Australia and Oceania

102-year-old great-granny becomes ‘oldest’ skydiver

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 102-year-old great-grandmother is believed to have become the world’s oldest skydiver after plunging 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) through the South Australian sky. Centenarian adrenaline junkie Irene O’Shea said she “felt normal” after a 220 kilometer …

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Thousands evacuated as Australian bushfires rage

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes in northeast Australia late Wednesday, as bushfires raged across Queensland state amid a scorching heatwave. Some 8,000 people were told to leave the town of Gracemere, south …

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Huge quake edges New Zealand islands closer together

  WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A destructive earthquake that struck New Zealand two years ago has left its two main islands edging towards each other, and one city sinking, according to scientists. But the margins are minimal with the …

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APEC leaders divided after US, China spat

  by Andrew Beatty / Ayee Macaraig Agence France Presse PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AFP) — Asia-Pacific leaders failed Sunday to bridge gaping divisions over trade at a summit dominated by a war of words between the US and …

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China’s Xi: No one wins from ‘cold war, hot war, trade war’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AFP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday that no one wins from military, political or trade confrontation, amid fears that rivalry between Beijing and the US could escalate. “History has shown that confrontation — …

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China’s Xi at APEC: protectionism ‘doomed to failure’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AFP) — Protectionist actions are short-sighted and doomed to fail, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Saturday ahead of an APEC summit at which US-China trade tensions are likely to take centre stage. “Attempts to erect barriers …

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Pressure mounts in Australia over Nauru refugee children

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Public pressure was mounting on Australia’s government Sunday to remove refugee children detained on the Pacific island of Nauru, possibly to New Zealand, even as the prime minister raised fears such transfers could encourage new arrivals. …

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‘Big dry’ drags on as Australia sets up drought-proof fund

by Glenda KWEK Agence France-Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia is setting up a billion-dollar fund to “future proof” the country against droughts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday, as farmers struggle with a “big dry” forecast to continue for …

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Tsunami threat cancelled after 7.0 quake hits PNG

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea’s New Britain island on Thursday, briefly triggering a tsunami alert before authorities gave the all clear. The United States Geological Survey said the quake hit about 125 kilometers …

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New Zealand fines travelers who won’t unlock secure devices

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Visitors to New Zealand can be fined 5,000 New Zealand dollars ($3,243) for refusing to provide passwords to unlock electronic devices and allow customs officials to examine them under a new law that a civil liberties …

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New Zealand PM makes UN history with first baby

by Catherine TRIOMPHE Agence France Presse New Zealand’s prime minister has been proclaimed a history maker for taking “first baby” — daughter Neve — into the United Nations General Assembly hall, shaking up what is still a boys’ club of …

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Australia concern as Qantas to list Taiwan as part of China

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Qantas is poised to list Taiwan as part of China on its websites, sparking concern Tuesday from Australia’s foreign minister who said private firms must be able to conduct business “free from political pressure”. The Chinese …

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