World News Briefs For Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 (UPDATED)
Hello Australia!! - Covid-19 is Public Enemy #1, according to health officials - The Australians left behind in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak - Prosecutors quit after Trump steps in to protect his crony - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:
The head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) says the Wuhan Coronavirus is a "very grave threat" for the planet, and nations must "wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one". WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "What matters most is stopping the outbreak and saving lives." He's urging governments around the world to get their priorities straight: "To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic and social upheaval than any terrorist attack," Dr. Ghebreyesus said.
And WHO gave the coronavirus a new name: Covid-19. So, pump the brakes on "2019-nCoV Wuhan Coronavirus" and switch over to "Covid-19". The outbreak has claimed 1,018 lives - only two outside of China - and produced 43,115 confirmed infections. A vaccine, they say, may still be 18 months off.
Chinese health officials say they hope the Covid-19 outbreak is under control by April. But the Australian federal government is apparently done evacuating its citizens out of the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan City and the surrounding Hubei Province. More than 500 Australians have been airlifted out of there, but some of those left behind are complaining to the ABC that they "not notified of departing flights and were left behind". What's worse is that an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says, "As the Prime Minister has said, Australians should not rely on further assisted departure from Wuhan or mainland China." The families say they're locked in their homes and food is running low or running out altogether.
The latest outrage in Washington is the US Department of Justice announcing that it would not seek the eight to nine year prison sentence for long-time Republican Party operative and Roger Stone, an associate of Donald Trump - an announcement that came hours after Trump tweeted his objection to a prison sentence. As a result, all four of the prosecutors who successfully got Stone convicted on seven corruption charges last year - including obstruction, giving false statements, and witness tampering - have withdrawn from the case. Two are quitting the DoJ altogether. Senate Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is calling for for DoJ's supposedly non-partisan inspector general to immediately open an investigation into the blatant favoritism. The presiding judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, who will have broad authority to sentence Stone as she sees fit on 20 February - but Trump could still pardon his pal.
Rebel forces in Syria claim to have shot down a government helicopter, and they have the video to back it up.
Sudan has agreed to hand over ex-President Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face genocide and war crimes charges. Rights activists say Bashir is responsible for 300,000 deaths in the Darfur Conflict in 2003. Bashir refused to recognize the legitimacy of the ICC when he was charged in 2009 - but he was ousted from the presidency last year after three decades of what is generally considered to be violent and corrupt rule.
As polls predicted, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has swept back to power for a third term in a row in India's capital Delhi, dealing at least a smattering of a rebuke to the Hindu nationalism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP.
Ireland's final vote tally is in: Center-right Fianna Fail won the most seats with 38, just one ahead of Sinn Fein which is celebrating the Left-wing nationalist party's best-ever result. Fine Gael lost 15 seats, down to 34. The race is on to form a coalition that commands a majority of 80 seats in the 160-seat Dail Eireann.
And, Northern Ireland is celebrating its first same-sex marriage. Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards made history at a ceremony in a hotel in Carrickfergus, County Antrim. England and Wales enshrined marriage equality in 2013, followed by the Republic of Ireland in 2015 - but the far-right Unionist DUP blocked implementation. The UK Parliament last year stepped in to break the stalemate at Storemont, and history was made.