Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Big bucks ministries," July 28, 2007

Squirrelly charge

According to Iran's state-sponsored media, the Islamist nation just thwarted a major espionage effort by Western powers bent on using rodents as spies. "In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran's borders," IRNA, the state-sponsored news agency, reported. "The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services." Officials say the squirrels were sent to undermine the Islamic Republic, but offered no details on just how the shadowy Western powers blamed by Iran could train up an elite force of spy rodents.

Assisted arrest

There's no shame in admitting that the getaway could have been better planned. Two suspects who were being pursued by Cheshire, Conn., police after allegedly robbing a hotel made a snap error in judgment as the red and blue lights flashed in their rearview mirror. In an effort to make a Dukes of Hazzard--style escape, Guy Anthony Williams and George Davis of East Hartford, Conn., made a quick turn down what they thought was an off-road detour. Turns out the detour was actually the dead-end parking lot of the local police department, and the only shortcut it provided Williams and Davis was to an easy apprehension.

Car crazy

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Think your home is expensive? It may not be as pricey as some parking spots in New York. A prominent Manhattan real estate agent reported demand exceeds the supply of five parking spots underneath a condo being built just north of Greenwich Village. The high demand means prices for the five spots list at $225,000 each-about $8,000 more than the U.S. median home price in March.

Faith-based aisle

Jumping Jehoshaphat!? Not yet. But beginning next month 425 Wal-Mart stores will carry Bible-themed action figures. For $7, parents can scoop up a Daniel in the Lions' Den play set. For three times that amount, they can pick up 14-inch versions of either Samson or Goliath. And for $15, parents can navigate the implications of the Second Commandment with a 12-inch talking Jesus doll. One Wal-Mart spokeswoman labeled the toys "faith-enriching."

Big tippers

July 8 probably started as an unremarkable day for Jessica Osborne of Angola, Ind., but it didn't end that way. On that day, a family of regular customers that was preparing to move out of town gave the Pizza Hut waitress a $10,000 tip. She had told the family earlier that she had dropped out of college twice because of finances. "I said I didn't want to look at it," Osborne said of the check when they handed it to her, "because I thought I was going to cry."

Crime and 'punishment'

Police charged British teen Kyle Ivison with committing close to 120 crimes involving vandalism and drug and alcohol abuse-all before his 18th birthday. Local officials say the boy committed 40 percent of the violent crimes in Clitheroe, Lancashire, a rap sheet that reads like lifestyle vandalism: bashing church windows, pounding 21 vehicles, and setting a neighbor's garden shed ablaze. But Ivison won't be serving jail time. A local judge ordered him into a sort of probation program for anti-social offenders, requiring Ivison to stay away from businesses that he's vandalized and abide by a 10 p.m. curfew for six months.

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