Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

"Quick Takes" Continued...

Issue: "Syria's pain," Sept. 8, 2012

Paper weight

How bad is bureaucratic paperwork at the Department of Veterans Affairs? Bad enough to make one of the agency's buildings in North Carolina structurally unsound, according to the inspector general. An Aug. 9 report said stacks of paperwork and forms piled on top of already-filled filing cabinets in a VA office in Winston-Salem, N.C., were heavy enough to have "the potential to compromise the structural integrity" of the building. According to the report, the papers' weight bowed the floors, and the stacked files also represented a serious fire hazard: "We estimated that approximately 37,000 claims folders were stored on top of file cabinets."

Making itself at home

When Florida wildlife officials found an enormous Burmese python in the Everglades National Park in April, they knew it might be a record-setter. The snake, at 17 feet, 7 inches long, turned out to be the largest ever captured in Florida. "It was huge," Paul Ramey of the Florida Natural History Museum told the Reuters news service. Researchers, he said, "had to put three tables together and it took at least four people to pick it up and get it on the tables." But on Aug. 10, they discovered the 165-pound snake had produced 87 eggs, topping another state record. Burmese pythons are not native to Florida, but researchers say pet owners introduced the snakes to the Everglades by dumping them there when they became too large to manage.

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