Dispatches > Quick Takes
U.S. Coast Guard/AP

Quick Takes


Issue: "Blurred Vision," April 5, 2014

Stray offshore

If every dog has his day, then KC’s day was March 4. The 14-year-old mutt got loose from owner Jodi Benchich on Feb. 22 when his leash broke during a walk outside their suburban Detroit home. From there, KC took off and Benchich had all but given up hope. But 10 days later on March 4, the United States Coast Guard got a report of something moving out on the ice of Lake St. Clair. Hours later, crew members managed to pull KC in from his icy perch four miles from shore. The dog was soon reunited with Benchich and is expected to make a full recovery.

Word winners

You won’t find many words that Kush Sharma or Sophia Hoffman can’t spell. The two Kansas City–area students competed to a draw during a February Jackson County Spelling Bee. Kush, a seventh-grader, and Sophia, a fifth-grader, spelled word after word correctly until event organizers exhausted their official word list. Then, after nailing 20 more words pulled from a dictionary, the contest was declared a stalemate. The duo was called back on March 8 to determine a winner. But after 28 more rounds of spelling words like boodle and slobber, the judges couldn’t stump either of the young contestants. Finally in the 29th round, Sophia slipped up on stifling. Once Kush spelled that one correctly, he won the bee and earned a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Feline frenzy

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One Portland, Ore., family had to dial 911 after an animal chased them into a bedroom threatening to attack every time they attempted to exit. But it wasn’t a bear, a snake, or even an unruly dog that chased the family into hiding on March 9. Lee Palmer, Teresa Parker, and their 7-month-old infant were barricading against Lux, their 22-pound housecat. According to Palmer, the black-and-white Himalayan went crazy after scratching their child’s face. Hiding in the back bedroom, Palmer phoned police and told them the feline had a history of violence. Officers arrived and “were able to outwit the Himalayan, who climbed on to the top of the refrigerator, and get a snare around him and safely get the cat behind bars in its crate,” Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson told KGW.com.

Turning a new leaf

More than 100 years after its adoption, the flag of New Zealand may be bound for a redesign. Prime Minister John Key said he’ll push for a new flag if voters give him a third term in office after parliamentary elections in September. According to Key, the flag, with its Union Jack on a blue field, represents New Zealand’s colonial history, not its modern station. “We want a design that says ‘New Zealand’ in the same way that the maple leaf says ‘Canada,’ or the Union Jack says ‘Britain,’ without a word being spoken, or a bar of those countries’ anthems being heard,” Key said. The prime minister noted he’d like a new New Zealand flag to incorporate the silver fern leaf, but he’s open to all ideas.

Hands-off manager

Fretful about the growth of “barbaric” etiquette among his charges, a British general has ordered his troops to cease eating food with their hands. Major General James Cowan, who heads a force of nearly 25,000 soldiers and officers, sent a letter to a few of his top officers asking them to enforce fork-and-knife dining and the practice of standing when a commanding officer enters the room, and to scrub the officers’ prose free of unnecessary acronyms. In an unsigned response from junior officers dated March 6, the British officers promised to correct the final two issues, but said eating sandwiches with a knife and fork would just be silly.

Warmed over

Chipotle has a threat for all global warming ne’er-do-wells: Fix the climate or lose the guacamole. The burrito restaurant chain said in its recently released annual report that if avocado prices continue to rise—a fact the company blames on global warming—Chipotle will be forced to remove guacamole from the menu. The company also said one or more of its salsas could be on the chopping block if climate change isn’t mitigated.

Behind the Times

One recent newspaper correction should have caught readers’ eyes: not for the egregiousness of the error but for the length of time elapsed from original publication. On March 4, The New York Times corrected a misspelled name from its Jan. 20, 1853, edition. The original article misspelled the name of Solomon Northup in a story about the author’s work 12 Years a Slave. The error caught the attention of a few eagle-eyed readers who read the 161-year-old Times story after a film based on Northup’s work won an Academy Award on March 2.


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