Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced a major reshuffle of his Cabinet yesterday, promoting controversial Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to the role of federal attorney-general and shifting other key ministers. \nThe move came a year before an expected federal election, at which Howard's conservative coalition government will seek a fourth term. \nRuddock, who recently celebrated 30 years in federal parliament, has earned plaudits from within Howard's Liberal Party for running the nation's tough immigration policy, but has been attacked by human rights groups for ordering the mandatory detention of all asylum seekers caught trying to sneak into the country. \nJustice for Refugees South Australian chairman Don McMaster said Ruddock would be remembered as "a very hardline immigration minister with draconian policies." \nHoward told reporters the changes will continue "the process of renewal and regeneration" within his government. \n"They will reinforce the government's commitment to its goals for Australia of national security, economic strength and social stability," he said. \nBut the opposition Labor Party, currently languishing in the polls and seeking to make political capital out of the changes, said Howard was forced into the changes by incompetent ministers. \n"Every minister who has been shifted has been exposed by Labor as incompetent and unable to manage his or her portfolio," Labor leader Simon Crean said in a statement. \nHoward's deputy and likely successor, Treasurer Peter Costello, kept his job. \nAnnouncing the changes, Howard said he decided against creating a homeland` security ministry to combat terrorism. \n"The more I look at the administrative arrangements that exist in this country in these areas, compared with those of the United States and the United Kingdom, I'm satisfied that the arrangement here is as good, if not superior, to those that operate in America," Howard told reporters. \nAmong the major changes were Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott moving to the politically sensitive Health Ministry and Communications Minister Sen. Richard Alston leaving that job ahead of his retirement from the Senate. \nAlston, who had been spearheading the government's move to fully privatize former communications monopoly Telstra, will be replaced by the current attorney-general, Daryl Williams. \nKay Patterson was demoted from the health portfolio to take responsibility for the less high-profile family and community services portfolio, while Amanda Vanstone, a veteran Howard supporter, moves to Ruddock's former post as immigration minister from family and community services. \nKevin Andrews, another close ally of Howard, was promoted from minister for aging to take Abbott's post as workplace relations minister. \nHoward said recently he would likely call an election in the second half of next year, having ruled out going to the polls early.
A British charity has teamed up with scientists to see whether dogs could help detect COVID-19 through their keen sense of smell, it said yesterday. Medical Detection Dogs is to work with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University in northeast England to determine whether canines could help with diagnoses. It follows previous research into dogs’ ability to sniff out malaria and is based on a belief that each disease triggers a distinct odor. The organizations said that they had begun preparations to train dogs in six weeks “to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end
Under partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spaniards are allowed to leave home only for essential outings, walking a dog being one of them, but not a rented dog, the Civil Guard said on Wednesday as it sanctioned a man who had repeatedly tried to rent his dogs out via Facebook so that people could walk them. “The man was advertising activities which implied people leaving their homes to rent dogs, or walk rented dogs,” said a Civil Guard spokeswoman in the northeastern Galicia region. “That would be infringing the decree that only permits going outdoors for work, groceries, walking
Britain’s Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19, but “otherwise remains in good health,” his office said yesterday. The 71-year-old and his wife, Camilla, who does not have coronavirus, are currently self-isolating in Scotland, Clarence House said. “The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus,” it said in a statement, using his official title. “He has been displaying mild symptoms, but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.” “The Duchess of Cornwall [Camilla] has also been tested, but does not have
The water service in Odessa, a port city in southern Ukraine, was suddenly overrun this week with calls from worried residents with a peculiar concern. Were officials really planning to run an antiseptic solution through the city’s taps instead of water? The calls were sparked by a message on social media claiming that: “Today, from 11pm until the morning, antiseptic will be distributed” in the water system. The antiseptic supposedly included several different whiskies — a brand for each district. However outlandish the claim, Odessa’s water agency, Infoxvodokanal, still issued a clarification. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, false news stories have spiked in