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Live. The World Health

Organization raises the stakes

on a flu pandemic. Countries

should remain on high

alert. Pakistan army retakes a

key town from the Taliban. And

Sri Lanka rejects renewed calls for a truce.

for a truce.Good morning,

Beverly O'Connor with ABC News

for Australia Network. The

global swine flu alert has now

reached a stage of heightened

alarm with the World Health

Organization moving the alert

to the second-highest level,

now at stage five. That means

there is a strong signal the

pandemic is imminent.

pandemic is imminent. I have

decided to raise the current

level of influenza pandemic

alert from phase four to phase

five. The world health

authority says the global risk

of the swine flu virus

spreading is now at the

second-highest level. Phase

five indicates widespread human

to human transmission, just one

step short of a step short of a fully-fledged

pandemic. All countries should

immediately now activate their pandemic preparedness plans.

Countries should remain on high

alert for unusual outbreaks of

influenza-like ill demsz severe

pneumonia. It really is all of

humanity that is under threat

during a pandemic. The alarm was increased after United

States officials confirmed that

a 23-month-old Mexican boy had

died in Houston, becoming the

first US victim of the virus.

Unfortunately in spite of the

best efforts, the child

succumbed to the illness. Confirmed cases of the swine

American flu have appeared in 10

American states, stretching

from coast to coast. Schools

with confirmed or suspected

cases of H1N1 should strongly

consider temporarily closing so

that we can be as safe as

possible. Spoobut joous

officials say - but US

officials say border closures are not warranted at the moment. Closing moment. Closing the border

would not have that kind of preventative impact at this

stage. The spread of the virus

has reached deep into Europe,

with Germany and Austria being

added to the list of affected

nations. Spain has also

reported the first case in

Europe of a person who has not

been to Mexico, the original

source of the virus. ABC correspondent Michael Rowland

is in Washington. He says the situation is being situation is being treated very

seriously now that the WHO has

raised the alert level. Yes,

ever since raising the alert

level, the WHO has been very

keen to put people around the

world on notice and we had the

WHO director Margaret Chan

talking in almost apocalyptic words about what this means for

the world in terms of a further outbreak of this flu. outbreak of this flu. The WHO

is very concerned about just

how quickly the swine flu could

be transferred from humans to

humans and also transferred to

people who didn't necessarily

travel to Mexico. Those people

of course being identified so

far as the key source of this

problem. Margaret Chan telling

reporters in Geneva not too

long ago that all humanity, in

her words, would be at risk if this this did turn into a

pandemic. What about in the United States itself, of course

the first confirmed death

overnight. How are people

responding there? With greater

fear and trepidation. We had

the death of a 23-month-old

Mexican toddler who came across

the border to Texas to visit

relatives. He became very ill

some days into the trip and

symptoms. He developed serious flu-like

symptoms. He was taken to a

Houston hospital where he sadly

died 12 or 18 hours ago. This

has taken the swine flu

United States. President Barack epidemic to a new level in the

Obama has sen his condolences

to the family but used the

death of the toddler to

underscore how vigilant health

authorities should become. This

is before what the WHO said, he

said that the US Government is

into a prepared if this was to turn

into a pandemic, the Government

is spending close to $2 billion

on building anti-flu drug

stockpiles and on greater

monitoring of this disease so

that's being taken here in the

United States extremely

seriously. Michael Rowland

reporting. New Zealand and

South Korea are investigating

more suspected cases of swine

flu as histally arranged

measures designed to measures designed to contain

the spread of the disease in

Asia is put to the test. Japan

will set up fever clinics to

boost its awareness of the

virus. Asia has tightened

already stringent screening at

airports and transport hubs.

Japan's emergency measures

swung into action with the

arrival of the first direct flight since Mexico City since flight since Mexico City since

the seriousness of the influenza outbreak became

known. Quarantine inspectors

wearing full protective gear

boarded the flight. The

in-flight inspection took about

50 minutes but no-one among the

185 passengers and 13 crew tested positive for swine

flu. This passenger says despite the 15-hour despite the 15-hour flight,

people were still patient and

cooperative. Quarantine

officers also checked a ship

that arrived in Yokohama from

the United States. In Seoul,

the south Korean health

ministry says it's

investigating five new

suspected swine flu infictions.

This is in addition to a

probable case already isolated.

New Zealand, the only regional

country with confirmed cases, says three says three more people are

being tested, taking its total

of probable and confirmed in

infection s to 14. Everybody

who is coming through is being

looked at. If anyone is

obviously unwell they are

questioned. China, criticised

in the past for being slow or

unwilling to release

information on disease

outbreaks, already has scanners

in Beijing airport arrivals to in Beijing airport arrivals to

detect passengers from infected

areas arriving with higher than

normal body temperatures.

Similar scanners are being used

in Singapore and Thailand too.

Now to the day's other news and

a missile has been fired from a

suspected US drone in

Pakistan's tribal area

bordering Afghanistan, causing

an as yet unknown number of

casualties. The strike came casualties. The strike came as Pakistani security forces

continued the operation to

drive out militants from a

valley north-west of Islamabad

during which 50 Taliban are

reported killed. The army has

captured the strategically

important town of Daggar in the

Buner district just outside the

capital. Pakistan's army has

claimed early success in its

bid to push the Taliban back to the Swat Valley. the Swat Valley. War planes

pounded the militants'

positions in the Buner district

before helicopters dropped

commandos to the ground. The

security forces are facing

stiff resistance,. The security

forces are engaging the

miscreants, fleeing from the

area and also on area and also on ambilla

heights. They secured the town

of Daggar. The army came here

for the operation against the

Taliban. A lot of firing took

place. A curfew is imposed on

the area and they are not

allowing us to come out of our

houses. We are very worried.

The Taliban's advance towards

the capital had heightened

fears in the United States that

becoming the nuclear-armed nation was

becoming more unstable. The

militants are also keeping up

attacks targeting supplies

earmarked for Western Force s

in Afghanistan. Most of the

NATO supplies are shipped to

Karachi and then taken by road

through the Khyber Pass or

through Baluchistan province to

the border but it's a risky

journey with many trucks filled

with supplies set alight.

containers go TRANSLATION: Around 100 to 200

containers go out of here daily

but there's no safety on the

way. People are just travelling

under the protection of

Allah. Those attacks have highlighted the Pakistani

Government's loss of control

over the Taliban in the

northeast but the latest show

of military resolve in Buner

should reassure both the American President Barack Obama

and his Afghan counterpart

Jakarta a car, due to meet Pakistan

Pakistan President Asif Ali

Zardari in Washington early

next month. And Pakistan has

voiced concern that US

reinforcements in Afghanistan's

south should push more Taliban

insurgents and refugees over

its border. Pakistan's concerns

come as Australia announces its military presence there will

swell by almost a third this

year. It's pledging an extra

450 troops to the war after a 450 troops to the war after a

plea from the US-led alliance.

Political correspondent Greg

Jennett reports. From a fear of

defeat comes a call to arms. I

fear that more Australians will

lose their lives in the fight

that lies ahead. A request from

Barack Obama last week and a

Cabinet meeting yesterday

confirmed a decision to send an

extra 450 Australian troops into harm's

into harm's way. The troop

surge is built around the

Townsville-based 1/RAR. 100 of

them will lead a training group

to bolster the Afghan national

army, along with $55 million

for the fledgling force.

They'll be supported by 70

soldiers for logistics, 70

staff officers for HQ functions and

and 70 engineers to seal the

runway at Australia's Tarin

Kowt base. Another 120

Townsville-based troops will

try to bring security to the

province in the leadup to

August elections and for the

four months that follow. This

company, which has a combat capability, will return to

Australia following its 8-month

tour of duty. We support and

welcome the decision of the

Prime Minister today. An extra 10 Federal Police 10 Federal Police trainers will

also be sent and a small group

of election monitors. On the

diplomatic front, former

Defence Secretary Ric Smith is

being made a special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kevin

Rudd stresses the troop surge

is not an open ended

commitment, that once the

Afghanistan army raise as new

brigade the job will be done,

but the timing for his exit strategy

strategy is totally open-ended. Germany's Foreign Minister has

made an unannounced visit to

Afghanistan. He's in the

country as the Taliban

threatens a new operation

against international forces in

response to the US troop surge

which is due to begin within

weeks. Germany currently have

3800 troops operating in northern Afghanistan. That

number is set to number is set to increase. The German Minister, Frank Walter

Steinmeier, has begun his visit

by holding talks with his

Afghan counterpart and with

President Hamid Karzai. Mr

Steinmeier stressed his

country's support for Barack

Obama's new strategy in

Afghanistan which favours a

regional approach and further

training for Afghani security

forces. We agree we can only

succeed with the challenge if we

we find a regional solution.

It's good we take a regional

approach with our American

friends and integrate Pakistan into our efforts. Germany has

a mandate to increase its troop numbers in Afghanistan from

3,800 to as maniy as 4,500 and

it's announced it will send

another 600-strong contingent,

it's a move sure to find favour

with the Afghan Government,

particularly with elections

approaching. We're very happy for what for what Germany has done in

the past seven years for Afghanistan's reconstruction

and stability. But while

Germany is prepared to offer reinforcements in the

short-term, in common with its

NATO partners, there has been no long-term commitment. Mr

Steinmeier says he'll keep a

close eye on the outcome of

talks between Afghan and

Pakistani leaders and President

Obama next month. Especially with regard

with regard to Pakistan, we

hope the developments of the

past week, a very alarming development with more confident

Taliban fighters, can be turned

back. Mr Steinmeier is

spending two days in

Afghanistan accompanied by

Germany's special envoy for

Afghanistan and Pakistan. The latest international

humanitarian mission seeking a truce between the Sri Lankan truce between the Sri Lankan

Government and Tamil rebels has failed. While the Foreign

Ministers of Britain and France

say they couldn't broker a

deal, Sri Lanka's military says

it will try to rescue civilians

they say the Tamil Tigers are

using as humanten shields. It's

the fate of an estimated 50,000

civilians trapped by fighting

that has captured world

attention. The United Nations has tried has tried but failed to win a

truce in the fighting and

access for aid groups. The

British and French Foreign Minister s were hoping to

achieve what others had failed

to do but after their talks

with their Sri Lankan

counterpart there was no good

news. No-one in the international community has

been calling for a ceasefire or

a stop to the fighting to save Prabhakaran. The calls Prabhakaran. The calls have

come because of an overwhelming

concern with the needs of

civilians. When we are highly

preoccupied by this situation,

we offer to our friends, not

only the money coming from UK

but we offer them to leave free

the access, access the access, access for UN

people, access for ICAC, access

for NGOs, access for the

medical teams. Sri Lanka's

leaders say they are on the

cusp of victory after 37 years

of violence with the Tamil

Tigers considered outnumbered

in a small strip of coastal

jungle in the northeast of the

island. Government officials

have argued that any truce

would allow the rebels to

regroup. The military has begun regroup. The military has begun

an operation to rescue the

civilians. We are sharing our

efforts, our humanitarian

mission that has registered

progress and success and areas

we are trying to work for the

future. Slaka claims boats are

being prepared so the Tamil Tiger leadership can flee

Tiger leadership can flee the

area of about five square

kilometres they still control.

You're watching ABC News for

Australia Network. Coming up,

President Obama's first 100

days in office and McLaren gets

a rebuke of sorts for bringing

Formula One into disrepute.

It's now 100 days since It's now 100 days since

Barack Obama was sworn in as

President of the United States.

The President has not only had

to deal with a global recession

but he's had to deal with a

host of other issues at home

and abroad. On the day he

passed the milestone, the US House of Representatives passed

his $3.4 trillion budget for

the coming financial year. At a

Town Hall meeting in Missouri Town Hall meeting in Missouri

today, the President took

stock. Today marks 100 days

since I took the Oath of Office

to be your President. President

Obama made the case for his

busy domestic agenda. Lifting

the ban on embryonic stem cell

research, signing a law to

provide health insurance to

unifsured children and

outlining a $3.6 trillion Budget. Budget. The priorities that

we've acted upon were the

things that we said we'd do

during the campaign. But unforeseen economic problems

have meant Obama's had to do a

lot more than just what he

campaigned on, leading to plans

that will add trillions to the

national debt including a $787

billion stimulus package which

included a tax cut for those

who make under $200,000 a year,

programs to stem the tide of programs to stem the tide of

foreclosures, provide loans to

banks and other credit

providers and aid the US auto industry. On the international

front, the President has

engaged US allies worldwide and

US adversaries and made major

changes in how the US will

fight terrorism. We have

rejected the false choice

between our security and our ideals which is why I ordered

the closing of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay centre at Guantanamo Bay and

prohibited the use of torture.

The President outlined a

timetable to withdraw US troops

from Iraq and can sen more

troops to Afghanistan. I had

some grumblings and complaints

from certain factions in the

Democratic party when I made a

decision to send 17,000

additional troops. His journey

has not been without turbulence

including a missile launch by North

North Korea, Cabinet nominees

not having paid taxes and

outrage at bailed out financial

nutions such as 160 million

bonuses paid to executives of

AIG. At least 41 people have

been killed in a triple car

bombing in Baghdad. More than

70 were injured in the blast

which happened in the

impoverished Shi'ite area of

Sadr City. It the latest in a

wave of attacks. Last week

suicide bombers killed at least suicide bombers killed at least

150 people in two days. And at

least 18 people have been

killed in ethnic clashes in the

southern Pakistani city of

Karachi. Cars were torched as

violence erupted. The police

chief says the clashes were the

result of a dispute between

opposing ethnic groups. Niingsz

to the dead, dozens more - in

addition to the dead, dozens

more have been wounded. more have been wounded. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has

opened the Solomon Islands

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission has

been set up to ease racial

tensions. Desmond Tutu, who

chaired an equivalent body in

post Apartheid South Africa, is

hoping the Pacific nation with

begin a similar healing

process. If anyone can lead by

example in healing a nation's

wounds, it's South African

archbishop Desmond Tutu. It's

with high hopes that the

Anglican Church leader has been

welcomed to the Solomon

Islands. Desmond Tutu is in

Honiara launching the country's first Truth and Reconciliation

Commission and there is plenty

of work to be done. The

commission has been set up by

the current Government to at

the end of the day divisions in

the Solomons created by years

of violence which prompted the RAMSI regional intervention

force. It's hoped that the

Pacific nation will take its

cue from South Africa in its

further efforts to achieve

peace. We hope that it is

going to open festering wounds.

Where we thought things were

healed, it will open those

festering wounds. It will clean

them out. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission,

led by Desmond Tutu, saw an

outpouring of emotion and

witnesses relived their

experiences under Apartheid.

All our efforts were motivated

by a genuine and sincere desire

to have a nation whose future

is united, peaceful, secure and

prosperous. The Solomons truth

and reconciliation commission

will run for a year but there

are provisions to extend its

work for a second year if necessary. You're watching ABC

News for Australia Network. Our

top story - the World Health

Organization raises its flu

alert to the second-highest

level, signalling a pandemic

was imminent. Now let's check

financial markets.

Now to sports news and Formula One's governing body

has given McLaren what's been

described as a slap on had

wrist for misleading officials

at the Australian Grand Prix

last month. The FIA has imposed

a suspended 3-race ban on Lewis

Hamilton's team. McLaren has

also apologised. McLaren was

charged with five counts of

bringing Formula One into

disrepute. Compared to the

charge, the team got off comparatively lightly. It was

good for everybody. Why? They

got their wrist slapped and

that's all they needed. It

started when Lewis Hamilton and

the team denied officials had

instructed him to let Toyota's

Jarno Trulli pass him while

following the safety car in the

Australian Grand Prix. A review

of radio chatter showed the

team was trying to mislead

officials. Hamilton apologised

and the team principal also

wrote to the FIA President, possibly aware it would be hard

for the team's part owners

Mercedes to foot the bill for any fine in the current

economic crisis. In a stand-off

of another sort, the Indian

Cricket Board has offered an

amnesty to any players in the

rebel Indian cricket league.

The BCCI will consider players

for international cricket if they ditch the rebel organisation but there's a

catch, they must serve a

12-month cooler-off period. If

they come back to the board,

they would not be allowed to

play international cricket or

will not be given an

international assignment for a

period of one year. The

cricket ers have until the end

of May to decide whether

they'll return to the fold.

From the most popular sport in

India to one that was almost as

big, the Indian hockey team

cinema laingsa preparing for

the Asia Cup and hoping to keep

its rebuild program on track.

TRANSLATION: We are working on

a match to match strategy. It's

essential to win three points.

Sometimes small teams like

Bangladesh can also create

problems for us. Hockey's

popularity has declined in

India since the 19 70s and

cricket has largely taken over

since the national team won the

World Cup in 1983. Now let's

have a check of the regional

weather forecast for this

Thursday.

Melbourne's had its coldest

morning in 50 years. And just 2

degrees in Hobart.

You've been watching ABC

News. Let's check again our top

stories - the World Health

Organization raises the alert

over swine flu to level five,

that's just one short of a full

pandemic. Pakistan's army

regains control of a town

seized by the Taliban, killing

50 militants reportedly, and EU

Ministers fail to persuade Sri

Lanka to call a truce with

Tamil Tigers. That's the

bulletin for now. For more news

and current affairs you you can

check out our website. It

Australia Network news.com. I'm Beverly O'Connor. Thanks for

your company. We'll see you soon.

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