Pacific News Minute

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Wikipedia Commons

Earlier today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the winner of the biggest defense contract in Australia's history.  While Japan was long believed to have the inside track, France received the order for 12 new submarines in a deal estimated at 39 billion dollars.  We have more from Neal Conan, in the Pacific News Minute.

Tadashi Mori / Flickr
Tadashi Mori / Flickr

Sometime in the next few weeks, an international court that few people have ever heard of is expected to issue a ruling that could ratchet up tensions in the South China Sea.  We have more on Philippines VS. China and the International Tribunal of the Permanent court of Arbitration from Neal Conan, in the Pacific News Minute.

Last week, we reported on a series of high profile arrests in Papua New Guinea, where the police anti-corruption squad appeared to be zeroing in on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.  Since then, the police unit has been suspended, reinstated, and locked out of its offices...more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

A two-day conference in Jakarta this week broke more than 50 years of official silence on one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century.  Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan said Indonesia must make peace with its past, but ruled out an official apology, while a retired general called for a truth and reconciliation commission.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

pixabay Commons
pixabay Commons

In Papua New Guinea, the Justice minister, a Supreme Court justice and the Prime Minister's lawyer have been arrested in a long running anti-corruption investigation that locals call “Paraka-gate”.  The Prime Minister himself has avoided arrest, at least so far, but, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, the noose appears to be closing.

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

Two very different reactions in two Pacific countries to revelations in the Panama Papers.  The government of New Zealand appointed a tax expert to review its practices, while the Government of Samoa defended not just the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the scandal, but nine other trust companies that conduct business there.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

US Navy Photo
US Navy Photo

Over the weekend, you may have seen reports about the arrest of a US Naval officer on charges of espionage. Though he was based in Virginia, Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin was reportedly arrested in Hawaii. Earlier, he'd served aboard sophisticated spy planes based here on Oahu.  We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Though first reports suggested that Commander Lin spied for China, it now appears that that he was charged with providing secrets to Taiwan, investigations continue into possible links with China.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

In his State of the Island address last week, Guam Governor Eddie Calvo announced plans to hold a plebiscite on the island's political future this November.  The choices would be Statehood...Free association with the United States...or independence. We have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

The massive disclosure in the so called Panama Papers continue to reverberate around the globe.  Yesterday, we reported on the implications for China… but the leak of confidential files also put a spotlight on three countries in the Pacific.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

A senior Indonesian official's tour through Melanesian countries has stirred up controversy after officials in Jakarta described it as an effort to suppress regional support for the independence movement in West Papua.  More on the minister's reception from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Australia's been in an uproar this week over a diversity toolkit published by the University of New South Wales, which advises students that the country was not "settled" by Britain, but rather "invaded, occupied and colonized."  As for Captain James Cook, he may have mapped the coastline, but certainly did not discover the place.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute. 

"Whitewash" screams the front page of Sydney's Daily Telegraph.  And in a follow-up story: "Nutty professors want to Cook the history books." 

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Wikipedia Commons

Last week a referendum in New Zealand decisively rejected the Silver Fern flag.  Prime Minister John Key spent about $17-million on a two year project to select a new design.  But voters had the final word and decided to retain the familiar navy blue flag with the Union Jack and the stars of the Southern Cross. But, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, there will be a new flag in the Pacific later this year, in Fiji.

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Wikipedia Commons

Long running disputes over claims in the South China Sea have centered on two island groups - the Spratleys (near the Philippines) and the Paracels (closer to Vietnam). Last week, there was an incident between Indonesian and Chinese patrol boats near a third island group.  More on the Natuna islands from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Day Donaldson / Flickr
Day Donaldson / Flickr

A rap video featuring President Xi Jinping is soaring to the top of the charts in China.  It's called "The Reform Group Is Two Years Old" - and samples the anti-corruption speeches of "Big Daddy Xi."  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, it's just the latest sign of a growing cult of personality.

Global Panorama / Flickr
Global Panorama / Flickr

Asylum seekers have staged protests every day this week in the Pacific Island Nation of Nauru. Advocates say that, for some of them, this week marks a thousand days in detention. The government vowed to process all claims by the end of October, but nearly five hundred cases have yet to be heard. And, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, the government also faces protests over new election laws.

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Wikipedia Commons

Last week, a court in Australia found a hiring company guilty in what's been called a case of modern day "black birding." The company, Maroochy Sunshine, recruited 22 workers from Vanuatu to pick fruit and vegetables in Queensland, but paid some less than the proper wage, and paid some nothing at all.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.


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Wikipedia Commons

The cost of illegal fishing in the western pacific may be much lower than believed.  Previous estimates ranged up to $2.4-billion dollars a year.  But this week, an independent, European funded study puts that figure at about a billion dollars a year, most of that in tuna.  And, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News minute, the study also challenges beliefs, as to who's responsible.

"We imagine vast fleets of pirate boats," said James Movick, director General of the Forum Fisheries Agency. "The evidence doesn't support that."

Br John Walker msc / FLickr
Br John Walker msc / FLickr

Australia is the driest continental landmass on earth.  Right next door, the mountains of Papua New Guinea are some of the wettest places on the planet.  Now the government in Port Moresby has decided to fund a plan to build a fresh water pipeline to connect them.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

On another big day for presidential primaries, let's take time out to catch up on the voting in US pacific territories and on elections in two Pacific Island Nations.  As reported earlier Donald Trump swept the Republican caucus in the Northern Marianas Islands earlier today and won nine delegates.  In Samoa, The ruling party swept to a lop-sided victory, while last week voters in Kiribati opted for change.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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wikipedia Commons

As Spring training get underway on both sides of the Pacific, Japan's most famous baseball team is embroiled in a betting scandal...four of the team's pitchers have admitted betting on baseball, and now three team executives have resigned, including a powerful newspaper publisher. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

The President of French Polynesia appeared in criminal court in Tahiti this week, on charges that he bribed a local radio station to support the political party then headed by his father-in-law, five time President Gaston Flosse...who was himself convicted on separate charges a couple of weeks ago.  Neal Conan unravels the story in the Pacific News Minute.

TheAnimalDay.org / Flickr
TheAnimalDay.org / Flickr

US flagged tuna boats are back on the water this week, after the State Department worked out a deal with Pacific Island Nations to cover the rest of this year.  Last December, the companies that operate the tuna boats reneged on an earlier agreement.  We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Two men who helped shape the modern Pacific died over the last few days.  In Honiara, Sir Peter Keniloria the first Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, and, in New York City, Stuart Beck, a lawyer and television executive who was also Palau's first Ambassador to the United Nations.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Another bombshell in the long running scandal surrounding Malaysia's Prime Minister: according to the Wall Street Journal, a state development fund he controlled transferred more than a billion dollars into his personal accounts, hundreds of millions more than previously reported. Both the development fund and the prime minister deny the allegations, an explanation, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

bfishadow / Flickr
bfishadow / Flickr

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the three big state media outlets in Beijing to demand absolute loyalty to the Communist party.  He delivered that message to China Central Television, the People's Daily newspaper and the Xinhua news agency.  But this week it became clear that the party won't tolerate dissent on new media either.  We have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Times Asi / Flickr
Times Asi / Flickr

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wraps up a visit to Washington today, after talks with Secretary of State John Kerry.  Both reported progress toward a new UN Security Council resolution on North Korea, but tensions continue over disputes in the South China Sea.  China recently drew an interesting comparison - saying there's no difference between its defense of its islands and US defense of Hawaii. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Coral bleaching hit Hawaii's reefs in 2014, and then again last year when as much as 30% of our reefs were affected by a surge of warm water.  Now, ocean scientists attending a meeting in New Orleans are hearing that what's already the longest coral bleaching event in history could extend through this year, and well into 2017.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

On a quick swing through the Pacific this week, French President Francois Hollande stopped over in Tahiti, where he agreed to reconsider compensation for nuclear tests and in the tiny territory of Wallis and Futuna, where he promised an ATM and dialysis equipment for a local hospital. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

As South-East Asian leaders left a meeting with President Obama in California earlier this week, reports began to emerge of important new Chinese military projects on disputed islands in the South China Sea... Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Yesterday, Fiji became the first country in the world to ratify the United Nations Climate Agreement reached by 195 nations last December in Paris.  In order to take effect, at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of the world's annual carbon emissions must sign on – hopefully in time for a signing event in New York in April.  But some more ominous news yesterday on climate change as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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