Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Minority report," Aug. 11, 2007

Nothing to crow about

Fire officials in Sweden are blaming a blazing crow for the destruction of 2,500 square feet of crops west of Stockholm. How did the crow manage that? Fire investigators say the bird flew into an electrical wire near the field, burst into flames, and fatally crash-landed in the field, igniting it. Fire fighters were able to control the blaze before anyone but the bird was hurt.

Good to the last drop

Daisy Valdivia doesn't so much want her inflatable swimming pool back as she wants an explanation on just how the thieves were able to get the 1,000-gallon pool out of her backyard without spilling a drop. The Paterson, N.J., resident awoke July 25 to realize her 10-foot diameter pool was missing. But the ground around where the pool had been wasn't wet. And police found no evidence the water had been pumped out or siphoned. "I just want to know what the heck they did with the water," Valdivia told the Bergen Record.

Slow up

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Police in Middlesbrough, UK, may want to go back to school to polish up on how to carry out a proper car chase. In a chase that made the Los Angeles police's pursuit of O.J. Simpson's white Ford Bronco look like the final lap of the Indy 500, cops in Middlesbrough engaged in a low-speed chase of an elderly man on a battery-powered scooter. And despite the scooter's 8 mph speed limit, the elderly man managed to give cops the slip on a roundabout. Police resorted to asking onlookers for directions. "They asked us, 'Scuse me-have you seen a bloke on an electric scooter?'" Ian Hardy told the Evening Gazette (Teeside). "The two in the police car looked a bit sheepish to have lost a battery-powered scooter. I bet they'll be the toast of the nick [police station]." Officers in another town eventually apprehended the slow delinquent.

Whoops

It's hard to see any American politician making this mistake: When asked by a television reporter to regale a crowd by singing Belgium's national anthem, the possible next prime minister of the European nation, Yves Leterme, accidentally began singing the French national anthem. The Flemish politician had an especially bad day. After the anthem gaffe, the Belgian pol was seen making a mobile phone call during a religious service. It's unclear how much effect the slips will have on Leterme's attempt to form a government.

Animal farm

Melanie Szegedi may eventually thank the police who snatched exotic animals from her and her sister at their Magnolia, Ohio, home and charged her with six counts of animal cruelty. The animals Szegedi was keeping? Police and animal control officials said the woman had been keeping bear cubs, goats, puppies, and a lion among dozens of exotic animals the sisters had on their property and even in their double-wide trailer. "She's overwhelmed, she doesn't have the time, resources, or ability to take care of these animals," the local prosecutor said. Overwhelmed? Not like she would be when the wild pets grew up.

Nothing a little hardware can't fix

Turns out Englishman John Richards did break his neck after all when he fell out of that apple tree-in 1948. The 74-year-old Richards only learned of the fractured vertebrae during a routine visit to the doctor this summer as he complained about a neck pain that had bothered him since he was 16. In that year, Richards suffered a major fall from an apple tree where he had been stealing fruit. Doctors at the time treated him for a broken wrist but for some reason ignored his neck. In the years since, Richards lived an active life including working on a farm and even spending 15 years as an amateur boxer-not knowing that one wrong punch could have killed him. When doctors finally discovered the break, Richards was rushed into surgery to insert an inch-long bolt in his neck.

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