Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Samuel Alito," Nov. 12, 2005

Locking up baby

Equality in Sweden has reached a new level-the Swedish government may be ready to allow dads in the lockup to raise their children behind bars. Imprisoned Swedish women already may retain custody of babies in minimum-security prisons until the babies reach their first birthday. Now male inmates will be able to put a crib in the cell. Swedish prison spokeswoman Elisabeth Lager said the move had less to do with gender equality than with improving the lot of babies whose parents live behind bars. The answer, apparently, is to lock up the baby, too.

Nothing but the best

Finally, the North Penn School District outside of Philadelphia has decided to shell out the big bucks. After numerous complaints from students, the school district has decided to splurge for new plastic cutlery every meal, instead of washing plastic forks, spoons, and knives every day. "It's just gross. Really gross," said Andrew Gawell, a sixth-grader at General Nash Elementary School. "You would sometimes get spoons with bite marks in them." The school district said it saved $15,000 per year by washing plastic cutlery.

Ready, fire, aim

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On Oct. 26, an Australian court fined a 61-year-old man who says he never meant to shoot passing motorist Carrie Tunning. He said he was aiming for a sickly cow-but missed. In April 2004, Rudolf Stadler said he agreed to help a friend put a milk cow out of its misery. But when Mr. Stadler, from the Queensland Coast, took aim with a Winchester bolt-action rifle and fired, he missed, sending a bullet out of a barn, through a car door and into Ms. Tunning's leg. Ms. Tunning made a full recovery, but the cow did not. Mr. Stadler shot the cow on his second try.

Intercontinental cat

It's not Garfield mailing Nermal to Abu Dhabi, but it's close. Turns out Emily, a family cat from Appleton, Wis., strayed a bit further from home than expected. Owner Lesley McElhiney, who says the family expected to eventually find Emily at the local animal shelter, said she was shocked when she discovered her cat had, in fact, been shipped to France. Employees at a French lamination company in the northeastern city of Nancy where Emily turned up checked the cat's tags and contacted Ms. McElhiney. The only trouble now is finding a route home for Emily. "The only thing we can think right now is buying a plane ticket," she said. "She already cost us some the first time we got her from the humane society. She's getting to be an expensive little thing."

A Sunday drive

Have you driven a Popemobile lately? If not, perhaps an upcoming auction at the Las Vegas Hilton is for you. On Oct. 29, Vegas auctioneers put the late Carol Wojtyla's powder blue 1975 Ford Escort GL up for auction-the car Wojtyla drove before he became Pope John Paul II in 1978. The 30-year-old, 1.1-liter engine won't start and the car has few amenities but plenty of dings. "It appears to me he was a pretty bad driver," auction employee Rick Limpp said as he polished the car for auction. "Christ had a donkey," auctioneer Dean Kruse said. "This was a humble car for a humble man."

For political victory, skin deep will do

Potential political candidates may need to look in the mirror to see if they have what it takes to win office. A study released by University of Texas economics professor Daniel Hamermesh found that handsome men enjoy a 56 percent chance of winning elections, while their more homely opponents win only 44 percent of the time. "It was very clear that being good-looking helped and also helped more for men than for women, and that seems to be something one finds in looking at the effect of beauty in other outcomes such as earnings and wages," the professor told Reuters.


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