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Weird National Briefs (08/12/2020)

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Purr-fect diplo-meow-cy

LONDON (AP) — Time spent in lockdown was just superb for Palmerston, the chief mouser at the U.K. Foreign Office.

It was so good, in fact, that the cat has decided to leave sorting out international affairs to the human diplomats and retire to the countryside after four long, hard years on the job.

Palmerston made it official in a letter sent in his name to Simon McDonald, the office’s permanent under-secretary, which explained that he wanted more time “away from the limelight.”

“I have found life away from the front line relaxed, quieter, and easier,” a letter signed with two paw prints said. It was posted on Twitter.

Palmerston, who is named after the longest-serving British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, arrived in April 2016 as a rescue cat. He had plenty of company, though sometimes less than smooth diplomatic relations with Larry, cat-in-residence at nearby 10 Downing Street. The two were sometimes seen fighting in the street outside the British prime minister’s home.

The letter from Palmerston, or @DiploMog’ as he is known on Twitter, said his service showed that “even those with four legs and fur have an important part to play in the U.K.’s global effort.”

“I have been delighted to meet representatives from all over the world, and I hope I have done you proud in putting the U.K.’s best foot or paw forward in such interaction,” the letter said.

His colleagues said he would be missed.

Jon Benjamin, director of the department’s Diplomatic Academy, wished him a “very happy retirement.″

“He left us a slightly chewed dead mouse next to my desk in @UKDipAcademy once,″ he tweeted, adding “we were of course not very grateful.”

TME – Such is life in the fur-eign service.

This little piggy stole a laptop

BERLIN (AP) — A German nudist had the last laugh after giving chase to a wild boar that had run off with a bag containing his laptop.

Pictures posted on social media show the naked man running after a sow and her two piglets to the mirth of fellow bathers at Berlin’s Teufelssee, or Devil’s Lake.

Adele Landauer, an actor and coach who says she took the pictures, wrote that the pigs first helped themselves to somebody’s pizza before grabbing the bag.

When the owner realized what had happened, he “gave his all” and recovered it, she said.

“When he came back with his yellow bag in the hand we all clapped and congratulated him for his success,” she added.

Landauer said she later showed the man the pictures she had taken and “he laughed loudly and authorized me to publish them.”

Wild boars are common in the forests around Berlin and can occasionally be seen venturing through city parks in search of food.

TME – Perfection. No notes.

Keep on truckin’

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man sold the 1957 Chevy pickup he drove for 44 years for $75, the same price he paid decades ago.

Bob Sportal of Prinsburg handed over the key last month to the grandson of the man he bought the truck from, KARE-TV reported.

Sportal was in his early 20s when he bought the rusty pickup from a retiring farmer. He drove the truck to work every day at a local grain elevator until he retired five years ago.

Sportal kept driving the truck but decided to sell it to Tom Leenstra, grandson of the late John VanDerVeen, who originally sold the truck to Sportal.

“It’s like riding with my Grandpa again,” Leenstra said.

The truck has taken on antique value, but Sportal decided to sell it for what he paid for it.

“It’s going in the family, so that’s the most important thing,” Sportal said.

TME – Like a rock, indeed.

One massive mollusk

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (AP) — An 11-year-old Rhode Island boy clamming with his grandfather found a giant quahog that is thought to be one of the largest ever harvested in state waters.

Cooper Monaco, of Wakefield, found the massive mollusk Monday in the Weekapaug section of Westerly, and donated it to the University of Rhode Island’s Marine Science Research Facility in Narragansett, the university said in a statement Thursday.

The clam is 5.75 inches (14.5 centimeters) across and weighs nearly 2 1/2 pounds (1.3 kilograms). The state Department of Environmental Management does not keep quahog records, but a typical quahog grows to about 4 inches (10 centimeters) across, the university said.

“I was down on my hands and knees in the water looking for clams, and I touched this huge rock thing,” Cooper said in the statement. “I always pull out rocks and throw them to the side and look under them. And then I felt the edge of it and I thought, ‘holy moly, this is a clam.’ So I pulled it out. It was amazing.”

He knew it was unsually large, so told his mother not to cook it.

Ed Baker, the manager of the URI Marine Science Research Facility, plans to put the quahog on display.

TME – That’s one shell of a find.

Pretty in pink

PARIS (AP) — Behold a treat for the eyes! Tens of thousands of pink flamingos have amassed in the wetlands of southern France along with their offspring still lacking flamboyant plumage.

The long-legged birds resembling ballerinas in tutus have long drawn tourists to the marshes in the Camargue region that has served as France’s salt mine since Roman times. But the numbers of pink flamingos this year may be the highest since experts began keeping records 45 years ago, said Thierry Marmol, the guardian of the vast ecosystem.

France’s two months of strict confinement to contain the coronavirus may well be the reason.

Experts relying on aerial photos estimated that 25,000 flamingo couples, or 50,000 adult birds, settled in the area this year, Marmol said. About 12,000 babies were counted. “That’s historic,” he said, stressing that little ones are hard to count.

“Maybe the confinement helped to make a good year,” Marmol said. “It’s obvious that with confinement there were no disturbances. There were no airplanes, no noise at all.”

It’s still too soon to confirm that the anti-virus lockdown was a factor in what he said is “one of the best four years of all time” for pink flamingos in the Salins.

Marmol has watched over 8,000 hectares (19,700 acres) around the commune of Aigues-Mortes for the past 35 years, living on the land “like a trapper in America.”

He is a keen observer of the birds, fauna and flora that draw ornithologists and other experts for field work. This year’s bumper crop of pink flamingos is a treat even for him.

The Salins, with its especially salty water, also supplies France with tons of salt. Aigues-Mortes is about 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) from Arles, the closest large town.

TME – Someone call John Waters.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 11:32

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