Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Yasser Arafat: In memoriam," Nov. 20, 2004

Shepherds' local

What's a pastor to do when he's at odds with his congregation? In Canada, he starts a labor union. The Reuters news service reports that 30 ministers in Canada's United Church have started a drive to unionize the denomination's 4,000 pastors. "The group is unique . . . but the problems are similar to those in many workplaces," said Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, which is helping with the effort. United Church spokesman Joe Ramsay doesn't see the similarities: "You can't legislate the congregation to feel kindly toward you."

Run for the border

How disappointed are American liberals that President Bush won reelection? On Nov. 3, the day after the election, 115,016 of them visited Canada's main immigration website, a massive jump from the typical 20,000 who visit the site on a normal day. On Nov. 4, 65,805 visited the site. Amused Ottawa Sun columnist Thane Burnett's advice for his future countrymen: "As Canadians, you'll have to learn to embrace and use all the products and culture of Americans, while bad-mouthing their way of life."

November surprise

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Mike Overton of Springdale, Ark., could have praised defeated city council opponent Rex Bailey for a hard-fought battle, but that would have been a lie. Mr. Overton had announced in October that he didn't have time to campaign for or serve on the council-and still won the seat on Nov. 2 by 53 percent to 47 percent. Mr. Bailey had raised $12,000 and continued campaigning after Mr. Overton's announcement. Mr. Overton now says he's excited to serve, calling his victory "a mandate, considering the circumstances."

A crowd of 3s

A Chinese man paid $215,000 for the phone number 133-3333-3333. The man, whom Chinese newspapers did not identify, bought the number at a Beijing auction on Nov. 5. The number 3 and groups of 3s are considered lucky in Chinese tradition.

A record to cry over

One chef gave up the task as impossible, but organizers of a "big lunch" event in West Bromich, England, were determined to beat the record of 131 pounds for the world's largest fried onion ball. And on Nov. 5, a second chef, Ali Haydor, shattered the record by making a 186-pound version of the "onion bhajia," according to the AFP news service. The Guru Nanak Community Centre organized the event.

Jumping the gun

Michael Donald Marshall of Marietta, Ga., allegedly entered a Bank of America branch in Kennesaw on Nov. 3, announced that he had a gun, and demanded $500. The problem, he soon learned, was that the branch was still under construction, had not yet opened, and didn't have any money. He fled after employees broke the news to him and was quickly apprehended by authorities.

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