Australia

Tonight we're sending some love out to our neighbors in the Pacific, featuring nothing but indie, alternative, and eclectic artists from Australia.

Rick Rycroft/AP

SYDNEY — A father and son who were battling flames for two days are the latest victims of the worst wildfire season in Australian history, and the path of destruction widened in at least three states Saturday due to strong winds and high temperatures.

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PERTH, Australia — Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia's iconic marsupial, while the fire danger increased in the country’s east on Saturday as temperatures soared.

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SYDNEY — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized Sunday for taking a family vacation in Hawaii as deadly bushfires raged across several states, destroying homes and claiming the lives of two volunteer firefighters.

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PERTH, Australia — Australia’s most populous state was paralyzed by “catastrophic” fire conditions Saturday amid soaring temperatures, while one person died as wildfires ravaged the country’s southeast, officials said.

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This has been another week of heat, drought and fire in many parts of Australia — including the country’s largest city, Sydney. This morning local time, the top government official in the state of New South Wales declared a state of emergency, and temperatures may be on their way to another record.

AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

This has been another week of devastating fires in parts of Australia—including around the country’s largest city, Sydney. And there are also growing protests against what many see as a lack of response from the government to issues behind the fires.

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Indigenous leaders in Western Australia are seeking compensation from the state government for the loss of some of their traditional lands. The size of the claim would make it the largest legal case in the history of the country.

Darren Pateman/AAP Image via AP

Updated: Nov. 22, 11:11 a.m.

It has been a week of destruction in parts of Australia as wild fires have swept across the eastern part of the country. While conditions are improving slightly as the weekend approaches, the danger is not over. 

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If you’re driving and looking for directions, odds are good that you’ll use some kind of GPS or other electronic guidance. While the days of the paper map have been in decline for some time, a new milestone was announced this week in 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. 

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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.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

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.

DIBP images / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

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.

Romain Pontida / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

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.

User:Rcbutcher / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

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.

G20 Argentina / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

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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