Australia and Oceania

Australian rodent species first victim of climate change?

SYDNEY, Australia  (AFP) — Climate change appears to have driven to extinction an Australian Great Barrier Reef rodent, according to a new study, which suggests the species may be the first mammal lost to the global phenomenon. Extensive searches for the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rat-like animal, have failed to find a single specimen from its only known habitat on a sandy island in far northern Australia. Researchers said the key factor behind the […]

Israel wins UN committee chair

United Nations, United States—Israel on Monday was elected to chair a United Nations committee for the first time in the world body’s 71-year history, triggering strong protests from Arab countries and the Palestinians. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon won the chair of the legal affairs committee of the General Assembly by picking up 109 votes from the 193 member-states. Danon’s candidacy was put to a vote by secret ballot at the request of Arab countries. All […]

Australia pledges $1 billion to help save the Great Barrier Reef

LIZARD ISLAND, Australia (Reuters) — Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday (June 13) pledged $1 billion in assistance for the ailing Great Barrier Reef if his government is re-elected next month. Speaking in Townsville in North Queensland, Turnbull said if his government is returned to power after the July 2 election he would instruct Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to redirect $1 billion of it $10 billion fund towards a loans scheme aimed […]

New debris images examined by MH370 search team

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Images of three new pieces of debris are being examined by Australian search teams looking for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, they said Friday. One of the items washed up on remote Kangaroo Island off Australia’s south coast, while the other two were reportedly found in Madagascar. “The ATSB has been advised and has received photos of the item (on Kangaroo Island),” a spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which […]

PNG leader O’Neill tackles corruption, unrest

by Martin PARRY SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, whose police opened fire on demonstrating students this week, has been grappling with a developing country once labelled “a dysfunctional blob” ever since he grabbed power in a messy struggle five years ago. One of his first acts after being sworn in as leader in 2012 was to form an anti-corruption task force to win the confidence of potential foreign investors, […]

Bullets hit bystanders as Australia police shoot knifeman

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Three elderly bystanders were wounded Thursday when Australian police opened fire on a man wielding a large carving knife in a busy Sydney shopping center, authorities said. The incident unfolded at the Hornsby Organic Food Markets in the city’s north with police confronting the man, reported missing from a psychiatric centre, after being alerted by staff. Witnesses said two officers asked him to drop the knife and when he failed to […]

Three die, others missing in fierce Australia storms

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Wild weather which smashed into Australia’s east coast and whipped up giant waves on Sydney beaches has left at least three people dead and others missing, police said Monday as the clean-up began. Ferocious storms pounded the coast over the weekend, causing flooding in New South Wales state. Huge seas eroded the shoreline, in one instance sweeping the in-ground swimming pool of a beachside home onto the beach. “This storm, which […]

East Australian coast lashed by freak storm

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The east coast of Australia, including Sydney, was battered by a freak storm on Sunday with trees uprooted and thousands left without power. The wild storm struck New South Wales after wreaking havoc in Queensland state on Saturday, with an intense low-pressure system bringing heavy rains, gales and rough seas. Hundreds of people were evacuated from homes across NSW and motorists trapped on roads had to be rescued as floodwaters rose, […]

Woman killed by shark ‘bigger than boat’ in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A woman was fatally mauled by a huge shark — described by witnesses as larger than their boat — near the western Australian city of Perth on Sunday. The attack on the woman off the northern Perth suburb of Mindarie comes just two days after a surfer died after having his leg bitten off by a shark along the same coastline. Western Australia state police said the woman — reported to […]

Vietnam war dead return to Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The remains of Australian troops killed in the Vietnam War and their families were returned to Sydney Thursday in a formal military ceremony, half a century after being buried in Malaysia and Singapore. Thirty-three bodies, interred in Malaysia’s Terendak Cemetery and Singapore’s Kranji War Cemetery, were brought home in flag-drapped coffins on two Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft. Almost 60,000 Australian military personnel fought alongside the United States in […]

Latest Ebola outbreak in Guinea is over: WHO

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The latest outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has ended, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, warning that a recurrence of the killer tropical disease remained a threat. The last known Ebola patient in the west African country was discharged from hospital in April. WHO declares the end to an outbreak, also known as the end to viral transmission, 42 days after the last known patient tests negative for the second time. […]

Fallen Australian soldiers repatriated from Malaysia

  (Reuters) — The remains of 32 fallen Australian soldiers, many of whom were casualties of the Vietnam war, were repatriated from Malaysia on Tuesday (May 31) in one of the largest such exercises in Australia’s history. The remains of Australian servicemen buried at Malaysia’s Terendak Military Cemetery were handed over to Australian officials during a repatriation ceremony held at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base in Subang. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission […]