Dispatches > The Buzz

Quicktakes

quicktakes

Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

Dopey delivery

The packages apparently were heavy enough to contain what Tabatha Bracken of Canada and Dalvan Robinson of Lockport, N.Y., allegedly thought was in them. But instead of picking up 140 pounds of marijuana last week at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the pair claimed two packages of human organs shipped to Buffalo from an Atlanta medical agency. The Drug Enforcement Agency, alerted by airport security to the unclaimed packages of marijuana, took the pair into custody when they returned to the airport and sought to exchange the organs for the packages of marijuana.

Reverse Milli Vanilli

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Aging rock stars desperate for a hit may now have a new strategy. The Reuters news service reports that The Alarm, a Welsh band that hadn't had a hit in 15 years, changed its name to The Poppyfields and hired youths to lip-sync the song "45RPM" for a music video.

The song made it onto the British charts last week, entering at No. 28. A spokesman for the band said that the stunt was about making a point as much as making a hit: "They wanted to be judged on music and not on their image and haircuts of 15 years ago."

Wood cop, bad cop?

The newest police officer in Santa Maria, Calif., won't chase down criminals, but he'll save taxpayers a lot of money on health insurance and pensions. Officer TED is a former department-store mannequin that Santa Maria police now place behind the wheel of a parked patrol car to "remind" drivers to stay within speed limits. Traffic Cpl. James Ginter called TED a "traffic-calming device."

Trouser trouble

The store does offer free alterations on its pants, and the trousers in question were too long. But the Reuters news service reports that when an unidentified Chinese woman took her pants back to a Beijing shop to have them altered, she was quickly detained. The problem: She had stolen the pants from the store, and employees recognized the missing item. The woman confessed to the theft.

Space cadets

Speculative fever seems to have gripped the market for private parking spaces in central London. One space in an underground car park near the luxury store Harrods has already sold for $177,000, and another is on sale for $187,500.

"There is a shortage of parking spaces in the area," said Andy Summer of Harrods. "Spaces are an investment and, for the sort of people who live in the area, 100,000 pounds (about $187,000) is not that much." One wealthy Londoner reportedly bought a space for her 3-year-old son, for use when he's old enough to drive.

He'll eat anything

A cod caught off the coast of western Norway had a Coke but not a smile. Norwegian Stig Skaar said he "could see something wasn't right" about the small, skinny, and underweight cod, and he found inside the fish an intact Coca-Cola can. The can apparently left no room in the cod's stomach for food. Other items reportedly found in the stomachs of cod: six frozen hamburger patties, an otter, and, in Australia, a human head.

Beggar's remorse

A Portuguese beggar wasn't a very good chooser in picking a place to ask for money last week. The 44-year-old man reportedly begged outside a police station in Santarem, telling officers he needed money to return to his home about 150 miles away. The officers did a background check and found that the beggar was also a fugitive, on the lam from a 106-day jail sentence for driving without a license. He is now receiving three square meals a day-behind bars.

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