get up. That's because he fell into the bin, which contained clothes donated to charity, and became trapped. Reuters reports that a passerby heard noises in the bin and called police. &quotArriving at the container, the officers saw two arms," police reported in a statement. &quotThe left hand held a cigarette and a voice demanded, 'Give me a light!'" Police instead charged him with attempted robbery.

Water safety

City officials in Aliso Viejo, Calif., are looking all wet after they inadvertently considered banning water from city-sponsored events.

A paralegal apparently stumbled upon a prank website warning of the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide-an &quotodorless, tasteless chemical" that can kill those who inhale it. Not realizing that this is the scientific term for water, the city council proposed a law to ban foam containers from city events, because the deadly chemical H2O is used to make them.

Informed that dihydrogen monoxide is water, a chagrined city council removed the measure from this week's agenda. City manager David J. Norman blamed &quotbad research" by the wet-behind-the-ears paralegal: &quotIt's embarrassing." Ethically challenged

Princeton University has Peter Singer, an ethics professor who advocates the killing of some unwanted persons. The University of Manchester now has Paul Agutter, an ethics professor who actually tried to poison his wife.

The Reuters news service reports that the British school has hired the convicted criminal to teach a course titled &quotTherapeutic Cloning: Ethics and Science." Mr. Agutter served seven years in jail for attempted murder after he tried to poison his wife's drink with nightshade in 1994. He was dubbed the &quotSafeway poisoner" because he tried to cover up his crime by poisoning drinks in a Safeway store.

Medical ethics lecturer Piers Benn of Imperial College London defended the hire: &quotI can't see any logical contradiction between being able to think about ethical questions and being able to do rather criminal acts." Mr. Agutter may also teach a class on evolution.

Day planners

Relatives of New Zealand newborn Ngawhai Te Wiki will have no excuse for ever forgetting his birthday: He shares it with three cousins. Born on March 11, Ngawhai will celebrate future birthdays with cousins Jahreece, 3, Waimarie, 13, and Stacy, 14. &quotI'm actually speechless," said Stacy's mother, Anita Wereta. &quotI'm just shocked that another one of my sisters has had a baby on the same [day]."

Trail blazer

Brazilian criminal Carlos Henrique Auad shot himself in the foot-both literally and figuratively. Police in Petropolis told Reuters that Mr. Auad accidentally shot his right foot as he was trying to burglarize a bar. The traumatized crook apparently then raced home, 100 yards away, without realizing that he was leaving a trail of blood that led police right to him. Police say Mr. Auad did not manage to steal anything in his botched heist.

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