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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oh, do you know the muffin man?

An apparent prank at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas sent nearly 20 teachers, administrators, and support staff to the hospital complaining of nausea and dizziness. Police say an unidentified man in his late teens or early 20s (possibly a student) claiming to be on an Eagle Scout project carried a batch of muffins into school early before classes started on May 16 and left them in the teachers' lounge. But apparently the muffins were made of more than just flour and sugar. The daughter of an 86-year-old receptionist who landed in the hospital reported that her mother had tested positive for marijuana-a drug she had not been taking. Bad news for the prankster-the FBI is investigating.


A Missouri man learned a valuable lesson when he tried to become his own pest-control agent. Smoke 'em out sounds better as a figure of speech than it does as an actual pest-control method. But that's what 72-year-old C.W. Roseburr tried when he lit up a jerry-rigged kerosene torch in his attic to try to get rid of raccoons. His plan was even successful to a point. Mr. Roseburr successfully set the raccoon on fire. The raccoon, in turn, set the house on fire. "I had no idea this was going to happen," he told Channel 9 in Kansas City.

Prime this pump

Would you pull over for this deal? For about 90 minutes, a pump malfunction at a gas station in Hammond, Ind., on May 19 meant regular unleaded was on sale for 29 cents a gallon. Though the price wasn't advertised on the marquee, motorists who filled up their tanks on the cheap must have called around spreading the good news. Normally the station serves perhaps 10 customers per hour. But when the problem was solved and the cost of unleaded returned to $2.799 a gallon, station clerk Nida Tayyab said nearly 50 customers crowded the store demanding a return to cheaper prices. "I was really confused," she said. "It was so messed up. I can't explain here how it was."

Down the rabbit hole

Mark another victory for survival of the fittest. The last known male Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit died in captivity in May, leaving behind the only two known females of a species almost certainly headed for extinction. Biologists rounded up 16 of the ultra-rare rabbits from their natural habitat in Washington in 2001 and started a breeding program that proved unsuccessful, even with rabbits. "The loss is something we can never calculate," said Jon Marvel, executive director of the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. "Any time we lose a species it diminishes us all."

Just say no

What could a 49-year-old mother possibly have been thinking when she gave her adult daughter and the young woman's boyfriend a gram of cocaine each? That's what police asked Kimberly M. Wrublevski of Guilford, Vt., who pleaded innocent to felony cocaine delivery and misdemeanor cocaine possession. Authorities picked up the mom after she took her daughter to the hospital when she stopped breathing after doing several lines of the illicit drug. Her rationale? Police say Ms. Wrublevski wanted to allow her 22-year-old daughter to experiment with cocaine in a "safe place."

Dog's best friend

Memo from the State of Florida to its residents: Sure, alligator attacks have become shockingly common in the last month. But don't even think about defending your pets or loved ones. After a week of brutal alligator attacks in Florida that left three women dead and many dogs maimed and killed, Candy Frey knew just what to do when one of the killer reptiles tussled with her golden retriever: The East Manatee, Fla., woman got her handgun and put several rounds into the reptile, killing it. State authorities gave her a warning citation for hunting without a permit.