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Quick Takes


Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Quick Takes
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In wet pursuit

Police in Canada resorted to the use of a paddleboard, a canoe, and a pedal boat to capture a robbery suspect who fled to Little Albro Lake near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Aug. 27. According to authorities, two men entered Hugo’s Bar & Grill at midday in Dartmouth, produced a weapon, and demanded employees turn over cash. Halifax police say the two men then fled the scene on a motorcycle. With police now in pursuit, the suspects crashed the bike and split on foot. Police wrangled one suspect on dry land, but the other managed to swim into the weed-infested Little Albro Lake. With no better options available, four officers commandeered what was available to them on the bank to continue the low-speed pursuit: Two officers gave chase in a slow-moving pedal boat, another secured a canoe, and a fourth officer mounted a paddleboard, windmilling his arms to provide thrust. Eventually officers caught the swimming suspect and placed him under arrest.

Swinging sensation

After 36 hours of swinging, a towheaded 12-year-old now has major bragging rights. Sean Lewis of East Rochester, N.Y., swung his way into the Guinness World Records on Aug. 27 by parking himself on the family swing set and refusing to quit swinging for a day and a half. Sean made his marathon swinging world record attempt in front of friends, family, and neighbors who stopped by to cheer him on. Allowed to take a 20-minute break every four hours, the boy padded his seat and kept snacks nearby to endure the marathon. “When I put the rope swings up years ago, he just fell in love with them,” father Matt Lewis told WSYR. “I think one day he was just thinking maybe, there might be a record associated with it and he looked it up and thought he could do it. So it’s just a love of swinging.”

Artless dodgers

A pair of armed robbers nearly made off with a landscape painting by famed French impressionist painter Claude Monet from a Dutch museum in August. According to police in the Netherlands, the would-be thieves made their attempt during business hours of the Zaans Museum just north of Amsterdam. Bystanders and museum staff both intervened, causing the two men to drop the painting and flee, leaving the scene on a black scooter. Police say gunshots were fired but reported no injuries. Museum staffers say they’re checking the artwork, The Voorzaan and the Westerhem, for damage. The museum purchased the painting for nearly $1.4 million in 2015.

Weapons of the future

The high-energy lasers and force fields from science fiction may be closer than we thought. Department of Defense officials tasked a squad of experts to envision the nature of military combat in the year 2060 and published the panel’s findings this summer: According to the Directed Energy Futures 2060 report, futuristic fighting will likely include laser weapons as well as electromagnetic devices meant to damage electrical systems. Scientists also studied theoretical particle beam weapons but indicated they might be most efficient aboard satellites in order to avoid interference from the atmosphere. Most of the world’s largest militaries already employ some kind of directed-energy weapon, typically as part of a system to shoot down missiles.

For cows only

A small herd of wild cattle refuses to relinquish a Corsican beach the animals took over during the time of pandemic restrictions. Local authorities say about 30 head of cattle seem determined not to share a sandy stretch of the Mare e Sol beach on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. Roaming cows are nothing new for Corsica. The large island has some 15,000 free-roaming cattle—some wild, some owned—that typically share the landscape with locals and tourists. But the prolonged absence of humans caused by stay-at-home orders in Corsica has turned some of the beasts ornery. People have reported several incidents across the island involving aggressive cattle, including a recent goring at the Mare e Sol beach. Local authorities have posted signs warning humans to give the normally docile creatures a wide berth until they reacclimatize to the presence of humans.

Competing carriers

Elon Musk has conquered electric cars and space flight. But it appears his satellite internet service is at the mercy of pigeons. Customers of Starlink, the internet-providing side project of SpaceX, are reporting spotty service and some are blaming it on pigeons attracted to rooftop Starlink dishes. To date, Starlink has shipped more than 100,000 Starlink terminals providing high-speed internet beamed from a constellation of satellites placed into orbit by Musk’s SpaceX. While testing the platform, University of Surrey professor Alan Woodward of the United Kingdom said he experienced several outages due to pigeons climbing on the rooftop dish. Woodward speculated the birds might confuse the gray dish for a birdbath.

Never too old

A New Jersey octogenarian became the oldest man to win a harness race in New Jersey after guiding his horse, Stick That Lip Out, to a two-length victory Aug. 27. Tony Dandeo, 86, earned his win at the Freehold Raceway. In harness racing the horse pulls a two-wheeled cart and is restricted to a fast trot or pace. The win marked Dandeo’s 234th in his decades-long horse racing career. His previous win, with a horse named Mickey Blu, came in April 2016.

Tire rights

A Michigan woman notched a victory over city hall when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 25 that a city’s use of tire chalk constituted a violation of her Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Alison Taylor earned 14 parking tickets in Saginaw, Mich., before taking to federal court with a novel argument. According to Taylor’s lawyers, marking the tires of parked cars amounts to a search without probable cause. “For nearly as long as automobiles have parked along city streets, municipalities have found ways to enforce parking regulations without implicating the Fourth Amendment,” Judge Richard Griffin wrote in the court’s 3-0 opinion in favor of Taylor. The appeals court, which sets precedent in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, sent the case back to a federal district court for final disposition.

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