The Sri Lankan navy, along with the department of wildlife and the coast conservation department, said Wednesday that it would deploy fresh teams to offer 24-hour protection to a southern elephant seal which had swum on to the shores of Colombo to complete its molting process.
Local media reports said that teams from the wildlife western region offices and the wildlife veterinary offices would also be included and these teams would stand guard in close proximity to the seal to offer protection.
"Although the molting process appears to have been completed, the seal is seemingly taking a long rest," wildlife officials told journalists.
Officers added that while the seal returned into the sea at night, it made its way on to the rocks to rest during the day and was often disturbed by a large number of visitors who came to see the seal daily.
Wildlife officers have also on several occasions prevented the seal from getting on to nearby railway tracks in order to keep it from danger.
Wildlife officers believe the elephant seal has been separated from its herd after being caught in a sea current and dragged towards Sri Lanka.
The animal was first spotted in the seas off Mirissa, in southern Sri Lanka in November and then appeared in the seas in Bambalapitiya in capital Colombo, where it is spotted resting on the rocks daily.
The seal had initially arrived on shore searching for a place to molt, a seasonal process of shedding fur.
Experts including marine biologist Asha de Vos have continued to advise the public to refrain from approaching the seal and give it enough space to complete its natural molting process.
President Donald Trump is on the cusp of being impeached by the House, with a historic debate set Wednesday on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress ahead of votes that will leave a defining mark on his tenure at the White House.
Trump, who would be just the third U.S. president to be impeached, on Tuesday fired off a furious letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi denouncing the "vicious crusade" against him, but he also acknowledged he was powerless to stop the expected outcome.
"When people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn for it, so that it can never happen to another president again," he wrote.
Pelosi, who warned earlier this year against pursuing a strictly partisan impeachment, nonetheless has the numbers from Democrats to approve it. According to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, Trump is on track to be formally charged by a House majority.
"Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed Congress," Pelosi wrote to colleagues, asking them to join in the morning as the House convenes.
"In America, no one is above the law," she said. "During this very prayerful moment in our nation's history, we must honor our oath to support and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic."
The rare undertaking to impeach a president, set to unfold over more than six hours of debate Wednesday, is splitting the lawmakers in Congress much the way Americans have different views of Trump's unusual presidency and the articles of impeachment against him.
Trump implores Americans to "read the transcript," but the facts of his phone call with the Ukraine president are not necessarily in dispute. Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats and his 2020 political rival Joe Biden. At the time, the newly elected Ukraine leader was hoping for a coveted White House visit to showcase his standing with the U.S., his country's most important ally. He was also counting on nearly $400 million in military aid as his country confronts a hostile neighbor, Russia.
The question for lawmakers, and Americans, is whether those actions, and the White House's block on officials testifying for the House investigation, are impeachable offenses.
In his letter on Tuesday, Trump defended his "absolutely perfect" phone call that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
On the eve of the House debate, Trump appeared to intend his lengthy, accusatory message less for Pelosi than for the broad audience of citizens — including 2020 voters — watching history unfolding on Capitol Hill.
He accused the Democrats of acting out of "Trump Derangement Syndrome," still smarting from their 2016 election losses. "You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish, personal political and partisan gain," he wrote.
Portraying himself as a blameless victim, as he often does, Trump compared the impeachment inquiry to the "Salem Witch Trials." Asked later if he bore any responsibility for the proceedings, he said, "No, I don't think any. Zero, to put it mildly."
But the House impeachment resolution says Trump abused the power of his office and then tried to obstruct the investigation in Congress like "no other'' president in history.
Trump "betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections," the resolution says. "President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office."
Ahead of House votes, one by one, centrist Democratic lawmakers, including many first-term freshmen who built the House majority and could risk their reelection in districts where the president is popular, announced they would vote to impeach.
Many drew on the Constitution and the intent of the country's founders as they considered the role of Congress to conduct oversight in the nation's system of checks and balances.
Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, referred to the oath she took in January as she was sworn into office as guiding her decision. She announced support for both articles of impeachment to "honor my duty to defend our Constitution and democracy from abuse of power at the highest levels."
Republicans disagreed, firmly.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the partisan tone for the next step, as attention will shift to the Senate which, under the Constitution, is required to hold a trial on the charges. That trial is expected to begin in January.
"I'm not an impartial juror," McConnell declared. The Republican-majority chamber is all but sure to acquit the president.
Lawmakers crossing party lines face consequences. One freshman Democrat, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, is indicating he will switch parties to become a Republican after opposing impeachment. Earlier this year, Michigan conservative Rep. Justin Amash left the GOP when he favored impeachment.
One new Democrat congressman, Jared Golden of Maine, said he would vote to impeach on abuse of power but not obstruction.
Hoping to dispatch with lengthy Senate proceedings, McConnell rejected Senate Democrats' push for fresh impeachment testimony and made a last-ditch plea that House Democrats "turn back from the cliff" of Wednesday's expected vote.
"Impeachment is a political decision," McConnell said. "The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I'm not impartial about this at all.''
McConnell's remarks Tuesday effectively slapped the door shut on negotiations for a deal proposed by the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who wants to call top White House officials for the Senate trial.
Schumer's proposal was the first overture in what were expected to be negotiations between the two leaders. Trump wants a relatively broad, perhaps showy, Senate proceeding to not only acquit but also vindicate him of the impeachment charges.
McConnell and most other GOP senators prefer a swift trial to move on from impeachment. Still, Schumer wants to hear from John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and other current and former Trump officials who were instructed by the president not to appear for House proceedings.
"Why is the leader, why is the president so afraid to have these witnesses come testify?" asked Schumer from the Senate floor. "They certainly ought to be heard."
Trump has promoted lawyer Rudy Giuliani's investigation of Biden and a widely debunked theory that it was actually Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election, a conspiracy-laden idea that most other Republicans have actively avoided.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden violated secrecy agreements with the U.S. government that allow it to claim proceeds from a memoir he published earlier this year, a judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that Snowden is liable for breach of contract with the government because he published "Permanent Record," without submitting it for a pre-publication review, in violation agreements he signed with both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency. In the book, Snowden explains how he viewed himself as a whistleblower by revealing details about the government's mass collection of emails, phone calls and internet activity in the name of national security.
Snowden was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. He now lives in Russia in order to avoid arrest.
O'Grady wrote that under the agreements, Snowden was required to allow the government to review anything he planned to publish "containing any mention of intelligence data or activities, or any other information or material which is ... known to be classified."
"The terms of the CIA Secrecy Agreements further provide that Snowden forfeits any proceeds from disclosures that breach the Agreements. These terms continue to apply to Snowden," the judge wrote.
The Washington Post first reported on the judge's ruling.
Snowden's lawyers had argued that the government had already broken the secrecy agreements by indicating that it wouldn't give his book a fair prepublication review. His lawyers have also said that the book contains no material that hadn't previously been made public.
Brett Max Kaufman, an attorney with the ACLU's Center for Democracy and lawyer for Snowden, said that the legal team disagrees with the ruling and is reviewing its options.
"It's farfetched to believe that the government would have reviewed Mr. Snowden's book or anything else he submitted in good faith," Kaufman said in a statement. "For that reason, Mr. Snowden preferred to risk his future royalties than to subject his experiences to improper government censorship."
The federal government's lawsuit didn't attempt to limit the book's distribution, but asked the judge to allow the government to collect all the proceeds from the book.
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has flown to Argentina, where the new center-left government said Thursday that it had granted him political asylum.
"I've come to Argentina to keep fighting for the most humble people," Morales said on Twitter. "I feel strong and excited."
Morales will live in the capital with his two children, who arrived on Nov. 23. The former president fled Bolivia for Mexico last month after nationwide protests and a loss of support from the police and military, then traveled to Cuba for several days.
Argentina Foreign Minister Felipe Solá said Argentia's proximity to Bolivia was attractive to Morales.
"He feels better here than in Mexico, which is far away," said Solá, who took office Tuesday in the new government of President Alberto Fernández.
Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said she hoped Argentina would not become a platform for Morales to play a long-distance role in Bolivian politics.
"We expect the Argentine government to comply with international norms of political asylum," she said. "We don't want to see what happened in Mexico, where Evo Morales had an open microphone and a stage."
Solá said Morales would have a justified fear for his safety if he stayed in Bolivia.
"If we didn't take care of him he'd very quickly be afraid for his life," Solá said, adding that he expect that Morales would not make political statements from his new home in Argentina.
Morales was accompanied by at least four former high-ranking officials in his administration. He has been accused of sedition and terrorism by the administration of interim President Jeanine Áñez, who took power amid unrest that has claimed at least 32 lives.
A Tokyo court awarded damages to a freelance journalist Wednesday in a high-profile rape case that involves an attacker known for his close ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ultra-conservative supporters.
The Tokyo District Court ordered former television newsman Noriyuki Yamaguchi to pay 3.3 million yen ($30,150) to freelance journalist Shiori Ito for physical and psychological pain resulting from his sexual assault.
Ito filed a civil suit in 2017, demanding 11 million yen ($100,540) in damages for her suffering and seeking an explanation why Yamaguchi was never arrested and prosecutors dropped the criminal case.
Yamaguchi has denied any wrongdoing in published articles and on social media, saying they had sex by consent. He filed a countersuit this year, demanding she pay 130 million yen ($1.2 million) for allegedly damaging his reputation and trust by publicizing him as a rapist.
The court entirely dismissed Yamaguchi's claims.
The #MeToo movement is still only beginning to catch on in Japan, where speaking out often draws criticism rather than sympathy, even from other women.
In Ito's case, ultra-conservative supporters came to Yamaguchi's defense.
Ito and her supporters said they hope her victory would be a step toward promoting awareness in a society where sexual victims like her wouldn't have to feel intimidated and isolated.
Judge Akihiro Suzuki said Ito's attempt to seek the truth in the case and how it was handled, and to promote awareness about social and legal issues surrounding sexual assault victims, is based on her intent to serve public interest and does not constitute defamation against the defendant.
Ito said that after she became dizzy and passed out in a restroom, Yamaguchi took her to his hotel room and raped her in April 2015 while she was incapacitated. She said that he continued the assault even when she woke up and told him to stop.
Ito visited the women's clinic the next day to get treated and filed a criminal complaint with the police, though it took weeks to get them to accept it and start investigating. The prosecutors eventually dropped the case, without explaining to her why.
She held a news conference a month later announcing that she had requested a court-appointed citizens' panel to review the decision to drop the case. The panel in September agreed with the decision not to indict.