Regional

Peru prosecutors seek travel ban for Repsol execs amid oil leak probe

LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian prosecutors requested on Thursday that the president and three other executives of Spanish oil firm Repsol SA’s local refinery be barred from leaving Peru for 18 months while a probe into...

Scientists amazed by blinking star’s ‘totally unexpected’ behavior

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have detected what appears to be an incredibly dense star behaving unlike anything else ever seen – and suspect it might be a type of exotic astrophysical object whose existence has until now been only hypothesized. The object, spotted using the Murchison Widefield Array telescope in outback Western Australia, unleashed huge...

Australia drugs regulator approves COVID-19 boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s drug regulator on Friday approved the use of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for 16- and 17-year-olds as authorities urge people to get their third doses soon to mitigate the threat from the Omicron coronavirus variant. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said it had approved Pfizer’s vaccine for use as a booster...

Fiji prepares to deploy personnel and supplies to devastated Tonga

Eleven containers packed with food and non-food items are ready for deployment to Tonga. Disaster Management Minister Inia Seruiratu said a team comprising 15 personnel will leave for Tonga tomorrow to deliver the items. “It will be a contact-less deployment, everything will be discarded at the wharf because we are strictly adhering to the COVID...

26th January

Australia buys copyright to Aboriginal flag, making it free to fly

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian government said on Tuesday it had acquired copyright to the Aboriginal flag so it can be freely used, resolving a commercial dispute that had restricted sporting teams and Aboriginal communities from reproducing the image. The Aboriginal flag has been recognised as an official flag of Australia since 1995, flown from...

WanTok restores connectivity in Tonga via satellite; users urged to keep it short

Network connections have been restored for ICT service provider WanTok Tonga which now enables users of this mobile app to contact their family and friends in the devastated island kingdom. The mobile and banking solutions provider – headquartered in Port Vila, Vanuatu – was able to restore network connectivity on Monday evening. So now users...

ADRA to respond to crisis in Tonga

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding to the natural crisis in Tonga following the devastation caused by the volcanic eruptions on January 15 (2022). The response effort is spearheaded by ADRA South Pacific with the support of ADRA Global Network and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. ADRA is providing immediate cash grants to...

Three U.S. states, D.C. sue Google over location-tracking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia sued Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday over what they called deceptive location-tracking practices that invade users’ privacy. “Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company...

Britain says 6,000 more people needed for trial of Merck COVID pill

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Tuesday it needed to recruit 6,000 more people onto a trial of Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir to inform how the drug can be rolled out more widely. Britain’s MHRA medicine regulator approved the pill, made by Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics, in November, and the government launched a national...

25th January

NASA’s new space telescope reaches destination in solar orbit

(Reuters) – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, designed to give the world an unprecedented glimpse into the earliest stages of the universe, arrived at its gravitational parking spot in orbit around the sun on Monday, almost 1 million miles from Earth. With a final course-correcting maneuver by on-board rocket thrusters, Webb reached its destination at...

Australian business confidence bruised by coronavirus surge

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A measure of Australian business confidence has swung into the red as a surge in coronavirus cases hit consumer spending and played havoc with staffing, though sales overall were proving resilient so far. Tuesday’s survey from National Australia Bank (NAB) showed its index of business confidence slid 24 points to -12 in...

European Medicines Agency panel approves scaling up AstraZeneca COVID vaccine production

(Reuters) – A panel of the European drug regulator on Monday approved scaling up manufacturing of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. An existing manufacturing site operated by Universal Farma in Guadalajara, Spain, will add a second filling line for the vaccine, the European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee said in a statement. The scaling up is expected...

Do not assume COVID pandemic reaching ‘end game’, warns WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that it was dangerous to assume the Omicron variant would herald the end of COVID-19’s acutest phase, exhorting nations to stay focused to beat the pandemic. “It’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are...

Tonga volcanic eruption: Death toll stands at 3

Death toll in Tonga as a direct result of the volcanic eruptions from Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai stands at three, the New Zealand government – coordinating relief works in the Kingdom – has revealed. A report from the NZ High Commission in Fiji revealed that while NZ had gone on Red Alert for COVID, it would...

$849k in ‘sunk cost’: Fiji’s taxman pays company for software without certain features

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) paid a company $849,738 for the supply of VAT Monitoring System (VMS) software, only to find out the “software being developed did not have certain features”. This, according to the 2019-2020 Audit Report on Statutory Authorities, Independent Body and Commissions that was tabled in the last Parliament sitting. “We...

Usamate urges global leaders to take steps to shift energy transition to next level

Fiji’s Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources Jone Usamate recently participated at the 12th Session of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Assembly – held virtually on January 15-16 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The global meeting virtually brought together more than 1100 delegates from 137 countries, including Heads of State,...

COVID-19 Fiji: Baby and teenager among deaths reported; 987 new cases

Fiji has reported 987 new cases of COVID-19 over three days; and 11 deaths that include a baby and a teenager. Ministry of Health and Medical Services permanent secretary Dr James Fong said 656 new cases were recorded on January 22, 81 new cases were recorded on January 23, and 250 recorded in the last...

24th January

Vatican fraud trial to resume with boost for prosecution

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican’s landmark fraud and embezzlement trial resumes after a long break on Tuesday with the beleaguered prosecution buoyed by two favourable decisions in related cases by Swiss and Italian courts. The trial, in which defendants are accused of fraud and other crimes around the Vatican’s 350 million euro ($400 million)...

Tongans fear never seeing loved ones again amid communications void

SYDNEY (Reuters) – “The worst fear is always that you’re not going to see the people that you love again,” says Seini Taumoepeau, a Tongan-Australian artist and activist based in Sydney, as she waits to hear from her family after Tonga’s volcanic eruption and tsunami. “The worst fear is the suffering of other people, that’s...

Tongan flag bearer raises more than FJD$1m on GoFundMe page

Tongan flag bearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics Pita Taufatofua has raised more than FJD $1 million, as at 2.45pm, January 24, 2022 on his GoFundMe page for the Tonga Tsunami relief. In a bid to raise AUD $1,000,000, he has reached approximately 70 per cent of his target. The have been more than 11,600 donations...

Tonga struggles with ash, psychological trauma after eruption and tsunami

Jan 23 (Reuters) – Families have stopped children playing outside as Tonga struggles to deal with ash and the psychological fallout of last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, aid workers and residents said. Communication with the outside world remained difficult on Sunday, with few internet services, and outlying islands still cut off from the phone...

23rd January

Tonga tsunami: Family survived waves by tying themselves to a tree

Lusiana Kikau clung to a trunk of a tree with her husband, Mosese Tagiveitaua, when tsunami waves hit Fafa Island, 7km away from mainland Tonga. “We had been hearing eruptions all day, small ones, but the two big ones later on which everyone heard, that shook us,” Kikau said. “We ran to this tree –...

Some money services reopen in Tonga, drinking water the priority

Jan 22 (Reuters) – Tongans queued for limited money services that were restored in the Pacific island’s capital on Saturday, as the clean-up continued a week after a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami. Tonga’s government said drinking water was the priority, and a national emergency team had already distributed 60,000 litres of water to residents....

22nd January

Regional focus: Volcano rocks Tonga

Volcanic eruption and tsunami wreak havoc in Tonga  The Kingdom of Tonga remains cut off from the rest of the world after a huge volcanic explosion on Saturday evening. The impacts of the eruption and the tsunami that followed were felt across the globe. The undersea fibre optic cable that carries Tonga’s communications capacity has been broken in two places and it could be...

Pre-election voter survey launched ahead of the 2022 General Election

The Fijian Elections Office launched its Pre-Election Voter Survey for the 2022 General Election in Suva yesterday. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said the pre-election survey was a first of its kind to be done before a General Election in Fiji. He said this would help the FEO in its preparations for the 2022 General...

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