Prime Minister Tony Blair left his ruling Labour Party's annual convention yesterday with members still bitterly divided over the war in Iraq and restless over the government's domestic policies. \nBlair's unflinching speech to the party, in which he defended sending troops to war and lauded the virtues of strong leadership, earned him fat applause from delegates this week. \nBut resentment over the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein and dissent over the government's plans to reform public services are simmering. \n"The storm clouds are still around," said John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University. "The situation is not terminal for the prime minister, but it will be important for him to regain a clear and consistent lead in the opinion polls." \nThe five-day conference in Bournemouth, southern England, has been Blair's toughest since he became party leader in 1994 and led Labour to the first of two landslide election victories in 1997. \nHis popularity has slumped in recent polls and for the first time in his six-and-a-half year premiership, his position has seemed assailable. An poll published on Sunday found 64 percent of respondents questioned last week did not trust Blair and 48 percent thought he should resign. The survey had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. \nThe conference has been bruising for Blair. Opponents of the Iraq war lashed out at the government for taking Britain into war without a second UN resolution. \nThe prime minister suffered a defeat in a debate about health service reforms, which his critics see as a step toward privatization. \nTrade unionists, a diminished but still potent force in the party, warned Blair not to stray any further from Labour's hallowed socialist traditions. \n"Unless we put Labour back in the party, we risk putting the party on the opposition benches," said Tony Woodley, general secretary elect of the Transport and General Workers Union. \nBut for the mainstream of the party, Blair's vote-winning policies and natural charisma still make him the best choice for Labour leader and prime minister. \n"I do not think the British public would appreciate a vacillating or weak-kneed government," said Labour member Valerie Shawcross. "The British public admire decisive leadership, and we do too."
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable