February 27, 2016

Top News Stories –

Oregon scraps goat landscaping scheme due to cost and smell –
It seemed like an environmentally good idea at the time: Set 75 rented goats loose on 9.1 acres of [Salem] city park to chomp and chew invasive plants such as Armenian blackberry and English ivy that were choking native flora out of Minto-Brown Island Park. So the city, responding to community interest, launched a pilot project last October, contracting with Yoder Goat Rentals out of Molalla to remove the invasive species. But in a report submitted this week to the Salem City Council, the public works department revealed that the six-week project cost the city almost five times what it would normally have spent had it removed the vegetation using more conventional, and less odoriferous, methods. According to the report presented Monday, the total cost to the city for using the nannies and billies, which were “universally welcomed by park users as a pleasant pastoral addition to the scenery,” was $20,719. Ruminate on that, if you will. [Statesman Journal]

Russian troops ‘lose’ field gun after holiday salute –
Russian soldiers have been left red-faced after losing a large artillery piece in the middle of the city of Volgograd, it’s reported. Surprised locals called the police after finding the weapon – a World War Two-era ZiS-3 76mm mobile field gun – blocking the pavement of a major thoroughfare near the centre on Tuesday evening, the LifeNews TV channel reports. It turns out the gun went Awol as it was being towed back to the barracks in a column of military vehicles from the city’s Volga embankment, where it had been used in a gun salute to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day – an annual official holiday celebrating the armed forces. One eyewitness reports seeing it uncouple itself from a turning lorry and trundle backwards onto the roadside, coming to rest only 1m (3ft) from a parked car. “Only a bit more, and it would have ended up in the front passenger seat,” he says. It’s not clear whether the troops noticed the loss, as the witness says they “carried on as if nothing had happened”. A military spokesman, however, insists the servicemen did spot the gun’s departure, but were unable to stop as they were in an “organised column”. [BBC]

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