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Zombie raccoons’ bizarre behavior gets locals’ attention in US

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Raccoons are normally shy, nocturnal creatures. But they’ve been acting out in the US state of Ohio, where police report strange and menacing raccoon behavior in broad daylight.

Over the past two weeks, police in Youngstown, Ohio have responded to some fifteen calls from residents reporting sightings of “zombie” raccoons, according to local TV station WKBN.

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Witnesses describe the furry black-masked creatures assuming aggressive postures toward humans, showing no fear and impervious to attempts to scare them off with noises or movements.

Robert Coggeshall, a retired banker turned nature photographer, described the “extremely strange behavior” of a raccoon that entered Coggeshall’s front yard as he played with his dogs.

“He would stand up on his hind legs, which I’ve never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition,” Coggeshall told WKBN.

“He’d come out of it, walk around and then he’d do the same thing again. Get on his hind feet and show his teeth,” he said.

A picture Coggeshall took of the animal, standing, lips curled and dripping saliva has gone viral on the internet.

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The raccoon ultimately was euthanized, as were others in the area.

Ohio environmental protection officials have ruled out a local outbreak of rabies, and instead suspect canine distemper as the cause of the odd raccoon behavior.

Canine distemper is a viral disease typically seen in dogs but which can spread among wild animal populations.

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No let-up in French strikes as fresh turmoil hits weekend

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The most serious nationwide strike to hit France in years caused new weekend travel turmoil on Saturday, with unions warning the walkouts would last well into next week.

The challenge thrown to President Emmanuel Macron over his plans for radical pension reform has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets and key transport services brought to a standstill.

The strikes, which began on Thursday, have recalled the winter of 1995, when three weeks of huge stoppages forced a social policy U-turn by the then-government.

Unions have vowed a second series of mass demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday after big rallies on Thursday and there is expected to be little easing of the transport freezes over the coming days.

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PG&E agrees to $13.5 billion payout for deadly California fires

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California's Pacific Gas and Electric will pay $13.5 billion to settle lawsuits over its role in a series of wildfires that killed scores of people and destroyed thousands of homes, the utility giant said Friday.

Faulty PG&E powerlines were blamed for sparking last year's so-called Camp Fire in northern California -- the deadliest in the state's history -- that left 86 people dead.

Outdated facilities including vulnerable wooden poles and failure to deforest land surrounding high-voltage transmission lines were blamed for the inferno, prompting accusations the San Francisco-based firm had put profit before safety.

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Russia likely listened to Trump when he used unsecured phone to call Giuliani: security officials

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Russia likely learned of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings months before they were exposed by a whistleblower report, because he used unsecured phone lines to speak with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, current and former officials told The Washington Post.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Phone records released in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report this week showed that Giuliani made multiple calls to a blocked number listed as “-1.” Though Trump is not identified by name in the records, investigators believe the number belongs to Trump, and administration officials confirmed that Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured lines.

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