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6th December

WHO warns against pandemic complacency amid vaccine rollout

GENEVA (Reuters) – World Health Organization officials on Friday warned governments and citizens not to drop their guard over the COVID pandemic now a vaccination was close, saying healthcare systems could still buckle under pressure....

Trump to withdraw most troops from Somalia as part of global pullback

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has ordered nearly all American troops to withdraw from Somalia, U.S. officials said on Friday, part of a global pullback by the Republican president before he leaves office next month that will also see him drawdown forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States has about 700 troops in...

Leave without pay bid

The Fiji Public Service Association has proposed the 83 border security staff members made redundant by Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) be placed on leave without pay. General secretary Rajeshwar Singh has written to FRCS chief executive officer Fane Vave, also suggesting “a small paragraph in their redundancy letters” to say they would be...

5th December

U.S. House votes to decriminalize marijuana at federal level

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, but the legislation is not expected to advance further as long as the Senate remains in Republican hands. It was the first time either chamber of Congress has voted to end the federal ban on marijuana since...

Ali: 95 per cent perpetrators known to rape victims

About 95 per cent of child rapes are committed by relatives or people known to the victims, says Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) co-ordinator Shamima Ali. She revealed these statistics during an Editors Dialogue organised by the FWCC in partnership with the Fijian Media Association yesterday. Ms Ali said the FWCC had received 50 cases...

Trump campaign files election lawsuit in Georgia, suffers more legal defeats

(Reuters) – Donald Trump’s campaign said it filed a lawsuit in Georgia state court on Friday seeking to invalidate the presidential election results there, the latest in a series of legal challenges aimed at reversing his loss that have so far gone nowhere. The Trump campaign said in a statement its new lawsuit would include...

Firefighters move in on Southern California canyon blaze, aided by easing winds

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate. The Bond Fire, which was about 10% contained on Friday afternoon, broke out around...

PM Bainimarama lauds UK’s plans to reduce emissions

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama lauded an announcement by United Kingdom PM Boris Johnson yesterday of plans to reduce the country’s emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030 when compared with 1990 levels. “Hats off to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and COP26 president Alok Sharma on the United Kingdom’s ambitious 68 per cent...

WHO hopes to have 500 million vaccine doses via COVAX scheme in Q1 2021 -chief scientist

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization hopes to have half a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution by the global COVAX initiative in the first quarter of 2021, its chief scientist said on Friday. To date 189 countries have joined the COVAX programme, which is backed by the WHO and seeks to...

Honduras asks U.S. to prolong temporary migration protections after hurricanes

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras has asked Washington to prolong temporary migration protections for thousands of its citizens in the United States to help mitigate the impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales said on Friday. Some 44,000 Hondurans have access in the United States to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which was granted...

Metallic monolith pops up outside Pittsburgh candy store

PITTSBURGH(Reuters) – Since mid-November, shining metal monoliths have suddenly appeared – and then vanished – in the strangest locations, from the Utah desert to a Romanian mountainside. Now one has popped up outside a Pittsburgh candy store. Capitalizing on the intrigue surrounding the other monoliths and hoping to provide a distraction from the daily drumbeat...

Moderna CEO confident of producing 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2021

(Reuters) – Moderna Inc will be able to produce 500 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said on Friday. The company has submitted applications seeking emergency use authorization in the United States and the European Union after full results from a late-stage study showed the vaccine was 94.1%...

U.N. warns 2021 shaping up to be a humanitarian catastrophe

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Next year is shaping up to be a humanitarian catastrophe and rich countries must not trample poor countries in a “stampede for vaccines” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, top U.N. officials told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Friday. World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley and World Health Organization (WHO)...

Jerusalem church suffers damage in arson near Garden of Gethsemane

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police on Friday arrested a man for trying to set fire to an east Jerusalem church by the Garden of Gethsemane, the site revered by Christians as the place where Jesus prayed before he was crucified. The 49-year-old Israeli suspect poured flammable liquid inside the Church of All Nations, police spokesman...

Philippines police threaten social distancing violators with caning

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine police on Friday threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the coronavirus during the festive season. The Philippines celebrates one of the world’s longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls...

Britain to set more ambitious target to cut emissions

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will set a more ambitious target to cut emissions to help meet international climate goals, aiming for at least an 68% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030 compared with 57% currently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Johnson is seeking to boost Britain’s green credentials ahead of hosting next year’s climate talks,...

Sean Connery’s 007 pistol from ‘Dr.No’ sells for $256,000

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A handgun used by the late Sean Connery in the first James Bond film sold for $256,000 at auction in Beverly Hills on Thursday, topping earlier estimates for the piece of Hollywood history, Julien’s Auctions said. The deactivated semi-automatic Walther PP pistol, which along with its smaller model the PPK became...

Fire crews battle to tame Southern California wildfire after thousands flee

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Firefighters battled to tame a wildfire on hillsides southeast of Los Angeles late on Thursday, some 24 hours after it broke out in a wooded canyon, apparently triggered by a faulty domestic generator. The fire, which forced the evacuation of some 25,000 people, was 10% contained but still burning across 6,400...

4th December

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court to decide on challenge against sitting of Parliament

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court is to deliver a decision next Wednesday on a challenge to a sitting of Parliament last month. Three weeks ago, the opposition gained a majority, took control of Parliament proceedings, and adjourned the House to this week as they prepared for a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister James Marape....

Marshall Islands cocaine problem in spotlight as prosecutions multiply

The prosecution of an alleged hard drug dealer in Majuro this week – the fifth to be charged in court since June – continues to spotlight the widespread crack cocaine problem in the country. Bob Kilma, charged with one count of “unlawful possession of narcotic drugs,” became the fifth Marshallese man to be charged with...

Samoan sailors set to return home in January

Samoan sailors stranded in the United States after a planned repatriation flight was cancelled last week, can expect to be home in January, according to Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi . Speaking on his weekly television programme, he said the Cabinet discussed the matter last week and the plan was to bring home the sailors...

CNMI gets vaccine freezers for Covid-19 treatment

The Northern Marianas is ready for its allocation of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer after acquiring 10 ultra-cold freezers from South Korea. The acquisition of the freezers came as the CNMI waits for the Pfizer vaccines to get Emergency Use Authorisation approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Even though the vaccines hadn’t arrived as initially...

Cook Island travel bubble delay ‘extremely frustrating’ for operators

Some Cook Islands business operators are feeling deflated after months of promised updates and ongoing delays to a travel bubble with New Zealand. The last vet is due to leave the islands soon, while restaurants and hotels there have spent weeks setting up social distancing and contact tracing arrangements. Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has popped...

Australia aims to complete review of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s pharmaceutical regulator said on Thursday it is on course to review Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, with the country sticking to a March timetable to start vaccinations. Britain on Wednesday approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin...

3rd December

French Polynesia hits 77 Covid-19 deaths as case numbers keep rising

Another person has died from Covid-19 in French Polynesia, bringing the territory’s death toll since the beginning of the pandemic to 77. In the last 24 hours, 157 new cases have been recorded. There are currently 84 people in hospital with 23 of them in intensive care. Today’s numbers bring the territory’s total number of...

American Samoa health department disappointed governor rejected US mission stopover due to Covid-19 concerns

The American Samoa Department of Health apparently set up a plan to accommodate the US government mission to Antarctica which was later denied access by the local governor. Three planes carrying 31 people were due to arrive in American Samoa last weekend and it was planned that he travellers would overnight at the government quarantine...

Disturbed by violence in Papua, UN rights office calls for Indonesia to start ‘inclusive’ dialogue

Indonesia has been urged by the United Nations to engage with West Papuans in an inclusive dialogue to address long-standing grievances. The UN Human Rights Office says it is disturbed by escalating violence and increased arrests of people for simply exercising their basic rights in the Indonesia-ruled Papua region. Identifying a trend in increased conflict...

New Zealand Defence Force delivers water tanks, renewable energy equipment to Tokelau

Tokelauans are to have more drinking water on tap following a major logistical operation by the New Zealand Defence Force. The NZDF operation also delivered equipment to assist Tokelau’s plans for greater use of renewable energy. Over the past few weeks the Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury has visited Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu...

Solomon Islands police to check, escort foreign vessels to Honiara

Solomon Islands Police will escort two foreign vessels anchored outside Baralau Island at Aola Bay in East Guadalcanal to the capital, Honiara. Police said they received reports from locals on the presence of the yachts – which were believed to be travelling together – on Tuesday. While people had identified the number of people on...

Man arrested at French Polynesia’s international airport with 700g methamphetamine

Customs agents at French Polynesia’s international airport have arrested a man who they found in possession of 700 grams of methamphetamine. The man travelled to French Polynesia on a flight from Los Angeles. He has been placed in custody and a police investigation is underway. Meanwhile, 13 people in French Polynesia have appeared court charged...

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