Jan 23


Giant rats put noses to work on Mozambique’s landmines

Giant rats put noses to work on Mozambique’s landmines (Guardian, jan 22, 2014):

Landmine-detecting rats weigh as much as a domestic cat and are light enough to cross terrain without triggering explosives

A small army of landmine-detecting rats is to be redeployed in Mozambique in a push to meet a deadline to have the country declared free of mines this year.

Belgian non-governmental organisation Apopo trains African giant pouched rats to sniff out the explosives in landmines by conditioning them to associate the scent with rewards of food.

The rodents, which weigh about as much as a small domestic cat, are light enough to move over terrain without setting off the mines. They are followed by a team of mine-removal experts with metal detectors.

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Sep 03

A private television station in Mozambique says six people have been killed as police shoot at protesters.

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Police officers arrest protesters during a rally in the neighbourhood of Benfica, in the suburbs of Maputo, Mozambique Photo: EPA

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A demonstrator throws a tyre on to a burning barricade during riots in Mozambique’s capital Maputo Photo: REUTERS

The S-TV station says the dead included one child. The station gave few other details. Police could not immediately confirm the report.

Police opened fire Wednesday on stone-throwing crowds who were protesting rising prices in this impoverished country.

Mozambicans have seen the price of a loaf of bread rise by 25 percent, from four to five meticais (from about 11 cents to about 13 U.S. cents) in the past year. Fuel and water prices also have risen.

Protests over high prices erupted into violence in Mozambique in 2008.

Protestors stoned cars and buildings in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, today during a national strike against plans to raise state-controlled food, water and electricity prices.

Security forces have made arrests and are looking for the people who sent out the original text messages calling for the strike, police spokesman Arnaldo Chefo said in an interview in the city today.

“Our efforts are to stop the strike and we have mobilized all our resources to control it,” he said. “We do not know who is organizing it, but we are trying to identify the strike leaders or organizers.”

The government plans to raise water and electricity rates by 30 percent today and the price of bread by 25 percent on Sept 6.

Fuel and cement prices have also risen. Riots in 2008 against food and fuel price increases left at least three people dead.

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May 24

Officials said yesterday that more than 10,000 Mozambicans have fled South Africa to escape the attacks which have killed at least 42 people. More than 500 people have been arrested.
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The wave of violence against foreigners in South Africa, which began 12 days ago in Johannesburg, has spread to Cape Town where Somalis and Zimbabweans have been attacked by mobs who have looted their homes and shops overnight, according to police.

Hundreds of African migrants were evacuated yesterday from a squatter camp near Cape Town as Somali-owned shops were looted in the resort town of Knysna, on the south-western coast.

More attacks were expected over the weekend, authorities have warned, adding that additional assistance from the military would be sought if necessary.

“We don’t know the exact number of shops looted and burnt, but it’s a lot,” said Billy Jones, senior superintendent with the Western Cape provincial police. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

MAPUTO, March 13 (Reuters) – The tropical cyclone that has lashed parts of Mozambique, killing 10 people, is expected to hit the southern tourist region of the country before gathering speed on its way to Madagascar, authorities said on Thursday.

Cyclone Jokwe struck ferociously last Friday, displacing 55,000 people, destroying electricity pylons and uprooting trees in the northern Nampula province.

“It is too dangerous for shipping. It is now over the Mozambique channel on its current course and is likely to strike both Mozambique and Madagascar again,” Mussa Mustafa, head of the National Institute of Meteorology, said in an interview. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

Victims of the plague during the 1574 Siege of Leiden by the Spaniards black death black plague bubonic plague

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Like no other disease, plague evokes terror. One of the most lethal illnesses in human history, it killed probably a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century. It may also have been one of the first agents of biological warfare: It’s said that in the 1340s, invading Mongols catapulted their plague dead over the city wall into Kaffa in the Crimea.

Yet the plague is not just a disease of the distant past. While cases tapered off in the mid-20th century, the World Health Organization (WHO) now classifies plague as “re-emerging.” No one is predicting another pandemic like the Black Death that devastated Europe. The WHO now records at most only a few thousand cases worldwide per year; and, if detected early, the disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But since the early 1990s, plague has returned to places – including India, Zambia, Mozambique, Algeria and parts of China – that had not seen it in many years or even decades. Continue reading »

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