Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "Agony and ecstasy," April 7, 2012

Rising Tide

The thieves may be hardened, but at least their clothes are clean and fresh. Law enforcement officials across the nation are befuddled by a recent rash of Tide laundry detergent thefts. Anecdotal reports indicate theft of the brand-name detergent is widespread. Police in St. Paul, Minn., arrested a man after he stole $6,000 worth of it. A Safeway supermarket in Maryland reported losing thousands of dollars worth of Tide before a string of arrests by police earlier this year. Some speculate that Tide serves as a proxy for cash on the black market. They note that the product doesn't depreciate in value and can usually be resold for a good price.

On her own

After a local uproar, state officials say they have taken off food stamps a Michigan woman who had won a million-dollar lottery prize. The hubbub followed an early March news report revealing that Amanda Clayton of Lincoln Park, Mich., was receiving and using $200 per month in food stamps despite winning a $1 million lottery prize in September. In the WDIV television report, the 24-year-old woman justified receiving the aid, saying, "I feel that it's OK because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay." She also added: "I have two houses." State legislators are now working on a bill to factor lottery winnings into eligibility for government assistance.

Pork in their stache

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If Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett gets his way, tax time could get a bit easier for Americans who choose to leave their upper lip fuzzy. In February, the 10-term Republican congressman introduced the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act, or the STACHE Act. The bill, the brainchild of the often-hyperbolic American Mustache Institute, calls for tax credits for mustachioed men to help offset the cost of grooming supplies. And while a spokesman for Bartlett refused to say whether he supported the bill he sponsored, the American Mustache Institute promises an April Fool's Day rally in Washington, D.C., titled the Million Mustache March in its support.

Soft landing

Having stuffed their sedans with as many airbags as will fit, Volvo is offering a new feature in airbag technology. The safety-conscious carmaker announced its new V40 wagon will feature an airbag specifically designed to protect pedestrians who are struck by Volvo drivers. The new U-shaped airbag device will pop up from the rear of the hood and cover much of the car's windshield in the event of an accident.

The queen's tweet

Miss Seattle apparently wouldn't miss Seattle if she left. Beauty queen Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn became the target of criticism after comments she made about her city surfaced following her victory in the Miss Seattle pageant on March 3. In Twitter postings from December, Ahn wrote, "Ugh can't stand cold rainy Seattle and the annoying people." Ahn defended herself, saying in December she was undergoing culture shock after moving back from Arizona, where she had been studying at Arizona State University. Ahn had previously been crowned Miss Phoenix during her time in Arizona.

Catastrophic class

At least one class at Michigan State University is a real killer. Specifically, the school is planning to offer an online course on surviving a zombie invasion. Titled "Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Catastrophes & Human Behavior," the course will be taught by Social Work professor Glen Stutzky. The online course will last seven weeks beginning during the summer term.

Facebook folly

The next time 21-year-old Steven Mulhall sees Broward County, Fla., Circuit Judge Michael Orlando, he'll have some explaining to do. Mulhall appeared before Judge Orlando on Feb. 23 for a parole hearing, and police allege that on his way out of the courtroom, Mulhall swiped the judge's name placard off the door. The police's evidence? Mulhall apparently posted photos of himself holding the stolen name plate on his girlfriend's Facebook page. "The nameplate is like only $40, not that big of a crime, but what an idiot. He puts it on Facebook," Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti told the Sun Sentinel. "Here he is flaunting it on Facebook. He violated the terms of his parole by stealing, from a judge he appeared before no less. He's got multiple convictions for petty theft, so now this is a felony."

Valuable nugget

The meat may be mysterious, but the image on Rebecca Speight's chicken McNugget was not. The Dakota City, Neb., resident picked one of the chicken pieces out of her McDonald's purchase three years ago because, she said, it carried on it a profile likeness of the United States' first president, George Washington. On March 5, Speight was able to sell the Washington McNugget on eBay for $8,100 to an undisclosed buyer. Speight told the Sioux City Journal that the money will go toward sending 50 kids to a summer church camp in Iowa.

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