Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Riots in France," Nov. 19, 2005

Cops aren't dummies

Southern California traffic drove 28-year-old Kevin Morgan to search out creative ways to use the area's restricted, high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Now he owes $351 in fines after officers caught him riding alone in the carpool lane with a kickboxing dummy dressed up in a Miami Dolphins windbreaker and a baseball cap in the passenger seat. Officer Will Thompson said Mr. Morgan was sparse with his words: "I think about the only thing he said was, 'Well, that didn't help me very much today, did it?'" Nope. It's an all-too-common stunt in cities with carpool lanes. One Dallas radio host admits he rides with a life-sized stuffed panda in the back seat to fool authorities.

Foul bill

Missouri lawmaker Jeff Roorda wants to use his powers as a member of the state House of Representatives to make sure umpires pay for bad calls against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series against Houston. On Nov. 2, Mr. Roorda, a Jefferson City Democrat, announced he would file legislation in December to expand the state's entertainers' tax to umpires and officials of sporting events. The tax, common in many states, generally hits athletes for a certain percentage of what they make while performing in the state. "I think if they're not going to pay attention, they ought to at least pay taxes," said Mr. Roorda, who believes bad calls played a part in the Cardinals' defeat. "Seriously though, I think it's good public policy. Referees and umpires play a critical role in the outcome of this game and are part of the entertainment experience."

Where's his permit?

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At least one hunter didn't have to spend hours in a deer stand to bag a five-point buck. Wayne Goldsberry was staying at his daughter's Bentonville, Ark., home when he heard the sounds of glass breaking from a back bedroom. When he went to investigate, he discovered a five-point buck had crashed through a window and into the home. When the animal blazed past him into the master bedroom, he told his wife to call police. But instead of waiting for police, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound man eventually wrestled the deer to the ground, broke its neck, and in the struggle suffered only bruises from being kicked. Mr. Goldsberry butchered the animal and packed the venison in a freezer.

Half baked

A California crook made away with $3,000 but left some dough behind. Security cameras revealed that a man broke into Sonny's Pizza and Pasta in San Clemente, Calif., early on Oct. 31 then took a break to make a pepperoni pizza. When employees showed up, he fled, taking the cash with him but leaving his unfinished pie in the oven.

Have a nice trip; see you next fall

A Michigan thief was tripped up, literally, as he tried to make a getaway after nabbing a half dozen DVDs from a video store on Oct. 30. James Green, 30, tried to bicycle away from cops in the suburban Detroit town of Ferndale, but he soon abandoned his bike to run. When he set out on foot, his sagging pants fell down to his ankles, tripping him. He managed to kick off his shoes and pants, but police captured him soon after. The next day, he pleaded guilty to retail fraud and resisting arrest and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Czech mates

It's fair to say Czech broadcasters had a different sort of reality to portray when they decided to create a reality show based on the lives of caged gorillas. Czech Television will set up 15 cameras at the Prague zoo to chronicle the lives of four captive primates. Television viewers will vote on their favorite gorilla, who stands to receive a prize of 12 melons.

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