Prime Minister John Howard launched a media blitz yesterday to persuade undecided voters to give him a fourth term in today's election, where he will be the first of the three leaders -- US, British and Australian -- who invaded Iraq last year to face a ballot showdown. \nWhile Howard's allies in Washington and London will be closely monitoring the election for signs of what they face in polls next month and next year, voters here have been more concerned with the economy, health and education. \nWith some analysts suggesting up to 18 percent of Australia's 13 million voters remained undecided, Howard and opposition Labor Party leader Mark Latham made their final pitches for support in a string of radio and television appearances. \nPolls have Howard's center-right government the likely winner, but undecided voters opting to back Labor could end Howard's 30-year political career. \n"To those Australians who are listening to this program who haven't made up their mind, this is not a time to experiment with the theory of kick him but he'll still be in office," Howard told 4BC radio in Brisbane as part of a flurry of election-eve interviews. One of the main reasons voters may want to punish Howard is his tough stance on Iraq. The staunch US ally sent 2,000 troops last year to take part in the US-led invasion, triggering the biggest peace protests in Australia since Canberra sent soldiers to fight in the Vietnam War. \nHoward still has 900 military personnel in and around Iraq, none involved in offensive operations, and has vowed to leave them there as long as they are needed. Latham says he will withdraw most of the troops by Christmas if he wins today. \n"People will know that we have to deal with the here and now -- stay the distance and help Iraq, or cut and run," Howard said at a press conference in Sydney. "If Australia were to cut and run from Iraq it would send a very bad signal to the world." \nHoward stood by his decision to invade Iraq despite one of his key motivations being undermined by the chief US weapons inspector saying former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein did not have a weapons of mass destruction program last year. \nLatham was just as energetic -- packing in 11 interviews in the morning. Voting in remote locations -- including among Aborigines in the Outback and scientists camped on Antarctica -- already has begun.
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
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
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