A perfect storm may be brewing to strike down the long-maligned penny. Earlier this year, the U.S. Mint cut back on coin production to keep its workers safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reported NPR’s “Planet Money.” At the same time, people stopped spending, especially with cash. Word of a coin shortage spread, prompting some stores, such as Kroger, to start rounding prices to avoid making coin change. Last year, the mint made more than 7 billion pennies, almost 60% of its total coin production, and each 1-cent coin cost 2 cents to produce, putting the loss at more than $72 million. Still, the mint has no plans to eliminate the coin. It’s been up and running at full capacity since mid-June, and according to spokesman Michael White, about 40% of the coins it has produced since then have been pennies.

Angry animals

At Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California, 5 acres around Manzanita Lake were shut down after a man was attacked by an otter on June 25. Park Superintendent Jim Richardson told the Redding Record Searchlight the unnamed man was swimming in the river and came too close to the otter’s offspring, known as kittens. “It is significant anytime an animal attacks a human,” Richardson said. He did not believe the man was seriously injured, and he said the otter would not be relocated. “It’s the protective momma (doing her job), and the attack came as a surprise,” he said.

Neighbors on Occidental Street in North Oakland, Calif., are at odds over the presence of Bruce, aka Paco, aka Peter — a peacock. While some residents are happy to welcome him, SFGate.com reported on July 15 that others want him to move on and have lodged a complaint with the city. “For the past 15 weeks or so he has screamed relentlessly, every day,” Jesse T. wrote on the Nextdoor app. “It literally feels like he is inside my house.” Animal control believes the peacock is feral. But Dennis Fett of the Peacock Information Center in Minden, Iowa, thinks Bruce/Paco/Peter is providing a service. “They’re like a watchdog,” Fett said. “They have keen hearing. (The neighbors) should count their blessings.”


Amber Gilles made news in San Diego in June when she posted a photo of Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez, complaining that he “refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.” In response, KGTV reported, Matt Cowan of Irvine started a GoFundMe page to collect tips for the barista who “faced ... a Karen in the wild,” and soon raised more than $100,000, which Gilles now claims she should get half of. “I’ve been discriminated against,” Gilles said, noting that hiring a lawyer to help her get her half was too expensive, so she has started her own GoFundMe page.

Later, gator

Officers from the Somerset County (Maine) Sheriff’s Department and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency searched the apartment of Jessica Hutchins, 36, looking for drugs on July 13, according to Sheriff Dale Lancaster. “We also got an alligator out of her home,” he told the Morning Sentinel. The 2-foot-long gator was being kept in plastic tubs, but, Lancaster said, having an alligator in Maine is illegal without proper permits. Officers seized $12,000 worth of drugs along with the alligator.


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