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Abbott to meet Obama on APEC summit sidelines

The White House announced the two would meet during APEC because it would be difficult to meet later, during the upcoming G20 summit in Brisbane, thanks to Mr Abbott’s role as host.

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The two leaders are expected to meet for about an hour on Monday ahead of a joint news conference.

Prominent in the discussions will be the countries’ roles in fighting IS insurgents in the Middle East.

Tony Abbott has also secured a meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday. Having initially threatened to “shirt-front” Mr Putin, Mr Abbott has since toned down his rhetoric.

He is being urged however not to back away from his vow to demand answers from Mr Putin about the circumstances surrounding the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Speaking to the ABC on Sunday, the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said, “(Mr) Putin’s not going to tell us the truth but Tony Abbott has to at least ask.” 

“But I also think that we need to show leadership and be supporting European efforts for peace in Eastern Ukraine.”

The Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who is in Beijing finalising details of a free trade agreement with China, said Mr Abbott needed to have a “blunt conversation” and “if he gets the opportunity, he’ll take it”.

“The PM is very much within his rights but also has a responsibility as he sees it, to represent the Australian people and to ensure that those who caused these murders are brought to justice,” Mr Robb said.

The minister said the trade negotiations with China were in their very final stages but that there were still two issues, which he refused to detail, that remain outstanding.

“We’re nearly there, we are nearly there,” he said. “But you know like all agreements, the hardest part is probably at the end because the more difficult political issues are there… This is huge. This is the biggest deal we will have done by a long shot.”

Both sides are hoping the final deal can be unveiled and signed when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Canberra after the G20 summit. The president will address a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament on Monday, November 17.

Mr Robb said the government also hopes to eventually join China’s proposed investment bank but that it remainds unconvinced about the governance arrangements.

China is pressing regional countries to formally support the bank but the United States is urging caution, fearing China will use it to push its own political agenda.

China is certainly hoping to use this week’s APEC summit as a showcase and has stopped production in its worst-polluting industries for a week to clear smog from the skies.

It is also hoping for agreement on a regional trade area – a goal beyond the current negotiations spearheaded by the US on a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

In the short term, the 21 member countries of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group have agreed on a set of measures to curb corruption.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, welcomed the move. “Corruption not only creates an unfair playing field, it not only distorts economic relationships but corruption also steals from the people of every country the belief that the system can work for everybody,” he said.

The APEC leaders’ summit begins in Beijing on Monday night.

Americans freed by NKorea arrive home

The last two Americans serving lengthy prison sentences in North Korea have arrived home after the reclusive state freed them following a secret mission by US intelligence chief James Clapper.

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Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller arrived around 9pm at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.

The men disembarked the US government plane with luggage, then embraced family and friends on the tarmac.

They arrived with heads shaved. Bae wore khakis and a dark shirt, while Miller wore dark pants, a jacket and grey shirt.

The men disembarked the US government plane with luggage, then embraced family and friends on the tarmac.

North Korea’s surprise release of Bae and Miller followed the equally unexpected decision by Pyongyang last month to free 56-year-old US national Jeffrey Fowle.

Earlier in the day President Barack Obama hailed the latest releases as “wonderful,” as State Department officials said there had been no “quid pro quo” deal with North Korea to secure Bae and Miller’s freedom.

“The Department of State welcomes the release of US citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller from the DPRK, where they have been held for two years and seven months, respectively,” a statement said, using the official acronym by which the North is known.

US Director of National Intelligence Clapper travelled to North Korea and “engaged on behalf of the United States in discussions with DPRK authorities about the release of two citizens,” the statement said.

A senior administration official said Clapper carried a “brief message” from Obama to North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un indicating he was his personal envoy to bring the Americans home.

Obama, speaking just hours before leaving for a swing through Asia, praised Clapper’s role in the “challenging” mission.

“I think it is a wonderful day for them and their families and obviously we are very grateful for their safe return,” he said.

Former basketball great Dennis Rodman, who has talked up his cozy relationship with Kim, claimed his trips to the country had triggered Bae’s release.

“I understand the crimes (Bae) committed, and ask you my dear friend, the highly respected Marshall Kim Jong-Un for his release to show my country how loving and compassionate you and the DPRK can be,” Rodman wrote in a letter to the leader in January released by celebrity website TMZ.

Bae, a Korean-American missionary, earlier this week marked the two-year anniversary of his detention.

The sickly 46-year-old was arrested in November 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour.

Bae’s sister Terri Chung expressed joy at her brother’s release.

“We have been waiting for and praying for this day for two years. This ordeal has been excruciating for the family, but we are filled with joy right now,” she said in a statement.

“He will not have to spend another day at a labour camp. He can now recover from this imprisonment and look forward to his wife, kids and rest of his life.

“Our Thanksgiving celebration this year will be one we will never forget.”

Miller, 24, had been sentenced to six years’ hard labour by the North Korean Supreme Court following his arrest in April, after he allegedly ripped up his visa at immigration and demanded asylum.

England must learn to ‘kill teams off’, says Robshaw

With the World Cup in England 10 months away, the hosts were looking to mark their territory against New Zealand on Saturday and they had the world champions on the back foot in the opening stages.

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Winger Jonny May scored a sensational try to give England a 14-11 halftime lead, but the All Blacks were rejuvenated after the break and tries from captain Richie McCaw and replacement Charlie Faumuina sealed a 24-21 victory.

Having given their all to the cause, the rain-soaked England players trudged off the sodden Twickenham turf cursing their luck after suffering their fifth successive defeat by New Zealand.

“We are getting there, especially back at home,” Robshaw told reporters. “They were on the ropes and we need to remember that.

“We had the best team in the world on the ropes but we need to learn how to deliver the killer blow and kill teams off and produce that second-half performance.

“We wanted to be the pace-setters and impose ourselves on them because they were coming to our place and we needed to put them on the back foot.

“It’s extremely frustrating to come so close to beating them but just not getting across the line. We wanted the win but didn’t get it.

Next up for England are South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, before rounding off the November internationals against Samoa and Australia.

Robshaw remains confident that England will bounce back quickly.

“We’d much rather have started with a win but this will set us up nicely for South Africa,” the flanker said.

“That’s going to be another massive physical test for the guys but we will be ready for them.

“It’s important to get this result out of our system quickly and get back on the training ground to prepare for the Springboks.”

(Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Ed Osmond)

Hindu funeral ceremony held for Australian murder victim

An Australian grandmother has been cremated in a traditional Hindu ceremony in India following the arrest of her three alleged killers.

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Toni Anne Ludgate disappeared in August, a month after travelling to the ashram of Hindu guru Sathya Sai Baba in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The mother-of-three from Sydney was a regular visitor to the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram where she volunteered in a cantina.

After months of worry, daughter Traci Harding received news on Saturday night that police had exhumed her mother’s body from a remote place outside Puttaparthi.

“I felt relieved and at peace last night because she is,” the well-known science fiction novelist told AAP.

Indian police said a guard at Ms Ludgate’s apartment building had been arrested for her murder along with two of his friends.

The men robbed Ms Ludgate of money and jewellery before killing her, police told AP.

Ms Harding said her 75-year-old mother had been unhappy with where she lived and had wanted to move.

Despite the way her mother died, Ms Harding said she didn’t feel any anger towards the guard.

“I feel sorry for him,” she said.

“I’m not a seek-retribution person, it’s up to the Indian authorities to decide what to do with these men.”

Ms Harding gave permission to the ashram to give her mother a traditional cremation ceremony on Saturday.

She paid tribute to the selfless, hard-working woman who followed her devotion to India.

“She used to say to me `I can’t explain it to you, it’s the presence of India and the people’,” Ms Harding said.

“She adored her family and her friends but even still she could leave us for long periods of time and go there because she loved it so much.”

A memorial service is expected to be held for Ms Ludgate later this month.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing consular assistance to Ms Ludgate’s family while consular officials are liaising closely with Indian authorities, including police in Puttaparthi.

Sai Baba, who died in April 2011, was considered a saint by his devotees. They continue to visit his ashram in large numbers.

Palace attacked in Mexican protests

Protesters angry at the apparent massacre of 43 students have tried to break into Mexico City’s National Palace, while others torched several trucks in the south of the country.

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Thousands of people marched in the capital in the latest demonstration over a case that has repulsed the nation and triggered the biggest crisis of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government.

The violent protests came a day after authorities said suspected gang hitmen confessed to killing the 43 students and incinerating their bodies in the southern state of Guerrero.

A small group of protesters used metal barricades as battering rams to try to break open the National Palace door.

They briefly set the door on fire and spray-painted the words “we want them back alive” on the 16th-century building.

Pena Nieto uses the palace for ceremonies but he lives in the Los Pinos residence in another part of the capital.

Protesters loudly counted from one to 43 and held candles during the evening march. Some chanted “Pena Nieto out!” and “the people don’t want you!”

Hours earlier in Guerrero’s capital Chilpancingo, more than 300 students threw rocks and firebombs at the regional government headquarters.

They also burned about 10 vehicles, including trucks and a federal police vehicle, and chanted “they took them alive, we want them back alive” outside the building, which was partially burnt in a protest over the case in September.

Gang-linked police attacked busloads of students in the Guerrero city of Iguala on September 26, in a night of violence that left six people dead and the 43 missing.

Attorney-General Jesus Murillo Karam said Friday that three Guerreros Unidos gang members confessed to receiving the students from the police before killing them.

The confessions appeared to bring a tragic end to the mystery.

But relatives of the missing and fellow students at their teacher-training college near Chilpancingo refuse to believe the authorities until they get DNA results from independent Argentine forensic experts.

“It appears that the federal government, with great irresponsibility, is interested in closing this matter because it’s all based on testimony. There is nothing definitive,” said Meliton Ortega, uncle of a missing student.

The students had travelled to Iguala to raise funds but hijacked four buses to return home, a common practice among the young men from a school known as a bastion of left-wing activism.

Prosecutors say the city’s mayor, worried that they would interrupt a speech by his wife, ordered the police to confront them. The officers shot at several buses, leaving three students and three bystanders dead.

Authorities have arrested 74 people, including the ousted mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, 36 police officers and several Guerreros Unidos operatives.

Ovarian cancer in spotlight with new research plan

The eighth most common cancer in Australian women kills about 1000 every year.

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It most commonly affects women aged over 50, but can occur in women of all ages.

Ovarian Cancer Australia says the survival rate for women diagnosed with the cancer has failed to improve in recent years, while the survival rates for other cancers, including breast, bowel and prostate, have gained ground due to breakthroughs in detection, treatment and prevention.

In Australia, the overall five-year survival rate for those with ovarian cancer is 43 per cent, compared with 89 per cent for breast cancer.

“It is just not good enough that there has been no significant change in the treatment options for women with ovarian cancer for many years,” said Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Alison Amos, who launched an ovarian cancer national action plan at an international gynaecological cancer meeting in Melbourne on Sunday.

The #NationalActionPlan is launched! @AmosAlison @PaulaBensonAust #Ovariancancer pic.twitter南宁桑拿会所,/iOMDjDK91G

— Ovarian Cancer Aust (@OvarianCancerOz) November 8, 2014

Ms Amos said the plan provides a blueprint for how Australia can best contribute to the global ovarian cancer research effort.

“Similar national plans were published for breast cancer and prostate cancer 10 years ago and these diseases have seen great strides forward in research,” she said.

The action plan calls for a shift in funding from detection to the treatment, control and prevention of the disease, as well as more Australian led clinical trials and greater transparency from not-for-profit organisations that fund ovarian cancer research.

As part of the plan Ovarian Cancer Australia announced a $1 million funding investment in research.

   

Ovarian cancer symptoms Many women with a very early stage of ovarian cancer often don’t have any symptoms at all.Symptoms can include abdominal or pelvic pain and increased abdominal size or persistent bloating.Other symptoms can include the need to urinate often orurgently or feeling full after eating a small amount.

France name squad for Wallabies clash

Flanker Yannick Nyanga will replace his Toulouse clubmate Yacouba Camara in France’s squad for next weekend’s international against the Wallabies, manager Philippe Saint-Andre said on Sunday.

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“Yacouba Camara is a young player with huge potential,” said Saint-Andre.

“But Yannick Nyanga has had great performances with Toulouse, he has lived and has experience at the highest level and we also know his mindset.”

Camara, 20, was among the 30-man France training squad this week but is still waiting for his first cap after being left off the starting list for their 40-15 victory over Fiji in Marseille on Saturday.

Nyanga, 30, has 39 caps, but missed the buildup and the game as he recovered from a groin injury, although he played in Saturday’s Top 14 win over Bordeaux-Begles.

The switch is the only change for the squad for next Saturday’s clash against Australia in Stade de France.

Squad

Forwards (16): Xavier Chiocci (Toulon), Alexandre Menini (Toulon), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Franais), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Pap (Stade Franais), Sbastien Vahaamahina (Clermont), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Bernard Le Roux (Racing-Mtro), Virgile Bruni (Toulon), Charles Ollivon (Bayonne), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse)

Backs (14): Rory Kockott (Castres), Sbastien Tillous-Borde (Toulon), Rmi Tales (Castres), Camille Lopez (Clermont), Pierre Bernard (Bordeaux-Bgles), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Wesley Fofana (Stade Franais), Maxime Mermoz (Toulon), Alexandre Dumoulin (Racing-Mtro), Teddy Thomas (Racing-Mtro), Maxime Mdard (Toulouse), Benjamin Fall (Montpellier), Scott Spedding (Bayonne), Yoann Huget (Toulouse)

African Nations Cup in jeopardy as Morocco stands firm

Fears over the spread of the Ebola virus saw Morocco reiterate its stance that the 16-team tournament, due to be played from Jan.

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17-Feb. 8, should be postponed.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) refused to entertain a change of dates and must now find an alternate host as quickly as possible or face annulling the event at great financial cost.

CAF have approached other African countries to step in as an emergency replacement but have so far received no public expressions of support.

A meeting of African football’s governing body in Cairo on Tuesday now faces the prospect of having to cancel their gala event, unless they have a solution in their back pocket.

“We will not be making any statements until after the meeting makes a final decision,” CAF media director Junior Binyam told Reuters.

A risky gamble to call Morocco’s bluff looked to have backfired on Saturday as the country’s sport minister repeated a fear the tournament could spread Ebola.

“This decision is motivated mainly by the medical risks that would put this virus on the health of our fellow Africans,” Mohamed Ouzzine said in a statement.

In addition to health concerns, the statement said, Morocco’s decision was also “motivated by humanitarian reasons since it is our responsibility to welcome all guests and supporters in the best conditions in accordance with the culture and hospitality of Moroccan traditions”.

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Morocco is concerned that supporters from west Africa converging on the country for the tournament could bring with them the deadly virus and put at risk their important tourist industry.

Global health authorities are struggling to contain the world’s worst Ebola epidemic since the disease was identified in 1976 and cases have reached as far as the United States and Spain.

Morocco also insisted they could host the tournament later, highlighting that CAF had back-to-back Nations Cups in 2012 and 2013 when it switched from hosting the event in even to odd years and could reverse the process in 2016 and 2017.

CAF, who garner the majority of their revenue from the tournament’s television and marketing rights, have cited a packed calendar for their refusal to consider a June date or a move to early 2016.

They also characterised Morocco’s concerns as alarmist, pointing out that Nations Cup tournaments do not attract large travelling support because few African fans had the resources to follow their teams.

The impasse looks likely to deprive Africa of a much-anticipated event that is regularly able to capture the imagination of millions.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Queen Elizabeth II leads UK memorial

Queen Elizabeth II has led a ceremony honouring British armed forces members who have died in action.

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The solemn Remembrance Sunday event at the Cenotaph in central London marks a highlight in British and Commonwealth tributes to fallen soldiers days before the centenary of the outbreak of World War I.

The queen, dressed in black, placed a wreath at the Cenotaph, followed by other senior royals, politicians, and service representatives.

Large crowds thronged the surrounding streets to see more than 10,000 veterans march as martial music played. The event started with two minutes of silence to remember the dead.

The queen bowed her head in respect after she placed a poppy-filled wreath at the Cenotaph’s base.

She was followed by her husband, Prince Philip, who was active in the Royal Navy, and Prince Charles, the heir to the throne and also an armed forces veteran.

Prince William, who served as a military helicopter rescue pilot, placed the next wreath as his pregnant wife, Kate, watched from a nearby balcony. She sat alongside Camilla, Charles’ wife.

Prime Minister David Cameron called Sunday’s event particularly poignant because of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. He also cited the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the end of Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan.

He was the first political leader to place a wreath, followed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and opposition leader Ed Miliband.

The high profile ceremony took amid increased security concerns because of recent terrorism-related arrests and a nationwide terror threat assessed to be “severe.” Four men were arrested on terror-related charges Friday and are still being questioned.

‘Different’ Kangaroos ready for Kiwis

Australia captain Cameron Smith believes his rookie Kangaroos have become a far better side than the one which lost their Four Nations opener to New Zealand, ahead of Saturday’s tournament final in Wellington.

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Australia qualified for the final against unbeaten New Zealand after beating Samoa 44-18 in Wollongong on Sunday before 18,456 fans.

With 11 rookies injected into coach Tim Sheens’ injury-hit 24-man squad ahead of the 30-12 loss to the Kiwis three weeks ago, the world champions were comprehensively outplayed by New Zealand.

Sheens blooded five Test rookies in that game, three in the 16-12 win over England Josh Jackson debuted against Toa Samoa.

Smith said his side has gelled considerably in the wins over England and Samoa, since their first up loss.

“We have grown a bit more patient as a football side over the last two weeks,” Smith said.

“In that first match given we had five debutants we went looking for cheap points when we were in an arm wrestle match against the Kiwis

“We were leading twice in that game 6-0, and 12-6 and then it got to 12-all and we instead of just knuckling down and sticking to our game plan we looked for the easy option

“Last week against England and particularly this week at times when we could have thrown the ball around a lot more we stuck to our game plan and the points came.

“But there is no doubt we need to improve on our performance this week against Samoa because we were comprehensively out-played last time we met the Kiwis.

With man of the match Greg Inglis scoring a first half double, Australia blew Samoa away in a five-tries-to-one 28-6 first half blitz.

Inglis’ 26th and 27th Test tries moving him to fourth ahead of Bob Fulton on Australia’s all-time try scoring list.

Samoa have been unlucky in close losses to England and New Zealand and fought back strongly in the second half, but late tries to Josh Papalii and Josh Mansour blew out the scoreline.

“In patches we were really good, we still allowed some soft points though and we still have some work to do,” Sheens said.

“The guys responded really well to the must-win scenario which isn’t always easy to play under.”

Coach Matt Parish bemoaned the string of penalties Samoa gave away early which allowed Australia to march upfield.

However he said Samoa’s efforts over the last three weeks had given them important thrust in the international game.

“We are obviously disappointed with the result but in the big picture we have made big inroads,” he said.

Captain David Fa’alogo said the tournament witnessed the emergence of Samoa as a world power.

“It is only the start for Samoa rugby league,”

“It is a good stepping stone and it will be nice to see big name players want to play for Samoa in the future.

“We have a big pool of players to choose from and that pool is only going to get bigger.”