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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Skirmantas Strimaitis (Skirmantas Strimaitis via AP)

Flying solo

Skirmantas Strimaitis didn’t have any problem finding a seat on a March 16 flight from Vilnius, Lithuania, to Bergamo, Italy. The reason: He was the only passenger on the 188-seat airplane. A travel agency had reportedly chartered the Boeing 737-800 to fly a group from Italy to Vilnius, and the airline sold one-way tickets for the return trip. Strimaitis, going to northern Italy for a ski trip, was the only person to buy one. The plane’s crew reportedly outnumbered him seven to one. The two-hour-plus flight was, he told The Associated Press, “a once in the lifetime experience.”


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Antarctica or bust

Flat-earthers may have something to talk about after a 2020 cruise returns to port. The Flat Earth International Conference announced it is organizing a cruise to Antarctica next year to prove the flatness of the Earth. Conspiracists who doubt the Earth is globe-shaped believe Antarctica lies at the edges of a flat, disk-like Earth forming an ice wall to prevent water from running over the edge. But sailing away from port and observing land fall below the horizon may pose a challenge for the passengers’ theories.


 

Twitter

Twitter

Elevated worries

A new elevator button inside the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration has state workers worried. In March, elevators in the Sacramento, Calif., building were retrofitted with a “RIOT” button placed above the normal floor selection buttons. According to state employees who work in the building, no one in California’s government explained the meaning or purpose of the new fixture, leading workers to speculate about building security. According to a State Department of General Services spokesman, the buttons were installed to indicate to passengers the elevators would not be descending to the ground level. The spokesman said the button reflected a new security protocol designed to secure the building in the event of a riot.


 

Handout

Handout

Spring fever

Bottled water maker Nestlé is heading to court to defend itself against a litigant claiming the company’s spring water doesn’t come from a spring. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer is allowing the case to proceed in his New Haven, Conn., courtroom despite a protest from Nestlé that the charge is frivolous. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say Nestlé has defrauded the public by billing its Poland Spring water as natural spring water. According to the plaintiffs, the nearly 1 billion gallons of Poland Spring water produced every year is just regular ground water, and they noted that the actual Poland Spring in Maine hasn’t produced bottled water in 50 years.


 

Billerica Animal Control

Billerica Animal Control

Caught in a can

A skunk in Billerica, Mass., apparently thought this Bud was for him. Animal control officers posted a photo on Twitter of a skunk that somehow got its head stuck in a beer can, saying the skunk “gives a new definition to the saying ‘skunked beer.’” They took the skunk to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton, Mass., where clinic workers planned to sedate the skunk, remove the can, and then monitor the skunk for a few days to make sure it could return to the wild.

 


 

Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

Coastal cat

For nearly 40 years, residents along France’s Brittany coast have been picking novelty Garfield telephones from off their beach. The problem began in the early 1980s when orange phones designed to look like the famous cartoon character began washing ashore now and again. It may have at first seemed to be a prank, but after 35 years volunteers with an anti-litter group named Ar Vilantsou decided to find the source of the now-vintage Garfield phones. In late March, the anti-litter campaigners solved the mystery: a lost shipping container broken open inside a sea cave accessible only during low tide. The container remains out of reach, however, meaning the Garfield phones will likely continue appearing on French coasts.


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Taking the long way

Passengers expecting to fly from London to Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 25 required an explanation from British Airways after their flight mistakenly landed in Edinburgh, Scotland. According to the airline, an incorrect flight plan led the pilots to believe they were supposed to fly north to the Scottish city rather than east to Germany. The pilots discovered the error when passengers complained after landing in Edinburgh. British Airways said the plane was quickly refueled and flown directly to the intended destination, causing a delay of more than three hours.

 


 

Handout

Handout

As good as their word

When Vincent Browning learned about Petco’s policy that “all leashed pets are welcome” at stores, he decided to test it. On March 18, Browning gingerly led his massive African Watusi steer named Oliver into the Petco store in Humble, Texas, to see if staff stood by the policy. Watusi cattle typically weigh 1,300 pounds. “They welcomed Oliver with open arms,” Browning wrote on his Facebook page. “The staff members here are always super friendly and courteous to us.” Inside the store, employees quickly moved to pet the animal and pose for photographs with its massive set of horns.


 

Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

John Sturgeon (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Supreme approval

Good news for amphibious hunters in Alaska: Hunting from a hovercraft received approval from the United States’ highest court. In a unanimous decision announced March 26, the Supreme Court overturned a National Park Service decision that had barred an Alaska man from hunting moose from a hovercraft. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the Park Service could not enforce its bans on Alaska’s Nation River, where John Sturgeon had been hunting, because the river is not public land. According to Kagan, the ruling “means Sturgeon can again rev up his hovercraft in search of moose.”