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West Papua on the verge of further violence

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West Papua flag.

Western New Guinea, or West Papua, is part of the island of New Guinea, which Indonesia has controlled since 1962.

The nation lies 200 kilometres from Australia and borders Papua New Guinea. It is home to over 250 tribes, who all speak their own languages. West Papua has a range of mountains, forests and coastal mangrove swamps.

But West Papua is on the verge of a violent crackdown at the hands of the Indonesian military.

Dr Camellia Webb-Gannon is a lecturer at the University of Wollongong. She said the nation has been seeking independence from Indonesia for decades.

“The majority of the independence movement in West Papua are committed to achieving peace with justice and independence through non-violent means.”

Benny Wenda leads the independence movement, which seeks a peaceful transition to independence.

“About three weeks ago, the independence fighters were able to conduct a surprise attack and kill brigadier general Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha. He was head of intelligence in Papua.

“This is the biggest kill they’ve ever been able to do. The act was claimed by the liberation army as a victory but it infuriated Indonesia,” Dr Webb-Gannon explained.

However, this prompted a response from the chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly to the Indonesian military, Bambang Soesatyo.

“Destroy them first. We will discuss human rights matters later.”

This sparked serious concerns that West Papua may be close to another violent repression, at the hands of Indonesia’s military.

West Papua’s diverse environment

West Papua’s diverse landscape is also the home of the Grasberg mine, which has the world’s largest reserves of gold.

The mine reportedly has $40 billion in reserves and provides jobs for around 20,000 workers.

But Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo believes economic development and infrastructure will cease calls for West Papuan independence.

A highway from the highlands to the coast is one area that President Widodo is seeking to develop. But West Papuans currently retain control over these areas.

“He’s trying to build a highway in the hopes that this would open up West Papua to economic opportunities and try and solve some of the poverty.

“It’s simply not working. Economics are not at the crux of this, it’s politics,” Dr Webb-Gannon said.

Regional involvement

Dr Webb-Gannon said Australia and the broader region have a crucial role to play in de-escalating tensions.

“Australia needs to stop training Indonesian military forces until they can prove that they do worry about human rights.

“Vanuatu has always had West Papua’s back. Their government has said ‘we do not consider ourselves truly free and independent until the rest of Melanesia is’,” she said.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Are U.S. voters rebuking Joe Biden over his Israel policy?

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The Israel-Hamas War is entering a sixth month.

During a recent trip in New York, President Joe Biden was asked when a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might start.

He said he hopes a pause in hostilities can take effect in the coming days to allow for remaining hostages to be released.

Jonathan Tobin, the editor-in-chief of Jewish News Syndicate joins Veronica Dudo. #IN AMERICA TODAY #featured #IsraelHamas #war #Israel #Hamas #ceasefire

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Putin threatens West with nuclear strike

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a direct threat to employ nuclear weapons against the West, accusing NATO and the United States of preparing to strike Russia.

Putin delivered this ominous warning during his annual address to the nation, raising global tensions to unprecedented levels.

During his speech, Putin accused NATO and the US of deceptive maneuvers, alleging their intentions to launch an attack on Russian territory.

He emphasised Russia’s readiness to defend itself, boasting of its modernized nuclear arsenal and asserting the capability to defeat any potential aggressors on their own soil.

The Russian leader’s words carried a chilling reminder of the destructive power at his disposal, stating, “They have to understand that we also have weapons, weapons that can defeat them on their own territory.”

Such rhetoric underscores the grave risk of escalating conflict and the potential catastrophic consequences of nuclear warfare.

Nuclear war

Putin warned that the deployment of troops to Ukraine by NATO countries could lead to a real risk of nuclear war.

He emphasised Russia’s determination to strengthen its military presence in response to perceived threats from neighboring nations aligning with Western alliances.

In addition to military concerns, Putin criticized Western efforts to engage Russia in an arms race, vowing to bolster Russia’s defense capabilities while accusing the West of attempting to weaken the country economically and politically.

Despite escalating tensions and global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Putin sought to rally support domestically, praising Russian unity and resilience in the face of adversity.

He portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as a defensive measure to safeguard national interests and protect Russian citizens.

Putin’s aggressive stance towards the West underscores the deepening rift between Russia and Western powers, raising fears of a potential conflict with far-reaching consequences.

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FAA gives Boeing 30 days to fix 737 MAX program

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued Boeing a 90-day deadline to devise a comprehensive plan for enhancing quality control procedures after a recent incident involving a 737 Max aircraft.

Less than two months following an alarming occurrence where a door plug blew out of a 737 Max aircraft just nine minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight, the FAA has demanded Boeing to present a thorough strategy to address quality control deficiencies.

The incident, which took place on Flight 1282, revealed that essential bolts required to secure an unused door panel on the nearly new aircraft were missing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted earlier this month.

The door plug had been removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, factory where the 737 Max is manufactured.

This incident adds to a string of production issues plaguing Boeing’s flagship aircraft.

Action plan

In response to the FAA’s directive, Boeing affirmed its commitment to developing a comprehensive action plan with measurable benchmarks.

The aerospace giant assured that its leadership is fully dedicated to meeting this challenge head-on.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the need for Boeing to implement substantial and enduring improvements, emphasizing that foundational changes will necessitate ongoing commitment from the company’s leadership.

The FAA intends to hold Boeing accountable at every stage of the process, ensuring that mutually agreed milestones and expectations are met.

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