Whale scoops up, spits out diver. Judge dismisses hospital workers’ challenge to vaccine requirement. Israeli coalition ousts Netanyahu.
Whale scoops up, spits out diver
Michael Packard, 56, a commercial lobster diver, says a humpback whale accidentally scooped him up in his mouth while he was diving off near Cape Cod, Mass. The whale, apparently every bit as surprised as Packard, then surfaced and spat him out. Apart from a few bumps and bruises, Packard suffered no injuries. Packard’s boating companions say they witnessed the moment when the enormous whale emerged and forcefully ejected Packard from his mouth, feet first. The crew lost no time getting Packard out of the water and rushing him to the hospital.
In local news interviews, Packard said that he was about 45 feet below the surface when he suddenly felt “this huge bump and everything went dark”. Initially thinking he’d been attacked by a shark, Packard “felt around, and I realized there was no teeth and I had felt, really, no great pain. And then I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth. I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me'”.
Packard wrote in a Facebook post, “I was in his closed mouth for about 30 to 40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out”. Then “I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water. And I was free, and I just floated there … I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I got out of that”.
Experts say this is an extremely rare, but plausible, occurrence. Humpbacks consume huge amounts of fish and other small creatures by charging through the water with their mouths gaping open. But the humpback’s esophagus is rather small, so Packard was probably in no danger of being swallowed. For the whale, the sensation of a fully kitted-out diver in his mouth was probably rather unpleasant. Hence the hasty regurgitation.
All things considered, the whale probably did Packard a favor by surfacing near his boat before spitting him out.
Judge dismisses hospital workers’ challenge to vaccine requirement
A US District Judge in Houston, TX, has dismissed a suit brought by local workers at a local hospital over their employer’s requirement that all staff be vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, the Houston Methodist Hospital system suspended 178 employees without pay for refusing to get the vaccine.
Judge Lynn Hughes forcefully rejected the arguments from the lead plaintiff, Jennifer Bridges. Bridges had described the vaccines as “experimental and dangerous” and compared the hospital’s vaccination requirement to the Nazis’ medical atrocities. Hughes also concluded that the hospital’s vaccine requirement did not amount to coercion, as Bridges had suggested. “Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine”, Hughes said. “However, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else”.
Methodist Hospital CEO Marc Bloom said that 24,947 hospital employees had complied with the vaccination requirement. 285 other employees were exempted for medical or religious reasons. 332 were given extensions beyond the June 7 deadline because they were pregnant or for other legitimate reasons. Any employee who refused for any other reason, Bloom said, is subject to termination.
Israeli coalition ends Netanyahu’s 12-year stint as prime minister
For the last few weeks, opposition leaders in the Israeli Knesset have struggled to put together a disparate coalition to oust long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The group includes far-right, center-right, centrist, leftwing and one small Arab party.
Last night, opposition leader Yair Lapid, a centrist, narrowly won a vote of confidence in the Knesset. The final vote was 60-59. Notably, 60 votes is one vote shy of a majority in the full 120-seat parliament.
Under the coalition agreement, Lapid will not initially serve as prime minister. Instead, right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett will serve the first two years while Lapid will serve the second two years of the four-year term.
Netanyahu was characteristically defiant, saying he would work in the opposition to “topple this dangerous government”.
Crowds of Israelis who had gathered outside the parliament cheered when the coalition won the vote. The mood in Tel Aviv overnight was one of celebration. Many Israelis present were simply relieved that “King Bibi” had been dethroned at last. For them, Netanyahu has become a symbol of divisive and dangerous politics and outlandish corruption. Others revelers expressed optimism and hoped the new unity government might help Israel to turn over a new leaf.
The coalition is composed of many ideologically opposed factions and may struggle to hang together. Additionally, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party is still the largest seat-holder in parliament, and will remain a force to be reckoned with.
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