Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Nuke nightmare," Feb. 25, 2006

Rider beware

A Philadelphia bus driver turned his road rage inward-toward his own riders. Pestered by a woman who complained about missing her stop, 53-year-old driver Mario Edney became enraged, grabbed the woman by the hair, slammed her head into a pole, and tossed her out the door into traffic. The woman suffered a broken shoulder bone. Police arrested Mr. Edney and charged him with aggravated assault. The bus company plans to fire him.

Euro Ken

After being dumped two years ago, Ken has come back buffer and more stylish in an attempt to win back Barbie's heart. In February 2004, Mattel announced legendary doll duo Barbie and Ken had separated after 43 years together. Mattel describes the new-look Ken as more European and "worldly." This, apparently, stirs Barbie's drink, according to spokesman Lauren Dougherty, who said Barbie "appreciates the new look Ken is sporting. He really looks great. But we'll have to stay tuned to see whether these two will get back together."

Game over

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't playing games, and he doesn't want his employees playing them, either. The mayor made news in the city over the firing of a low-level employee caught playing computer solitaire on the job. The mayor was making the rounds through the office on a photo opportunity and paused briefly to shake hands with office assistant Edward Greenwood IX. That's when the mayor saw the game on the computer. "I expect all city workers, including myself, to work hard," the mayor said. "There's nothing wrong with taking a break, but during the business day, at your desk, that's not appropriate behavior." Now a break to take a picture with the mayor? That's another matter.

Technical difficulties

One Indiana homeowner must have had a massive shock when he got his property tax bill. The home, valued at $121,900 last year, carried $1,500 in property taxes. But a technical glitch caused the house to be revalued to $400 million, netting an $8 million tax bill. Worse was the effect on local government. Expecting a windfall in tax receipts, the City of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. had already budgeted the cash. That meant that when the error was discovered, both the school district and the city realized not a boon, but a budget shortfall.

Law of nature

When the contents of a container ship washed ashore on a Dutch island, locals swarmed to the beaches in search of booty. The hottest items: aluminum briefcases, children's toys, and waterlogged tennis shoes. Nearly 60 containers were washed overboard when the ship, the Mondriaan, encountered a storm in the North Sea. Local police guarded nine of the containers that washed ashore on the island of Terschelling. But authorities weren't about to stop islanders from picking up a new pair of kicks. "It's human nature, right?" ship spokesman Kees Koning said.

Slithery surprise

Residents in Rexburg, Idaho, better watch their backs. An 8.5-foot Burmese python is on the loose. On Feb. 8, owners Chelsea Carter and Jeff Perrenoud reported the snake, Bessy, missing from their apartment. They theorize the reptile escaped through a hole in the bathroom wall-meaning Bessy could be anywhere in or outside the building. Ms. Carter said the snake was friendly, but other residents have mixed feelings. "I thought it was hilarious," neighbor Chelsea Grafe said. "It will probably sneak up in the bed when my husband and I are asleep and try sleeping with us to get warm." Other apartment residents were refusing to stay in their homes until the snake was found.

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