Australia

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Fears of strong winds and dry conditions that could produce wildfires are leading California’s main power utility to cut electricity to large areas in northern California. On the other side of the world, residents are taking different precautions following fires in Australia. 

Duc Thanh/AP

As he begins a state visit to the United States, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves a tricky political situation back home.

 

 

Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory / NASA

Scores of firefighters on Maui have fought a high number of brush fires this summer that have burned hundreds of acres of land. This week, fires elsewhere in the Pacific are causing problems for several countries.

Aziz Abdul via AP

After more than six years, it looks like Australia’s notorious detention center on PNG’s Manus Island will be closed later this month. Almost all of the remaining 350 migrants have been relocated to Port Moresby, some awaiting resettlement to the United States.

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

A controversial visa policy in Australia is coming under closer examination. The program allows permanent residence for investors who invest several million dollars.

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Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will contribute forces to the American-led effort to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. Skirmishes between U.S. and Iranian forces and the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged tanker have escalated tensions in the strategic waterway, which is used to transport about a third of the world’s oil supplies. The decision comes as an Australian think tank raised serious doubts about Australia’s reliance on the U.S. to guarantee its security.

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International students are a growing part of the market for many universities — including here in Hawaii. But a report out this week questions whether some institutions in Australia have become too dependent on students from outside the country – especially from China.

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After marathon negotiations late last week, Australia succeeded in watering down references to climate change in the final communique of the summit of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. But the victory came at a price.

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One of the world’s most ambitious recycling programs is getting underway in Australia. A new government policy aims to cut the export of plastic waste and at the same time boost local business.

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As expected, climate change has taken center stage as the annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway in Tuvalu. Ahead of the meeting, Australia pledged 340 million dollars to fund climate resistance projects but flatly rejected calls to phase out coal, reform its climate policies and resume payments to the UN’s Green Climate Fund.

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to next week’s summit of the Pacific Islands Forum, small island states have made it clear that they intend to pressure Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on climate change.

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Homelessness in Hawaii remains a challenge on every island. As authorities and nonprofit groups work together trying to improve the situation, one country across the Pacific is considering a new approach.

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Now that August has arrived, many households in Hawaii are making back-to-school plans. But in some places, graduation ceremonies are not that far in the past. In Australia, the University of Melbourne recently held a commencement ceremony with a record-setting graduate.

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Australia and Papua New Guinea have agreed to close the notorious detention camp on Manus Island. At a joint news conference, PNG’s James Marape and Australia’s Scott Morrison said they would establish a mutually workable timetable.

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You may have seen pictures of a long line of climbers on Mount Everest earlier this year; now a similar scene is unfolding at much lower altitude, in Central Australia, where tourists are crowding in to climb Uluru before the iconic monolith closes.

Photo: Lachlan Fearnley / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been eight years since a state law took effect recognizing Native Hawaiians as “the only indigenous . . . population of Hawai’i.” In Australia, the government is promising to move ahead with a different kind of recognition for its own native people.

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Richmond, Virginia, once the capital of the confederacy, recently renamed a street in honor of African-American tennis star, and Richmond native, Arthur Ashe. The gesture was a response to the movement to remove statues of Confederate generals and politicians. Statues are also controversial in another part of the world . . . Australia.

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On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison makes his first overseas trip since his upset victory in Australia’s general election earlier this month. His first stop will be in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.

Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Mark J. Rebilas / U.S. Navy

Australia’s ABC reports that Australian military helicopters were targeted by lasers in the South China Sea. The laser attacks apparently came from China’s maritime militia.

USAID

The Pacific region is the most dependent on international aid of any region in the world, with 6 percent of regional GDP coming from foreign aid. The common narrative is that China is dominant in that space.

But a recently completed project by Australia’s Lowy Institute found the truth to be a lot more complex.

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According to figures from the United Nations, Australia’s use of crystal methamphetamine is among the highest in the world. Recent news shows an increase in the amount of the drug that is being shipped into the country.

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President Trump was among the first to congratulate Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after his surprise re-election on Sunday. After what was described as an extensive conversation, the President added a tweet. China’s reaction was decidedly less enthusiastic.

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Political commentators in Australia are moving on from their initial shock about this weekend’s elections. The center-right party of Prime Minister Scott Morrison stunned political pollsters by defeating the opposition Labor Party. One likely future battleground: renewable energy.

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Thousands of pounds of man-made trash wash up each year at Kamilo Point, on the southeast side of the Big Island. It’s pushed there by ocean currents and winds. Some other islands in the Pacific suffer from a similar problem, and there’s news this week of some alarming specifics.

Wikimedia Commons

A new book out in Australia reports that 22 Australian nurses were raped by Japanese troops before they were machine gunned in February, 1942. The book also says that Australian officials gagged the sole survivor of the massacre.

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The Guardian reports that Australia has been accused of siphoning as much as two million dollars a week in oil revenues from its impoverished neighbor Timor-Leste.

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Australia's prime minister has just called for an election. That means that Australians will be going to the polls at a time when economic growth is slowing and political differences are growing.

Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon / U.S. Air Force

A small piece of forgotten history is being remembered today in the Asia Pacific. It’s a story that involves New Zealanders, Australians, and the Vietnam War.

Gavin Scott

Many of Australia’s most prominent news organizations and dozens of journalists face fines and even prison sentences for violating a gag order. A judge prohibited coverage of the trial of Cardinal George Pell; news of Pell’s conviction was a major news story in February. But, he had actually been convicted last December.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Immigration remains a political issue in the United States, and that trend has spread elsewhere in the world. In Australia, the government announced some immigration policy changes this week.

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