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5,000 feral camels culled in drought-hit Australia

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Helicopter-borne marksmen killed more than 5,000 camels in a five-day cull of feral herds that were threatening indigenous communities in drought-stricken areas of southern Australia, officials said Tuesday.

Aboriginal leaders in South Australia state said extremely large herds of the non-native camels had been driven towards rural communities by drought and extreme heat, threatening scarce food and drinking water, damaging infrastructure, and creating a dangerous hazard for drivers.

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The cull in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands — home to about 2,300 indigenous people in the arid northwest of South Australia — ended on Sunday, said APY general manager Richard King.

“We appreciate the concerns of animal rights activists, but there is significant misinformation about the realities of life for non-native feral animals, in what is among the most arid and remote places on Earth,” King said in a statement on Tuesday.

“As custodians of the land, we need to deal with an introduced pest in a way that protects valuable water supplies for communities and puts the lives of everyone, including our young children, the elderly, and native flora and fauna first.”

King said weakened camels frequently became stuck and died in water holes, contaminating water sources needed by locals and native animals and birds.

“The prolonged dry period, while not difficult for native wildlife, leads to extreme distress for feral camels,” he said.

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APY officials said the operation had removed more than 5,000 camels.

The cull came as Australia experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019, with the severe drought causing some towns to run out of water and fuelling deadly bushfires that have devastated the country’s southeast.

Camels were first introduced to Australia in the 1840s to aid in the exploration of the continent’s vast interior, with up to 20,000 imported from India in the six decades that followed.

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Australia is now thought to have the largest wild camel population in the world, with official estimates suggesting more than one million are roaming the country’s inland deserts.

The animals are considered a pest, as they foul water sources and trample native flora while foraging for food over vast distances each day.

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Traditional owners in the APY Lands have for years mustered and sold off feral camels.

But more recently they have “been unable to manage the scale and number of camels that congregate in dry conditions”, according to the environment department.


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Fox & Friends floats impeachment conspiracy theory about GAO findings of Trump crimes against Ukraine

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"Fox & Friends" assured viewers they could ignore a federal watchdog agency's findings that President Donald Trump broke the law by withholding Ukraine aid.

The nonpartisan the Government Accountability Office found the White House Office of Management and Budget violated the law by freezing $400 million in congressionally approved military aid, but the Fox News hosts suggested the agency was only trying to hurt the president.

"Do you think it's just a coincidence that that news would drop exactly the same day the (impeachment) trial started?" said co-host Steve Doocy.

Co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Ainsley Earhardt agreed, and accepted administration denials at face value.

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GOP senators are questioning allegiance to Trump as impeachment becomes a reality: Morning Joe panel

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According to members of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panel, Donald Trump may see more defections by previously supportive Republican senators now that the impeachment of the president has become a reality and their conduct will be scrutinized by voters back home.

Speaking with columnist David Ignatius, host Joe Scarborough noted that multiple Republican senators -- including several who are retiring -- are going soft on defending the president and may be inclined to allowing multiple witnesses who could damage the president.

"David Ignatius, you know, we've known Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) both of us, for a long time. and as they coming to the end of their careers," Scarborough began. "I would think [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell would be concerned that these gentlemen would vote their conscience and not just blindly follow Donald Trump and would vote to have a fair, open hearing and trial and get this new evidence that's coming in, that's come in since the House impeached."

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Iran’s supreme leader says Trump is a ‘clown’ who will betray Iranians

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Iran’s supreme leader said President Donald Trump is a “clown” who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will “push a poisonous dagger” into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the mass funerals for Iran’s top general, who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this month, show that the Iranian people support the Islamic Republic despite its recent trials. He said the “cowardly” killing of Soleimani had taken out the most effective commander in the battle against the Islamic State group.

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