Oh, No! 17 Times Animals Were Used as High-Tech Weaponry

Can’t resist a cat in uniform? Here’s a list of the armed forces’ most unexpected animal allies.

Apparently, police in Russia want to ride around on reindeer. The request by officers in the nation’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug region, reported by international news outlets last month, caused the world to raise its collective eyebrow. Perhaps the Russians, stationed in one of their country’s most remote outposts, had watched one too many marathons of The Santa Clause and its sequels, searing visions of flying, animatronic companions into their minds.

But this wasn’t a whim. The police in Yamalo-Nenets have apparently been requesting reindeer since 2012 because they’re the best way to access remote parts of the arctic where suspects flee on their own reindeer sledges. The existing police snowmobiles often break down, and they point out that there are already regulations for the care and use of reindeer in Russian police protocols. Similar programs, acknowledging local terrain and the adaptive advantage of these beasts, exist in Finland and Norway, bolstering the Russian force’s case for felt-antlered companions.

Much as we love to think of ourselves as the masters of nature, these little adaptive advantages have long enticed humans to work with animals. We’re familiar with the use of dogs, elephants, and horses, which stretches back over three thousand years (and we still find dogs’ noses useful for sniffing out narcotics). But as Russia’s reindeer prove, these are far from the only animals we call into service to police our streets or fight our battles. Some of the creatures we’ve used, and the usually good reasons we’ve decided to use them, as our partners are quite surprising.

In alphabetical order, find our armed forces’ most unexpected animal allies.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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