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
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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.


Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

Updated 22 June 2018
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Former guerilla set to be sworn in as East Timor leader

DILI, East Timor: East Timor will swear in a new government led by former guerilla fighter Taur Matan Ruak Friday following a protracted political crisis that has paralyzed the tiny Southeast Asian nation.
Ruak will head the second government in less than a year in the impoverished half-island nation that won independence in 2002 after a brutal 24-year occupation by neighboring Indonesia.
Born Jose Maria Vasconcelos but universally known by his nom de guerre Taur Matan Ruak — which means “Two sharp eyes” — was a commander in the East Timorese resistance before becoming chief of the newly independent nation’s army.
He also served in the largely ceremonial role of president between 2012 and 2017.
Parliament was dissolved in January amid tensions between former prime minister Mari Alkatiri’s minority government and an opposition centered around independence hero Xanana Gusmao.
An alliance led by Gusmao clinched an absolute majority in elections held in May.
Ruak’s new government includes members of Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction, the People’s Liberation Party and the youth-based Khunto.
The incoming administration will face big challenges, especially as the clock is ticking fast on East Timor’s disappearing oil and gas reserves.
The resources pay for the bulk of government spending but oil revenues are in steep decline and the country has few other productive economic sectors.
About 60 percent of East Timor’s population is under 25, according to the World Bank, while some 40 percent of its people live in poverty.
Providing jobs for young people and reining in public spending — especially on large infrastructure projects — will be key tasks for the new government, analysts say.