News in brief

91,000 chickens culled amid bird flu outbreak at Japan farm

Tokyo, January 12 (IANS): Japanese authorities on Friday announced the culling of about 91,000 chickens on a farm in southwest Japan where several animals were found to be infected with a highly pathogenic form of the bird flu virus.


The new outbreak has been detected on a farm in Kagawa prefecture of Shikoku Island after it was found that more than 50 dead chickens this week were infected with the highly contagious H5 strain of the virus, Efe news quoted regional authorities as saying.


The culling began shortly before midnight on Thursday and will conclude in about 24 hours and the movement of eggs and animals within a radius of 10 km of the farm has been suspended while the area has been cleaned with disinfectants, reported Japanese news agency Kyodo.


At a press conference following a meeting with Agriculture and Health ministers, government spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, pointed out the possibility of other cases of bird flu outside the area. This is the first case of bird flu in Japan this year since the virus appeared in the country in late 2014 forcing the culling of about 1.7 million livestock after a major outbreak in late 2016.


In rut, Russian communists register surprise candidate to challenge Putin

MOSCOW, JANUARY 12 (Reuters): The Russian Communist Party moved to overhaul its geriatric image on Friday, registering a wealthy 57-year-old farm boss to challenge incumbent Vladimir Putin for the presidency in a gamble it hopes will revive its electoral fortunes.


Russia’s central election commission on Friday said it had registered Pavel Grudinin, who runs a farm business on the edge of Moscow, as the party’s candidate for the March 18 election after the communists unexpectedly decided against putting up their veteran 73-year-old leader Gennady Zyuganov.


Backed by state TV, the ruling United Russia party, and many voters who live outside big cities, polls show 65-year-old Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for the last 18 years, is on track to comfortably win a fourth presidential term.


Grudinin, a fresh face in an otherwise stale political line-up that has hardly changed in the last two decades, could indirectly help Putin by boosting turnout amid signs of apathy among some voters who assume Putin will win however they vote.


Though a shadow of itself in the Soviet era when it enjoyed a monopoly on power, the Communist Party is also hoping a younger less orthodox contender may be able to revive its fortunes and appeal to younger voters.


Danish wind energy sets new record in 2017

Copenhagen, January 12 (IANS): Wind power accounted for a record high of 43.4 per cent of the total electricity consumption in Denmark in 2017, according to official data released on Thursday. The new record surpasses the previous 2015 record of 42 per cent, keeping Denmark on track to reach its target of having 50 per cent of all electricity produced by wind power by 2020, figures from Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate showed.


“With the wind power production record, Denmark places a green flag on the world map. We once again show the whole world that Denmark has the world’s best energy system,” Xinhua quoted Lars Chr. Lilleholt, Danish Minister of Energy, Utilities and Climate, as saying.


“We have managed to accommodate large amounts of wind power and other green sources of energy, while maintaining high security of supply,” the minister said.


In the coming years, higher records are expected as new offshore wind farms are developed in the Baltic sea and the North Sea to further increase the Danish wind production.


According to Lilleholt, the government is working for Denmark to have at least 50 per cent of its energy needs covered by such renewable energy as wind and solar power by 2030. Denmark is part of the major European electricity market, with strong electricity connections to neighboring countries.