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Outback camels facing dark fate

Sun., Aug. 9, 2009

Sydney, Australia – Thousands of camels in Australia’s remote Outback could be killed by marksmen in helicopters under a government proposal aimed at cutting down the population of the havoc-wreaking creatures.

First introduced into Australia in the 1840s to help explorers travel through the Australian desert, there are now about 1 million camels roaming the country, with the population doubling every nine years. They compete with sheep and cattle for food, trample vegetation and invade remote settlements in search of water.

Last month, the federal government set aside $16 million for a program to help slash the population. Besides sending in sharpshooters in helicopters and on foot, officials are considering proposals to turn some of the creatures into camel burgers.

Envoy to return to Colombia

Caracas, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez announced he is sending his ambassador back to Colombia, signaling a willingness to ease a diplomatic impasse while still insisting Venezuela will oppose Colombia’s plan to increase the U.S. military presence at its bases.

Chavez told Ambassador Gustavo Marquez on Saturday to return to Bogota, 11 days after he ordered the diplomat home amid the dispute with Bogota. Chavez reiterated his concerns that the U.S. could use bases in Colombia to destabilize the region.

“We’re not telling Colombia what it has to do with its territory,” Chavez said in an interview from Caracas with Colombia’s RCN television. “But we have the right to make warnings, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Iraq asks about missing U.S. hikers

Baghdad – Iraq has appealed to Iran for information about the detention of three Americans who crossed the border while hiking in the Kurdish north, the foreign minister said Saturday.

The request came as the three entered their second week in captivity facing the possibility of an investigation on spying charges despite the insistence of U.S. and Kurdish authorities that they accidentally went astray.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he raised the issue Thursday during a meeting with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq.

Iranian lawmakers were scheduled to discuss the case today during the weekly meeting of parliament’s foreign policy committee, according to Press TV, the English language Iranian state television.


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