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|DNC chair candidates spar on future of party as race tightens|
The two most prominent candidates to lead the Democratic Party appeared to agree with each other on most of the issues in a CNN debate Wednesday night, while outsider candidates and the moderators needled them about how sharply the party should focus on President Donald Trump and whether sitting Democratic officeholders should be primaried in 2018.
|Iowa pig farmer to Sen. Grassley: You’re going to create ‘one great big death panel’ by repealing Obamacare|
Farmer Chris Peterson pleads with Sen. Chuck Grassley in Iowa on Tuesday. Republican lawmakers returning home this week to host town halls are being greeted by overflow crowds filled with angry voters and protesters demonstrating against President Trump’s polarizing policies.
|Texas to feral pigs: It's time for the 'hog apocalypse' to begin|
Texas has a new plan for its 2.5 million feral hogs: total annihilation. Sid Miller, the state's agriculture commissioner, just approved a pesticide — called "Kaput Feral Hog Lure" — for statewide use. "The 'hog apocalypse' may finally be on the horizon," Miller said in a statement on Tuesday. SEE ALSO: First human-pig chimeras created, sparking hopes for transplantable organs — and debate "This solution is long overdue," he added. "Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years." Texas's agriculture commission estimates that feral hogs cause $52 million in damage each year to agricultural businesses by tearing up crops and pastures, knocking down fences and ruining equipment. The so-called hog lure is derived from warfarin, a blood-thinning agent that's also used to kill rats and mice in homes and buildings. Animals don't die immediately from eating the odorless, tasteless chemical. That would be too kind. Instead, they keep eating it until the anti-clotting properties cause them to bleed to death internally. This week, Miller approved a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code that allows landowners and agricultural producers to use Kaput — essentially warfarin-laced pellets — to keep feral hogs off their property. Not on my watch, hogs. Image: mark thompson/Getty Images Proponents of the hog toxicant, including the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, say it's an effective tool because it's only strong enough to kill the swine, and not other wildlife populations or livestock. In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered Kaput's hog bait under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, a move that made the product available for general use. Still, environmentalists and hog hunters alike staunchly oppose using warfarin to stamp out Texas's feral pig problem. Pigs poop, after all, and other animals could ingest the warfarin along the way. Some Texans hunt the pigs for sport and food, and they're worried about eating poisoned swine. "For Texas to introduce a poison into the equation is a bad decision in our opinion and could likely contaminate humans who unknowingly process and eat feral hogs," the Texas Hog Hunters Association said in a Change.org petition to block the rule change. MIke and his big ole boar from yesterday. Lamar county Texas https://t.co/jQoS5JbtnQ pic.twitter.com/2SeAKs7zbh — TX Hog Hunters Assn. (@texashoghunters) February 14, 2017 Louisiana might become the next state to use Kaput to quell its feral hog population, which worries state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour. He said local black bears and raccoons could easily lift the lid to the cages containing the warfarin-laced pellets. "We do have very serious concerns about non-target species," LaCour told the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. "When the hogs eat, they're going to drop crumbs on the outside, where small rodents can get them and not only intoxicate themselves but also birds of prey that eat them. Since the poison will be on the landscape for weeks on end, the chances of these birds eating multiple affected animals is pretty good," he told the newspaper. The pesticide's manufacturer, Scimetrics Ltd. Corp., assures the pesticide is safe for humans and wildlife — just not for feral pigs.
|Austria detains Ukraine tycoon after extradition ruling|
Austria arrested one of Ukraine's richest men, a fresh twist for the one-time ally of ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Gas magnate Dmytro Firtash was taken into custody over alleged links to organised crime in Spain, moments after a Vienna court ruled he could be extradited to the US on corruption charges. Firtash, 51, made money through connections with Russian gas giant Gazprom, and was at one time linked to a former campaign aide of US President Donald Trump.
|Le Pen top aide put under formal investigation|
The chief of staff of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was put under formal investigation on Wednesday after a day of questioning over the alleged misuse of EU funds to pay parliamentary assistants, a judicial source said. Catherine Griset was taken into custody for questioning along with Le Pen's bodyguard Thierry Legier, who was later released without being put under investigation, according to the source. In reaction to the news, Le Pen said that she formally denied any wrongdoing in a case that she said was being used to undermine her campaign.