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Quick Takes

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Issue: "No pray zone?," July 13, 2013

Lawn enforcement

Some people grow playoff beards. All Frank Miller of suburban Chicago wanted was a playoff lawn. Miller vowed to leave his Park Ridge, Ill., lawn unshorn until the Chicago Blackhawks won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup championship. As the lawn grew, some neighbors were supportive, honking their horns as they passed his shaggy front yard and a sign that read, “Won’t cut until Hawks win Cup.” But others—including city government officials– were not. The city dispatched a lawnmower to cut Miller’s grass in late May. Miller, unfazed, vowed to regrow his lawn for the duration of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or until the city gave him another free lawn mowing.

Child-free zone

If you’re looking for sushi in Alexandria, Va., restaurateur Bill Blackburn has a place for you—but only if you’re not a child. Blackburn made waves in Alexandria when he announced that his new sushi restaurant wouldn’t serve children. Many scoffed at Blackburn’s theory that he could turn a profit without families in his children-free environment. But after opening the doors of “The Sushi Bar” on June 1, Blackburn says business is booming. “We by no means hate children or think they don’t belong in restaurants,” Blackburn told WUSA. “They just don’t belong in this particular one.”

Political animals

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Morris may not be able to do much for Mexico City, but at least he can’t hurt it. Cat owner Sergio Chamorro is working to get his cat, Morris, elected as mayor of Mexico City in local elections held July 7. Armed with the campaign slogan, “Tired of voting for rats? Vote for a cat,” Morris is picking up some campaign momentum on social media sites where he now has tens of thousands of followers. Chamorro, 35, said his 10-month-old black and white cat would make for a fine politician: “He sleeps almost all day and does nothing, and that fits the profile of a politician.” Morris isn’t the only animal running for office. Chon the Donkey is running for mayor in Ciudad Juarez while Tina the Chicken is trying to take office in Tepic.

Gator gauntlet

Florida criminals looking to make a quick getaway would be wise to steer clear of the lakes. That’s the painful lesson Brian Zuniga learned as he was attempting to evade arrest on May 10. Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies say they were attempting to pull over Zuniga, 20, when the Florida man ditched his car and took off on foot. But Zuniga’s escape route took him close to a lake infested with alligators. Hours later, deputies finally placed Zuniga under arrest when they found him at a hospital being treated for alligator bites to his face and arm.

Feet cheaters

Who knew gopher feet were so valuable? Deputies with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s office say Tina Marie Garrison and Junior Lee Dillon of Preston, Minn., knew exactly how valuable they were. The mother-and-son team were arrested on May 2 and charged with felony theft along with three other charges when deputies grew wise to their alleged gopher scam. Townships across Minnesota offer bounties for gopher feet as a way to keep the animal’s population in check. But when a local trapper reported about $5,000 worth of gopher feet had been stolen from his property, deputies knew what to watch for. The officers say Garrison, 37, and Dillon, 18, stole the booty and collected a total bounty of $4,794 in November and December.

Intrepid kitty

If British Chancellor George Osborne knew his cat Freya would cause such a stir, he may well have kept her as an inside cat. Osborne’s wandering kitty—which disappeared for two years—has caused speculation upon her return. Some sources have even told British tabloids that Freya would make the perfect spy cat. That’s because Osborne, who lives above Number 10 Downing Street, and security officials allow her to roam freely through sensitive areas. In the past months, Freya has been spotted inside the Cabinet room at Number 10, inside secure portions of the Foreign Office, and even around the Treasury. “She can get everywhere,” one source told the Daily Mail. “You’d only have to bug her and you could find out half the Government’s secrets.”

Debt discovery

Don’t ask Ann Wiley of Gwinnett County, Ga., to use her bank card: She’s stretched a bit thin right now. Wiley first noticed problems with her Sun Trust bank account on June 11 when an online payment she attempted to make was declined. After being declined again at a local gas station later that day, Wiley decided to check her account balance. According to Sun Trust, her card was in the red—by $100 million. After logging into the Sun Trust website, Wiley found that not only was her checking account deep in the red, the bank said her savings balance was also negative $100 million. The next morning, she checked again and found that her checking debt had doubled. The problem cleared for Wiley after a few days when the bank discovered that a clerical error by the Georgia Department of Revenue had caused the error.

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