Pacific News Minute

President Obama's visit to Vietnam this week has focused on economic and strategic issues and on Human rights. Vietnam rigorously suppresses dissent and, late this week,  four Vietnamese go on trial for an act regarded as a right in much of the world...trying to leave the country. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

eGuide Travel / Flickr
eGuide Travel / Flickr

A massive security operation could not stifle all protests in Hong Kong this week, as an important Chinese official arrived. Zhang Dejiang is the chairman of China's legislature, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the most senior official to visit Hong Kong since the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014. We have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

 Thousands of police officers manned barricades around the Convention Center, forcing small groups of demonstrators to official protest zones well out of the way.

APEC 2013 / Flickr
APEC 2013 / Flickr

In Papua New Guinea, scandals and crises threaten to overwhelm Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. After courts reinstated the police anti-corruption unit, his arrest appears to be just a matter of time, and protests mount on university campuses and in an Australian detention camp. We have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

ravilacoya / Flickr
ravilacoya / Flickr

A study in the Solomon Islands by researchers from Australia found that five small islands have vanished, while six others lost significant acreage due to sea level rise. The authors say it's the first scientific confirmation of the dramatic impact of climate change...we have more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Vanuatu Daily Digest
Vanuatu Daily Digest

The so-called Panama papers disclosed details of thousands of shell corporations set up in tax havens around the world, including many Pacific Island nations.  Those nations and the law firm involved, Mossack Fonseca, argue that these operations are perfectly legal and are not designed to cloak criminal activity...but, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute...sometimes they do.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Flickr
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / Flickr

Yesterday, an American destroyer delivered another challenge to Chinese claims in the South China Sea.  USS William P Lawrence sailed within 12 miles of Fiery Cross Reef, where Chinese engineers have created a 700 acre artificial island over the last year and a half.  More, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Virgin Australia announced plans to resume flights to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu later this month.  Major airlines suspended flights in and out of Bauerfield International four months ago because of concerns over the safety of the main runway.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

So how does a country so heavily reliant on tourism allow it's international airport to deteriorate so badly?  At a news conference at Bauerfield earlier this week, deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman answered, "Neglect by successive governments."

AK Rockefeller / Flickr
AK Rockefeller / Flickr

Reports from West Papua say that nearly all of the 1,700 protesters arrested earlier this week have been released.  There were rallies in all the major cities in support of the United Liberation Movement, which has been pushing for a referendum on independence from Indonesia...we have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull set national elections for July second.  The budget and the economy are expected to be the big issues, but immigration policy will be important too, especially after two asylum seekers set themselves on fire as a protest.  We have more on that, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Everybody knows that tuna is big business, especially in the Pacific, but, until this week, nobody knew exactly how big.  Now a report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trust puts the annual estimate at more than 42 billion dollars.  We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

French Prime Minster Manuel Valls is on a three-day visit to New Caledonia.  The French South Pacific Territory is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence in 2018, but what's on the ballot and exactly who's eligible to vote remain to be decided...details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

  Australia's controversial migrant policy faces major new questions today after a protester set himself on fire as UN officials toured the detention camp on Nauru.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ordered Australia's other off-shore run camp to be closed.  More, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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." 

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.


Wikipedia Commons
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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