Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "UN: Kofi's crisis," Dec. 18, 2004

Low-speed chase

Second place for world's dumbest criminal (see "Dopey call") may go to Steven Coleman of Dover, N.H. Police say Mr. Coleman on Dec. 4 threw two Molotov cocktails at his ex-girlfriend's apartment and then drove away'Äîslowly, on a riding lawnmower. Police officers' on foot' were able to apprehend him. The only injuries in the incident: Two nearby residents suffered breathing problems caused by fumes from the weapons.

Man in motion

It took Krzysztof Dzienniak of Warsaw, Poland, more than three months to travel from New York to Seattle' but that's because he made the trip on rollerblades. The Reuters news service reports that Mr. Dzienniak hoped the endeavor would convince Bill Gates to pay the medical costs of two disabled Polish girls: Monika Mosur, who was born with hydrocephalus, and Patrycja Bialkowska, who lost a foot in an accident. It worked: After Mr. Dzienniak rolled into the company's Redmond, Wash., campus on Dec. 6, Microsoft executives established a fund for the girls, with employee contributions to be matched by the company. Mr. Gates made the first contribution, with a check for $1,000. Mr. Dzienniak's inspiration for the trip: the movie Forrest Gump.

Dopey call

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When John Douglas Sheetz and Misty Ann Holmes of Callaway, Fla., discovered that the home they shared had been burglarized early this month, they did the logical thing: report the stolen property to the police. The stolen property, however, was a quarter-pound stash of marijuana that they told police they needed back because they planned to sell it. Lt. Ricky Ramie of the Bay County Sheriff's Office called the duo "America's dumbest criminals."

Tough on crime

Charleston, W.Va., schoolteacher Susanna Robinson faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a potential 90-day jail term. Her crime: She propped open the door to her sixth-grade classroom with a rubber doorstop. Fire marshals, who visited the school last month and issued the citation, say the door is part of a smoke partition and must be kept closed. Ms. Robinson says the door isn't labeled as such and windows in the classroom do not open, creating a very hot room. "From our standpoint," said an unbending State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis Jr., "we're responsible for the safety of all the schoolkids in the state."

Once bitten, twice...

Being bitten by a Malaysian palm viper apparently didn't convince a Norwegian man not to play with poisonous snakes. The Oslo newspaper Verdens Gang did not identify the man but reported that he was taken to the hospital twice on Dec. 6 with snake bites, once from the viper and a second time from a rattlesnake. The snakes were part of his exotic (and illegal) collection of animals, said police spokesman Tore Hagen, and the bites were serious: "The man was not in good condition."

Wax indignant

Not much outrages the Church of England these days, but Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum in London has managed to do so. Anglican officials, along with others, are denouncing the museum's wax nativity scene that includes soccer star David Beckham as Joseph, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham as Mary, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Hugh Grant as shepherds. Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush appear as wise men, and pop star Kylie Minogue flies overhead as an angel. "There is a tradition of each generation trying to reinterpret the nativity, but oh dear . . . ," said Rev. Jonathan Jenkins, spokesman for the archbishop of Canterbury. A Vatican official told Reuters that the exhibit is "worse than bad taste. It is cheap."

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