Global Scan

Sochi hires a pest control company to 'solve' its stray dog problem


Volunteers sit near two stray dogs outside the Gorki media center where they will coordinate the media shuttle buses in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, January 30, 2014.


Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The Winter Olympics' opening ceremony is just days away now, but Sochi has a new problem. And this one has nothing to do with terrorism or crime.

It's all about dogs. Russia has a lot of stray dogs, and Sochi is no different. But with the Olympics coming to town, Sochi now has a stray dog problem. There have even been reports, unconfirmed, of stray dogs biting children.

So Russia has hired a pest control firm charged with "catching and disposing" of stray dogs, the Guardian reports. Alexei Sorokin, director general of Basya Services, the company hired to do the dog "disposal" says he attended a rehearsal of the opening ceremony recently and a stray dog wander into the stadium. He says that won't be allowed to happen during the actual event.

Sochi officials had previously pledged not to kill the stray dogs, but to catch them and build shelters instead. There are no signs, however, that any shelters were ever built. 

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In the Netherlands, you can smoke it, but you can't grow it — for now

Historically, the Netherlands has been at the forefront of progressive policies on marijuana consumption. In Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, it's legal to buy and consume cannabis at cafes. However, the owners of these cafes are caught in a strange Catch-22: it's legal to sell the drug, but not to cultivate it.

This, say the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam Utrecht and 32 other towns and cities, forces cafe owners to source their marijuana from illegal gangs — encouraging organized crime and causing a problem for police, who have to dismantle the gangs' cannabis farms. In a manifesto published last week the mayors called on the government to legalize cannabis cultivation, and to allow them to make it a revenue source for their cities. So far, the government is resisting their pleas, The Independent reports.

Whaling boats said to make 'ruthless' attack on anti-whaling protesters

Tensions between Japanese whalers and anti-whaling activists reached a boiling point over the weekend, as Japanese ships reportedly attacked two boats belonging to the Sea Shepherd conservation society in the Antarctic seas. Activists from the charity said the Japanese ships tried to disable the rudder and propellers of their boats, by dragging steel cables across their bows. One of the two boats was then rammed by one of the whaling boats. The captain of one of the boats described the incident as an 'unprovoked' and 'ruthless' attack. The Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors the annual whale hunt, blamed the activists for getting too close to their vessels, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

This child was kept as a slave — in California

Shyima Hall grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, in a family of eleven children. She says her childhood was poor, but for the most part, happy. But her life changed when she was 8, and she was sold into slavery to repay a debt. From then on, she worked for her new masters, a family, as a slave, eventually coming with them to California. Reporter Julia Simon spoke to her for PRI's The World to find out how she eventually escaped. Now an adult, she's vowed to pursue a career in immigration enforcement to help future children like her.

A legendary singer's daughter takes up with protesters in Jamaica

Donna Prendergast, the granddaughter of the legendary reggae singer Bob Marley, has joined protestors occupying a site in Jamaica that housed the first-ever Rastafarian village. The demonstrators are reportedly staying in a Rastafarian place of worship close to the village. They are calling for the entire site, established by Leonard P. Howell in the 1930s, to be given to the Howell family and the Rastafarian community, according to the Jamaican Gleaner. Howell's family has been fighting a long-running legal battle with developers who want to build on the hill.

The Rastafarian community has no legal title to the land, but are permitted to use the site because of their historical connections. Part of the site has already been declared a national monument. The Howell family is due back in court this week, to argue that documents proving their ownership of the site were destroyed by the colonial administration, according to the BBC.

Your extra virgin olive oil may be neither

Author Tom Mueller has spent a lot of time researching olive oil. His book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, celebrates the best, and worst, olive oil producers. That's upset some people in the industry in Italy who are named in the book. Mueller describes the tricks used by fraudsters, such as labelling a bottle with the location where the oil was bottled, rather than where the olivers were grown, and the use of so-called 'deodorized' oil, which is made from rotten olives. This oil is normally inedible, but can be refined to produce a flavorless, colorless oil, which is then mixed with a little of the genuine stuff to fool consumers, PRI’s The World reports.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Rome has been hit with lots of rain lately and it's led to flooding of the Tiber River. People are concerned the river may spill over its banks or even back up into the city's storm sewer system, damaging the city's ancient ruins and artifacts. At the city's Spanish Synagogue and the Rome Jewish Museum, that means putting up temporary barriers, "just in case." According to, both are located below street level in the city's main synagogue complex, along the banks of the Tiber.

Russia's thrown open its doors, but it's keeping people in the closet

Vladimir Putin welcomes the world to Sochi ... with a caveat.


(c) Patrick LaMontagne, Canada

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