Dispatches > Quick Takes
Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun/Landov

Quick Takes


Issue: "Believing in Iraq," May 17, 2014

Bird blockade

The rubberneckers can’t be blamed for taking a long look. The cause of the 34th Street traffic jam in Gainesville, Fla., on April 17 was a bald eagle that decided to take a 15-minute pit stop in the middle of the road. Formerly endangered, bald eagles are still protected by the Lacey Act that makes it illegal to take or possess them. According to a witness, the bird had been locked in a fight with a pair of crows when it got clipped by a passing vehicle. From there, the eagle stood in the street attentive—but halting traffic—for a quarter hour. As soon as animal control arrived on the scene to take the bird into custody, the bald eagle flew away.

Rich diet

Operating on a man complaining of stomach pain, doctors in India discovered he was a gold mine. The 63-year-old Indian man, unidentified by authorities, sought help from doctors at a hospital in Delhi on April 7, saying he had accidentally swallowed a plastic bottle cap. Subsequent X-rays left doctors questioning exactly what the man had ingested. The picture became clearer when, during surgery, physicians fished out 12 bars of gold from the man’s stomach, each weighing more than an ounce. Doctors turned over the evidence to anti-smuggling investigators.

Explosive situation

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Call it giving you more bang for your buck. A rental car agency at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska accidentally rented out a car on April 21 that was being used by airport police in a training exercise for bomb sniffing dogs. The problem: The car still had explosives in it. What followed was an hours-long frantic search for the bomb-laden vehicle by authorities whose worries were not allayed by junior officers’ claims that only a small amount of explosives were inside the lost car. According to Chief Jesse Davis, officers located the rental car customer before he had driven very far.

Crossed out

Since the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, it hasn’t been difficult to cross the Czech-German border. But someone forgot to tell the deer. A Czech study of the local deer population found that red deer still will not cross the border—which once had three parallel electrical fences and was patrolled by armed guards. None of the red deer would have been alive during the Cold War, but researchers say the deer follow in the footsteps of their elders, who would have avoided the fences. “Fawns follow mothers for the first year of their life and learn from them where to go,” biologist Pavel Sustr told the Associated Press. The researchers tracked the deer by using GPS-equipped collars.

Mystery caller

On one end of the phone was heavy breathing. On the other end was a confused emergency services operator. A United Kingdom emergency operator received the confusing call on April 17. After a short while, he dispatched police to the Bucks County residence, where they found not an emergency but rather a Belgian Malinois dog panting with the phone in his mouth. Police were able to confirm with owner Mary Amos-Cole that her dog Leighton had indeed accidentally phoned police by munching down on buttons while he was attempting to play keep-away with his owner. “It was obviously Leighton panting as he was running around with the phone in his mouth,” owner Amos-Cole said. “He just wants you to chase him, and that’s what I did for a bit.”

Hector’s choice

For months, 9-year-old Hector Montoya of the Dallas area had been saving his meager allowance to purchase a PlayStation 4, Sony’s newest gaming system. But then, Montoya found a better investment. After hearing about a mother and her 6-year-old child killed in a house fire, Hector decided there was a better use of his $300. So with the help of the Grand Prairie, Texas, Fire Department, Hector purchased about 100 smoke detectors and had them installed on April 19 in homes around his neighborhood that didn’t have one. “Saving a life,” Hector told CBS News, “is more important.” 

Animal house

More than students and teachers were hanging around one Kyrgyzstan school this year. According to reports, up to 30 snakes have taken up residence in a small high school serving 144 students near Osh in the country’s western portion. The snakes began appearing at the school in early spring, and an attempt by locals to drive the cold-blooded animals from the building were unsuccessful. The problem forced administrators to close down the building.

Feline friendly

At least one entry in the Milan Design Week furniture show in early April proved to be the cat’s meow. With a focus on catitecture—pieces of furniture designed for simultaneous human and feline use—Chinese designer Ruan Hao unveiled a desk that should leave both species satisfied. The desk’s flat top affords a human an ideal work surface, while the nooks, crannies, and tunnels below the desk’s surface promise to keep your cat occupied and off your laptop.


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