Wednesday 20 September 2017

Turkey cull in Poland on cards after discovery of bird flu virus at farms

Three poultry farms northwest of Warsaw were cordoned off at the weekend after the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu was found in turkeys, officials said yesterday.

There are now plans to cull 4,000 birds following the discovery of cases at farms around the village of Brudzen near the city of Plock, Poland's chief veterinary officer Ewa Lech said. Ms Lech said the virus was most likely brought to Poland by migrating ducks, geese or swans and an area within a 3-kilometre radius of the outbreak had been cordoned off.

"Areas of contamination and danger have been marked off," said Plock crisis management official Hilary Januszczyk. The area is being constantly monitored by veterinary officials and the police. To date, the virus has caused more than 200 deaths in humans globally since 2003, according to World Heath Organisation data.

Belgian PM hopeful resigns mandate

Yves Leterme, who was supposed to form a government in Belgium and become its prime minister, has resigned his mandate after failing to heal a rift between Flemish and Francophone parties.

King Albert II accepted the resignation of the Flemish-speaking Christian Democrat leader. His resignation came after one of four prospective coalition partners refused to back a plan designed to lead to more autonomy for the country's rival linguistic camps.

Serbs flee 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo

Tens of thousands of Serbs are preparing to flee the troubled Balkan province of Kosovo because of fears that the region is on the brink of a devastating war.

Talks to find a political solution to the future of the region collapsed last week, eight years after Nato intervened to end violence that left more than 2,000 dead. With Kosovo's new Albanian-led administration poised to declare independence from Serbia, the old hatreds are resurfacing. Many Serbs, who account for less than 10 per cent of the population, are packing their bags, fearing a wave of "ethnic cleansing'' at the hands of the Albanians.

Mugabe off agenda at Lisbon summit

It is the issue that everyone is talking about, yet astonishingly when leaders from the European Union and Africa meet in Lisbon next weekend, Zimbabwe will not even be on the agenda.

Even as Robert Mugabe, the country's 83-year-old president, confirmed he would attend the summit in Portugal, it became clear that other African leaders had blocked discussion of his appalling record on human rights. Dr Tomaz Salomao, the executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community, the umbrella body for 14 of Zimbabwe's neighbours, said it would "not accept'' any discussion of Zimbabwe "because the summit is not about Zimbabwe''.

Pope slams UN for 'selective defence'

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday criticised what he said was the tendency of the United Nations and other international organisations to ignore "natural moral law" in their efforts to make a more peaceful world.

He cited what he called a "selective defence of human rights" at international organisations -- an apparent reference to the United Nations' provision of family planning services to women around the world. The Vatican opposes artificial contraception and abortion.

World council meet on Iran sanctions

Senior officials from the world's most powerful countries met yesterday to discuss imposing a third round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, the day after talks with Tehran failed to yield a breakthrough.

The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany agreed in September to delay sanctions against Iran until the end of November, pending reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and EU mediator Javier Solana. If these did not show "a positive outcome", they would agree on more sanctions against Iran and put these to a council vote.

Muslim peers in bid to free teacher

Two British Muslim peers arrived in Sudan early yesterday in a bid to secure the early release of an English teacher convicted of insulting religion by letting her class name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Lord Ahmed, from the ruling Labour party, and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, an opposition Conservative, hope to meet Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to discuss the case of Liverpool woman Gillian Gibbons (54), who was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation.

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