The Tasmanian devil is familiar to many as Bugs Bunny’s noisy, crazed, ineffectual nemesis, but now the real thing is back in the news, having returned to the Australian mainland after being away for … let’s see, September, October … let’s call it 3,000 years. (It’s likely that dingoes had eradicated the fierce marsupials, but because the wild dogs never made it over to Tasmania—an island 150 miles off Australia’s coast—the devils survived there, hence the name. The “Tasmanian” part, that is. The “devil” came from its god-awful screams.) BBC News reports that conservation groups have released 26 Tasmanian devils in a fenced sanctuary north of Sydney. The hope is that the devil—an enthusiastic carnivore with powerful jaws and a brain as tiny as its head is outsize—can re-establish itself and eventually help control the millions of foxes and feral cats that have been decimating Australia’s bird, reptile, and mammal populations. Yikes. The potential for chaotic frenzy sounds worthy of, well, a Looney Tunes short.
First Crimea, now borscht. From the Ukrainian perspective, it’s just another annexation, and this time the gauntlet Russia has thrown down isn’t a glove but a bowl of soup. This particular cultural-appropriation conflict was exacerbated by Moscow earlier in the year via an official government tweet that referred to borscht as “one of Russia’s most famous & beloved #dishes & a symbol of traditional cuisine.” Not so fast, says Ukraine, which argues that it has the strongest claim to borscht’s (beet)roots. In fact, the nation had already taken steps along those lines, and requested Unescocultural-heritage status for the soup.