Pacific News Minute

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In Tonga, a constitutional amendment proposes to transfer more power from the King to the Prime Minister. Democratic reform, according to its supporters; critics call it a power grab. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Wikimedia Commons

A tiny, uninhabited island in the south Pacific is, according to scientists, “the most polluted, most remote island in the whole world.” More on Henderson Island from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Flickr / theglobalpanorama
Flickr / theglobalpanorama

The government of Papua New Guinea announced plans to close and demolish the controversial Australian Detention camp on Manus Island. About 900 men have been held there without charge for four years after trying to get to Australia by boat. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Simple Wikipedia

The complicated politics of the former Soviet Union don’t often affect the South Pacific, but two disputed territories that broke away from Georgia are about to cause headaches in the impoverished and far off island nation of Nauru. Neal Conan unravels the diplomatic knot in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Wikimedia Commons

In April, the incumbent Governor of Jakarta lost his bid for election in a campaign dominated by allegations that he had committed blasphemy against the Koran. Yesterday, he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Details, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia

Two years ago, we reported on the case of Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin, arrested as he boarded a plane in Honolulu headed for China. Lin was charged with espionage in what government officials said was an epic sex for secrets scandal. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, it now looks as if the allegations were greatly exaggerated.

Flickr / IAEA Imagebank
Flickr / IAEA Imagebank

According to Reuters, the U.S. Military’s controversial anti-missile system has reached initial operating capacity in South Korea. The news agency quotes U.S. officials as cautioning that it will still be months before THAAD is fully operational – the acronym stands for Theater High Altitude Area Defense. And, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, there is growing sentiment to install the system in Japan.

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Wikipedia / PierreSelim

The Olympic Gold Medal won by Fiji’s sevens in Rio de Janeiro validated the popularity of rugby in much of the Pacific, and the quality of its players. An estimated 800 Pacific Islanders play professionally in Europe, but both they and their clubs can have problems with culture shock…we have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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After an embarrassing mix-up, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson is now close enough to Korea to launch airstrikes if needed.  Admiral Harry Harris, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, took responsibility for the confusion last week when the White House gave the impression that the carrier was racing towards Korea, when it was actually more than three thousand miles away, and steaming in the opposite direction. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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After the first round of voting in France's Presidential election on Sunday, Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen emerged to face off against each other next month. Neither finished first in New Caledonia or French Polynesia. More details from Neal Conan in today's Pacific News Minute.

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As we look back to President Trump’s first hundred days in office this week, one campaign promise he did keep was to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal negotiated under President Obama. However, a different free trade agreement is about to be signed in the Pacific. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

▲Bonard▼ / Flickr
▲Bonard▼ / Flickr

A sheriff’s captain from Nevada got an unusual assignment last month. Joe Duffy went to the Kingdom of Tonga to help authorities there with a rising drug gang problem. We have details from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Security will be tight as voters in Jakarta head to the polls tomorrow in an election seen as a test of Indonesia’s longstanding secular tradition. And, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, one candidate faces a blasphemy trial as soon as the election’s over.

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This week, the Archdiocese of Guam asked a federal court to dismiss dozens of law suits filed by former altar boys who say they were raped and assaulted by priests as far back as the 1970s. The key to the suits was a law passed last year that lifted the statute of limitations, and as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, that law is also the basis of the Archdiocese’s argument.

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One of the leaders of Abu Sayyaf is reportedly among those killed in a shootout with the Philippine Army yesterday. Muamar Askali, also known as Abu Rami sometimes acted as a spokesman for the jihadist group. The firefight erupted on the island of Bohol in the central Philippines, with five rebels and four Filipino soldiers killed…we have background on Abu Sayyaf from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The man regarded as the father of his nation gave a farewell address to the parliament of Papua New Guinea this week. Sir Michael Somare helped write the constitution and served as PNG’s first Prime Minister after Independence…we have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Lisy_ / Pixabay
Lisy_ / Pixabay

North Korea fired another ballistic missile yesterday and there are reports of preparations for another nuclear weapons test that could be timed for the U.S.-China summit later this week. With President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping set for their first meeting Thursday and Friday in Florida, two other East Asian powers took a step to repair relations…we have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Last month, we reported on Guam’s dispute with the Justice Department over voter eligibility in a plebiscite restricted to Chamorros. In another similar case, the Justice Department charges that Guam’s Chamorro Land Trust violates anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Simple Wikipedia

People in North Western Australia are worried about how to protect a rich collection of dinosaur tracks that was made public earlier this month. Thieves and tourists could damage or even destroy what’s been called Australia’s own Jurassic Park. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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President Donald Trump isn’t the only world leader forced to cancel a vote on an important bill. Last week, in Washington, it was Health Care. This week in Canberra, an extradition treaty with China. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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After a vacation here in Hawaii, Barack Obama has flown onto French Polynesia, where he reportedly plans to work on his memoirs for a month or so. The former president will stay at the resort on Tetiaroa, the island once owned by Marlon Brando.

French Polynesia is getting ready to vote in next month’s French Presidential election, though, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, without one of their own on the ballot.

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As preparations get underway for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to President Trump’s Maralago Resort in Florida next month, the sensitive issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan has reportedly been put on hold until after the summit. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, two items are at the top of Taiwan’s wish list.

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Stripped of presidential immunity following her impeachment, South Korea’s former president was questioned by prosecutors in Seoul this week. If convicted of all 13 corruption charges, Park Geun-hye could serve up to 45 years. Two of her aides have also been arrested in connection with a blacklist of nearly 10 thousand artists. More on that, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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In this country, a company or a corporation has the legal status of a person.  In New Zealand, parliament granted personhood to a river last week.  That’s apparently the first time that’s ever happened…we have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Earlier this week, Japan announced plans to send its largest warship on a three month cruise through the disputed waters of the South China Sea and on to the Indian Ocean. According to Reuters, the trip will include exercises with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea…we have more from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Nine high ranking officers were arrested yesterday in the worst corruption scandal in the history of the U.S. Navy.  So far, more than twenty former or current officers have been charged in the so-called ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal, all of them associated with the Tokyo-based Seventh Fleet, and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, there are more shoes still to drop.

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Late last week, a federal judge in Guam struck down the territory’s plan to hold a plebiscite on de-colonization. The ruling said that a ballot restricted to Chamorros violates the constitution’s ban on racial discrimination. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Last April, the publisher and three staff members of the Fiji Times were charged with inciting communal antagonism over an anti-Muslim article.  Now the Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether to upgrade the charges, to sedition. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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A barrage of North Korean missile tests earlier this week has focused attention on the war games underway on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. In the annual Foal Eagle Exercise, tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops are preparing for defense, according to the Pentagon, or rehearsing an attack on North Korea, according to Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has just begun two other international drills in the Pacific…more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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The first commoner elected Prime Minister of Tonga has survived an effort to oust him lead by the country’s Lords. Akilisi Pohiva won the vote of no confidence, and then fired his Finance Minister, who abstained on the ballot. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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