What the elk - drop those antlers

As Douglas Hogg (an infelicitous choice of name, surely, for the man delegated to fight for British beef) continues to plead our case in Europe, Eagle Eye has spotted a distraction from the troubles of our own poor cows. The Canadian Agriculture Department has admitted that an elk slaughtered in Saskatchewan in January was suffering from TSE - transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Moose Disease.

Although there is no great appetite for elkburgers, this news could have serious repercussions for the trade in antlers, which Canada sells to Asia for use in medicine and aphrodisiacs. We look forward to a declaration from the European Commission of its policy on earrings made from moose- droppings. Our scientific advisers say there is no evidence that humans can catch CJD aurally from the droppings of a mad moose, but you cannot be too careful.

Just prawns in a political game?

And here's another acronym to add to your growing collection: TED, the Turtle-Excluder Device, over which the Thais are getting in a bit of a knot. Thailand, you see, is the biggest exporter of shrimp to the United States, and the US has just passed a law limiting the import of shrimps. It's nothing to do with shellfish protectionism, but all for the good of endangered sea turtles.

Too many shrimp fishermen are refusing to install TEDs in their nets, which would give trapped turtles a way to escape death from drowning. The director general of the Thai Fisheries Department was so upset by it all he refused to meet members of the press to discuss the implications of the new law. Let us hope that someone soon tells him that it applies only to ocean-caught shrimp, not pond shrimps, which account for the vast majority of the $2.5bn earned each year by Thai exports to the US.

They call it turtle love

If you do catch a turtle in your TED, and it's striped, please send it to Zhao Kentang. He's a herpetologist in Jiangsu province, China, with the last spinster striped turtle in captivity.

He, and she, are desperate to find a mate before the species dies out.

Party political goes for the fear factor

A new television phenomenon comes to a conclusion today. Last week and this, the Labour Party has been running a two-part party political broadcast. Those who were terrified out of their wits by last Tuesday's episode, where a nasty giant wearing a pin-striped suit and a blue rosette crashed through Tory Britain, smashing factories and stealing people's houses, will have endured a whole week of nightmares before finding out what happens next. For those who cannot stand the suspense I have ominous news: the storyline gets even more frightening.

In today's episode, not content with causing wanton destruction to property, the giant starts nicking people's money.

Let's hope that the beast is caught in the Tough on Crime and Tough on the Causes of Crime net. Parents who might wish to send their children to bed before the watershed can at least be grateful it's not a mini-series.

Be aware - and then, beware

We were alarmed to be informed that Toxic Shock Awareness Week will shortly be upon us again. Goodness, is it really a year since we were last aware of toxic shock?

According to our calendar of such things we now have awareness weeks for Aids, alcohol, Alzheimer's, arthrogryposis, asthma, autism, back pain, breast cancer, breast-feeding, child safety, children's liver disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, deafness, deaf- blindness, dementia, depression, disability, dolphins, domestic violence, Down's syndrome, drugs, dystonia, endometriosis, epilepsy, eye safety, fleas, flu, glaucoma, green transport, homelessness, lupus, male health, meningitis, migraine, miscarriage, mortality, oral cancer, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, phobia, psoriasis, Raynaud's & scleroderma, St John Ambulance, Scottish liver, Scottish transplant, stammering, sun, tinnitus, toxic shock syndrome and worms, which makes 51 awareness weeks in all.

The less eagle-eyed among you may have missed some of these, and so, before the last week of awarelessness vanishes from our calendar, may we suggest that it be officially designated "Awareness Week Awareness Week" to give us time to catch up on the other 51. Or if that proposal fails to gain the approval of the Awareness Ombudsman, perhaps we could have it listed and preserved for posterity as "Blissful Unawareness Week", the last sanctuary of ignorance in a depressingly aware world.

Eagle Eye

Thanks a bunch, Gran

Caroline Hook - alias the pensioner chat-show host Mrs Merton - may be going through a sticky period with her husband Peter Hook, but at least she can rely on her mum's enduring affection. When Caroline, 34, collapsed with a near-fatal allergy to anti-histamine tablets, and her co-writer Craig Cash - who is also her co-star in a current British Gas advertisment - saved her life by calling an ambulance, Grandma Merton was quick to show her appreciation. She sent him a thank-you card and a pounds 5 note for his trouble.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor


Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all