Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "The people have spoken," Feb. 4, 2006

Russian antifreeze

An Arctic blast that sent temperatures in Moscow to as low as minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit in January, and killed over 30 people, left more than Muscovites desperate to stay warm. For freeze-prone animals, Moscow zookeepers turned to what some may call a traditional Russian solution: alcohol. The Russian media has reported monkeys at one local zoo have been given wine three times a day to help protect them from the cold. One lion suffering from pneumonia has been rubbed down with brandy.

Man's best friend

George Crowther is recovering from serious injuries, but it might have been worse were it not for his dog. The 90-year-old Australian farmer was thrown from his horse last month, breaking his pelvis and getting his foot caught in the reins. His 13-month-old cattle dog reportedly snuggled next to him to keep him warm, and then ran to help Mr. Crowther's wife find her stranded husband. "The dog ran to her and she said, 'Where's George?'" Mr. Crowther told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "And she (the dog) toddled off, leading my wife to where I was." The dog's name: Lassie.

Naming names

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George Melendez is simply not cut out for bank robbery. Authorities arrested Mr. Melendez after finding addresses left behind following a Dracut, Mass., bank heist. Police found his address and name on a mailing label inside the bag of books Mr. Melendez allegedly used as a prop for a bomb. It wasn't the first time a New England bank robber used a bag full of books and wires made to look like a bomb in order to rob a bank. Police in Lawrence, Mass., and Salem, N.H., also expect to charge Mr. Melendez. "It was clearly not his best move," Lawrence Police Chief John J. Romero said.

Crime-proof purse

Women in Malaysia can now buy peace of mind starting at just $27. That's the price tag for a new purse on the market in Malaysia complete with breakaway straps and more than $13,000 of insurance. An accessories company in the southeast Asian nation, where purse snatching is commonplace, created the handbag with potential victims in mind. Usually, thieves just grab a purse while riding on motorcycles, often tearing a woman down to the pavement with the bag and sometimes causing serious harm. The new purse would rip away from the woman without throwing her to the ground. And since it's designed to be stolen, the purse comes with insurance to cover the losses.

Lost treasure

One Australian woman made the discovery of a lifetime when she found a 14-year-old scratch-off lottery ticket worth almost $75,000 inside a greeting card while sorting through old things. The woman, who asked not to be identified, won on another front. Australia has been implementing an expiration date for unclaimed lottery winnings, but couldn't enact one before the woman came forward with the big winner. Her lottery fortune, though, could have been even larger. If she had claimed the ticket in 1992 when she purchased it and made investments mirroring the Dow Jones Industrial Average, her winnings would have more than tripled by now.

Odd couple

A Japanese hamster named Gohan has struck up a nervous relationship with an unlikely beast: a four-foot rat snake named Aochan. Zookeepers in Tokyo tried to feed Gohan-which means "meal" in Japanese-to the snake after the reptile refused to eat frozen prey. Aochan couldn't take a hint. Instead of devouring the 3.5-inch dwarf hamster, Aochan seemed to make friends. Zookeepers report Gohan now regularly takes naps curled up on top of the cold-blooded predator. It may not last, but zookeepers are intent on keeping the two together until death do they part.

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