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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Illustration by Krieg Barrie)

Cleanup on aisle 1

A grocery store is a common place to go to find food, but usually the shoppers are all human. Among the customers at the Safeway in Kings Beach, Calif., on Aug. 27 was a bear. Video footage taken by a shopper shows the California brown bear looking over produce and grabbing a white plastic container with its mouth. Adult California brown bears weigh up to 350 pounds. Shopper Rubi Nevarez told the Reuters news service the bear left the store peacefully: “The bear went out by itself after seeing all the commotion he caused.” A little over a week earlier, on Aug. 18, a bear reportedly entered the same grocery store and left with a bag of tortilla chips. Neither incident caused any injuries. A National Park Service statement says bears that become comfortable in human surroundings can become dangerous: “Sadly, bears that obtain human food may lose their natural fear of humans. Over time, they may become bold or aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food and become a threat to public safety.”

No canine lockdowns

Being a dog owner in Germany just became a bit more rigorous. Claiming German dogs deserve more walks, the nation’s agricultural minister said she is imposing rules that will require dog owners to take their animals outside for at least one hour per day. “Dogs are not cuddly toys,” German agricultural minister Julia Klöckner said. “They also have their own needs, which need to be taken into account.” The law, which will go into effect next year, will also prohibit dogs from being left home alone all day without several visits from a human to check in on the animal’s well-being.

It’s in the eyes

Ranchers in Botswana are adopting a new technique for protecting their livestock against ambush predators. An article in the journal Communications Biology found that cattle with eyes painted on their hindquarters were less likely to be attacked by lions and leopards. Ranchers began using the technique a few years ago while experimenting with methods of keeping their cattle safe without resorting to killing the big cats. According to researchers, the method is effective because it interrupts the ambush predators instinctual desire not to be seen. University of New South Wales biologist Neil Jordan conducted the four-year experiment in which none of the cows with eyes painted on the rear were killed by predators.

Ticket taker

Clearwater, Fla., police got an assist from a thief when he returned to the scene of the crime just a few hours after the theft. Police say Herbert McClellan stole $102 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets in the early morning hours of Aug. 18. Police say that after McClellan discovered one of the stolen tickets was a $30 winner, he returned to the same store a few hours later to try and cash in. A clerk at the convenience store called police, who arrested McClellan on charges of petit theft.

A fishy solution

With bookings flatlining, one Indian resort is getting creative to stay afloat. Officials with the Aveda Resort and Spa in Southern India have repurposed their nearly-500-foot pool into an impromptu fish farm. Aveda general manager Jyotish Surendran said the resort put 16,000 young pearl spot fish into the pool in June. “We plan to harvest by November and will export to the Middle East,” Surendran told the United Arab Emirates–based The National. Surendran said he hopes to get $40,000 for the fish at harvest. He plans to convert the farm back to a swimming pool when the resort reopens but hopes to continue the fish farming elsewhere on the property.

“Campfire” wine

August wildfires in California have this year’s vintage tasting more like campfire than cabernet. Reeve Wines owner Noah Dorrance told the San Francisco Chronicle that smoke from wildfires near his Healdsburg, Calif., winery has affected the fruit he grows. “We did a lot of grape sampling,” Dorrance told the Chronicle, “and just with the juice, you could already taste and smell this ashy, barbecued flavor, kind of like a campfire.” In a typical year, Reeve’s winery would process 125 tons of grapes from local producers. But this year, he’s only managed to process 6 tons, all harvested before the fires.

Once a decade

For the third time in 32 years, thieves have stolen a Dutch masterpiece. Police in the Netherlands say the 17th-century painting Two Laughing Boys With a Mug of Beer was taken from a Leerdam museum on Aug. 26. In 1988, thieves stole the Frans Hals painting valued at $17 million from the museum along with another work, but it was recovered three years later. In 2011, the painting was stolen again, but recovered after six months. Dutch police say the most recent theft occurred after burglars broke through the museum’s back door. Police responded to the alarm, but not before the art thieves had departed with the masterpiece.

Idle ambitions

A German university is offering applicants money for, literally, nothing. The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg says it will offer three “idleness grants” worth nearly $1,900 for applicants who were actively inactive. “Doing nothing isn’t very easy,” said Friedrich von Borries, a design theorist who came up with the grant idea. “We want to focus on active inactivity. If you say you are not going to move for a week, then that’s impressive. If you propose you are not going to move or think, that might be even better.” Von Borries insisted the scholarship wasn’t a joke but rather a demonstration that accomplishments in life might be overrated. Grant winners will have to write an experience report by January 2021, and the reports will become part of an art exhibit titled The School of Inconsequentiality: Towards a Better Life.

Left behind

Nebraska State Police say a “tank” abandoned on Interstate 80 in central Nebraska actually belongs to the South Dakota National Guard. Nebraska State Police discovered the vehicle abandoned on its trailer and posted a picture of it on the agency’s Twitter account, asking for help tracking down its owner. The vehicle was actually a bridge-laying machine owned by the 211th Engineer Company. Officials say they don’t know why a driver left the vehicle on the side of the interstate, but that they’re arranging to have it returned to the South Dakota unit.


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  • HP
    Posted: Fri, 09/11/2020 07:59 pm

    That ticket taker ... was he actually charged with petty theft?