New Zealand orders mass cattle cull to eradicate disease

Already, 26,000 cattle have been destroyed in the 10 months since the disease was first recorded in New Zealand. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018
0

New Zealand orders mass cattle cull to eradicate disease

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Monday ordered the culling of 126,000 cattle in an attempt to eradicate the painful Mycoplasma bovis disease, which causes udder infections, pneumonia and arthritis.
The decision was taken to “protect the base of our economy — the farming sector,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“This is a tough call — no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd.”
Mycoplasma bovis does not affect milk and meat for human consumption, and most governments are content to control outbreaks.
However, Ardern said New Zealand — which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings — would aim to eradicate the disease completely.
“We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate and more than 99 percent of farms don’t have it and we want to protect them from having it.”
The phased eradication, to take place over two years at a cost of NZ$886 million ($616 million), represents only a fraction of New Zealand stock, with some 4.2 million cattle slaughtered annually.
Mycoplasma bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull.
Already, 26,000 cattle have been destroyed in the 10 months since the disease was first recorded in New Zealand.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said it was believed the outbreak came from one source and that expert advice indicated it was possible to contain and eradicate it.
However, many healthy cattle will also be killed in the cull.
“The majority of animals that we do cull in New Zealand are all healthy. This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals,” he said.


Austria FM’s bow to Putin at wedding dance goes viral

Updated 2 min 44 sec ago
0

Austria FM’s bow to Putin at wedding dance goes viral

  • Putin was one of around 100 guests at Karin Kneissl’s wedding to a businessman in southeastern Austria
  • The opposition has criticized Kneissl, saying the country’s reputation for political neutrality has been damaged

VIENNA: The Austrian foreign minister’s deep bow to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dance at her wedding made waves Monday, causing more furor for the already-controversial visit.
Putin was one of around 100 guests at Karin Kneissl’s wedding to a businessman in southeastern Austria on Saturday.
Since the private visit was announced last week, the opposition has criticized Kneissl, saying the country’s reputation for political neutrality has been damaged. Austria currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency.
Adding to the fire Monday was a screen grab from a video made by the pro-Kremlin RT television network that shows Kneissl, radiant, bending her knees in a deep curtesy bow in front of Putin at the end of a dance with him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a floral bouquet to Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl during her wedding to entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger in Gamlitz, Austria. (AFP)

The photo was widely published in Austrian media on Monday with headlines such as “Kneissl prostrates on her knees in front of Putin.”
“How unprofessional can a foreign minister be — to produce photos that show you kneeling in front of Putin? Even if it’s just a funny courtesy gesture after a dance, one knows that one should not produce such photos,” left-wing essayist Robert Misik said.
Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), who was also a wedding guest, defended Kneissl, saying she had attended the prestigious Vienna dance school Elmayer and knew her manners as the gesture was a tradition after the dance and Putin in turn bowed.
“Dancing wedding diplomacy with politeness, friendliness and good manners, one can’t represent Austria any better than this!” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Though Kneissl is independent, she was nominated for the foreign minister post by Strache’s FPOe, which since 2016 has had a “cooperation pact” with Putin’s United Russia party.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz after talks following the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl with Austrian businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in Gamlitz, southern Austria. (AP)

 

Thomas Schaefer-Elmayer, head of the Vienna dance school Elmayer, reportedly confirmed that the gesture was done at the end of the dance as “a deep compliment.”
After briefly attending the wedding, Putin was accompanied to the airport by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and then headed to Germany for a planned meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Even before the wedding, Austrian opposition politicians had criticized the invitation to Putin, saying it undermined the country’s claim to be an “honest broker” between Europe and Russia, with the Green party calling for Kneissl’s resignation.
Russia has been accused of seeking to weaken and divide the EU, notably by maintaining links with populist parties in several European countries.