Seals occupy California beach as a result of Trump’s Shutdown


Click to enlargeJohn Dell’Osso/AP

❝ Across the nation this week, returning federal workers slogged through backlogs of voicemails, sifted through bursting email inboxes and tried to remember the name of the childhood pet at the beginning of their log-in passwords.

At Drakes Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, employees had a much bigger problem. Literally. Some of the elephant seal squatters weigh as much as a car.

Before the shutdown — Park officials…used a decidedly low-tech method to enforce an armistice between the mammal species: They waved blue tarps to annoy the seals away from the areas most popular with Homo sapiens.

But the federal government apparently does not regard the tarp-wavers as essential federal employees, so the workers who did it were among the 800,000 furloughed.

❝ During that time, according to the Chronicle, high tides and storms battered the seals’ normal habitat.

So the seals showed up at the suddenly deserted Drakes Beach, and they brought friends and apparently family, too. Seals give birth during winter, and the unoccupied Drakes Beach appears to be an excellent place to raise pups.

Hilarious. Unintended consequences abound throughout the administration of our first fake president.

Sometimes the Cops of the World are told to obey the rule of law

❝ The European Union has announced the setting up of a payment mechanism to secure trade with Iran and skirt US sanctions after Washington pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal last May.

The proposal of a financial instrument has been a key element in the EU’s strategy to keep Iran from quitting the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was signed to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.

❝ The new institution, named INSTEX – Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges – will allow trade between the EU and Iran without relying on direct financial transactions. It is a project of the governments of France, Germany and Britain and will receive the formal endorsement of all 28 EU members…

The mechanism is the first concrete step by the EU to counter Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal.

Overdue. Sometimes the Cops of the World have to be told to obey the rule of law.

Canadian Airport Coppers find 5000 leeches in a suitcase


Regis Duvignau/Reuters

The beagle patrolling Toronto Pearson International Airport was prowling for the subtle scents of contraband when an unexpected odor tickled its olfactory receptors. The source was the luggage of a Canadian man who had just returned from Russia.

The dog knew what to do next and plonked down next to the traveler—sending a signal to Canada Border Services Agency personnel that something was amiss.

Officials peered inside the man’s bags and found hundreds of containers filled with slimy, writhing objects — 5,000 live leeches. It was October 17, 2018, and the trusty beagle had helped authorities snag Canada’s first known leech “smuggler.”…

The incident, revealed here for the first time, is not yet part of the public record. The man was charged with illegally importing an internationally regulated species without the required permits, says André Lupert, manager of intelligence for the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate at Environment and Climate Change Canada…the man is awaiting a court hearing next month in the greater Toronto area. To protect his privacy and because the investigation is ongoing, the Canada Border Services Agency said they can’t share his name or other details of the incident—including the dog’s name or even the dog’s sex.

He has an excuse. He says he wasn’t trying to hide the fact he had a suitcase full of leeches. They are the sort of leeches used [rarely] for medical purposes; but, those are regulated and typically require an import permit.