Pacific News Minute

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One of the leaders of Abu Sayyaf is reportedly among those killed in a shootout with the Philippine Army yesterday. Muamar Askali, also known as Abu Rami sometimes acted as a spokesman for the jihadist group. The firefight erupted on the island of Bohol in the central Philippines, with five rebels and four Filipino soldiers killed…we have background on Abu Sayyaf from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The man regarded as the father of his nation gave a farewell address to the parliament of Papua New Guinea this week. Sir Michael Somare helped write the constitution and served as PNG’s first Prime Minister after Independence…we have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Lisy_ / Pixabay

North Korea fired another ballistic missile yesterday and there are reports of preparations for another nuclear weapons test that could be timed for the U.S.-China summit later this week. With President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping set for their first meeting Thursday and Friday in Florida, two other East Asian powers took a step to repair relations…we have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Last month, we reported on Guam’s dispute with the Justice Department over voter eligibility in a plebiscite restricted to Chamorros. In another similar case, the Justice Department charges that Guam’s Chamorro Land Trust violates anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Simple Wikipedia

People in North Western Australia are worried about how to protect a rich collection of dinosaur tracks that was made public earlier this month. Thieves and tourists could damage or even destroy what’s been called Australia’s own Jurassic Park. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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President Donald Trump isn’t the only world leader forced to cancel a vote on an important bill. Last week, in Washington, it was Health Care. This week in Canberra, an extradition treaty with China. We have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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After a vacation here in Hawaii, Barack Obama has flown onto French Polynesia, where he reportedly plans to work on his memoirs for a month or so. The former president will stay at the resort on Tetiaroa, the island once owned by Marlon Brando.

French Polynesia is getting ready to vote in next month’s French Presidential election, though, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, without one of their own on the ballot.

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As preparations get underway for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to President Trump’s Maralago Resort in Florida next month, the sensitive issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan has reportedly been put on hold until after the summit. As we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, two items are at the top of Taiwan’s wish list.

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Stripped of presidential immunity following her impeachment, South Korea’s former president was questioned by prosecutors in Seoul this week. If convicted of all 13 corruption charges, Park Geun-hye could serve up to 45 years. Two of her aides have also been arrested in connection with a blacklist of nearly 10 thousand artists. More on that, from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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In this country, a company or a corporation has the legal status of a person.  In New Zealand, parliament granted personhood to a river last week.  That’s apparently the first time that’s ever happened…we have details from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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Earlier this week, Japan announced plans to send its largest warship on a three month cruise through the disputed waters of the South China Sea and on to the Indian Ocean. According to Reuters, the trip will include exercises with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea…we have more from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Nine high ranking officers were arrested yesterday in the worst corruption scandal in the history of the U.S. Navy.  So far, more than twenty former or current officers have been charged in the so-called ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal, all of them associated with the Tokyo-based Seventh Fleet, and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, there are more shoes still to drop.

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Late last week, a federal judge in Guam struck down the territory’s plan to hold a plebiscite on de-colonization. The ruling said that a ballot restricted to Chamorros violates the constitution’s ban on racial discrimination. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Last April, the publisher and three staff members of the Fiji Times were charged with inciting communal antagonism over an anti-Muslim article.  Now the Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether to upgrade the charges, to sedition. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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A barrage of North Korean missile tests earlier this week has focused attention on the war games underway on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. In the annual Foal Eagle Exercise, tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops are preparing for defense, according to the Pentagon, or rehearsing an attack on North Korea, according to Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has just begun two other international drills in the Pacific…more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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The first commoner elected Prime Minister of Tonga has survived an effort to oust him lead by the country’s Lords. Akilisi Pohiva won the vote of no confidence, and then fired his Finance Minister, who abstained on the ballot. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Following the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korea’s leader, Malaysia has recalled its ambassador from Pyongyang and revoked visa free entry for North Koreans. And, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, more diplomatic retaliation may follow.

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A month ago, we reported on a Russian businessman who wanted to revive the Romanov dynasty on three uninhabited islands in Kiribati. Anton Bakov promised to transfer $120 million as soon as the deal was approved, but Kiribati decided to reject the proposal last week. An update from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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The honeymoon between the Philippines and China appears to have hit a stumbling block. Last week, China’s Commerce minister abruptly cancelled a trip to Manila at the last minute. Scheduling conflicts, according to Beijing, but, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, it followed rare public criticism of Chinese militarization in the South China Sea.

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A tacit deal between Australia and the United States is now explicit. In an interview with Australia’s Sky News, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton conceded for the first time that Australia will not accept a group of Central American refugees until the U.S. accepts asylum seekers held on the Pacific Islands of Manus and Nauru….more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute

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Last December, we reported that the police commissioner of Samoa had been thrown into a jail cell after he was arrested on more than 250 criminal charges, including incitement to murder. On Monday, he declared, “Justice has prevailed” after the entire case was dismissed…we have an update from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Last week, a teenager’s death in custody became the latest incident in a long series of case of alleged police brutality in Fiji. Last October, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama admitted that torture was a problem but said that the issue is being addressed. Details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The stakes in April’s Presidential Election in France could include the country’s future in the European Union…one of the leading candidates, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, vows to hold a plebiscite on the issue if she wins…French Pacific Territories participate in the vote and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, the stakes in French Polynesia could include independence.

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A retired bishop in the Northern Marianas has been accused of sex abuse against an altar boy. The charges date back to 1971, when Tomas Camacho served as a priest in Guam and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, it’s just the latest in a long series of accusations.

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There was sigh of relief across the Pacific last week when President Trump re-affirmed American commitment to the One China policy in a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Since then, though, North Korea launched a missile to remind the world of one major unsolved problem in East Asia. Then the Defense Minister of the Philippines reminded us all of another…more on that, from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

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53 police reinforcements are due to arrive in New Caledonia this month as sporadic violence continues south of the capital. And French authorities warn of  military style operations if unrest continues. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

USNI
USNI

Last Friday night, a missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai was successfully intercepted in space by a new anti-ballistic missile, according to the US Missile Defense Agency. This was the most ambitious test yet of a weapon jointly developed by the United States and Japan…we have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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After a week of leaks, tweets, phone calls and high level meetings, it looks as if The Trump Administration will honor an agreement with Australia to take in as many as 1,250 refugees held on the Pacific Islands of Nauru and Manus…more from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Over the past couple of years, we’ve reported on efforts to establish Libertarian Utopias on uninhabited Pacific islands and, just last month, to build a small floating city in a French Polynesian lagoon. Now a Russian businessman is in talks with the government of Kiribati to re-establish the Romanov dynasty.  Details from Neal Conan in Today’s Pacific News Minute.

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Amnesty International issued a blistering report earlier today on President Roderigo Duterte’s drug war in the Philippines. More than 7,500 people have been killed over the past 7 months.  Of 59 deaths investigated by Amnesty, the group reported that the vast majority were “extra-judicial killings carried out by government order.” More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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