UPI NewsTrack Quirks in the News
Friday, February 18, 2022 5:46 PM

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BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Belgium has been without a government for 250 days -- breaking a modern-day record that was held by Iraq -- and some Belgians managed to joke about it.

Across the country, Belgians marked the event with mock celebrations toasting their non-government leaders who haven't been able to form a working coalition since elections in June, The Guardian reported Friday.

Iraq was without a government for months after its elections in March but leaders late last year reached consensus on coalition governance.

"Our politicians are heroes," joked Edmund Cocquyt in Flanders. "We're proud of this. Finally we can send out a positive message about Belgium -- my country is the world record-holder."

In Ghent, a street party honoring eight government-free months spoofed a world championship ceremony. Residents in Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven and Liege had their versions of a Red Nose Day meant to shame politicians, The Guardian said.

"We're making a joke but it's no laughing matter," a Ghent resident said. "It's really very serious. We might be partying. But we've had enough."

On Thursday, word from Brussels indicated new elections would be in April. Belgium's King Albert II has appointed caretaker ministers until a new government is formed.

327-pound fish caught in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Mississippi wildlife officials said a man caught a potentially record-setting 327-pound fish, an alligator gar, in Chotard Lake.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks said it weighed the 8-foot, 5 1/4-inch fish at 327 pounds after it was caught by Kenny Williams on the Issaquena County lake on Valentine's Day, WAPT-TV, Jackson, Miss., reported Thursday.

"At first I didn't think he was that big. But as I was getting him into the boat, it was like, 'How big is this thing?' It was a lot of effort just to get him into the boat," Williams said. "I don't even know how to describe it. It was just huge and hard to get into the boat."

Dennis Riecke of the wildlife department said the alligator gar may have been the largest ever caught and is definitely the largest on record caught in Mississippi.

Officials said Williams donated his catch to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.

Warm weather brings stink bugs

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Wildlife experts in Maryland said recent warm temperatures are bringing about an influx of stink bugs, an invasive species from Asia.

Michael Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, said this year is likely to bring about the largest-yet U.S. infestation of stink bugs, which have no natural predators in the country, WUSA-TV, Washington, reported Thursday.

Doug Inkley, a biologist with the National Wildlife Federation, said the bugs, which give off a foul odor when squished, are already infesting his Frederick, Md., farmhouse. He said he caught 8,000 of them with his vacuum cleaner this weekend alone.

"If this doesn't show we have to do something about invasive species, I don't know what does," Inkley said.

He said the situation underlines the need for increased border security to keep out invasive species.

Briton snaps pic of 'Bownessie'

WINDERMERE, England, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A British man said he used his cellphone to snap a picture of what he said is "Bownessie," a legendary creature in England's Lake Windermere.

Tom Pickles, 24, said he snapped the picture of the creature, known as the English counterpart to Scotland's Loch Ness monster, Feb. 11 while on a kayaking exercise with his company, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Pickles said the creature was the size of three cars and was visible for about 20 seconds.

"Its skin was like a seal's but its shape was completely abnormal -- it's not like any animal I've ever seen before," Pickles said.

Locals said the picture represented the eighth Bownessie sighting in five years.

David Farnell of Farnell's Photographic Laboratory in Lancaster, England, said the picture appears real but is difficult to verify due to its small file size from being taken on a phone.

Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster, said the sightings may have been large catfish and the viewers are "misjudging" the size. He said there are no known creatures in the lake matching the reported size.

"We run echo sounding surveys every month and have never found anything," he said.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)


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