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Quick Takes


Kane Tanaka at a celebration for her 117th birthday Kyodo/AP

Quick Takes
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Honors by age

The world’s oldest living human is preparing to carry the Olympic flame ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year. Provided she’s in good health and the weather permits, Kane Tanaka, a 118-year-old retiree from Japan, will carry the Olympic torch in May as it makes its way across the country. Although Tanaka will do most of her route from a wheelchair, her family said she’s determined to walk at least a portion. To that end, members of her family gave Tanaka a new pair of sneakers for her birthday in January. Grandson Eiji Tanaka told CNN that when his grandmother is done carrying the torch, she’ll set her eyes on breaking the record for oldest person ever to live, a title held by a French woman who lived to age 122.

Cat in the cabin

A Sudanese airliner flying out of Khartoum had to turn back after pilots discovered an unlikely cockpit invader. According to a local report in the Al-Sudani newspaper, a stowaway cat attacked one of the Tarco Aviation pilots, causing undisclosed injuries about 90 minutes into a flight bound for Doha, Qatar. The pilots were so rattled they turned the plane around and flew back to Sudan’s capital city. Authorities believe the cat may have gotten into the cockpit the night before the flight while crews cleaned the plane.

Cat on a fast train roof

Cats may have nine lives, but transit officials in London didn’t want to risk it. Workers at London’s Euston station became aware of a cat sitting atop a high-speed train just minutes before it was scheduled to depart on March 2. Transit workers decided to take the train out of commission rather than take the cat on what would have been a 125 mph ride. With passengers transferred to another train, station workers spent 2½ hours persuading the cat to come down from its perch atop the train near 25,000-volt power lines. “Thankfully curiosity didn’t kill this cat,” station manager Joe Hendry told the Milton Keynes Citizen. “We’re glad it avoided using up one of its nine lives thanks to the swift action of the station team and Avanti West Coast staff.”

Yard sale treasure

On March 17, Sotheby’s auctioned off a rare and valuable 15th-century Chinese artifact discovered at a Connecticut yard sale last year. According to Sotheby’s, the unnamed buyer saw the small porcelain bowl up for sale during a yard sale outside of New Haven and paid the $35 asking price. Later the buyer emailed pictures to Sotheby’s, asking if the blue-and-white porcelain was worth anything. In fact, the antique is one of only seven known such bowls that date back to the early Ming Dynasty. The auction house sold the Chinese valuable for a final price of $721,800, including fees.

Lifted pavement

Residents of a southern England village awoke March 2 to discover a sidewalk had been stolen. Police in Storrington, U.K., said they were poring over CCTV footage to try to identify the villain responsible for taking dozens of stone paving slabs from a sidewalk. The heist flummoxed Storrington residents. One local told the BBC that whoever had stolen the sidewalk had “made a right old mess.”

Bring your own bottle

Government officials in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are cracking down on a local trend of adults drinking coffee and other beverages out of baby bottles. Regulators responsible for overseeing the Dubai economy published a directive banning adult bottle guzzling in cafés, restaurants, and bars. “Such indiscriminate use of baby bottles is not only against local culture and traditions, but the mishandling of the bottle during the filling could also contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement. Dubai’s commercial compliance and consumer protection officials say that social media users have promoted the bottle-drinking trend in the Islamic nation.

Voter error

U.S. House Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, took to Twitter to explain why he seemingly bucked his party in order to vote in favor of a Democrat-sponsored police reform bill on March 3. When the votes were counted, Gooden appeared to be the only Republican voting in favor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which sought to end racial profiling, bar some no-knock warrants, and institute other reforms. Gooden, who represents a conservative district outside of Dallas, said in a since-deleted tweet that he accidentally pressed the wrong button during the congressional vote. To correct the error, Gooden submitted a handwritten request to change his vote. The bill still passed the House along party lines.

Smoking for shots?

In North Carolina, a pack a day may get you to the head of the COVID-19 vaccine line. State residents who could vouch that they’ve smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime would become eligible for a coronavirus vaccine beginning March 24. That’s the day when, according to state officials, North Carolina residents with certain high-risk medical conditions become eligible for the shots—including current and former smokers who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes. The announcement prompted some people on Twitter to speculate that North Carolina’s policy will incentivize nonsmokers to burn through five packs simply in order to qualify for the vaccine.

Pet reunification

A Los Angeles–area animal shelter called a local man in February to tell him good but hard-to-believe news: Someone found his long-lost cat. “I was skeptical. I thought, must be a mistake,” said the man, identified only as Charles. That’s because his pet cat Brandy ran away in 2006 when she was just a kitten. “Maybe there’s a 1-in-a-million chance it’s Brandy,” he said. “But after 15 years, it’s highly unlikely.” But the microchip embedded in Brandy wasn’t lying. Neither shelter staff nor Charles can explain how Brandy survived on her own for so long. Charles suspects she had been cared for at some point. But Brandy’s malnourished body and unkempt nails suggested it had been a while since she was in the care of a human. Charles, who already keeps two other cats in his one-bedroom apartment, said he planned on setting up the aging feline with his nearby sister, where he could visit when he pleased.

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