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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Illustration by Krieg Barrie)

Nowhere and back again

Need proof of pandemic stir-craziness? A Qantas Airlines flight scheduled to go nowhere sold out in 10 minutes. The Australian airline announced the flight in September, saying it would take 134 passengers out of Sydney on a 787 Dreamliner to go sightseeing around south Australia before landing again in Sydney. While flying as low as 4,000 feet, the planned Oct. 10 flight was scheduled to pass over the Great Barrier Reef as well as Uluru. Despite paying $575 for coach and $2,765 for business class, would-be travelers snapped up tickets. Internal border controls during the coronavirus outbreak have meant Australians have been unable to tour their country. Qantas Capt. David Summergreene told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. he was “super stoked” to fly after being grounded for three months.

Subway secrets

A Metropolitan Transit Authority investigation has uncovered a secret lair for New York City subway employees to lounge and party during working hours. In a report released Sept. 24, MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said she had discovered a secret room beneath Grand Central Station that had been kitted as a “man cave.” According to Pokorny, the room—with beds, a television, a fridge, an air conditioner, and a microwave—was located behind a locked door inside a storage area underneath tracks in the station. The space even had internet access. Pokorny’s report said three MTA employees had used the secret break room, and it recommended all three be fired. The unnamed employees denied the charges.

Things they leave behind

In Thailand, government officials have set in motion an unusual plan to curb littering in the nation’s Khao Yai National Park. Environment minister Varawut Silpa-archa announced on Facebook he intended to send the trash to the homes of tourists who litter in the park. “Your trash—we’ll send it back to you,” Silpa-­archa warned in the post. Officials say they have already boxed up and returned litter to one group of campers by mail. Littering in the park is also punishable by up to five years behind bars.

Sportsmanlike conduct

Just moments before crossing the finish line in third place, British triathlete James Teagle missed a turn and bumped into a metal barrier. Meanwhile, Spanish triathlete Diego Mentrida easily passed him to gain third place at the Santander Triathlon held in Spain on Sept. 13. But instead of crossing the finish line, Mentrida stopped short and allowed Teagle to retake his position and finish third. The pair shook hands just before Teagle crossed the line. After the race, Mentrida said the British athlete deserved the finish. “This is something my parents and my club taught me since I was a child,” Mentrida later said on Instagram. “In my view it should be a normal thing to do.” Race organizers gave Mentrida an honorary third prize of nearly $350 although he technically finished fourth.

Eeek

A mother from Australia’s Northern Territory awoke to an unpleasant surprise in the early morning hours of Sept. 15. Thinking she had rolled over onto a hair clip, 42-year-old Emily Hinds reached for the clip, still drowsy. “Then I felt it, and it was smooth and long,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Attached to Hind’s head wasn’t a hair clip but a snake. Once Hind turned on the light, she and her husband were able to confirm a snake had bitten her forehead. In the commotion, the nonvenomous snake released, and the couple eventually caught and pitched it out a window and back into the wild.

Owning the alley

Sara Lyons has finally scored the 300-point game many bowlers only dream about. Lyons bowled a “no-tap 300” at Kennedy Lanes in McKees Rocks, Pa., knocking down at least nine pins in every frame—a first for the establishment, according to employees. But the really surprising part was Lyons’ age: She is 96 years old. “It’s hard for a woman to do that, especially seniors,” Lyons admitted to KDKA. Lyons, who has bowled since age 27, credited God, good health, family, and a positive outlook for her prowess in the lane. “I just have to keep going. I won’t give up. I won’t give up no matter how old I get.”

BB gun ban

A suburban New Orleans elementary school suspended a 9-year-old for six days when his math teacher saw what was lurking in his bedroom while on camera during a virtual lesson. The offensive object? A BB gun. Fourth grader Ka Mauri Harrison admits he had a BB gun in his room during remote learning on Sept. 11. The young pupil said his brother tripped over the gun during a virtual math lesson, so Ka Mauri picked it up and placed it next to him before getting back to his work. “They are treating it as if he brought a weapon to school,” the boy’s father, Nyron Harrison, told NOLA.com. “They told me he would be facing expulsion.” According to district policy, Ka Mauri’s bedroom where he attends online school is school property for the purposes of the district’s firearms policy. The family said it has hired a lawyer and plans to appeal in order to reverse the suspension.

Kite kidnaps child

The gusty winds were a little too much for a 3-year-old girl at a kite festival in Taiwan on Aug. 30. As winds increased at the International Kite Flying Festival in Hsinchu, Taiwan, part of the unnamed girl’s kite wrapped around her body and lifted her nearly 100 feet into the air. After about 30 anxious seconds, crowd members were able to take control of the kite and bring the child back to terra firma with only minor cuts and scratches. Festival organizers promptly ended the event after the incident.

Nose for explosives

A large, gray rat has become the surprising recipient of a gold medal from a U.K. charity. Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, earned the medal from the veterinary charity PDSA for “life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia.” Trained to sniff out unexploded landmines and light enough not to set them off, the 7-year-old rat has discovered 39 landmines in Cambodia and alerted his handlers to them. PDSA says the Asian nation has up to 3 million undiscovered landmines left over from armed conflict that began in the 1970s.