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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Chicken (Associated Press/Photo by Steven Senne)

Chickens of charity

Hearing about the plight of frigid chickens at a nearby estate, a Massachusetts knitting club turned its efforts toward making sweaters for the birds. The ladies from the Fuller Village retirement home in Milton, Mass., started knitting outerwear for the chickens of Wakefield Estate months ago to help them bear the cold New England winter. According to an official at the estate, egg production leaped thanks to the additional layer of warmth. The knitting club is now looking for a new project, but will likely pass on a proposal to make blankets for an elephant at an Indian refuge.


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Head-over-heels Aussie

Lee De Paauw will do anything for love. And that includes jumping into a crocodile-infested river in Queensland, Australia. On March 19, De Paauw did just that to impress a fellow hiker named Sophie. Led on by “10 cups of goon”—Aussie slang for box wine—and 18-year-old bravado, De Paauw leaped in and was immediately attacked by a crocodile that latched on to his arm and took him underwater. “I managed to get a good punch in on its eye, and then it let go,” De Paauw told Australia’s Today Show. Doctors say De Paauw should heal fine, and the girl promised to go with him to the movies following the stunt. “It was all worth it,” he said.


 

Felix Engelhardt/Flickr

Whanganui River (Felix Engelhardt/Flickr)

Rivers are people too

At long last, the Parliament of New Zealand has accomplished what prudent Kiwis have refused to do for 170 years: declare a river to be a person. On March 15 the nation’s legislative body passed a law officially recognizing the legal personhood of the Whanganui River, a body of water sacred to the nation’s Maori people. With personhood come rights, duties, and responsibilities—and the ability to be represented in legal proceedings. However, government officials did not say whether the river could be sued in slip-and-fall cases or drownings.


 

Chip Somodevilla

Grassley (Chip Somodevilla)

Strict sleeper

It may have been his first Supreme Court nomination hearing to preside over, but Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley didn’t want to upset his schedule. The 83-year-old Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee handed over his gavel at 8 p.m. on March 21 to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. His reason: Grassley has a 9 p.m. bedtime, and even the marathon hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch would not deter him. Grassley says the discipline of an early bedtime enables him to wake at 4 a.m. and run 3 miles.


 

Zaptik/iStock

Zaptik/iStock

Analog lessons

Kids these days can’t read clocks. That’s the conclusion of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma City, which ran a special after-school program March 10 to confront the issue. Volunteers with the program worked with local students as they struggled to correctly identify the time on an analog clock. Only 1 in 5 Oklahoma City kids ages 6 to 12 are able to tell the time, according to a survey.


 

LandLeader

LandLeader

Townwide sale

Chinese investors, California developers, and a New Jersey millionaire are among the many bidding to purchase an entire town in Douglas County, Ore. In March, listing agent Garrett Zoller publicized the sale of the 250-acre plot known as Tiller, Ore. The land abuts the South Umpqua River and comes with a post office, school, general store, and about 2 million board feet of timber. Zoller says the asking price is $3.85 million.


 

Handout

Handout

Suspicious star

The Cold War might be over, but the cold beer war has only begun. Reports from Budapest indicate the Hungarian government is poised to ban the Heineken beer logo from its country due to its signature red star. The proposed ban seeks to prohibit all Nazi or communist symbols, and one such communist symbol is a red star—like that found on Heineken’s green bottles. A spokesman for the Dutch company says the logo is apolitical. “The star is an old brewer’s symbol,” he said. “The points of the star stood for the four natural ingredients and the fifth point for the unknown magic of beer brewing.”


 

Handout

Handout

Flight risk

A hundred helium balloons, a lawn chair, and bravado: That’s how Canadian Daniel Boria earned himself a massive fine. A Calgary, Alberta, court fined the 27-year-old nearly $20,000 on March 17 for a 2015 incident over the city. On July 5, 2015, Boria strapped $10,000 worth of oversize helium balloons to his lawn chair and gently lifted off for an unsanctioned balloon flight over Calgary. He had planned to parachute into the famous Calgary Stampede rodeo. Instead, the balloonatic—as he’s locally known—missed his target and was arrested by police when he touched down.


 

Ramirez: Wilfredo Lee/AP • Sushi: Magone/iStock

Ramirez: Wilfredo Lee/AP • Sushi: Magone/iStock

Baseball with benefits

A Japanese baseball team found just the right contract provision to lure former major leaguer Manny Ramirez out of retirement: unlimited sushi. Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star with 555 major league homers, signed a contract in January to play for the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus. In March, The Boston Globe broke the details of the contract, revealing that Ramirez negotiated for the right to skip practice, to have a private driver, and to have a private hotel room. Ramirez’s contract also included an all-you-can-eat sushi provision.