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Bird flu outbreak reported at Bulgarian farm

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Sofia, March 29 (IANS) The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA) has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu at an industrial farm.

The virus was detected on a farm with 86,000 laying hens near the village of Tsalapitsa, nearly 130 km southeast of the capital Sofia, the agency said on Thursday in a statement.

In order to contain the disease and prevent its spread, the infected birds and those in touch with them on the farm would be culled, the BFSA added as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

According to the agency’s website, this was the eighth bird flu outbreak at an industrial farm in Bulgaria this year.

–IANS

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Russia's ex-President Medvedev threatens Poland with 'radioactive ash'

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Moscow, May 27 (IANS/DPA) Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened Poland with the prospect of “radioactive ash” in response to remarks on the use of nuclear weapons from Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski over the weekend.

Sikorski had earlier told British newspaper The Guardian how the US would purportedly react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“The Americans have told the Russians that if you explode a nuke, even if it doesn’t kill anybody, we will hit all your targets (positions) in Ukraine with conventional weapons, we’ll destroy all of them,” Sikorski told the paper.

Medvedev responded on the social network X by saying that the US had said nothing of the sort since “they are more cautious”.

“Americans hitting our targets means starting a world war, and a foreign minister, even of a country like Poland should understand that,” the deputy head of the Russian Security Council wrote on Sunday.

Polish President Andrzej Duda had asked for tactical nuclear weapons from the US to be stationed in Poland, Medvedev said. “Warsaw won’t be left out, and will surely get its share of radioactive ash. Is it what you really want?” Medvedev added.

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Duda had said in April that Poland, one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, was prepared to accept NATO nuclear weapons as a counterweight to the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Medvedev, during his time as president from 2008 to 2012, had been considered a key figure in liberal Russian policy. However since the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has become one of the biggest hardliners and routinely defends the war with inflammatory posts on social networks.

Sikorski’s comments are likely to relate to events of late 2022. US media have repeatedly reported that the leadership in Washington had the impression at the time that Moscow could be preparing to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

At that time, the Kremlin had reportedly been made to understand that the US would not respond with nuclear weapons, but with other powerful means.

–IANS/DPA

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Hezbollah member among 3 killed in Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon

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Beirut, May 27 (IANS) Israeli airstrikes targeting a town and a village in southern Lebanon on Sunday resulted in the deaths of a Hezbollah member and two civilians, with another civilian being injured, Lebanese military sources said.

The anonymous sources said the Israeli army used for the first time a suicide drone to target a motorcycle on the road linking the town of Naqoura to the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, killing a local Hezbollah leader and seriously injuring a civilian, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a separate attack, an Israeli drone targeted a motorcycle in the village of Aita al-Shaab, killing two civilians.

The sources said that the killed Hezbollah member was Mohammad Hassan Baydoun from the city of Bint Jbeil, and the two civilians killed in Aita al-Shaab were Rafiq Qasim and Hussein Saleh.

Lebanese military sources said that they monitored the launching of 24 surface-to-surface missiles from southern Lebanon to northern Israel.

Tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border escalated on Oct. 8, 2023, following a barrage of rockets launched by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah toward Israel in solidarity with Hamas’ attack on Israel the day before. Israel then retaliated by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

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The confrontations between Hezbollah and Israel have killed 487 people on the Lebanese side, including 309 Hezbollah members and 91 civilians, according to Lebanese security sources.

–IANS

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11 killed as tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction in three US states (Lead)

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Washington, May 26 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed and several others injured as tornadoes wreaked havoc in the US states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, destroying buildings, power and gas lines, and a fuel station where many people were sheltering, reports said on Sunday.

Severe storms had formed over the states, where temperatures are running high, on Saturday night (local time), with Texas’ Cooke County, north of Dallas, and Denton County among the worst-affected areas, accounting for seven fatalities, the BBC reported.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington told local media that authorities feared that the toll was likely to rise.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations were on and they were hopeful of finding survivors, he added.

Footage on local media showed a fuel station almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal and damaged vehicles.

In Oklahoma, two people were killed in Mayes County and six others were injured, the BBC reported, citing the local emergency management authority.

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Two deaths, including of a woman, found dead in her wrecked house, were reported in Arkansas, as per US media reports.

Police officials in Arkansas’s Rogers city said they had rescued several people who were trapped after tornadoes downed trees and power lines, and damaged gas supply lines.

The tornadoes also affected surface traffic across Texas, leaving lorries overturned and major highways shut, while the power supply was snapped as many poles were uprooted. Officials said that it could take days to restore services.

Parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were at risk of severe weather on Sunday, after the havoc in the three states, as per reports.

–IANS

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Macron calls Franco-German ties 'indispensable' as state visit starts

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Emmanuel Macron began the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 24 years with warm words for his hosts.

“Franco-German relations are indispensable and important for Europe,” said Macron at the start of his three-day state visit to Germany on Sunday.

He rebuffed the suggestion that the relationship, often described as the engine of Europe, has begun to stutter.

“That is not true. We are moving forward,” Macron said through a translator.

Upon landing in Berlin, Macron immediately travelled to the German capital’s government quarter to meet with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attend a democracy-themed festival.

Steinmeier greeted Macron and called his visit “proof of the depth of the Franco-German friendship.”

He said that despite sometimes differing on individual policy points, Berlin and Paris always “come to an agreement in the end.”

“If Germany and France are in agreement, then there is still a lot that can be achieved in Europe,” he said.

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Macron also emphasized the importance of the European elections in June and called the EU a defender of democracy and common values.

–IANS/DPA

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Pro-Palestinian protesters shout down top German diplomat at forum

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Pro-Palestinian demonstrators angry at the German government’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza disrupted a citizens’ forum featuring Germany’s foreign minister on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was participating in a discussion titled “Stormy times – how foreign policy ensures the security of our democracy” as part of weekend of events to celebrate the adoption of Germany’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, 75 years ago.

Several demonstrators in the theatre began shouting at Baerbock, accusing the German government of one-sidedness in the war and demanding that Berlin halt arms deliveries to Israel. Some held banners reading “Stop the genocide.”

Baerbock responded calmly at first, saying Germany was working to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace.

But she clearly grew frustrated as the tumult in the theatre increased. “There are no threats here!” she shouted at one participant.

One protester who identified herself as an “anti-Zionist Jew” said that, when it came to the war, freedom of expression was being restricted in Germany. With Germany’s help, she said, Gaza was being reduced to “rubble and ashes.”

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At least eight participants were forced out of the venue by dpa’s count. In some cases, there were scuffles and physical altercations with security staff.

Baerbock asked security not to use any violence against the demonstrators. Meanwhile, large sections of the rest of the audience reacted to the protest with loud booing.

–IANS

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