Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Bush's moral mandate," Nov. 13, 2004

Bird trap

Witnesses often talk, and a group of thieves in Memphis decided to go back to the scene of their crime on Oct. 25 to keep one quiet. This witness, however, was unusual: a parrot named Marshmallow that had kept repeating "J.J.," the name of one of the thieves. Police Maj. Billy Garrett said police apprehended the burglars upon their return: "They were afraid the bird would stool on them."

Home run price

It didn't set a record in the ballpark, but the baseball that Barry Bonds hit for his 700th career home run is the second-most-expensive baseball ever. An unidentified Overstock.com bidder last month bought the ball from fan Steve Williams for $804,129. Mr. Bonds is still chasing Hank Aaron's record of 755 home runs. Mark McGwire's 70th-home-run ball in 1998, then a season record, sold for $2.7 million in an internet auction.

Naming rights

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Brazilian lawmaker Reinaldo Santos e Silva is trying to make it illegal for pet owners to give animals names that are common among people. His reasoning: Some children may become depressed to learn that they share names with animals. His bill would require pet stores and veterinary clinics to post signs warning customers of the prohibition. Breakers of the law would face either fines or community service.

Flying noodles

Tempers flared during an Oct. 26 committee meeting in Taiwan's national parliament. And, this being a lunch meeting, it wasn't long before a food fight broke out. It wasn't clear who started the melee, but cameras caught shouting lawmaker Chu Fong-chi ducking a flying object and then returning fire with her lunch box. The resulting food fight left the room littered with rice and chunks of eggs and an angry Ms. Chu facing TV cameras with food stains on her blouse: "My whole body smells like a lunch box!"

Glamorous dogs

It's not unusual for Halloween costumes nowadays to cost hundreds of dollars-and for some, that's just for their dogs. The Hartsdale, N.Y.-based company E&E Hallstrom Haute Couture this year offered costumes for dogs that ranged in price from $200 to $240 and were made of silk, velvet, leather, and brocade. The costumes included collars, buckles, detailed embroidery, fringes, semiprecious stones, and pearls, and were meant to make the dogs look like royalty. Company co-founder Eva Hallstrom insists that canines dig the costumes: "Dogs like to feel glamorous."

Outlaw break

The High Court of Australia ruled on Oct. 27 that convicted drug dealer Francesco Dominico La Rosa can claim a tax deduction for money stolen during a drug deal. Mr. La Rosa wanted the deduction for the $164,000 he had tried to use to buy heroin in 1995. The deal went bad, the cash was stolen, and Mr. La Rosa spent six years in jail for heroin import and possession. The court reasoned that since illegal income is taxable under Australian law, then such losses can be deducted. Lawmakers have promised to fix the loophole.

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