Australia's former anti-immigration political leader Pauline Hanson and her one-time colleague David Ettridge were jailed for three years each for electoral fraud in a Brisbane court yesterday. \nThe 49-year-old right-wing firebrand and Ettridge, 58, had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently registering the One Nation party which they founded in Queensland on Dec. 4, 1997. \nHanson also denied dishonestly obtaining almost A$500,000 dollars (US$33,000) in electoral reimbursements after the 1998 Queensland state election. \nBut the 12-member District Court jury found the pair guilty on all charges after more than nine hours of deliberation. \nJudge Patsy Wolfe made no recommendation for parole. \nHanson, who strenuously denied guilt, told the hearing during sentencing submissions: "Yes, I'm still very innocent of the charges and I believe the prosecution has not proven the case against me or David Ettridge." \nAs the verdicts were announced a clearly stunned Hanson said angrily: "Rubbish, I'm not guilty ... it's a joke." \nEttridge, One Nation's former financial director, said at the hearing: "I still maintain my innocence." \nThe 23-day trial heard from 30 witnesses about allegations that the pair lied to get the party registered by pretending a list of more than 500 members used in the application to electoral authorities belonged to the party. \nThe prosecution argued the list was of people belonging to Hanson's support movement and not the party. \nProsecutor Brendan Campbell told the court the pair had undermined the political process and he sought five years for Hanson and three for Ettridge. \nHanson, who has since repaid the money, also faces a ban on running for office. \nThe former fish-and-chip shop owner rose to national prominence in 1996 after the centre-right Liberal Party, headed by Prime Minister John Howard, dropped her as a candidate for a seat in federal parliament. \nBut she stood as an independent, won a seat and shot to international notoriety over her views on Asian immigration and Aborigines. \nHanson used her new forum in Canberra to rail against welfare payments to Aborigines and Australia being "swamped" by Asians, raising fear in the Asian community and concern even among neighboring Asian countries. \nThe peak of her popularity came in the 1998 Queensland state election when One Nation won 11 seats and captured almost 25 percent of the vote. But soon after, internal feuding split the party, consigning it to the electoral fringes. \nShe quit One Nation after being charged last year.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and