News in Brief


Science and technology may be used to combat the Zika virus outbreak that has swept through much of Central and South America. According to Reuters, the Brazilian government, a nonprofit called Moscamed and Canadian company MDS Nordion have hatched a plan to irradiate the Aedes mosquitoes transporting the disease. Using Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope, groups of male mosquitoes will be sterilized and released into the wild, controlling the population. Moscamed looks to breed 12 million mosquitoes a week.


Unfortunately, not just water is flowing through the tributaries of the Maranon River in Peru. Since Jan. 23, ruptures in an oil pipeline have spilled an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil into the river system. According to Reuters, the publicly owned company in charge of the pipeline, Petroperu, has halted its oil transport operations and may have to pay 60 million soles ($17 million) in damages if it is deemed that the spill impacted the health of local residents. The Maranon is a tributary to the Amazon River.


While martial law ended almost a year ago, former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra and others have doubts about the country’s military governance. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Shinawatra said that Thailand was going “backward more than forward.” For a decade, the country has been embroiled in a series of political crises. In 2006, Shinawatra was ousted in a coup. Eight years later, the military again seized control of the nation. Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns about migrant worker treatment and human trafficking under this government.


The proposed multi-country halt in oil production may be dead. Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh responded negatively to the plan. “It is very ridiculous,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “They come up with the proposal on freezing oil production and call for this freeze to take place in their 10-million-barrels-a-day production vis-a-vis Iran’s 1-million-barrels-a-day.” At an annual energy conference, Zanganeh’s Saudi Arabian counterpart also spelled doom for the deal. Recently, sanctions on Iranian oil exports were lifted.

United States

WikiLeaks released another trove of National Security Agency intelligence documents. In this latest batch of leaks, communications from world leaders and officials were disclosed. One of the most alarming intercepts summarized a private climate change strategy meeting between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to a WikiLeaks news release, “Some of the intercepts are classified TOP-SECRET COMINT-GAMMA and are the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization.”