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Quick Takes

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Quick Takes
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Goats of New York

New York City’s Riverside Park has new gardeners to maintain its green space: five goats. Riverside Park Conservancy officials let the goats loose into the park’s north end July 14 to munch down vegetation—including poison ivy—that has proven too difficult for workers to control. The goats will spend the summer in the park feasting on the flora. The conservancy first brought goats to the park in 2019, calling their segment of land “Goatham.” The pandemic canceled plans to bring the goats back in 2020. “Putting them to work in Goatham is like treating them to an all-you-can-eat buffet,” Riverside Park Conservancy President Dan Garodnick told reporters at a news conference. “It’s healthy for the goats and it’s good for the environment.”

Goldfish galore

Dropping a line into some Minnesota lakes may get you more than bass, crappie, or walleye. According to officials in Burnsville, Minn., local residents have been dumping pet goldfish into local lakes. “Please don’t release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!” city officials posted on Twitter in July. “They grow bigger than you think and contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants.” Burnsville and a neighboring city, Apple Valley, contracted Carp Solutions to survey the lakes and determine the extent of the goldfish infestation. The aquatic pest management company found goldfish the size of footballs. Last year in nearby Carver County, county workers removed between 30,000 and 50,000 goldfish in one day from local lakes.

Rain on demand?

In an attempt to make it rain, officials in the parched United Arab Emirates are exploring using drones to zap clouds with lasers. For years, the government has invested millions of dollars in rain-enhancement projects to cope with the 4-inch average rainfall the nation receives. On July 18, the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology posted a pair of videos to Instagram showing a heavy rainfall the agency said was prompted by its drones. According to the agency, the drones fire lasers into clouds, charging water vapor with electricity and prompting water droplets to coalesce—which promotes precipitation.

Off-duty award

A police union in California has come under scrutiny after giving its 2020 Officer of the Year award to a cop who didn’t work a day in 2020. During a June 29 ceremony, the El Monte Police Officers Association gave its yearly award to Officer Carlos Molina, and city and state officials helped the award winner celebrate. But Molina spent from September 2019 to April 2021 on paid administrative leave after higher-ups within the department accused him of spending a year investigating a simple domestic abuse case with little to show for it and bilking the city out of 42 hours of overtime pay. Text messages between El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona and a concerned city councilman published July 19 in the San Bernardino Sun revealed the mayor declined to cancel the ceremony for Molina even after learning of the circumstances. “[Union officials] have invited family members and ordered a cake,” Ancona said, according to the Sun.

Parrot Potty Mouths

Workers at a British zoo have been forced to separate five parrots due to the birds’ salty language. Staffers at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park said they noticed curse words emanating from the small group of African gray parrots for months. Though no visitors complained, staff said patrons, including children, could hear the birds using the four-letter words. According to zoo head Steve Nichols, the foul-mouthed animals rile one another up. “We are quite used to parrots swearing, but we’ve never had five at the same time,” Nichols said in July. “Most parrots clam up outside, but for some reason these five relish it.”

Dead all over

According to the IRS, a 25-year-old woman living in New Jersey hasn’t been alive for seven years. Samantha Dreissig says she’s spent years trying to convince the federal government she’s still among the living. “The last actual person I had spoken to from the IRS—and I quote, ‘Wow, you’re dead all over our system,’” she told CBS New York. Dreissig said her troubles began when her mother died. She believes someone at the IRS accidentally marked her as deceased instead of her mother. The mix-up has made paying taxes hard and has caused problems for her father, who was told he could not claim a dead person as a dependent. Before the pandemic, Dreissig even had an in-person meeting with IRS officials, who promised to resolve the issue. More than a year after that meeting, Dreissig is still waiting. “I honestly want the IRS to know that I’m alive, kicking,” she said.

Porky panic

Bacon lovers in the Golden State may want to get their crispy breakfast dish while there’s still time—or while they can afford it. Under a new animal protection law voters approved in 2018 and which the state will begin enforcing next year, California consumers will only be able to buy pork from farmers and suppliers who keep their breeding pigs in pens at least 24 square feet in size. The problem? Only 4 percent of U.S. hog facilities meet that new standard. In Iowa, a major pork-producing state, sows typically live in 20-square-foot group pens. With California farmers producing only one-fifth of the pork consumed in the state, Californians could find the meat more expensive or in short supply come January. Jeannie Kim, owner of SAMS American Eatery in San Francisco, worries the new rules will undercut her business. “Our No. 1 seller is bacon, eggs, and hash browns,” she said. “It could be devastating for us.”

A dog’s lucky day

For one Wisconsin family, a local television news segment turned out to be a revelation. Two years after the unnamed family’s pet dog ran away, a member of the family happened to see a pet adoption segment on his local Fox affiliate. The viewer instantly recognized the dog featuring in the segment: It was Payday, his family’s lost pet. The family got in touch with the Wisconsin Humane Society after calling the station and on July 21 was reunited with the long-lost pooch.


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