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Mon, 09 Dec 2019
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China's African Swine Fever is now a global threat

pigs in pen
The worst outbreak of fatal African Swine Fever disease ever has devastated the world's largest pig population, that of China, over the past months. Now it is spreading to neighboring states and even threatens the United States pig herds. The political and human impact could be far worse than imagined as a de facto pandemic disease situation spreads. Globalization of agribusiness is not helping matters.

On August 3, 2018 a case of African Swine Fever (ASF) was confirmed in China's Liaoning Province. Since then despite various measures to contain the deadly disease it has spread across China where as of November, 2019 in little more than a year, nearly half of China's huge pig population has either died or been eliminated in a desperate effort to contain the disease. ASF is not deadly to humans but is 100% fatal to any pig that is infected. There is no known treatment to cure it. It can be spread by direct contact with an infected pig, body fluids, contact with equipment or clothing and via certain tick species.

The China Agriculture Ministry issued a report in August that the size of China's live pig herd had declined by a very precise 38.7% from August 2018. Industry sources suspect underreporting and put the actual number at more like 50%. In any event it is huge, and has impacted the politically sensitive measure of China food price inflation over the past year. Pork is a mainstay of the Chinese diet for meat protein and considered a national security issue. Most pigs in China are raised by small-scale farmers who face ruin now. According to reports inside China this has led many desperate small farmers to try to hide the presence of ASF in their herds, to slaughter and sell, to avoid financial ruin.


Mafia state: Assassination attempt on Kiev city councillor kills his 3-year-old son by mistake

© REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
Investigators inspect Vyacheslav Sobolev's car after a gun attack.
The youngest son of a wealthy Ukrainian businessman was killed by a stray bullet when a gunman opened fire on his dad's car. The father is a member of Kiev city council, though what exactly made him a target remains unclear.

Vyacheslav Sobolev and his family were attacked on Sunday right after they left a restaurant that he owns in central Kiev. The gunman shot at the man's Range Rover at a crossroads right next to the posh establishment.

The businessman is presumed to have been the intended target, but was unharmed. Instead, the youngest of his five children, his three-year-old son Aleksandr, was hit in the head by a bullet.

Sobolev realized what had happened after his wife Inna, who was with their boy in the back seat, cried out, according to Ukrainian media reports.

Comment: See also:

Take 2

Terrorists afforded a second chance; victims get none

© Reuters/Simon Dawson
Flowers are left at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge
London Bridge attacker Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist and, in the eyes of the law, a "threat to the UK." So why was he released from prison early and paraded as an example of successful rehabilitation?

28-year-old Usman Khan stabbed two people to death and injured three others on Friday, before he was wrestled to the ground by members of the public and shot dead at point-blank range by police on London Bridge. Khan was wearing a fake suicide vest, and the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack by investigators.

Khan was not the archetypal US-style lone-wolf attacker, the kind who one day snaps and opens up on the public with an AR-15. Instead, he was a hate preacher and hardened terrorist who should never have been allowed back on the streets.

Comment: See also:


'Venice is dying': Residents must vote on whether or not to split the city in half

© Deposit Photos
Venice, Italy
Venetians headed to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want the historic and 'floating' centre of the city to literally break away from its more populated boroughs on the mainland, a vote brought on by the negative consequences of mass tourism on Venice's residents.

Venice authorities have called on its citizens to decide whether they want to split their municipality in two - on one side the historic city and islands which are famously built on stilts on the lagoon, and on the other the inland and more residential 'frazioni' known as Mestre.

It's a decision that beggars belief at a time when referendums across Europe, approved or attempted, seem to be sowing more divisions than any actual prospect of civil neighbourliness.

But the case for a referendum in Venice isn't one based on cultural identity or fear of foreign government; instead its focal points are mass tourism, depopulation and urban decay.

On Wednesday September 25 Veneto Region's president Luca Zaia announced that the referendum was legitimate and could go ahead in two months, even though he did not have the support of Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who urged all residents not to take part in "yet another referendum on separation."


Father of London Bridge victim slams BoJo for using his son's death for political gain as 'beyond disgusting'

Merritt Bojo
© Reuters/handout/AFP/Pool/Simon Dawson
Jack Merritt, victim • PM Boris Johnson
The father of Jack Merritt, a victim in last Friday's London Bridge terrorist attack, has shared a tweet branding PM Boris Johnson's response to the vile murders, as "beyond disgusting."

David Merritt, whose 25 year-old son was one of two victims killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan in a savage stabbing spree, appeared to condemn Johnson for using the death of Jack as justification for harsher sentencing. He shared a tweet on Monday morning from Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor at Novara Media, that also hit out at Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Just a day after the murders, Johnson declared that a Tory government led by him would toughen terror sentences and stop criminals entering the UK from the EU. He also claimed there would be a crackdown on early release for convicted terrorists, insisting that "the practice of automatic early release where you cut a sentence in half" isn't working.

Comment: See also:

Manufactured terror: MI5 lifted surveillance of London Bridge terrorist weeks before attack


Houthis down Saudi helicopter, release video

© CC BY-SA 4.0/Qrmoo3/Saudi Arabian National Guard AH-64 Apache
Saudi AH-64 Apache helicopter
The Yemen-based Houthi movement claimed to have shot down a Saudi helicopter near the border with Saudi Arabia on Friday, according to the group's spokesman. The Saudi-led coalition hasn't commented on the report yet.

An alleged video showing a Saudi helicopter being downed near the frontier with the Saudi Arabian region of Asir, which borders the northern part of Yemen, has been published on social media platforms.

The video shows an alleged Saudi Apache attack helicopter that was reportedly hit by a new surface-to-air missile launched by Yemeni air defences. Riyadh has yet to confirm or deny the Houthis' claims.

Comment: Sputnik, 1/12/2019: Houthis claim 2nd aircraft shot down over Yemen
Houthi Rebels said they have shot down an unmanned drone over northern Yemen just a day after claiming to bring down a Saudi Apache helicopter, Yahya Sarea, the group's military spokesman, said on Saturday.

"Yemeni air defences were able to shoot down a Chinese-made Wing Loong fighter reconnaissance aircraft in the Hiran district of Hajjah province this evening during hostilities", Sarea said in a post in Twitter.

Sarea added that the operation was caught on tape and that footage will be published shortly.

Cell Phone

World-first: Mobile phone detection cameras installed in Australia; hopes are to cut fatalities by a third

phone driving
© Unknown
New South Wales rolled out mobile phone detection cameras on Sunday, hoping to cut the number of fatalities on its roads by a third over two years, transport authorities said.

The world-first mobile phone detection cameras, according to Transport for NSW, which manages the state's transport services, operate day and night in all weather conditions to determine if a driver is handling a mobile phone.

"It's a system to change the culture," the NSW police assistant commissioner, Michael Corboy, told Australian media last week.

Making or receiving voice calls while driving in NSW is legal, but only when using a hands-free device. All other functions, such as video calling, using social media and photography, are illegal while behind the wheel.

Comment: Not to mention a new revenue stream for NSW.


Najaf, Iraq: Protesters again set Iranian consulate on fire, second time in a week

Iran consulate
© Reuters/Stringer
Iranian consulate ablaze in Najaf, Iraq
Dozens of demonstrators were injured in clashes with security officers close to the Iranian consulate in Najaf on 28 November.

Demonstrators have reportedly set the Iranian consulate building in the Iraqi city of Najaf on fire for the second time in a week as violent protests rock Iraq's southern regions.

Protesters, mostly young people, have reportedly accused the Iraqi elites of being corrupt and serving the interests of foreign powers, especially Iran, while the country is plagued by endemic poverty and mass unemployment.

Comment: See also: Iranian consulate in Iraq torched by protesters


'Burn my son the same way she was burned,' says mother of accused Hyderabad gang rapist

People shouting during Priyanka Reddy protest
© Reuters/Vinod Babu
People shout slogans during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman in Hyderabad, India, December 2, 2019.
The families of the four men accused of the gang rape, murder, and desecration of Priyanka Reddy in a case which has shocked the whole of India, have called for their sons to be hanged and burned for what they did.

The four accused men currently in custody for the barbaric crime are Mohammad Pasha, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen, and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu. Each of their families have faced public humiliation and intense scrutiny in the wake of the devastating crime.

"If my son is wrong, burn him the same way she was burned. Isn't the victim also the daughter of a mother? I am suffering today, I can imagine what the girl's mother is going through," Chennakesavulu's mother Jayamma said. "You hang him, kill him or shoot him dead. Will you listen if I say I want my son back? You give whatever punishment. I have a daughter too," she added while fielding questions from journalists in Telangana.

"You do anything. God only knows," the mother of the accused Siva said, echoing comments made by the parents of the accused Mohammad.

Comment: Previously: Priyanka Reddy case: How police cracked 'Hyderabad Horror' rape-murder in 24 hours


Spanish police apprehend suspected pilot of 'narco-submarine'

narcotics drug smuggling submarine
© Salvador Sas/European Press Agency
A crane carries the ‘narco-submarine’ refloated near Vigo, north-eastern Spain.
Fifth person detained after vessel carrying cocaine was intercepted off Galicia coast

A crane carries the 'narco-submarine' refloated near Vigo, north-eastern Spain. Photograph: Salvador Sas/EPA

Spanish police have arrested a man alleged to be the pilot of the "narco-submarine" that was intercepted off the coast of Galicia last weekend carrying three tonnes of cocaine.

Two other men were arrested at the scene after allegedly trying to scuttle the semi-submersible vessel and swim to shore on 24 November.

Comment: Hmmm. Wonder if the confiscated submarine had anything to do with this:

150kg of 'diamond' cocaine washes up on French beaches, locals urged against 'treasure hunting'