Newly inaugurated President Viktor Yushchenko was headed east on his first official trip as Ukraine's leader for a visit yesterday to Moscow to smooth relations with the Kremlin before pursuing his goal of closer ties with the EU. \nYushchenko, in his first full day in office, faces a delicate balancing act in meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, who strongly supported the losing candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. The Kremlin has voiced concern about losing sway in Ukraine under Yushchenko. Historically, Russia has seen Ukraine as part of its sphere of influence. Ukraine is home to the Russian navy's southern fleet and a key transit route for Russia's economically vital gas and oil exports. \nBut Yushchenko on inauguration day on Sunday made no hesitation in showing he wants to shift the balance. \n"Our place is in the European Union," he said to a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people in Independence Square, the downtown Kiev expanse where huge crowds of protesters gathered after Yushchenko lost a Nov. 21 runoff vote widely criticized as fraudulent. \nThe demonstrations -- which became known as the "Orange Revolution" after Yushchenko's campaign color -- paralyzed the government of former president Leonid Kuchma for weeks and raised fears of spilling into violence. \nBut the Supreme Court invalidated the election results and ordered a Dec. 26 rerun, which Yushchenko won. \nYushchenko took the oath of office on Sunday in the Verkhovna Rada parliament, placing his hand on a copy of the Constitution and on an antique Bible. \nAt Independence Square, the throng that had waited for hours in subfreezing temperatures greeted Yushchenko with loud chants of approval. \n"My heart is filled with the brightest feelings, my soul is rejoicing," said Nadia Levok, a 42-year-old doctor in the crowd. \n"The heart of Ukraine was on Independence Square," Yushchenko told them. "Good people from all over the world, from faraway countries, were looking at Independence Square, at us." \n"This is a victory of freedom over tyranny," he said. \nAfter his trip to Moscow, Yushchenko is to embark on several days of visits to Western European countries including an appearance at the European Parliament, to push his drive for closer ties. \nTo become a viable EU candidate, Ukraine would have to show substantial progress in resolving a wide array of problems; Yushchenko promised to turn the country around after years of corruption, widespread at almost every level of government, and he pledged to safeguard freedom of speech. \n"We will create new jobs. Whoever wants to work will have the opportunity to work and get an appropriate salary," he declared to this nation, where many still live in poverty and much of the economy exists in the shadows, adding nothing to government coffers. \n"We will fight corruption in Ukraine. Taxes will be enforced, business will be transparent," Yushchenko said. "We will become an honest nation." \nIn a promise clearly aimed at appeasing the country's large numbers of Russian-speaking people, Yushchenko said: "Everyone can teach his children the language of his forefathers."
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
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,