International News Briefs

Rat sweeper

MOZAMBIQUE, Africa: Minefields are a plague in war zones, especially since they tend to linger after the war is over. It’s fitting that a non-profit group in Africa has started using rats to uncover the hidden explosives. Tanzanian-based group APOPO has deployed these mine-detecting rodents in Mozambique, which has many decades worth of mines to clear, MediaGlobal said. Usually dogs are used, but these mice have been trained to smell TNT and react. The rats are being used because they are much cheaper to train and they are light enough that they won’t set off a mine.

Excavated Scandinavians

DORSET, England: Archaeologists believe the 51 decapitated skeletons they found in a mass grave belong to Scandinavian Vikings. BBC News reports that scientists believe the Vikings were killed by Anglo Saxons between 910 AD and 1030 AD. The bodies, found during construction of a relief road, were confirmed from that era by radiocarbon dating. Their teeth told the tale of their diet and the climate they lived in. The Vikings are believed to have been executed, given the mass grave and lack of clothing on the bodies. David Score, one of the archaeologists, said it was “very unusual” to find such a large mass grave from that time.

Eleven tigers dead in three months

LIAONING PROVINCE, China: Eleven rare Siberian tigers have died in the past 12 weeks at a zoo in northeastern China. Sketchy accounts report that the tigers were malnourished and being fed chicken bones. A wildlife protection officer from the area said the tigers were kept in small cages that restricted their movements. BBC News reports that China has about 5,000 tigers in captivity, compared to about 50 left in the wild. A manager from the zoo said that they died of various diseases. While this issue has been drawing attention from animal rights activists, the emphasis is even greater because 2010 is the Chinese year of the tiger. The zoo is currently closed.

Pride in torture

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States: Karl Rove, senior advisor to former president George W. Bush, has told BBC News that he was proud that Americans used waterboarding while interrogating terrorist prisoners. While current president, Barack Obama, has banned waterboarding, Rove said he thinks it should not be considered torture. Rove said that information gained by using this technique was used to foil terrorist plots, some resembling the acts committed on 9-11. Rove, known as “Bush’s brain,” said that U.S. soldiers were subjected to waterboarding as part of their training. Rove’s recently released memoir, Courage and Consequence, colours the Bush administration favourably.

No more civilian camouflage

BAGHDAD, Iraq: Markets in Baghdad are flush with camouflage uniforms available for anybody to buy. This has been causing major security problems, BBC News reports. Recently, some high-profile bombings have been committed by men wearing what looked like military garb. This allowed them access to places they would not have been able to go. Another problem is the variety of camouflage available. The military, security forces and national and civic police all wear different uniforms, creating confusion at borders and security points. The Iraqi government made stallholders and tailors sign a pledge to only sell their wares to authentic police or military personnel.

Published in Volume 64, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 18, 2010)

Related Reads