Global Scan

These genetically modified mosquitos have been launched on a mission to end dengue fever

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Credit: Sergio Moraes/Reuters

A boy walks near Brazilian soldiers before they carry out an inspection for Aedes mosquitoes at the Realengo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro in 2008. Dengue, a viral disease spread by the Aedes mosquito, has killed dozens and infected tens of thousands in Rio de Janeiro state alone that year.

One thing South America doesn’t need is more mosquitos. Or does it?

The Global Post reveals how scientists in Brazil have deliberately released millions of genetically modified insects in an effort to disrupt mosquito breeding cycles. The whole goal is to stop the spread of dangerous dengue fever — a public health concern in tropical areas that has grown 30-fold in recent years.

Proponents say this is the only way to protect people from these daytime-biting mosquitoes. Critics, however, say not enough is known about how these genetically modified mosquitoes will alter the environment — making their release incredibly dangerous.

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Kenya is going to the dogs to protect endangered rhinos from poachers

Rhino poaching is a lucrative business, with a pound of rhino horn often fetching a value higher than an equivalent amount of cocaine, or even gold. In order to try and put a stop, or at least slow, poaching in Kenya, a former UK army animal trainer has called in the dogs.

These specially trained canines are being counted on to find poached animals, track down the poachers and, if necessary, even attack the poachers. And they're being outfitted with high-tech gear, too, including ballistic vests and head-mounted surveillance cameras so their handlers can keep an eye on what they're seeing. PRI's The World has the story, including photos and videos of the dogs in action.

Everythiing you need to know about Heartbleed

The tech world has been abuzz in recent days about the heartbleed vulnerability in the important web technology known as OpenSSL. The protocol, which is designed to encrypt your password when it's sent from your computer to servers at tech companies like Facebook or Instagram, was recently discovered to have a serious vulnerability. And companies have been scrambling to patch the hole.

Everyone seems to agree that the tech companies need to make changes — and quick. But where people diverge is on what all of you should do. Change all your passwords? Or don't. No one seems sure. Mashable has a handy list of some popular sites that were, and were not, affected by Heartbleed. If you have an account on one of those sites, it's probably best to change your password there. And if you use that password on other sites, better change that too. But on other sites, the recommendations are far more mixed.

Security guards and secret police are no match for these dedicated autograph collectors

If you've been to a sporting event, you've probably seen fans crowded around the court, or the field, trying to get an autograph from the team's biggest stars. But autographs aren't confined to the world of sports, or even celebrities. There's a whole group of people devoted to getting autographs from world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, dear leaders and defense secretaries. PRI's The World details what you have to be willing to do if you want that priceless autograph from someone like FIdel Castro.

Tips on how not to get murdered on planet Earth

There are a number of ways to reduce your risk of coming to a violent, homicidal end. Be Singaporean, for one. Be female (usually). Be old. Don’t be Honduran. The Economist has been examined a new UN report on the more than 425,000 people in the world who were killed in 2012. What they found was, across the whole world, your odds of dying were about 1 in 16,000. Of course, changing factors, like where you live, can greatly increase or decrease those odds.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Just as those of us in the northern hemisphere celebrate the arrivial of spring and, eventually, summer, winter nears for all those living south of the equator. If you need a reminder of what that means, let us point to the low temperature at the South Pole on Wednesday: -86 degrees. Brrr.

Everyone is looking for a signal

John Kerry and the triumph of hope over experience.
Credit: (c) Malcolm Evans, Auckland, New Zealand

John Kerry and the triumph of hope over experience.

This post is a regular feature of PRI.org. It's a daily brief and email newsletter of stories, events and graphics that are catching the attention of our news staff. The World's Leo Hornak kicks it off from London and various folks on our editorial team around the globe contribute from there, like Cartoon Editor Carol Hills in Boston. Don't expect anything near the standard wrap of major news stories. This blog post and its email companion will be as idiosyncratic as our staff... and we'll want you to tell us what you like and don't like. Sign up for a PRI.org account and subscribe to our newsletter to get it delivered to your inbox. The newsletter arrives during the US morning hours.

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