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North Korea has broken its silence on an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), with claims it has taken emergency measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

The virus does not affect humans but it is fatal and highly contagious to pigs and wild boars.

South Korea’s agriculture ministry claimed the North reported an outbreak to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) late last month, but this is the first time it has made any official comment.

African swine fever was found at a farm in China in February
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African swine fever was found at a farm in China in February

It is claimed Pyongyang said 77 out of 99 pigs had died from the disease at a farm near the China border.

Since the first outbreak of ASF in East Asia was reported in China in early August last year, the virus has spread across the country and reached Vietnam.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s state newspaper said on Wednesday that nationwide steps were being carried out to contain it, quoting leader Kim Jong Un as saying “prevention is the key to production in livestock industry”.

“Increasing livestock production goes hand-in-hand with raising farm animals safe from various diseases,” he said.

Kim Jong Un is reported to have said: 'prevention is the key to production in livestock industry'
Image:
Kim Jong Un reportedly said prevention was ‘key to production in livestock industry’

“Once highly contagious diseases like African swine fever are spread, herds of farm animals could die.”

North Korea raises mainly chickens, ducks and rabbits – and according to data from Statistic Korea – in 2017, the North’s pig population was 2.6m.

Preventative measures are said to include disinfecting farms and restricting sales of pork and processed meat.

Following the outbreak in the North, South Korea has taken action of its own, near the shared border to keep the viral disease away.

So far, no further cases have been reported in North Korea.

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World’s oldest asteroid strike in Western Australia ‘could have ended Ice Age’ | World News

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The world’s oldest asteroid crater has been discovered in Western Australia, which could have ended an Ice Age, according to scientists.

A team from Curtin University, in WA, said the Yarrabubba strike, in the Outback, happened 2.2 billion years ago and is around half as old as the Earth.

Pic: Curtin University
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Until now it was unclear how old the crater was. Pic: Curtin University

Experts from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences say they analysed the minerals – zircon and monazite at the base of the eroded hole that were “shock recrystallised” by the impact, to calculate exactly when it happened, in a similar way tree rings can provide clues about their past.

They believe the strike released huge volumes of water vapour into the atmosphere, which may have lifted the planet out of a deep freeze.

Professor Chris Kirkland said Yarrabubba – which sits between Sandstone and Meekatharra – was known to be an impact structure for many years, but it was unclear exactly how old it was.

He continued: “Now we know the Yarrabubba crater was made right at the end of what’s commonly referred to as the early Snowball Earth – a time when the atmosphere and oceans were evolving and becoming more oxygenated, and when rocks deposited on many continents recorded glacial conditions.

Another scientist involved in the research, Associate Professor Nicholas Timms, added: “The age of the Yarrabubba impact matches the demise of a series of ancient glaciations.

“After the impact, glacial deposits are absent in the rock record for 400 million years.

“This twist of fate suggests the large meteorite impact may have influenced global climate. And this finding raises the question whether this impact may have tipped the scales enough to end glacial conditions”.

The team say their study could have major implications for future crater discoveries.

:: A New Climate is a series of special podcasts from the Sky News Daily. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Senior research fellow Dr Aaron Cavosie, said: “This one sat in plain sight for nearly two decades before its significance was realised.”

Experts analysed minerals that were 'shock recrystallized' by the impact. Pic Curtin University
Image:
Experts analysed minerals that were ‘shock recrystallized’ by the impact. Pic Curtin University

He added that the discovery “raises the question of whether all older impact craters have been eroded or if they are still out there waiting to be found”.

The study has been published in the leading journal Nature Communications.

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Trump impeachment: Republicans block Democrat bids for new evidence and witnesses | US News

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Republican senators have blocked a move by Democrats to compel Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to appear as a witness in the impeachment trial.

In an early sign of partisanship, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected several Democrat bids for more witnesses to expose the US president’s alleged abuse of power and the covering-up of his actions.

Republicans also turned back Democratic amendments to subpoena documents from the White House, State Department, Defence Department and budget office, as the first day of proceedings continued into the early hours of Wednesday.



This is how impeachment works in two minutes







How impeachment works

They voted against compelling Mr Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney – both with front-row seats to the president’s actions – to give evidence at the historic trial.

By the same 53-47 party-line, the Republicans banded together to adopt their rules governing the proceedings, including delaying a debate over whether to call witnesses until the middle of the trial.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Republican senators of “enabling a cover-up”.

The president, who is 4,000 miles away from Washington in Davos, Switzerland, is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after investigations by the lower House of Representatives, which the Democrats control.

Mr Trump is accused of freezing Congress-approved aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and impeding the inquiry into the matter.



Adam Schiff said that if Trump can 'nullify' the power to prevent misconduct, then he 'places himself beyond accountability'.







‘If Trump can’t be impeached, it makes him a monarch’

Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, leading the prosecution, said America’s founders had added the remedy of impeachment in the US constitution with “precisely this type of conduct in mind – conduct that abuses the power of office for a personal benefit, that undermines our national security, and that invites foreign interference in the democratic process of an election”.

But White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the president’s lead lawyer, said the charges against Mr Trump were “ridiculous”, insisting the president had done “absolutely nothing wrong”.



Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, said that the only conclusion to President Trump's impeachment trial will be that "there is absolutely no case".







Trump lawyer: ‘Absolutely no case’

Mr Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, was sacked by Mr Trump in September with the pair having significant disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan and other global challenges.

Earlier this year, he issued a statement on Mr Trump’s impeachment, saying that if he was compelled to, he would give evidence at the trial.

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“If the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” he wrote.

The final impeachment vote in the Senate, which will decide whether Mr Trump is guilty, is expected to be along party lines and it is therefore unlikely the president will be removed from office.

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Flamur Beqiri murder: Man arrested in Denmark over shooting of suspected London gangster | UK News

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A man has been arrested in Denmark over the Christmas Eve murder of a suspected gangster in front of his wife and child in south London.

The 22-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder on Monday night under a European Arrest Warrant at Copenhagen Airport at the request of Scotland Yard after arriving on a flight from Thailand.

The suspect remains in custody in Denmark pending extradition proceedings back to the UK.

Flamur Beqiri was killed in front of his house
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Mr Beqiri was shot dead in front of his Battersea home

He is accused of shooting Swedish national Flamur Beqiri, who police believe may have had criminal links in Sweden and was killed in a targeted attack.

The 36-year-old was shot multiple times by a lone suspect on his doorstep as he returned to his Battersea home with his family at around 9pm on 24 December.

The killer fled the scene on foot.

A neighbour heard the gun shots and the screams of Mr Beqiri’s wife and came out and saw the Swede lying in front of his doorway in a pool of blood.

According to reports, Mr Beqiri is the brother of former Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Misse Beqiri.

He met his wife at his sister’s wedding, and reportedly ran a record company in London.

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