Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "2004 Election: GOP's encore," Aug. 28, 2004

The criminal mind

Like many busy people, John Sarver of suburban Kansas City kept a to-do list. Unlike most people, his included the entry "rob bank." Police found the list of chores in his house following his January arrest for six bank robberies in Johnson County, Kan. A federal judge last week sentenced Mr. Sarver to 10 years and five months in prison.

Ghost story buster

It had all the makings of a scary ghost story: a courthouse built atop a former cemetery, a security camera inside that captured a round, translucent, white object walking up and down a staircase; creeped-out employees who started hearing things.
But just when people were concluding that the Kent County, Md., Court House was haunted, a security expert this month busted the ghost story. The ghost turned out to be an insect on the camera lens; it had appeared to be white because of the lens' curvature. "I've seen it so many times, it's not funny," said Brooke Eyler of Atlantic Security, which installed the cameras. "It's definitely a bug."
"Ghost investigator" Beverly Lipsinger, president of the Maryland Ghost & Spirit Association, says she still wants to scour the courthouse with such "ghost detection equipment" as temperature gauges and an electromagnetic field detector.

Rowan's Bible?

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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who once accepted honorary membership in a society of Welsh druids, has sparked controversy again in Britain and Canada by endorsing a radical revision of the Bible that, among many other things, changes Mark 1:11 from "You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased" to "That's My boy!" and translates references to spouses as "regular partners." John Henson says his Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures is "women, gay, and sinner friendly." It leaves out several books, including 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Revelation, and Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus-but it includes the Gnostic "Gospel of Thomas." In a foreword for the book, Archbishop Williams says Mr. Henson has "gone back to roots" to produce a work "of extraordinary power."

Weigh down

Patrick Deuel of Valentine, Neb., has already lost more pounds than most people will ever weigh-and he isn't even halfway to his goal. That's because Mr. Deuel weighed 1,072 pounds when he checked into Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., eight weeks ago. With the help of doctors there he has lost 321 pounds and wants to lose 450 more. Dr. Fred Harris says Mr. Deuel arrived just in time: "If we hadn't gotten him here, he'd be dead now."

Prison for prank

Canadian prankster Ron Bensimhon thought he would get big laughs by jumping into the Olympic diving pool in Athens while wearing a blue tutu and white tights with polka dots during a competition. Instead, he may get prison time.
A Greek court last week convicted Mr. Bensimhon, who had the web address of an internet casino printed on his chest during the jump, of interrupting the games and sentenced him to five months in jail. The Montreal native plans to appeal the verdict. "I didn't think what I did was so serious," he told the judge. "I won't do it again."

Bear's beer

A bear that broke into campers' coolers at a Washington state campground apparently had a discriminating palate: He punctured and drank 36 cans of Rainier Beer but tried only one can of Busch beer, not touching the other Busch cans. The bear returned the next morning, and Fish and Wildlife agents set a trap to capture it for relocation. Among the lures: two open cans of Rainier. It worked, said agent Bill Heinck, because the bear "definitely had a preference."

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