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Indonesians hack into beached whales in mass stranding

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Locals on a remote island in eastern Indonesia on Tuesday cut up several dead pilot whales for food after a mass stranding that killed at least 41 of the mammals, an official said.

A total of 44 pilot whales beached themselves late Monday on the island of Savu in East Nusa Tenggara province, where there is a culture of whale hunting for consumption.

“Locals have hacked into around 11 whales so far and will probably use the flesh for meat,” Savu fishery office chief Dominggus Widu Hau told AFP.

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“When local fishermen found them before midnight, they were all still alive. But it was already late and there were not enough people to help push them back in.”

More than a dozen fishermen, navy and police officers were still struggling Tuesday afternoon to keep the three surviving whales alive.

“We managed to push them back into the water, but they returned to the beach,” Hau said.

Jakarta Animal Aid Network identified the mammals, which lay stranded around 150 metres (492 feet) from the coastline, as pilot whales. Those beached were between two and five metres long, Hau said.

Pilot whales commonly become stranded en masse since they stick together in large groups, especially if one is sick, according to marine biologists.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a major Trump donor—ousts top officials

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Government watchdogs, Democratic lawmakers, and pro-democracy advocates declared it a "Friday Night Massacre" for the U.S. Postal Service after news broke in a classic end-of-the-week dump that Louis DeJoy—a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump and the recently appointed Postmaster General—had issued a sweeping overhaul of the agency, including the ouster of top executives from key posts and the reshuffling of more than two dozen other officials and operational managers.

According to the Washington Post:

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Virus outbreak in Houston-area nursing home kills 17

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A novel coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home, outside of Houston, has killed 17 residents, according to data from state officials.

City officials issued a press release this week raising alarm over 19 deaths that they said occurred at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home but nursing home officials told The Texas Tribune that the number is incorrect and declined to provide the correct number.

The city also reported that the facility has 24 infected staff members and the nursing home reported 11 currently infected residents who are in stable condition.

“This harrowing development speaks to the severity of this pandemic and how everyone needs to take it even more seriously,” said Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford of the outbreak in a Wednesday press release.

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‘Gullible’ Trump administration paid up to $500 million too much for these ventilators: investigators

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Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

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