Washington Post — It’s unclear whether the initial incursion happened stealthily at night or brazenly during the day — though authorities are almost certain the invasion occurred by sea.
And federal employees who returned from the month-long partial government shutdown decided that it was probably not worth the effort to relocate the roughly 90 individuals involved. That’s because some of them were pregnant or newborns, and all of them were opportunistic elephant seals that have taken over what used to be the tourist area of Drakes Beach, Calif.
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.
A colony of nearly 1,500 seals inhabits nearby Chimney Beach, which is protected from binocular-wearing tourists by 100-foot-tall cliffs. But Drakes Beach, with its wide swath of sand and spectacular views of the Pacific, has been claimed by humans. Park officials have 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.
“It doesn’t scare them, and it’s a standard technique used with elephant seals,” John Dell’Osso, chief of interpretation and resource education for the seashore, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This would have kept them farther away from tourists.”
The annoying tarps were an effective plan, usually chasing all but a seal or two away from the beach, which is a 90-minute drive from San Francisco.
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.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) on Sunday released the text of four bills meant to end a partial government shutdown, now in its third week.
The House will first consider an appropriations bill that funds the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, Lowey’s office said. Other bills cover departments including Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. […] Lowey’s office said the four bills are virtually identical to bills that passed the Senate overwhelmingly last August, adding that text of the bills was included in H.R. 21, which passed the House last week despite a White House veto threat. Her office also said that the only substantive change between those bills and the four new pieces of legislation is language to ensure that furloughed federal workers receive back pay. “Unless Congress acts, the American people will not receive their tax refunds, families will lose food stamps, homebuyers seeking mortgages will remain in limbo, and our National Parks will continue to accumulate garbage and waste. These bills will stop this chaos, get many federal employees back on the job, and ensure that key parts of the government are working for the American people. After we pass these four bills, the Senate should clear them and the President should sign them into law,” Lowey said. [from The Hill]
Washington Post — “Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio, a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again […] Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging. Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.
To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category – the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.
The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high: the claims must have received three or four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware his or her facts are wrong. The list of Bottomless Pinocchios will be maintained on its own landing page. The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump. In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list.”
Today NASA will “…initiate a manoeuvre that is their least favourite activity in space: they will attempt to land a robot spaceship on Mars.
In this case they will attempt to set down their probe, InSight, gently on to an area known as Elysium Planitia where it is intended to analyse seismic activity on the red planet.
More probes have been sent to Mars than any other planet in the solar system but more than half of these missions have ended in failure, with the final stages, involving landing gently on the Martian surface, proving to be particularly dangerous and unsuccessful.” — The Guardian
Space.com managing Tariq Malik gives you some fast facts about NASA’s InSight lander that will study the Martian interior.