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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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. 

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
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.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

A six month investigation by an Australian Senate Committee finds that conditions at the migrant detention center on the Pacific Island Nation of Nauru are not safe.  A report calls for all children to be removed as soon as possible, and as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, that's just one of fifteen recommendations.

Surian Soosay / Flickr
Surian Soosay / Flickr

On Sunday, 120-thousand Japanese gathered outside the Diet to protest what they denounced as war legislation.  On Monday, the defense ministry submitted a proposed budget that asks for a fourth consecutive annual increase...details, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Leigh Blackall / Flickr
Leigh Blackall / Flickr

The government of Australia relocated to a remote island in the Torres Strait this week, as Prime Minster Tony Abbott made good on his promise to spend a week every year in an indigenous community to learn more about the issues faced by Aboriginals and Torres Straits Islanders...more from Neal Conan, in the Pacific News Minute.

Prime Minister Abbott made an important gesture to Australia's indigenous peoples, when he laid a wreath at the grave of Eddie Koiki Mabo, whom he called a "warrior".

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Over the weekend, India hosted a summit meeting with representatives from 14 Pacific Island Nations. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, Fiji's Prime Minister asked India to take the side of small island states at the UN Conference on climate change coming up at the end of this year in Paris.

mroach / Flickr
mroach / Flickr

Until an agreement yesterday, North and South Korea stood on the brink of war for the last several days. As usual, each accused the other of precipitating the crisis.  As a deadline approached at 5 PM Saturday, high level negotiators from both countries gathered at Panmunjom and after marathon talks, found a way to back down.  As we hear from Neal Conan in today's Pacific News Minute… this was just the latest in a long series of confrontations.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr

Across the Pacific, many island nations struggle with issues of sovereignty.  Just this week we reported on the arrest of dozens in Fiji who allegedly planned to set up a breakaway state.  Now the leader of the provincial government on one of the Solomon Islands says he plans to establish a sovereign nation, but not an independent one.  An explanation, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

waterboardingdotorg / Flickr
waterboardingdotorg / Flickr

As Australia's government prepares to issue new, multi-billion dollar contracts for private companies to run its refugee detention centers, the parliament in Canberra heard charges of abuse at the camps, including, most recently, allegations of torture including waterboarding.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

As many as 60 people are under arrest in Fiji on charges of sedition, amid allegations of military training aimed at the establishment of a breakaway Christian state. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

While the details of the charges remain murky, the reaction of the authorities is anything but.  Fiji's Prime minister, Frank Bainimarama declared "There will be no so-called independent states established in Fiji.” Put simply he added, "any insurrection will be crushed."

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