An Unlikely Hero In The Killing Fields

The little country of Cambodia, located in South East Asia, has suffered three decades of war. This has taken a severe toll on its citizens. But even though the battles have finally ended, the casualties continue. The victims are often curious young boys who explore the countryside and discover one of the many existing landmines planted decades ago.

The Cambodian Mine Action Authority, established in late 2000 to regulate mine activities, estimates that these demining operations cost a staggering $30 million per year. But the cost of lives and limbs is even more staggering. The Cambodian Mine Victim Information Service has recorded 19,684 people killed by mines since 1979. They also have one of highest rates of amputees in the world, with approximately 40,000 sufferers.

Currently, there are four main demining organizations working in Cambodia – The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), The HALO Trust, and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). At the current rate of funding and activity, it could take up to another 20 years to clear the mines from Cambodia’s soil.

It is extremely dangerous work to locate and disable landmines. They are buried beneath the soil, so they are an invisible threat. Since their housing is typically made of plastic, a metal detector will not find them. Unfortunately, there are no maps or charts to indicate where they are buried.

sniffing-rat

This unlikely hero is doing an important job.

But now, Cambodia is getting a “little” help from an unusual source. Rats! Gambian Pouched Rats to be precise. These rodents were deployed to Cambodia from Tanzania in April by a Belgian non-profit organization, APOPO, to help clear these deadly mines. APOPO has used the rodents for mine-clearing projects in several countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

One of the biggest advantages of using rats is that landmines pose no danger to them because the rats are not heavy enough to trigger an explosion. These clever rats are trained from the time they are 4 weeks old to sniff out TNT. When they find it, they scratch the ground at the site. 

rat Food_Reward

All the rats ask in return is a little love and a bite of banana.

The team of 15 rats and 18 handlers are still in training mode, but these rats are showing great promise. It takes one of these rats a matter of minutes to find a mine. It could take a human days, and it would be extremely dangerous work. One false move and a limb or a life could be lost.

A typical work day for these rats will find them in a training field, fitted with a harness which is connected by a leash to a matrix that confines the rat to a specific section of the field being searched. The rat sniffs around within this area and reacts when it gets a whiff of dynamite by digging at the target spot. The rats are then rewarded with a bite of banana.

Deploying these little bomb sniffers and their handlers in high numbers could drastically reduce the time needed to remove the deadly mines in Cambodia’s killing fields.

For their handlers, the rats are more than bomb detectors. “They are not just rats, they are like my brothers,” said 41-year-old handler Meas Chamroeun.

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May 2, 2011, My First Thought— FAKE!

Bin Laden died of disease in 2006
— A former CIA Agent

via “Bin Laden died of disease in 2006” – former CIA agent — RT News.

Osama Bin Laden cheated the gallows and died five years before US security forces officially announced he was killed, says a former CIA agent, currently living in Turkey.

“I knew Bin Laden’s Chechen guards very well,” Berkan Yashar, himself an ethnic Chechen, told the Russian TV station, Channel One. “Samy, Ayub and Mahmud were with him right to the end. I remember well this date as there were three sixes in it – June 26, 2006. Those three men, as well as two Muslims from London and two from the US saw Bin Laden dead.He was seriously ill before his death. He faded away to skin and bone. The three Chechens washed his body before burying it.”

Yashar also said that on the eve of May 2, when President Obama announced that Bin Laden had been killed, the Americans found only Bin Laden’s grave near the Afghan-Pakistani border and staged an operation.

According to Yashar, US special forces started hunting Bin Laden’s Chechen guards after Bin Laden’s death was first announced at a conference in Washington in November 2008. The last of them, Samy, was taken by the American special forces a few days before Bin Laden was officially pronounced dead. Berkan Yashar believes Samy could have told them the exact place of burial.

Answering why he had decided to speak to the Russian channel, Berkan Yashar said that after all the recent developments he feared for his life.

via “Bin Laden died of disease in 2006” – former CIA agent — RT News.

Red Shoes

Tavin Terrel Price was a 19-year-old African-American man. He stood just under 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 lbs, so he was often mistaken for someone several years younger. He was developmentally disabled, but he was excited about starting a new job at a warehouse in just a few days.

On Friday, May 29, Tavin and his mother, Jennifer Rivers, were on their way to the beach, but took a quick side trip to a South Los Angeles car wash. Tavin left his mom for a moment to buy some cigarettes. That’s when a man in a black sweat shirt approached him, accused him of being a gang member, and demanded he take off his shoes.

Tavin was wearing red running shoes. The color red is associated with the Bloods, a Los Angeles based street gang made up of primarily African-Americans. Members of that gang wear red clothing, such as shoes and hoodies. Rival gang members, such as the Crips (whose gang color is blue) might target someone wearing red with the assumption that they are a member of the rival gang.

Tavin told the man he was not in a gang and refused to take off his shoes. He then hurried back to his mother and told her about the episode.

As they rushed to get back into the car, the unknown man shot Tavin four times in the back and chest.

Tavin’s mother called 911 as she began chasing after the gunman. Unfortunately, he got away. Authorities are still searching for him.

Surveillance video and witness accounts will hopefully help detectives in this case. They are working on several leads, but so far no arrests have been made. If the gunman is a member of a rival gang, his own gang might take care of him first. Its against gang code to kill anyone, even a rival gang member, in the presence of their family members.

Tevin Price

Tavin Price’s killer believed he was a rival gang member just because he wore red shoes.

Tavin’s mother told reporters, “I wish he would have just shot me instead of my child. That’s cold for a mother to watch somebody just gun down her child in front of her face. That’s a hard, hard thing to deal with, believe me,” Rivers said, “I can’t even sleep at night since my son died.”

On Monday, Tavin would have been celebrating his 20th birthday and the first day on the job he was so looking forward to. Instead, a vigil was held at the car wash where he died. People sang “Happy Birthday” and released balloons in his memory.

Tavin didn’t deserve to be gunned down. He was murdered for his red shoes.