Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Roberson

Quick Takes

Issue: "Race to the finish," Nov. 3, 2012

Not care-free

Four months after an unusual Panera restaurant opened in their neighborhood, some residents in the Lakeview area of Chicago are beginning to complain. The restaurant in question is a Panera Cares, a version of the Panera chain that allows customers to pay whatever they can for their meals—and if a customer has no money, the meal is free. Some neighbors aren’t buying into the free lunch, and one local woman complained to CBS Chicago that the pay-what-you-can meals were attracting homeless people to her neighborhood. Panera operates four such restaurants—Chicago, Portland, Detroit, and St. Louis areas—as a nationwide pilot program to test the business model. 

Good riddance

Scottish authorities are hoping Stephen Gough will hike across the border to England and not come back. The so-called Naked Rambler refuses to put on clothes while he wanders Scotland’s Highlands and Lowlands, despite indecency convictions and jail sentences. For the past six years, Scottish authorities have locked up Gough for hiking in the buff. He told reporters earlier this year that he marches in the nude to protest the laws that forbid him to do so—but since he’s spent most of the last few years locked up on nudity charges, Scottish authorities are beginning to see him less as a nuisance and more as an expensive problem. According to the government, it costs taxpayers nearly $64,000 to house a prisoner for a year. After his last jail stint, Gough was spotted on Oct. 6 walking south toward England, where he hopes to visit his family.

Breaking bad

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Talk about timing: Employees at a Chagrin Falls, Ohio, bank narrowly avoided a bank robbery because the teller had to go to the bathroom. A would-be bank robber entered the Huntington Bank on Sept. 30 just after the teller on duty locked her cash drawer and excused herself to the restroom. The robber demanded cash from the bank employee he met at the teller’s window, but the employee told him the cash drawer was locked and he’d have to wait. Flummoxed by the delay, the man fled on foot.

Shirt shrift

With around $10 billion worth of Facebook stock, it’s hard to imagine how company founder Mark Zuckerberg spends all his money. But one thing’s certain: He’s not spending it on clothes. In an Oct. 4 interview with the Today show, the 28-year-old Facebook CEO admitted he generally wears the same type of solid gray T-shirt every day. Asked by NBC how many of the shirts he owns, Zuckerberg said about 20.

Starr pumpkin

Thad Starr from Pleasant Hill, Ore., who grows giant pumpkins, transported via pickup his 1,775-pound pumpkin more than 500 miles south to the Oct. 8 World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif. The nine-hour drive netted the 45-year-old grower first prize at the contest: He won $10,650.

Eye of the storm

A walk along a beach in Florida led to an eye-popping discovery. An enormous blue eyeball reportedly washed up onto Pompano Beach in South Florida, causing an internet sensation when the man who found it took it to state wildlife officials. Researchers say the eyeball, which is the size of a softball, is probably from a deep sea squid or a large swordfish. Heather Bracken-Grissom, a marine science professor at Florida International University, told the Associated Press that the find has sparked public curiosity: “Something like this gets the public very excited about the mysterious realm of the ocean.”

Partial return

One Hastings, Minn., man has either a shallow understanding of the law or a shallow conscience. After finding an envelope filled with $1,100 cash, the anonymous finder turned the envelope in to police, but not before skimming $200 from the sum. He included a note indicating that the finder was short on cash and “really needed” the $200. Police in Hastings, who are attempting to find the rightful owner, welcomed the partial return of the money, but noted that it’s illegal to help yourself to a reward.

Kno problem

Lawyer Claude Kicklighter has probably had some difficult clients before, but they were puppies compared to his latest. A court official in Effingham County, Ga., said on Oct. 12 that a judge had appointed Kicklighter to represent a pit bull that the county wants to euthanize. The pit bull, named Kno, had attacked a 5-year-old child, after which his owner turned him over to the county. “All I can tell you is that the judge appointed me,” Kicklighter told the Reuters news service. “I really don’t know what the issues are.” A hearing later in October will determine whether Kno should live or die.

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