Thousands gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania town for Phil’s annual ritual – and the lack of a shadow spells good news
After recent weather that has included freezing cold snaps, fierce tornadoes and then record-breaking seasonal highs, it’s perhaps not surprising that Americans are looking for climatic solace in bizarre places.
So the news that a small, fat, Pennsylvania rodent called Phil has predicted a looming end to winter will perhaps come as a relief.
Yes, it’s Groundhog Day in America.
In front of thousands of people at Gobbler’s Knob, a rural area near the small town of Punxsutawney, a group of town elders repeated the famous tradition of consulting the town’s famous groundhog on the prospects of when winter might turn to spring.
To the relief of many, they reported that Phil had emerged from his lair and did not see his shadow – a sign that winter is soon to end. If he had seen his shadow, it would have indicated at least six more weeks of cold weather.
The warm weather prognostication will please many in America’s north-east, who are currently enduring a return to freezing temperatures after a see-saw week which had included a couple days of warm, almost summery, days.
Punxsutawney Phil was made famous to the outside world via the classic comedy movie Groundhog Day in which a jaded newsman played by Bill Murray is trapped to repeat the same 24 hours over and over again after being forced to cover the event.
Since then, other groundhogs have popped up in towns elsewhere, no doubt with one canny eye on the hordes of tourists that descends on Phil’s hideout. There’s Staten Island Chuck in New York, General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, and even the normally more staid Canadians have got in on the act with Wiarton Willie in Wiarton, Ontario.
This year, Staten Island Chuck is also reported to have missed seeing his shadow and thus predicted an end to winter. Not that such groundhog co-ordination is a sure sign of their forecasting skills. Last year, Phil predicting a continuation of freezing temperatures, only to see January to June come in as the warmest seven-month period since systematic records began in 1895.
Republican lawmakers ask judge to destroy smoking gun documents proving GOP’s white supremacy
Republicans on Monday sought a court order to block damning documents from being used against them in a lawsuit.
"North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Monday asked a court to make sure the files of the now-deceased GOP strategist Tom Hofeller are destroyed, or at least kept secret, instead of being used in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
"The filing comes after the groups behind the lawsuit, including Common Cause, accused Republican lawmakers of making false statements in court in a previous gerrymandering case, when the state’s 2011 maps were ruled unconstitutional," the newspaper noted. "That blockbuster accusation made national headlines and was, it said, based on Hofeller’s files which had been secret until recently."
Maddow slams Trump’s era of government officials ‘saving the country from the commander-in-chief’ with leaks
Rachel Maddow on Monday worried about the pattern of government officials leaking to the press to stop President Donald Trump from sabotaging United States' interests to help Russia.
The MSNBC anchor broke down the key questions raised by the bombshell New York Times report that officials were keeping secrets from Trump to protect U.S. interests.
Maddow reminded of a June 2017 story by Michael Isikoff.
Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy
President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.
"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.
"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.
"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.