Australia and Oceania

Disgraced Catholic Cardinal Pell of Australia loses child sex abuse appeal

  by Holly ROBERTSON Agence France Presse MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Disgraced Cardinal George Pell lost his appeal against child sex abuse convictions Wednesday, prompting relief from victims who fought to bring one of the Catholic Church’s most powerful men to justice. A former Vatican treasurer, Pell had been trying to overturn the verdicts and six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s. The high-profile case pitted 78-year-old […]

Cardinal Pell appeal ruling to be announced August 21: court

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The ruling in Australian Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on historical child sex abuse charges will be handed down on August 21, court officials announced Thursday. Pell, 78, the former Vatican number three, was sentenced in March to six years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s. A three-judge panel of Victoria state’s Supreme Court has been deliberating his case since hearing his appeal […]

Woman stabbed in central Sydney knife rampage

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A man stabbed a woman and attempted to stab several other people in central Sydney Tuesday before being pinned down by members of the public and detained by police, eyewitnesses and officials said. Images broadcast by Australian media showed the man jumping on the roof of a car brandishing a knife, appearing to shout “Allahu Akbar” and “shoot me”. Police said the woman was in a stable condition and there were […]

WWII Pacific battlegrounds now site of US-China tug of war

by Giff Johnson Agence France Presse MAJURO, Marshall Islands (AFP) — Pacific islands that were key World War II battlegrounds but largely neglected for the past 30 years are now back in the spotlight as China challenges traditional US supremacy in the region. Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, whose territories stretch thousands of kilometres across the Pacific, have been the recipients of largesse by Washington, Tokyo and other allied powers, […]

Australian coal use an ‘existential threat’ to islands: Fiji PM

  SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Fiji on Monday challenged Australia to do more on climate change ahead of a regional summit of Pacific nations this week, warning Canberra’s  reliance on coal posed an “existential threat” to low-lying islands. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Australia should recognize the threat climate change poses to Pacific island nations. “I appeal to Australia to do everything possible to achieve a rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do […]

New Zealand cocaine haul believed drifted 2,100 km from Australia

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A multi-million dollar haul of cocaine washed up on a New Zealand beach this week is believed to have drifted more than 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) across the Tasman Sea from Australia, police said Friday. They linked the find of 20 packets of cocaine — with an estimated street value of NZ$3.0 million (US$2.0 million) — at Bethells Beach in West Auckland to packages dumped off the New South Wales […]

Powerful quake strikes off Vanuatu, no tsunami warning

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck near the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu Thursday, the US Geological Survey said, but no tsunami warning was issued. USGS said the quake hit about 178 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of the capital Port Vila at 2:02 am (1502 GMT Wednesday) at a depth of 179 kilometers. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake. USGS said there was […]

Australia calls on China to let Uighur mother and son leave

  by Holly Robertson  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s government on Wednesday called on China to allow an Australian child and his Uighur mother to leave the country, stepping up pressure on Beijing days after Canberra co-signed a letter denouncing its treatment of the Muslim minority. China has rounded up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities into re-education camps in the tightly-controlled region of Xinjiang in the country’s northwest. Canberra […]

Strong 6.6 quake hits off northwest Australia: USGS

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck off northwest Australia Sunday, shaking buildings over a wide area but causing no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The shallow quake hit early Sunday afternoon 10 kilometres under the Indian Ocean 203 kilometres (126 miles) west of the West Australian beach resort of Broome, the US Geological Survey said. No tsunami alert was issued. Sergeant Neil Gordon of the Broome police department said the […]

New Zealanders give up weapons after mosque killings

  CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) — Dozens of New Zealanders handed in their firearms Saturday as a gun buyback scheme went into operation aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks. The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was in Christchurch, where 51 Muslim worshippers were gunned down while at prayer less than four months ago. The government, with support from opposition parties, […]

PHL Embassy in New Zealand, POLO in Australia conduct consultations on OFW welfare

-Consultations in preparation for establishment of PHL overseas labor office in New Zealand   EBC New Zealand correspondent Greg Basa reports about the consultations with overseas Filipino workers conducted by the Philippine embassy in New Zealand, with the help of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Australia. Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Jesus Domingo said that the Philippine embassy in New Zealand is working to have a Philippine  overseas labor office (POLO) to be established […]

Australian student detained in North Korea ‘released, safe’

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 29-year-old Australian student detained in North Korea surfaced in Beijing airport on Thursday, saying he was in “very good” spirits after being released. Alek Sigley — one of a handful of Westerners living and studying in North Korea — disappeared without a trace around June 23, prompting a week of deep concern and frantic speculation about his fate. For days Sigley’s family received no word about his whereabouts or […]