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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes


Right to swing arms

A federal district court judge has overturned a New York state ban on nunchucks, citing the Second Amendment. From her courthouse in Brooklyn, Judge Pamela Chen issued the ruling Dec. 14, saying the 1974 New York law violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. State lawmakers passed the nunchuck prohibition out of fear that the proliferation of kung fu movies of the early 1970s would make nunchucks a popular street weapon.


Lefteris Pitarakis/AFP/Getty Images

Panos Kammenos (Lefteris Pitarakis/AFP/Getty Images)

Spare a dime?

Fashioning himself a modern Themistocles, Greek defense minister Panos Kammenos has turned to the demos for help funding a new navy. With government coffers dry, Kammenos has promised to donate a portion of his salary to building “new frigates and a flagship.” He’s hoping Greek citizens do the same. Kammenos said he plans to open a bank account on Jan. 1 for Greeks to donate toward the specific purpose of building war vessels.




Lunch money debt

There will be no more free lunches in Cranston, R.I. In a letter to parents in December, Cranston Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Raymond Votto announced he planned on handing $45,859 worth of unpaid school lunch bills over to a collection agency. Elementary-age students can eat for $2.50 per day while middle- and high-school students get charged $3.25. Since September 2016, the school district has forgiven over $95,000 of student lunch debt. Now, if parents owe more than $20 and haven’t paid down the balance within 60 days, they can expect a call from collections agency Transworld Systems.



Cockroaches at a breeding facility in Xichang (REUTERS/Newscom)

Useful roaches

A Chinese city is experimenting with using cockroaches to solve a burgeoning waste management problem. Jinan, which reported a population of 6.8 million during the 2010 census, has been feeding colonies of roaches up to 50 tons of food waste daily in efforts to cut down on mounting concerns about waste management. At the end of the roaches’ life cycle, the insects are gathered up and fed to pigs. “It’s like turning trash into resources,” one local official told the Reuters news service.


Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Auto return

An accidental car thief demonstrated Canadian politeness after discovering he’d broken the law. Apparently confused by identical cars parked side-by-side in a Nova Scotia, Canada, parking lot on Dec. 9, the man managed to use his own key fob to open and start the wrong car. The man only discovered the mistake after driving down the road several miles. To rectify the situation, the unidentified man returned the vehicle—but not before filling it up with gasoline.


Handout/Lawerence County Sheriff/AP

David Berry (inset) (Handout/Lawerence County Sheriff/AP)

Cinematic solution

One Missouri judge devised a creative punishment for a Missouri resident convicted of poaching deer. After pleading guilty to taking deer heads and leaving bodies to rot, David Berry was sentenced to one year in the Lawrence County jail and ordered to watch the 1942 animated classic Bambi once a month for the duration of his sentence. The movie depicts the story of a young deer whose mother is killed by hunters.



Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Thumbing a ride

Kentucky inmate Allen Lewis managed to escape custody while being transported between county jails on Dec. 18 and then run to a nearby highway. At the highway, he attempted to thumb a ride to freedom. The attempt was both a success and a failure: A motorist stopped for him—but the motorist happened to be a campus officer at nearby Morehead State University. The officer saw the handcuffs on Lewis’ wrists and promptly drove the escaped man back to jail.


Grand Central Oyster Bar

Rick Antosh (at left) (Grand Central Oyster Bar)

High-class meal

A New Jersey man’s lunch in New York ended up paying for itself when he found some expensive detritus in his food. Digging into his oyster pan roast at a restaurant inside Grand Central Terminal, Rick Antosh felt something funny in his mouth. “I didn’t bite on it, but I sensed something was odd,” Antosh told CBS New York. “I thought maybe it was a filling or a tooth.” Instead, the stray chunk was a large pearl worth thousands of dollars. According to the restaurant’s chef, it was only the second time in his 28-year career one of his restaurant’s oysters contained a pearl. For his part, Antosh said he plans on keeping the pearl rather than selling it.


Andrea Morales/The New York Times/Redux

Becky Linebaugh and Cliff Farmer (Andrea Morales/The New York Times/Redux)

Momentous abstention

If only Cliff Farmer had voted. The Hoxie, Ark., City Council candidate had planned on voting in the December runoff between himself and incumbent Alderwoman Becky Linebaugh, but a trip kept him from the polls. As it turned out, he and Linebaugh tied at 223 votes apiece in the runoff election. That meant Farmer and Linebaugh needed to break the tie, according to local law, by rolling dice at the Lawrence County Courthouse on Dec. 13. The incumbent Linebaugh rolled a six, while Farmer tossed a four, handing the race to the incumbent.