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Pentagon chief to nudge ties with Vietnam as human rights concerns linger

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will on Thursday look to nudge forward security ties with Vietnam that have been slowly deepening as both countries watch China’s activities in the South China Sea with growing alarm....

‘Better Call Saul’ star Bob Odenkirk hospitalized after ‘heart-related incident’

U.S. screen actor Bob Odenkirk remained hospitalized in New Mexico on Wednesday with an unspecified heart ailment after falling ill on the set of his television show “Better Call Saul,” according to publicists and his former “Breaking Bad” co-star, Bryan Cranston. Odenkirk, 58, collapsed during production of his darkly humorous AMC crime drama, which was...

Ford raises 2021 profit outlook, eyes shift to build-to-order

Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Wednesday boosted its 2021 profit forecast after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results, lifting the No. 2 U.S. automaker’s shares nearly 3%. While an ongoing global chip shortage cost Ford market share in North America, Europe and China, higher prices on more profitable models such as large pickups and SUVs helped increase...

Help are not freebies, says Minister Usamate

Members of the Opposition have referred to what the Government does as “freebies” and this implies that people getting the assistance do not really need it, says Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources Jone Usamate. “Are they suggesting that we do not provide food rations, that we do not subsidise water and...

Ro Filipe: Government using ‘bulldozing’ tactics

Opposition MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau yesterday attacked the Government for undermining iTaukei institutions, saying the “bulldozing” of Bill 17 was a clear example. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ro Filipe said the Government saw cultural institutions such as the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) as “threats which undermine the State”. “The removal of the GCC is...

Australia PM says vaccinations alone will not end Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said vaccinations alone would not bring an end to a COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney as residents of the country’s largest city face another month under tough curbs to stamp out an outbreak of the Delta variant. “I mean, it can certainly help … the low rates (of vaccination) we have...

Qereqeretabua: TLTB Board silent on proposed amendment

National Federation Party MP Lenora Qereqeretabua told Parliament she was amazed by the silence of the board of the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) in relation to the proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act. During debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament this week, she said she was also amazed that TLTB...

A-G: Fiji’s debt level projected to increase to $9bn

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji’s deficit for the 2021-2022 financial year was projected at 16.2 per cent of GDP and debt expected to rise to $9 billion or 91.6 per cent of GDP. However, he said by adopting a very conservative revenue estimation strategy, actual debt could be lower than projected if borders reopened...

New Mexican vigilante group’s sympathizers set fire to government offices, businesses

Mexican villagers sympathizing with a new indigenous self-defense group torched government offices, businesses and houses in a remote mountainous region in southern Chiapas state this week, protesting rampant insecurity in the area. The violence in the indigenous Tzotzil community of Pantelhó late on Monday and early on Tuesday came less than two weeks after a...

Saiyed-Khaiyum: Bill 17 designed to attract investment

Bill No. 17 is designed to attract investment by improving the ease of doing business, says Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “Suffice to say Bill 17 does not take away the right of any landowner or landowning unit to authorise the giving of lease, it does not reduce the amount of lease money the...

U.S., Russia hold nuclear talks in Geneva after summit push

Senior U.S. and Russian officials on Wednesday restarted talks on easing tensions between the world’s largest nuclear weapons powers and agreed to reconvene in September after informal consultations, the State Department said. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov headed their delegations at the meeting at the U.S....

COVID-19: Fiji’s Health Ministry in talks to secure vaccine for children

The Health Ministry is in talks to secure vaccination for Fijians between the ages of 12 and 18. Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete made the comment during the debate on the 2021-2022 Appropriation Bill in Parliament on Tuesday. “To date, we have confirmed enough vaccines for all age-eligible individuals and continue to dialogue for securing...

Fiji PM’s $175k travel allocation unnecessary, says MP Tabuya

The $175,000 set aside in the 2021-2022 National Budget for the Prime Minister’s overseas travel is unnecessary because international travel is not permitted during this COVID-19 pandemic, SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya told Parliament yesterday. She highlighted this issue when the Parliamentary Committee of Supply was debating programs under the proposed budget. “This is unnecessary because there...

MP Biman: Waste of money; $3bn lost through ‘wastage, pilferage and inflated project costs’

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad says $3billion has been lost through “wastage, pilferage, inflated projects costs and mismanagement in government spending” over the past six years. “As I have said in the previous session of Parliament, talking about Government spending, our estimate showed that under this Government in the last six years –...

Residents flee as winds fan massive wildfire in southern Turkey

A massive forest fire in southern Turkey spread to the town of Manavgat as the flames were fanned by strong winds on Wednesday, according to the local mayor, and TV footage showed residents running for their cars as streets were engulfed in smoke. Footage showed plumes of black smoke rising from the forest around Manavgat,...

Protesting students sent home

In 1984 the Navuso Agriculture School board suspended 120 students who went on strike to protest against what they termed was a lack of action on their grievances. This report was published in The Fiji Times on April 11, 1984. The students received a circular from the school board saying that all students boycotting normal...

Big Tech starts requiring vaccines; Twitter closes re-opened U.S. offices

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) is shutting its reopened offices in United States, while other big tech companies are making vaccination mandatory for on-campus employees, as the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant drives a resurgence in cases. Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Wednesday all U.S. employees must get vaccinated to step into...

MP Waqanika: Blame of COVID deaths in Fiji squarely falls on Government

The Fijian Government has diverted the blame of deaths on people refusing to be vaccinated, when the blame squarely fell on them for not taking heed of wise counsel. SODELPA MP Tanya Waqanika said this while contributing to the 2021-2022 National Budget in Parliament, which she said was completely reliant on a vaccination campaign that...

Response is to vax all Fijians

Fiji’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak is complex and well thought-out, including the plan to fully vaccinate Fijians. Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said this was the word from an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) specialist, World Health Organization (WHO) and development partners. He made the comment while briefly outlining how the ministry would spend...

A-G: Parliament paid out $765k in political party grant

Parliament paid out $765,000 in political party grant to political parties in the last financial year, says Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He was responding to queries from Opposition why allocations in the budget for independent bodies such as Parliament were reduced. He said the budget allocation for Parliament had decreased by $1.5...

Growth in non-sugar sector

Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Dr Mahendra Reddy says the non-sugar cane agriculture sector in Fiji is growing. He told Parliament that agricultural produce exports had surpassed the $100 million mark. “Of the period 2010-2019, the nonsugar cane agriculture GDP grew at a compound rate of 6.3 per cent,” said Mr Reddy. “It increased...

We did it – Fiji Beats NZ To Claim Gold At Olympics

The Fiji 7s team retained the Olympics rugby 7s gold medal after beating arch rivals New Zealand 27-12 in a hard fought final at the Tokyo Stadium in Japan last night. Fiji gave all its best, even debutant Sireli Maqala managed to score a try in his first Olympics rugby final. Tries to Meli Derenalagi,...

A-G: Government not responsible for Fiji Mahogany Trust reports

Government is not responsible for Fiji Mahogany Trust reports, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament yesterday when the Parliamentary Committee of Supply was deliberating programs in the 2021-2022 National Budget. He said this while answering queries from SODELPA Leader Viliame Gavoka on why the trust was allocated $250,000 in the budget. Mr...

U.S. Senate advances roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

A roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure investment bill advanced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, passing a key milestone that moves the emerging legislation toward formal debate and possible passage. The Senate voted 67-32 to take the first procedural step toward debating the measure that has the support of Democratic President Joe Biden. The bipartisan...

Fed says economic recovery remains on track despite COVID-19 surge

The U.S. economic recovery is still on track despite a rise in coronavirus infections, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in a new policy statement that remained upbeat and flagged ongoing talks around the eventual withdrawal of monetary policy support. In a news conference following the release of the statement, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said...

White House tells agencies to mandate masks in federal buildings in hot spots

Numerous U.S. federal agencies on Wednesday mandated masks at federal buildings in COVID-19 hot spots in line with instructions issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), according to an OMB email seen by Reuters. The move followed guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday that...

China urges insurers to increase offerings for natural disaster coverage

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking and insurance regulator said on Thursday that it will guide insurers to increase investment in natural disaster insurance and enrich product offerings. It also plans to raise public awareness of risks, to let natural disaster insurance play a greater role in national emergency response, the China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory...

Risking China’s anger, Blinken meets representative of Dalai Lama in India

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a representative of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in New Delhi on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said, a move that is likely to provoke anger in China. Blinken met briefly with Ngodup Dongchung, who serves as a representative of Central Tibetan Administration...

Tokyo COVID-19 cases top 3,000, record high for second straight day – media

TOKYO (Reuters) -Daily COVID-19 cases in Olympic host city Tokyo hit a record high for a second straight day on Wednesday, topping 3,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, local media reported, as the spike in infections puts pressure on hospitals. The sharp rise in cases may dampen domestic enthusiasm for the Games...

Fiji’s human rights lawyer sits in human rights panel to discuss NSW’s proposed Dying Bill

Christian human rights lawyer Sabrina Khan-Sharma is the only Fijian lawyer included in a human rights panel to discuss the proposed New South Wales Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying. The discussion was hosted by Family Voice Australia’s State Director for New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Greg Bondar. And panellists included executive...

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