Dispatches > Quick Takes
Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes


Issue: "The Battle for Africa," Feb. 8, 2014

Taking note

A would-be bank robber’s bad handwriting cost him the chance to make a score when a bank teller was unable to read his stickup note. Police say suspect Jamal Garrett entered an Antioch, Calif., Wells Fargo bank on Jan. 6 with intentions to rob the bank. Unable to read the scratch marks, the teller took the stickup note to a bank manager for help. But police say Garrett got cold feet during the delay and fled the scene. Only later did bank employees realize the note had been part of a robbery attempt. Officers later caught up with Garrett and charged him with the attempted robbery.

General dismay

If a Virginia city councilman gets his way, one Old Dominion city will partially turn its back on its Civil War history. Alexandria councilman Justin Wilson has proposed the repeal of a 1963 ordinance that requires new city streets that run north-south to be named for Confederate generals. The Northern Virginia city’s decades-old law also mandates new east-west streets be named for prominent persons or places in American history.

Attention getter

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Forget cash rewards. One Abigail Miller of Dayton, Ohio, knew exactly what sort of incentive it would take to find her lost dog: a case of beer and a pack of cigarettes. Miller, 23, came up with her unusual reward offer to attract local attention after the disappearance of her dog Zoro. The plan worked. More than a week later, a local man called Miller with information about Zoro’s whereabouts. He turned down the beer and the smokes. 

Animal farm

In Samoa, criticizing the wrong person could cost you not just a lot of money—but livestock too. A Samoan teenager learned this the hard way when he was hit with an unusual penalty for criticizing the island nation’s prime minister on social media. On Jan. 9, the family of the teenager was assessed a fine of $10,000, a pair of cows, and 30 packages of tinned fish as his punishment for poking fun at Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. Samoa enshrines free speech in its constitution, but political speech is not uniformly defended.

Right of return

At least it didn’t cost her a lot of money. The woman who bought a rare Renoir painting at a West Virginia flea market for $7 was ordered Jan. 10 to return it to the Baltimore Museum of Art where it had been stolen in 1951. Martha Fuqua of Virginia claims she picked up the 1878 painting by the French master while poking through merchandise at a flea market. U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that even if Fuqua had acted in good faith, she could not legally be in possession of the item, because it had been stolen. The Renoir painting is estimated to be worth about $100,000.

Bridge builder

Of all the basements in Quebec, Canada, Line Rainville’s might be the most out-of-this-world. For the past year, Rainville has been building a replica of Star Trek’s Enterprise set as a theme for her basement suite. The focal point is her television room, which is done up to look like the bridge of the Enterprise complete with a Spock cutout. But, as Trekkies might note, you can see one thing in Rainville’s basement that you won’t see in the Enterprise: a bathroom.

Banned bananas

Think bananas are for monkeys? Not all kinds. A zoo in southwest England has stopped feeding bananas to the primates because the fruit is making the animals unhealthy, say zoo officials. “Giving this fruit to animals is equivalent to giving them cake and chocolate,” Paignton Zoo nutritionist Amy Plowman said. The problem, according to Plowman, is that the bananas available to the zoo are cultivated for humans. “[They are] much higher in sugar and much lower in protein and fiber than most wild fruit because we like our fruit to be so sweet and juicy.” Plowman said the zoo has weaned its primates off fruit and replaced it with leafy green vegetables. 

Low-speed chase

Objective observers can find much to criticize in Laurie Ruth Chester’s alleged crime spree. But most of all, her getaway plan seemed ill-conceived. Police say Chester began on Jan. 6 when she allegedly took $13 out of a Subway restaurant tip jar to pay for her hoagie. She then caused a disturbance at a local Rite Aid before filling up a motorized shopping cart with merchandise at a Home Depot and piloting the vehicle out of the store without paying. Police engaged in a brief low-speed chase with Chester when they spotted her driving the cart on a nearby highway. 


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