Regional

West Papua independence movement re-submits for full MSG membership

An application by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua to become a full member of Melanesian Spearhead Group has been re-activated. Last year, the ULMWP announced itself as a provisional government in exile for...

Ocean flooding hits Marshall Islands, Micronesia over consecutive days

Ocean flooding for the third straight day hit low-lying islands throughout the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), causing sparse damage but requiring large-scale cleanups in their wake. Roads by Amata Kabua International Airport in Majuro was down to single lane traffic Monday afternoon as heavy equipment operators moved up and down...

Niue MP says island’s approach to repatriation unclear, confusing

Long time Niue MP, O’Love Jacobsen, is raising concerns about what she considers Niue’s lackadaisical management of covid testing ahead of flights out of Auckland. She has been stranded in Auckland since early August after leaving Niue for a regular medical treatment. Mrs Jacobsen said she was due to fly back last Tuesday on the...

New Caledonia referendum challenged in Paris court

A group of citizens in New Caledonia has asked France’s highest administrative court to postpone next Sunday’s third and final independence referendum. In an urgent submission, 146 voters and three organisations said given the impact of the pandemic, it is unthinkable to proceed with such an important plebiscite. They said because of the lockdown, campaigning...

Guam Catholic Church offers up to $US34m to sex abuse victims

Guam’s Catholic Church has come up with a revised payment proposal of up to $US 34 million to those who claimed they were raped or sexually molested by priests and other clergy when they were minors, dating back to the 1950s. That’s more than 100,000 dollars for each sex abuse survivor if the award is...

Tonga: Three contenders for prime minister’s job

There are now three people shaping up to contest for the Tonga prime ministership. Tongans went to the polls last month and elected an all-male parliament, with nine new faces coming in via the 17 People’s Representative seats, and three among the nobles. The last day for nominations for the prime minister is Tuesday next...

Solomon Islands: Sogavare defeats no confidence motion

The Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare has defeated a motion of no confidence by 32 votes to 15 with two abstentions. It was moved by the leader of the opposition Matthew Wale after major political unrest in the capital last month saw three days of rioting, looting and burning of businesses and properties in Honiara. During...

6th December

Heading in the wrong direction – Riots in the Pacific

The riots in Solomon Islands last week have thrust the small Pacific country into the international spotlight. What is their cause? A useful source is the public opinion survey conducted by the survey firm Tebbutt Research in April and May of this year on behalf of an international NGO, the National Democratic Institute, with funding...

Australia’s medicine regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s medicine regulator provisionally approved on Sunday the Pfizer Inc coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, with the health minister saying the rollout could begin from Jan. 10. “They (the Therapeutics Goods Administration) have made a careful, thorough assessment, determined that it is safe and effective and...

5th December

Australia Omicron variant spreads, testing reopening plans

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Omicron coronavirus variant spread in Australia on Saturday, testing plans to reopen the economy as a cluster in Sydney grew to 13 cases and an infection was suspected in the state of Queensland. Federal authorities are sticking with a plan to reopen the economy on the hope that the new variant...

4th December

FDA adds strict safety warnings on arthritis drugs from Pfizer, AbbVie and Lilly

(Reuters) – The U.S. health regulator has added its strictest warning to the labels of drugs from Pfizer, Eli Lilly and AbbVie belonging to a class of anti-inflammatory treatments called JAK inhibitors, citing risk of serious health issues and death in patients 50 and over, the drugmakers said on Friday. The addition of the warning...

WHO says no evidence yet to support tailoring COVID-19 vaccines to Omicron

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said on Friday there was no evidence to support a change in COVID-19 vaccines to tailor them to the Omicron variant. Ryan, speaking at a social media event, said that if needed, however, the work was already underway in case Omicron-specific vaccines were needed. “Right...

Omicron COVID-19 variant found in five U.S. states

(Reuters) – New York has confirmed five cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, its governor said on Thursday, bringing to five the number of U.S. states having detected the variant, with 10 reported infections nationwide. California, Colorado and Minnesota have found cases of the coronavirus variant among patients who were fully vaccinated and developed mild...

‘Too early to judge on severity of Omicron’ — WHO

It is still too early to ascertain the severity of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron, says World Health Organization’s technical lead on COVID- 19 Maria Van Kerkhove. She said there were a lot of different scenarios being considered. “We don’t have all the information yet on transmission in terms of if there is a fitness advantage, if it is more transmissible and there is some suggestion of that, but again...

WHO’s top scientist says Omicron could displace Delta

(Reuters) -The World Health Organization’s chief scientist told the Reuters Next conference on Friday the Omicron variant could become dominant because it is highly transmissible, but that a different vaccine may not be needed. Soumya Swaminathan also said it was too early to say whether Omicron is milder than other variants of the coronavirus that...

Tourism Fiji sign three-year MOU with Trip.com

Tourism Fiji and global travel service provider Trip.com has signed a three-year strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focussed on promoting outbound tourism to Fiji and developing its exposure to the global Chinese community. The agreement was signed in an online ceremony attended by Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill and Trip.com COO Schubert Lou. According to...

Fiji calls for solidarity among OACPS member States

The virtual 113th Session of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) commenced on Wednesday, December 1, and concluded yesterday (Friday, December 3). In his welcoming address, President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Angola Tete António encouraged the maximisation of current...

3rd December

Indonesian logging camp torched in West Papua

The West Papua Liberation Army says it has torched the base camp of a logging company in Maybrat regency. A faction of the pro-independence army has released photos of some of its members outside the burning premises of Indonesian company PT Bangun Katu Irian. But police say the arson attack was done by an employee...

Pacific police chiefs vow to help troubled Solomons

Police chiefs around the Pacific say community engagements through policing is key to restoring peace in the Solomon Islands. The Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police group met this week to discuss ways of assisting the Solomons after the political unrest in the capital Honiara. Solomons Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau told the virtual meeting a 294-member...

Four Fijian workers return to Australia under Pacific Labour Scheme

Four Fijian returning workers departed our shores for the Land Down Under on December 1 to resume their occupation under the Australia Pacific Labour Scheme. The initial trip of those returning workers was cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak last year. According to the Government, those workers were returning to their same PLS employer,...

2nd December

Solomons unrest fuels Pacific island concerns over U.S-China rivalry

Dec 1 (Reuters) – The civil unrest suffered by the Solomon Islands in the past week raised alarm among leaders of other Pacific island nations that rivalry between China, Taiwan and the United States risked aggravating their region’s social and economic problems. “I think what is happening in the Solomons is something we all should...

Former PM Abe says Japan, U.S. could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan

TAIPEI, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Japan and the United States could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan, and Beijing needs to understand this, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday. Tensions over Chinese-claimed Taiwan have risen as President Xi Jinping seeks to assert his country’s sovereignty claims against the democratically ruled island....

1st December

Sexual harassment rife inside Australian parliament, report finds

CANBERRA, Nov 30 (Reuters) – One in three people working in Australia’s parliament have experienced sexual harassment, a report published on Tuesday said, following an independent inquiry into parliamentary workplace culture. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who ordered the review in February after his party came under pressure over its handling of an alleged rape inside...

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