Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "Orphaned no more," July 30, 2011

Seal delivered

While assisting the owner of a disabled vehicle on I-76 in Philadelphia, a veteran city policeman on July 1 found an unusual piece of litter. Upside down on the shoulder of the interstate highway, the officer found a magnetic presidential seal. President Barack Obama had been in Philadelphia the day before on a fundraising visit. And as his presidential motorcade drove eastbound on I-76, the magnetic presidential seal affixed to the side of his limousine flew off. Officers tried to locate the magnet that evening, but couldn't find it. Police department officials say they quickly returned it to agents at the Philadelphia Secret Service field office, who then shipped it back to Washington.

Old and in love

To say Gilbert Herrick is a picky man might be an understatement. At 99 years old, the Rochester, N.Y., retiree on June 6 married an 86-year-old fellow nursing home resident he met while admiring her art. This will be the near-centenarian's first marriage. Herrick says that after he and Virginia Hartman became acquainted, they fell in love. Herrick petitioned the nursing home to move Hartman into his room. Officials at the facility told the pensioner, however, that only married couples could live together at the nursing home. That's when Hartman proposed to Herrick. The couple told reporters that they would have eloped to Fiji, but rules at the nursing home prohibit that sort of travel.

Way past due

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The book Stanley Baker picked up was old: He bought it at a garage sale in 1995. The parking ticket he only recently found inside the book was dated 1975. And despite the fact that the parking ticket wasn't issued to him-and was now 36 years past due-the Pentwater, Mich., 89-year-old figured that he might as well pay So last month, Baker (shown with his son, Fritz) put the $1 payment for the 1975 ticket in the original envelope along with a note that read, "Better late than never," and mailed it to the Orlando, Fla., address printed on the label, once a traffic court and now a police auditorium. Orlando police said they appreciated receiving the belated payment.

Charging charge

A homeless Bangor, Maine, man trying to find a way to charge up a cell phone instead found himself in trouble with the law. Police patrolling downtown Bangor on June 25 arrested 23-year-old Shaun Fawster when a patrolman discovered Fawster charging up a cell phone from an electrical outlet on the outside of a building hidden behind plants. Authorities charged Fawster with theft of services and released him from jail.

Stockholm syndrome

In a bid to further diminish gender inequalities, one school in Stockholm, Sweden, has decided to banish gender talk altogether. The Egalia preschool in Stockholm recently announced plans to prohibit the use of gendered pronouns like "him" and "her," saying that such gendered distinctions only reinforce societal inequalities. Instead, Egalia teachers have been instructed to use non-gendered pronouns invented and used in the nation's transgendered community. "This is about democracy," said Director Lotta Rajalin, "about human equality."

Buffalo birth

No one knows exactly the last time a white buffalo was born. But more than 2,000 people converged on the Lakota Ranch in Greenville, Texas, on June 29 to celebrate the birth of a white, non-albino buffalo considered by scientists as a one-in-10-million rarity. The crowd gathered for a Native American ceremony to name the unusual calf Lightning Medicine Cloud-because it was born during a thunderstorm on the northeast Texas ranch.

Fox and henhouse

If political leaders around the world had no reason to take the UN Conference on Disarmament seriously before, the ascension of North Korea to the presidency of the anti-nuclear-proliferation organization doesn't help the agency's reputation. Despite the Communist nation's record on nuclear weapons, North Korea was awarded the honor because the presidency of the organization rotates alphabetically. According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, North Korea has already test-fired two nuclear weapons and has enough nuclear material for between four and six more.

Deadly ringer

Visiting a school in rural Uganda, a mine and bomb awareness team found that its services were needed-urgently. The team from the Anti-Mine Network, which visits schools to teach children how to spot mines and bombs in the war-torn nation, reportedly found that teachers were using an unexploded bomb as a school bell, banging it with stones to call their 700 pupils to class. "Its head was still active, which means that if it is hit by a stronger force, it would explode instantly and cause untold destruction in the area," team member Wilson Bwambale told the Daily Monitor. At another school, the Anti-Mine Network reportedly found children using a bomb as a toy.


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