Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Nick Ut

Quick Takes


Issue: "Roe v. Wade turns 40," Jan. 26, 2013

Don’t ask, don’t tell

The interesting part about a no-questions-asked program run by police is that you never know what the answers will be. When the Los Angeles Police Department ran a one-day gun buyback program on Dec. 26, gun owners turned in 2,000 firearms under the no-questions-asked guidelines. In return for regular weapons those turning in weapons received a $100 gift card to the Ralph’s grocery chain and for assault weapons a $200 card. Among the 2,000 firearms returned: two military-grade rocket launchers. The anti-tank weapons, which fire rocket-propelled grenades, were likely part of a collection of antique weaponry. The LAPD didn’t say whether those who turned them in got the $100 or $200 gift card.

Clothes racket

Airlines hoping to make extra revenue by charging passengers for overstuffed checked bags weren’t counting on passengers like the one who turned up in China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in December. Described by authorities as looking like a sumo wrestler, the unidentified man had emptied his bags and put on more than 60 shirts and nine pairs of jeans in order to avoid the over-weight baggage fee. According to press accounts, security officials ordered the man to undress and undergo a full body search before boarding his flight to Kenya.

Water down

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Find a water fountain or bring a Nalgene, because beginning Jan. 1, bottles of water officially became illegal to sell in Concord, Mass. The new city ordinance, billed as an environmental move, is intended to encourage residents of the Massachusetts town to drink tap water rather than bottled water. According to the measure, businesses can no longer sell bottles of water in sizes below 1 liter—even in bulk. But opponents think removing water from the refrigeration case will merely cause residents to make poor decisions. “When we’ve been out of stock of water, people will grab other things in glass or plastic like a Gatorade or Coke,’’ convenience store owner Elizabeth Akehurst-Moore told the Boston Globe. “I think people will just buy other things in a container.’’

Hidden danger

Christmas this year was fun for 7-year-old Sonny Carter of Norfolk, England, but thankfully it wasn’t a blast. Sonny’s parents reportedly gave him a metal detector for Christmas, and five minutes into his first search of the English countryside for treasure the device began beeping. He and his parents then dug up an 11.5-pound object, put it in their car, and took it home before realizing what it was. It turned out to be a World War II-era “practice bomb,” which an RAF bomb disposal unit quickly inspected and took away. “We didn’t realize what it was at first,” Sonny’s father Jem Carter told the BBC, “but obviously we know what it is now.”

Quite a mouthful

When thinking of choking hazards, parents should be concerned about a great many things youngsters put in their mouths. But soccer balls? According to European Union legislation passed last year, even soccer balls with a circumference of 25 inches must bear a label warning that they may be a choking hazard for children under 3. Soccer balls of that size are larger than the average human head.

Bales of ale

Japanese cattlemen are known for massaging their cows to enhance the flavor of the meat. The cattlemen at the Texas T Kobe ranch in Wallis, Texas, have a different approach: They soak their hay in beer made at a local craft brewery. Ranch owner Gene Terry told KHOU that the beer-soaked hay improves digestion and raises the quality of the beef, which can fetch up to $100 per pound. According to Terry, the livestock strongly prefer beer hay to regular hay. Perhaps that’s because instead of soaking the hay in a banquet beer, Terry cut a deal with Saint Arnold Brewing Co. to provide its 2012 World Beer Cup Silver Medal winner Endeavor IPA to help feed the herd.

Days of old

A mail carrier in Scranton, Pa., without explanation delivered on Dec. 28 a package containing a 1950 calendar that had been mailed in December 1949. The package, which included a holiday greeting and the wall calendar from Pennsylvania Railroad, was addressed to long-ago Scranton Times general manager James Flanagan. The story of the 63-year-old mail delivery made news across the country, and something about it sounded familiar to Howard Rue of suburban Chicago. He had bought a 1950 Pennsylvania calendar along with its original mailing tube on eBay for $100. Apparently, the calendar and the original tube, complete with two 4-cent stamps, fell out of its new tube and made its way into the mail stream. Times officials agreed to purchase the calendar and have it “back where it originally was.”


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