Dispatches > The Buzz

QuickTakes

QuickTakes

Issue: "Why the long face, Fidel?," May 1, 2004

Head of household

Carsten Royland of Portland, Ore., made an unexpected discovery while renovating his dining room: the skull of an American Indian that may date to the 1600s. No one knows how the artifact made it into Royland's home, but the state plans to hand the skull over to one of Oregon's nine tribes for reburial. Although legal experts say Mr. Royland probably has rights to the skull, the homeowner says he'll gladly allow one of the tribes to bury it. "I don't want the thing, man," he said. "That would

be pretty rude."

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Unreal estate I

Those who say the U.S. housing market is in a bubble should visit London. The Sunday Times reports that Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal paid $128 million for a 12-bedroom mansion in London's Kensington district last month, topping the previous price record of $101.6 million for a home sold in Hong Kong in 1997. Forbes estimates Mr. Mittal's net worth at $6.2 billion, ranking him 62nd on the magazine's list of the world's wealthiest people.

Unreal estate II

Apartments in New York are not as expensive as Mr. Mittal's house-yet. A survey last month by the real estate agency Douglas Elliman found that

the average two-bedroom flat in Manhattan sells for $998,905, an increase of 28.2 percent over the previous 12 months. Apartment prices in New York City overall are up 88 percent since 1999.

Justification by vote

The Reuters news service reports that an Orthodox Greek bishop told Greek Cypriots that they would forfeit eternal life if they voted for a referendum to reunify Cyprus. "Those who say yes will be party to this injustice, will lose their homeland and the kingdom of heaven," said Bishop Paul in an April 18 sermon. Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the island after a 1974 coup.

Accidental Olympian

Tracey Morris decided to run in this year's London Marathon with her husband for fun. The 36-year-old optician from the north England city of Leeds had not competed seriously since she was in school and had not run in a marathon since a 1999 run for charity.

But Ms. Morris had a good race: She was the first British woman to finish the April 18 event, running the course in two hours, 33 minutes, 52 seconds-an hour better than her previous personal best and three minutes faster than the Olympic qualifying time. Last week, she was formally named to the British Olympic team for the Athens Games this summer. "It's all come as a very big shock to me," she said. "It seems like somebody else; this won't sink in for a while."

Wages of sin

Dwayne Long, pastor of a Pentecostal church in Jonesville, Va., celebrated Christ's victory over the serpent this Easter by handling one-and it killed him. No one at the Easter service sought help after the rattlesnake bit the pastor because the church teaches that God commands the handling of snakes and the refusal of medical help for snakebites. "We don't anticipate any charges," said Sheriff Gary Parsons. "That's their belief."

A really sharp pain

Pat Skinner of Sydney, Australia, knew from the pain that something had gone wrong when doctors removed part of her colon in May 2001. An X-ray that she demanded 18 months later revealed what that something was: a 6.7-inch pair of surgical scissors that doctors at Sydney's St. George Hospital had left in her abdomen. Doctors removed the scissors in October 2002, but Ms. Skinner last week sought legal action against the hospital. "We put this down to human error," said David Pearce, the hospital's chief executive. "I've been executive director here for four years, and in that time we've done something like 40,000 operations and this is the first time this incident has occurred."

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