Skip to main content

Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

A palm oil farmer (WAHYUDI/AFP/Getty Images)

Oil for ships

Short on cash, Malaysian officials would like to know if international arms dealers would accept palm oil for payment. Seeking to update its navy, the Malaysian government reached out to China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran to see if those nations would barter ships for palm oil. Malaysia and Indonesia control roughly 85 percent of the world palm oil trade. “If they are prepared to accept a palm barter trade, we are very willing to go in that direction,” Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu told Reuters. “We have a lot of palm oil.”


Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Stolen and taken

A quick getaway was foiled when a burglar discovered his car had been stolen during his robbery. Kennewick, Wash., police say William Kelley called police on Aug. 25 to report that his 1992 Chevy pickup truck had been stolen. Police reviewed security footage from nearby and discovered an unidentified man had found Kelley’s keys in the truck’s cabin and had driven off with the truck. Further review of the tape led police to discover that Kelley had left his car allegedly to break into a nearby business. Authorities arrested Kelley and charged him with burglary.



The German autobahn (iStock)

Hide the keys

A German boy’s need for speed has landed him in mandatory counseling. Twice in one week, German police caught an 8-year-old boy speeding down the autobahn after stealing his mother’s Volkswagen Golf. After exceeding 85 mph during his Aug. 21 joy ride, the boy pulled to the side of the road when he felt unsafe. During a reprise performance on Aug. 23, the boy reached 110 mph and later crashed the sedan into a parked trailer. There were no injuries in the accident, but the car was badly damaged. Police have ordered the child into counseling sessions.



Matt Crossick/PA Wire/AP  

Matt Crossick/PA Wire/AP  

Down the drain

Organizers of a festival in England are urging those at the festival not to clog campsite toilets with tents and sleeping bags. The notice went out to patrons of the Reading Festival outside London, which began on Aug. 28. Engineers responsible for maintaining the festival’s toilets said that in past years patrons have put all sorts of items into the latrines. “We’ve previously had to drag out tents, sleeping bags and foil blankets, along with smaller items like mobile phones, beer cans and clothes so they don’t clog up our machines,” an official with Thames Water told Berkshire Live. 




Ear full of trouble

What Susie Torres thought was water in her ear turned out to be far more dangerous. Torres said she began feeling an odd sensation in her ear on Aug. 20. Later, a doctor examining the Kansas City, Mo., resident discovered a highly venomous brown recluse spider in Torres’ ear. Doctors say Torres remained calm when four medical professionals gathered to give her the bad news. Failing to flush the spider with water, a doctor managed to pull the arachnid from her ear in one piece. “The nurses said it was dead, but they might’ve just said that so I wouldn’t freak out,” Torres said. Torres has vowed to henceforth sleep with earplugs.



Lisa Rathke/AP

Lisa Rathke/AP

Back in the pen

Farmers in Vermont narrowly escaped a disaster when they were able to coax nearly 250 pigs back into their enclosure on Aug. 29. The pigs, which escaped from a farm in Orange, Vt., in July, had been causing damage to Orange and the property of nearby landowners. After weeks of futile attempts to round up the animals, farmer Walter Jeffries finally devised a plan to coach the 50 adults and 200 piglets back onto his property by laying out a trail of hot dog buns. Although the plan worked, Jeffries still owes the town more than $81,000 in fines from Orange for not properly controlling his animals.


Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona

An officer with a robbery kit (Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona)

Clothing connection

A new idea to help robbed tourists has been a hit at Barcelona’s beaches. Officials in the Spanish city rolled out a plan in 2016 to provide clothes to beachgoers whose belongings are stolen while they swim in the Mediterranean. As of August, police officers had handed out 174 robbery kits to beachgoers this year. According to police, most of the kits are distributed to denizens of the city’s nudist beaches. The official robbery kit includes a T-shirt with the City Council logo, shorts, flip-flops, and a public transportation ticket.





That settles it

Energy drink maker Red Bull has agreed to settle out of court with a pair of customers who claimed they were fooled by misleading Red Bull marketing. According to a February lawsuit filed in Canada, Michael Attar and other customers say they felt misled by Red Bull’s claim to “give you wings.” Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege they could neither fly nor felt the benefits of any improved performance after drinking Red Bull. To settle the case in August, the drink maker agreed to pay $850,000 to the class action plaintiffs.




The Derry time capsule (WMUR)

Silent message

Librarians in Derry, N.H., suffered a setback when the opening of a time capsule proved disappointing. According to library director Cara Potter, the 50-year-old time capsule was empty. Potter struggled to explain the empty combination safe, saying it had been on a shelf undisturbed for years. Before that, the time capsule had been kept safe at a city government building. Librarians say they know nothing about the time capsule except that it was created in 1969 to be opened in 2019.