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.

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