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Dozens of two-pound giant African snails seized at Los Angeles airport

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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – U.S. customs inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized a shipment of several dozen live giant African snails, considered a delicacy in Nigeria but also voracious pests that can eat paint and stucco off houses, officials said on Monday.

Weighing nearly 2 pounds (0.9 kg) each, including their shells, and measuring about 6 inches (15 cm) in length, the 67 snails arrived from Lagos, Nigeria, in two plastic baskets with paperwork describing them as being for human consumption, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said.

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The mollusks appeared to be packaged as a personal shipment and were marked as destined for an address in San Dimas, California, about 30 miles (48 km) east of Los Angeles, agency spokeswoman Lee Harty said.

No attempt was made to conceal or smuggle the snails, the largest such shipment ever seized at LAX, she said. But the creatures are prohibited from entry because they are deemed a highly invasive pest that pose a serious threat to U.S. agriculture, the environment and public health, the agency said.

According to Customs and Border Protection, the giant snails can consume more than 500 types of plants, and will even munch on the exterior of homes if fruits and vegetables are not available. They also can carry several parasites harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis, Harty said.

After they were intercepted by customs officials at the airport on July 1, specimens were sent to a local U.S. Department of Agriculture lab and then on to USDA mollusk specialists in Washington for further examination.

Experts identified the creatures as belonging to the giant African snail species, known by the scientific name Archachatina marginata. They also are commonly referred to as giant African land snails, West African snails, West African land snails or banana rasp snails.

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Each of the mollusks, with striated brownish-orange shells, can easily fill the palm of a person’s hand. They can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length and may live up to 10 years in the wild, experts say.

The entire collection confiscated at the airport was eventually turned over to the USDA, which disposed of the snails through incineration, although no garlic or butter was used, Harty said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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[Image via Wikipedia Commons]

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Here’s how Mike Pence could step in to sabotage the impeachment trial in the Senate

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Vice President Mike Pence could ultimately end up playing a significant role in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial — and ensure that the case against the president isn't even properly presented.

Pence, being the vice president, is also president of the Senate. And as such, he has the power to resolve ties when senators deadlock. In terms of the final vote to convict, Pence will not need to break any ties, because 67 votes are required. But many other aspects of the Senate trial will be decided by a simple majority, including the rules package, and whether to override Chief Justice John Roberts' decisions on what evidence and testimony is admissible. And so even if a few Republicans break with their party on these issues, Pence may be able to step in and ensure the trial is conducted the way Trump wants it to be.

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Trump complained about Obama’s Hanukkah party — yet did it even worse himself

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President Donald Trump held the official White House Hanukkah party weeks before the holiday was slated to begin on Dec. 22.

Ironically, however, in 2011, Trump attacked President Barack Obama for holding an early Hanukkah party because he would be in Hawaii for the family's annual Christmas celebration.

"Why was the Hanukah celebration held in the White House two weeks early? @BarackObama wants to vacation in Hawaii in late December. Sad," Trump tweeted.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/145253073588203520

Just a few years later when it was his turn to hold a White House Hanukkah party, the goy-in-chief did it even earlier than Obama. In 2011, Obama held his party one week before the "eight crazy nights" began. Trump's party is 11 days out from Hanukkah. Trump lit the candles anyway.

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Israel heads for third election in a year as deadline to form government expires

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Israel is heading for an unprecedented third election within a year after a deadline to create a coalition government ran out at midnight local time on Wednesday and parliament was dissolved.

The prospect of a new election prolongs a political stalemate that has paralysed the government and undermined many citizens' faith in the democratic process.

Initial elections in April were inconclusive and a September re-run of the vote left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger Benny Gantz short of securing the required parliamentary majority to form a government.

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