The world at a glance . . . Americas
Saskatoon, SaskatchewanYouTube hunters caught: Three Canadian men who sparked a national uproar by posting a YouTube video of themselves gleefully shooting ducklings on a pond have been caught and fined thousands of dollars. The video showed David and Jim Fraser and Jeremy Rowlands cheering as bloody feathers scattered after each shot. The story dominated Canadian news coverage until anonymous tipsters identified the perpetrators. Hunters’ groups were among the most vocal in calling for the men to be arrested, or worse, for shooting sitting ducks, which is illegal. The three men, who say their children’s lives have been threatened as a result of the shootings, pleaded guilty to unlawful hunting and related charges. “We thought we were just having fun, really immature, stupid fun, you know?” said David Fraser.
Mexico CityPurge of customs agents: Mexico replaced nearly all its customs agents at airports and border crossings this week, as part of a crackdown on corruption. Many of the dismissed agents were suspected of having had ties to drug gangs, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them. The agents weren’t fired; they were simply replaced when their employment contracts expired. The new force of 1,400 agents has undergone extensive background checks and has been trained to find guns and drugs in luggage and cargo. “This change is part of our response to new demands in the fight against contraband,” said customs spokesman Pedro Canabal. Mexico’s heavily armed drug cartels smuggle drugs out, and weapons in, across the U.S. border. In the past two years, more than 13,000 Mexicans have been killed in the drug war.
Galápagos Islands, EcuadorTourists bring disease: Animal species unique to the Galápagos Islands are threatened by a range of diseases brought by tourists, a joint British-Ecuadorean study has found. Planes and boats ferrying tourists to the islands also bring foreign mosquitoes, some of which carry exotic diseases such as avian malaria and West Nile fever. The unique finches, tortoises, and iguanas described by Charles Darwin have no defense against such diseases. “That we haven’t already seen serious disease impacts in Galápagos is probably just a matter of luck,” said Simon Goodman, one of the study’s authors. The Ecuadorean government recently mandated that planes landing on the island be sprayed with pesticide. Boats, however, are not similarly treated.
Rio de JaneiroTorturer is convicted: A former police officer was sentenced this week to 31 years in prison for ordering the torture of two journalists and their driver, in a verdict Brazilian media described as “historic.” Odinei Fernandes da Silva, who left the police force to head a paramilitary group, was found guilty of robbery, torture, and criminal conspiracy. In the midst of conducting an investigation into da Silva’s gang, a reporter and photographer from O Dia newspaper, along with their driver, had been seized by gang members, who tortured them for hours. Paramilitary gangs have often battled drug gangs in Rio slums, sometimes with the tacit support of police.