Pacific News Minute

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A summit meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group is underway in Port Moresby this week, with leaders still unable to decide on full recognition for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua. The group represents the indigenous peoples of the western half of New Guinea, which has been part of Indonesia for more than fifty years. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court announced a preliminary investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines. Thousands of people have been killed by police and vigilantes and this week, a defiant Duterte vowed to continue the war as long as he’s in office. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Kolmel / U.S. Navy

The long-rumored nomination of Admiral Harry Harris as the next U.S. Ambassador to Australia is now official. Admiral Harris is about to retire after three years as the head of U.S. Pacific Command where he became known for criticism of China’s military expansion into the South China Sea. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Stefan Krasowski / Wikimedia Commons

As you’ve heard on the NPR News, President Trump wants to hold a big military parade in Washington, D.C., inspired by the celebrations he saw in Paris last Bastille Day. North Korea showed off its military might in a big parade in Pyongyang yesterday. We have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

U.S. Navy / U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom

Earlier this week, photographs published by a Philippine newspaper showed that China has almost finished construction of military bases on seven man-made islands in the South China Sea. Facilities include runways, helipads, radars, control towers, missile shelters and hangars. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Elliott Brown / Flickr

The Indonesian government expelled a BBC crew from West Papua after a series of tweets “hurt the feelings of soldiers.” Indonesia rarely allows foreign reporters to visit that restive area because of the on-going independence struggle, but the BBC was given permission to cover an outbreak of measles and malnutrition. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

ISS Expedition / Wikimedia Commons

The search continues in the waters of Kiribati, but two weeks after a ferry sank, hope is fading after what’s now feared to be the worst disaster in the country’s history. It’s thought that 88 people were aboard, including a crew of five. Seven survivors were rescued last weekend. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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This week, the tiny South Pacific island state of Nauru marks the 50th anniversary of its independence from Australia. Dignitaries have gathered to celebrate the occasion from around the Pacific, and from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And if you’re wondering what they’re doing there, we have an explanation from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps / Wikimedia Commons

The legacy of French nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific has triggered a surge of anxiety in French Polynesia. A report by a child psychiatrist said the children of people exposed to radiation suffered high rates of deformities and developmental disorders. The President of French Polynesia accused the doctor of creating a panic. We have more, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Nicor / Wikimedia Commons

This week marks 50 years since North Korea seized an American intelligence ship, the U.S.S. Pueblo. Its crew of 82 suffered starvation and torture before their release almost a year later. The ship itself is now on display at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

58 refugees from Manus Island in Papua New Guinea are on their way to new homes in the United States. The men have been held in Australian-run detention camps, many for more than four years. Another group of 154 men, women and children are expected to follow in February from Australia’s other-off shore camp in Nauru. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephen M. Votaw / Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend, the U.S. Navy conducted the latest in a series of patrols to challenge Chinese clams in the South China Sea. The Pearl Harbor based destroyer U.S.S. Hopper passed near Scarborough Shoal, prompting Beijing to threaten accelerated militarization in the area. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The diplomatic dispute between Australia and China continues to seethe. This week, an Australian minister said that Beijing is trying to win influence in the Pacific with loans to build useless buildings and roads to nowhere. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Teinesavaii / Wikimedia Commons
Teinesavaii / Wikimedia Commons

The outspoken Prime Minister of Samoa said on television this week, that media organizations should rely on “official” information, and that it would be good if reporters were forced to reveal their sources. The statement followed passage of a law that makes libel a criminal offense in Samoa. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Qiliho / Wikipedia
Qiliho / Wikipedia

In Fiji, an opposition member of parliament has been questioned by police on allegations of sedition. Critics accuse the government of using the charge to suppress dissent. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Wikimedia Commons

Today, we broadcast the final Pacific News Minute of 2017 and Neal Conan continues his series on big stories that will continue to reverberate in the coming year - today: decolonization.

(stephan) / Flickr
(stephan) / Flickr

2017 saw dramatic events across the Asia-Pacific. The leaders of both China and Japan won new terms in office; forces loyal to ISIS held a Philippine city hostage for months; Australia legalized same-sex marriage and moved to wind down its much-criticized off-shore refugee camps. In the last two Pacific News Minutes of the year, Neal Conan focuses on stories likely to make news in 2018 as well as today, North Korea.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A main road on the French Island of New Caledonia was closed for part of the weekend after more violence. An emergency doctor says a pick-up truck repeatedly rammed his vehicle from behind and forced him off the road in what he said was an attempted murder. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Last week, long forgotten trophies of a 19th century skirmish between the United States and Korea were discovered at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. USNI News reported that workers uncovered battle flags captured by U.S. Marines in 1871. In today’s Pacific News Minute, Neal Conan explains why both sides saw it as a victory.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In Tahiti, lawyers for Gaston Flosse are trying to find a way to get the former president back into politics. After two corruption convictions, Flosse was barred from public office until 2019. But his lawyers argue that his sentences should run concurrently, which would allow him to stand in next year’s territorial election. If so, as Neal Conan reports in today’s Pacific News Minute, he may face new questions about a 20 year old case. 

Israel Defense Forces / Flickr
Israel Defense Forces / Flickr

More details have emerged about the Korean-born man arrested over the weekend in Australia. While Choi Han Chan faces charges that he tried to sell missile parts for North Korea, he’s also been described as a nice, polite hospital cleaner from a suburb of Sydney. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

This week, NASA scientists explained how a new volcanic island in the South Pacific could help them figure out where to look for signs of life on Mars. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

QuinceMedia / Pixabay
QuinceMedia / Pixabay

Last week, we reported on the controversy in Australia over Chinese influence on politics there. Further details on the extent of that influence emerged yesterday when a senator once considered a rising star of the Australian Labor Party resigned over his ties to a Chinese-born billionaire. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, China told its tourist agencies to stop all flights to the Pacific island nation of Palau, in what’s believed to be a protest over a recent visit by the President of Taiwan. Chinese tourists made up more than half of Palau’s tourists last year, but, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, Palau doesn’t seem worried.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Australian government introduced a series of bills this week, designed to prevent foreign interference in politics. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cited “disturbing reports about Chinese influence,” but also said the measures are not directed at any one country. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, China is not buying that.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, the Department of the Interior announced it was time for the people of Bikini to make decisions, not policy makers in Washington DC, and transferred control over the Bikini Resettlement trust fund. As soon as the decision took effect, 11 million dollars was withdrawn from the 59 million dollar fund, and now Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska plans legislation to restore federal supervision. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Six months of chaos over dual nationality comes to a head in Australia this week. After several senators and MPs were disqualified for office under an obscure law, all of them have to file proof of citizenship this week. But, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, confusion is likely to persist for some time.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In Manila, the Supreme Court of the Philippines is hearing oral arguments this week, on two suits that challenge President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. On Tuesday, Solicitor General Jose Calida described the petitions as attempts to destabilize the government and sow anarchy…we have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As you’ve been hearing on the NPR news, North Korea fired a ballistic missile yesterday that landed in the Sea of Japan. At the same time, fishing boats believed to be from North Korea have been washing up on Japan’s west coast. The most recent, with eight bodies aboard. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Later this week, Tonga’s freshly elected parliament will gather to elect a prime minister and form a new government – which is expected to look a great deal like the last government after the ruling Democratic Party scored a resounding victory two weeks ago. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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