Pacific News Minute

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Wikipedia Commons

Ninety seven years ago: the guns fell silent on the Western Front on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  The First World War transformed Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa - and while the Pacific was a minor theatre in the conflict, it did play a part, including, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - the first naval battle of the conflict.

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Wikipedia Commons

State media in China reported positively on this weekend's historic meeting between the Presidents of China and Taiwan - the first such summit since 1949.  Reaction on Taiwan was mixed, particularly on a sore subject: Chinese missiles.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Asked about the multitude of ballistic missiles on China's side of the Taiwan Strait - President Xi Jinping replied “the missiles weren't aimed at Taiwan,” a claim that might be charitably described as a diplomatic fiction.

Vilimaka Foliaki / Flickr
Vilimaka Foliaki / Flickr

The National Weather Service just upgraded the current El Niño from moderate to strong - which could mean hurricanes here in Hawaii even after the official end of the season on November 30th.  Farmers and ranchers are already being warned to expect hotter and drier weather this winter.  But nothing like the problems the weather pattern is causing in Pacific nations to the south and east.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

The governments of three Pacific countries face removal, through a parliamentary procedure called a motion of no confidence.  Opposition parties in Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have issued the challenges.  If the Prime Minister's party loses the vote - the whole government changes without an election.  We have an explanation, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Naval Surface Warriors / Flickr
Naval Surface Warriors / Flickr

It's been a week since the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen challenged China's claims in the South China Sea.  We've learned a bit more about that mission since, and about a new development, that could shift this controversy from international waters, to an international court.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

In a speech in London this week, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Europe should respond to its migrant crisis the same way Australia did: turn away the boats and close the borders.  Abbott was forced out of office last month and this is his first major speech since. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

As expected, the United States sent a destroyer into waters claimed by China yesterday.  The freedom of navigation patrol challenges China's claims around artificial islands it's constructed in the South China Sea.  At the same time - another major power is extending military muscle in the Pacific.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

For some time, now - we've been reporting on the political crisis in Vanuatu.  About a quarter of that country's parliament is in prison, after 14 Members of Parliament were convicted of bribery and the Supreme Court resolved a constitutional crisis. The latest, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

bycfotografem / Pixabay Commons
bycfotografem / Pixabay Commons

Australia's government has approved what will be one of the biggest coal mines in the world.  An Indian conglomerate plans to dig up and export about 60-million tons of coal per year - a plan that Australian environmentalists denounced as grossly irresponsible.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet / Flickr
Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet / Flickr

Over the past few days, the US Navy has displayed its power from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, sending aircraft carrier battle groups to exercise with its allies in Tokyo Bay and the Bay of Bengal.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - the demonstrations come amid widespread expectation of a patrol to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

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Wikipedia Commons

And now an update on the political crisis in Vanuatu.  Last week, we reported that the speaker of parliament there used a constitutional loophole to pardon himself and thirteen other MPs who had just been convicted on charges of bribery.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - the pardons have now been reversed.

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Wikipedia Commons

A twenty year effort to relocate a US Marine airbase on the Japanese Island of Okinawa hit a new snag this week.  The island's governor revoked a construction permit and, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, the result will likely be a court case that could take years to resolve.

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Wikipedia Commons

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the United States will sail and fly wherever international law allows - and made a point to add, the South China Sea is no exception.  The US and its allies have been in discussions about an appropriate response to China's construction of artificial islands in the disputed area and, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, it looks like a decision has been made.

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Wikipedia Commons

A series of unprecedented developments has left the government of Vanuatu in chaos.  On Friday, the speaker of the national parliament was among 16 MPs convicted of bribery.  But with the President out of the country on a visit, he then used his position as acting president to pardon his fellow defendants, and himself.  Neal Conan traces the story in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

At the Our Oceans Conference in Valparaiso, Chile this week - President Michelle Bachelet announced a huge new ocean sanctuary around Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island.  Last month, we reported on a slightly smaller marine reserve established by New Zealand.  Britain, Kiribati, Palau, the US and other countries also declare vast stretches of the Pacific off limits to illegal fishing.  But the problem is how to monitor such enormous areas.  In today's Pacific News Minute, Neal Conan reports on two new systems which may begin to change that.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Accepting that sea level rise is happening and getting worse, atoll nations from around the world meet in Kitibati this week to work on plans to migrate when the time comes, a prospect that one participant described as cultural genocide.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Akka Rimon, Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Kiribati, described the dilemma: "What do we do, and where do we go, and what do we do from here if the times comes for us to go."

Sean Kelleher / Flickr
Sean Kelleher / Flickr

As of yesterday, conditions at Australia's notorious detention camp on the Pacific Island Nation of Nauru have been eased.  Hundreds of asylum seekers now have freedom of movement - anywhere on the island, 24 hours a day.  Though critics charge, it's not much of an improvement.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute. 

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Wikipedia Commons

Protests in West Papua this week, after Indonesian Police shot two 17 year old boys - one of whom died. This is the fifth time this year that civilians have been fired on by soldiers or police in the restive province, with now eight reported killed.  We have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Times Asi / Flickr Commons
Times Asi / Flickr Commons

When he was in The US last week, Chinese President Xi Jing Ping cited an Ancient Greek historian to argue that conflict with the United States is not inevitable - at the same time, China completed an air field on its new headquarters in the South China Sea.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

As the United Nations General Assembly opened yesterday in New York, most attention focused on speeches by Presidents Obama and Putin and the meeting later in the day between the leaders of the United States and Russia.  But New Zealand caused a stir as well, when Prime Minster John Key announced an enormous new maritime ocean sanctuary.  Details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Sids1 / Flickr
Sids1 / Flickr

Yesterday, New Zealand deported a man who claimed to be a climate refugee...both opposition MPs and Pacific Islanders protested the decision, and said that New Zealand will have to face the reality of climate change sooner or later...details, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Alex Carvalho / Flickr
Alex Carvalho / Flickr

Last week, activists from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II boarded a Taiwanese fishing boat to expose what they describe as an illegal operation.  In response, the island nation of Nauru issued a ban on the practice known as transshipment.  Details, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

m-louis .® / Flickr
m-louis .® / Flickr

After a bitter debate that dragged on into the wee hours of Saturday morning, Japan's Upper House voted final approval on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial security laws.  The measures reinterpret the country's pacifist constitution and expand the circumstances under which Japanese troops could go into combat.  Reaction, from Neal Conan in our Pacific News Minute.

Khairil Yusof / Flickr
Khairil Yusof / Flickr

A largely peaceful pro-government rally in Malaysia turned violent earlier today, when hundreds of Malays tried to storm into the Chinatown district of the capital.  Police used water cannon laced with chemicals to disperse the crowd.  The incident sparked new concerns about ethnic conflict amid a political crisis tied to a corruption scandal - more, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr
InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr

It's North Korea. Again.

Just last month, North Korea vowed war as tensions escalated along the DMZ.  This week, Pyongyang announced plans to launch long range missiles and improve its nuclear weapons and, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, you can expect more of the same for the next month.

October 10th is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party - a major event in North Korea, and announcements this week have analysts wondering if it might be marked by a long range missile launch, a nuclear weapons test, or maybe both.

Global Panorama / Flickr
Global Panorama / Flickr

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was forced out of office Monday after a revolt in his ruling Liberal Party.  The hard line conservative's departure was met with satisfaction by his Pacific Island neighbors after what some call Abbott's last gaffe.  Details from Neal Conan in our Pacific News Minute.

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Wikipedia Commons

Elections in Singapore on Friday are not expected to produce any surprises - the People's Action Party has ruled the island city state ever since independence 50 years ago and is widely credited for the creation of one of the most prosperous countries in the world.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - analysts will measure tomorrow's results by looking at one number.

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Wikipedia Commons

The summit meeting of leaders from around the Pacific continues in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea this week.  Yesterday, we reported on climate change - the issue at the top of the agenda.  Today more background on another big controversy as we hear about West Papua from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Leaders from around the Pacific gather in Port Moresby - the Capital of Papua New Guinea this week, for the summit meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum.  Climate Change leads the agenda in the run up to the United Nations Conference in Paris at the end of this year, but as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - it may be hard to reach a common position.

A bombshell in court in Vanuatu yesterday, as the country's Finance Minister pleaded guilty to bribery charges.  13 other Members of Parliament face similar charges in a case set to go forward next week. As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, the case revolves around a vote of no confidence earlier this summer.

On June 11th, three members of Prime Minister Joe Natuman's party crossed the aisle to support a motion of no confidence filed by opposition leader Moanna Carcasses, who wound up as the deputy to the new Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

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