Trump tweets threats against Kim Jong Un

US President Donald Trump says North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” if Ri echoed the thoughts of “Little Rocket Man” – a reference to Kim.

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Ri told the United Nations General Assembly earlier on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Trump called Pyongyang’s leader “rocket man”.

“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump tweeted.

Trump and Kim have traded increasingly threatening and personal insults as Pyongyang races towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US – something Trump has vowed to prevent.

In an unprecedented direct statement on Friday, Kim described Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” whom he would tame with fire. His comments came after Trump threatened in his maiden UN address on Thursday to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people.

It was not clear from Trump’s latest tweet if he was referring to Ri and Kim, or North Korea more broadly.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions. Pyongyang said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

“It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK (North Korea) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces,” Ri told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force the Pentagon said indicated the range of military options available to Trump.

Morgan dismisses NRL fairytale talk

North Queensland’s heroic Cowboys have moved to play down talk of a sporting miracle as they close in on a historic NRL premiership.

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Hard work and a great coach have underpinned the side’s unlikely surge to the season decider, according to the Cowboys’ new talismanic halfback Michael Morgan.

After scraping into the finals in eighth spot and without injured co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, Morgan shed light on the club’s inspired run to Sunday’s grand final against Melbourne at ANZ Stadium.

The injury-riddled Cowboys squeezed into the playoffs after Canterbury upset St George Illawarra in the last round, before ending Cronulla’s title defence and also eliminating Parramatta and the Roosters to set up an improbable showdown with the Storm.

“We’ve worked hard while doing it. It hasn’t just been a big fairytale and things have just gone our way for no reason,” Morgan told Fox Sports before the Cowboys received a heroes’ welcome upon arrival home in Townsville on Sunday.

Morgan can’t praise coach Paul Green enough for what he’s done in the charge to the decider.

“He’s a great coach. I’ve learnt so much off him and I’m still learning,” Morgan said.

“I’ve been coached by him now since 2014 when he got here. Every year I’ve continued to learn and develop my game and he’s been a massive influence on that.

“If ever there’s certain tips for a certain part of my game, whether it’s kicking, passing, running, he’s an extremely smart coach in the way he coaches and the mindset he gets his players in and deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done this year.”

As for Melbourne, Morgan is under no illusions about the task facing his side against the dominant minor premiers who crushed Brisbane 30-0 in their preliminary final on Friday night.

“We can go one more,” Morgan said.

“Just try and limit their opportunities. They are going to get some and they’ll create their opportunities.They do that really well.”

The grand final is the first to pit the No.1 team versus eighth, the very fixture the NRL didn’t want when it scrapped the controversial McIntyre finals system in 2011.

Eerily, the last time the eighth-placed team made the grand final occurred in 2009, when the Storm’s superstar trio Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and skipper Cameron Smith, along with Greg Inglis, combined to end Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne-inspired charge with a 23-16 victory.

That title, as well as their 2007 premiership, was subsequently stripped from the Storm for the club’s salary-cap rorting.

Eight years on and Slater, Smith and Cronk – in his emotion-charged farewell from the Storm – get the chance to finally become dual premiership winners.

As too will Morgan and up to a dozen of North Queensland’s survivors from the 2015 golden-point grand final win over Brisbane.

Whether Scott lines up, after tearing his ACL in round two more than six months ago, will be the question all week, with Green again saying the former Test prop will be included in an extended 21-man squad.

Next NZ government awaits Peters’ decision

The leaders of New Zealand’s two main parties will have to court NZ First’s Winston Peters to help form government after Saturday’s election failed to deliver a clear majority win.

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The incumbent National party has 58 seats after Saturday’s general election but is short of the 61 needed for a majority in parliament. Labour has 45, the Greens seven and NZ First nine.

The numbers may change when special votes are counted, but NZ First is the kingmaker.

National Party leader Bill English expects a call from Mr Peters in the next few days when they’ll talk about the process of negotiating to form a government.

“We want to get on with the job of forming a government but we will work with New Zealand First essentially at the pace that they’re willing to go,” Mr English said on Sunday.

A National/NZ First government would have 67, while a Labour/Greens/NZ First coalition would have 61.

Mr English said senior National ministers met on Sunday morning “to discuss the results and our approach to the negotiations”.

He said a two-party coalition would be more stable.

“Our position is almost one-in-two New Zealanders supported National,” he said.

“The voters have given us the task of forming a government with NZ First and that is what we will proceed to do.”

The option of a National/Greens coalition has always been seen as unlikely, and on Sunday Mr English said National would need to see some indication of interest from the Greens in constructive discussion.

“There hasn’t been any indication so far,” he said.

Mr English confirmed National’s previous coalition partner, ACT, would not be part of a National government with NZ First.

Leader David Seymour understood how the numbers worked, he said.

Labour has not conceded and itself is looking to form a government.

On Sunday leader Jacinda Ardern said a majority of people had voted against the status quo.

“What New Zealanders want us to focus on is forming a credible, stable government.”

She’s including NZ First when she talks about a majority voting against the status quo, although Mr Peters didn’t give any indication before the election which party he would support after it.

He still hasn’t.

After a night to sleep on it, Mr Peters wasn’t giving anything away.

He said he would not be making a decision without consulting the party board and his MP colleagues.

Ms Ardern will be talking to the Greens, Labour’s natural partner, and Mr Peters to try to forge a three-way coalition.

Coalition negotiations with Mr Peters aren’t expected to be determined until at least October 7 when the final results, including special votes, are in.

Mr Peters has set October 12 as his deadline for a decision.

Apathy threatens marriage equality success

The Yes campaign has warned same-sex marriage supporters not to get complacent about winning the same-sex marriage survey.

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With almost all same-sex marriage survey forms now delivered to people on the federal electoral roll, acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the difficulty will be making sure people actually return their forms.

“I think that the biggest threat to the Yes campaign’s success is people assuming that this is in the bag because they know that a majority of Australians support marriage equality and they think, ‘well, my vote won’t matter …. everybody else will post back their Yes vote’,” she told ABC TV on Sunday.

“Apathy is the biggest risk here.”

Cabinet minister Greg Hunt, who supports marriage equality, was optimistic but also sounded a caution, saying on Sky “nobody should ever presume an electoral outcome.”

Both sides of the debate have ramped up their campaigning in recent days.

The Coalition for Marriage launched its Victorian No campaign on Saturday night, with the event crashed by two women who kissed on stage, lips remaining locked as they were dragged off by security.

While the Yes side has started doorknocking tens of thousands of homes across the nation and raised eyebrows with an SMS campaign.

The tactic had many wondering how the campaigners got their phone numbers, but Equality Campaign’s Queensland director Peter Black defended the action.

“We are doing everything we can in our power to reach the Australian public,” he said in Brisbane on Sunday.

“The numbers were computer generated, there’s been no privacy invasion at all,” he said.

Ms Plibersek condemned bad behaviour on both sides – citing the same-sex marriage supporter who headbutted Tony Abbott in Hobart and the person who beat up Kevin Rudd’s godson for standing up for marriage equality.

But people “getting their goat up” about the Yes text messages was “ridiculous”.

“We didn’t want this postal survey to happen. And then, when the Yes campaign actually goes out and campaigns … the No campaign is saying that it is really unfair that people are urging a Yes vote,” she said.

Mr Hunt said while the news focused on “the margins and the extremes” most Australians were forming their own opinions.

“I actually think there is likely to be a moderation of the extremes because they’ve been called out,” he said.

“The message for those who are campaigning for Yes is make this about people’s right to marry and make this about acceptance.”

The Bureau of Statistics advises anyone yet to receive a form by late on Monday to contact them.

Telephone and online responses also open Monday.

The result of the voluntary postal survey on same-sex marriage is due on November 15.

Bangladesh imposes mobile phone ban on Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh’s four mobile phone providers were threatened with fines if they provide any of the nearly 430,000 newly arrived refugees from Myanmar with phone plans while the ban is in force.

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“For the time being, they (Rohingya) can’t buy any SIM cards,” Enayet Hossain, a senior officer at the telecoms ministry, told AFP on Sunday.

The decision Saturday to impose a communication blackout on the stateless Muslim minority was justified for security reasons, said junior telecoms minister Tarana Halim.

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Bangladesh already prohibits the sale of SIM cards to its own citizens who cannot provide an official identity card, in a bid to frustrate the organisational capacity of homegrown militants.

“We took the step (of welcoming the Rohingya) on humanitarian grounds but at the same time our own security should not be compromised,” Halim said, without elaborating on what specific risk the Rohingya posed.

Bangladesh’s telecoms authority said the ban could be lifted once biometric identity cards are issued to the newly arrived refugees, a process the army says could take six months.

It is just the latest restriction imposed on the Rohingya who have fled in huge numbers from violence in neighbouring Rakhine State into squalid camps in Bangladesh’s southernmost Cox’s Bazar district in the past four weeks.

0:00 Bangladesh announces tough new restrictions on the movement of Muslim Rohingya refugees Share Bangladesh announces tough new restrictions on the movement of Muslim Rohingya refugees

The nearly 430,000 refugees have been herded by the military into a handful of overstretched camps near the border, where tens of thousands live in the open without shelter.

Many have been evicted from squatting in forest and farmlands by police and soldiers, who have been ordered to keep the Rohingya from seeking shelter in major cities and nearby towns.

Roadblocks have been erected along major routes from the camp zones, where a dire shortage of food, water, shelter and toilets is creating what aid groups describe as a humanitarian crisis.

Some 5,100 have already been stopped at these checkpoints and returned to the designated camps, police said.

“We have set up 11 check posts across the Cox’s Bazar highway to stop the Rohingya refugees from spreading further toward the interior,” Cox’s Bazar police chief Iqbal Hossain told reporters.

 

Germany federal election 2017: The final countdown

With only days until Germany heads to the polls on September 24, here’s a recap of the race in the lead up to election day.

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Where do Germany’s two chancellor candidates stand on key issues?

FOREIGN POLICY:

On the issue of North Korea, Social Democrat Martin Schulz argues US President Donald Trump is not the right person to solve tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says although she disagrees with Mr Trump on many issues, solving the current situation without his involvement is impossible.

Mr Schulz says if he were to become chancellor he would stop EU accession talks for Turkey, while Ms Merkel says Germany should not push for a break in the negotiations although she believes there should be a freeze on any payments from the European Union to help with Turkey’s accession.

0:00 Germany’s AfD vows to dethrone Merkel Share Germany’s AfD vows to dethrone Merkel

MIGRATION:

Mr Schulz accuses Ms Merkel of not informing other European Union nations properly of Germany’s plan, two years ago, to allow in refugees who were stuck in Hungary.

The chancellor says the government simply acted in accordance with the laws laid down in the country’s constitution.

Both candidates agree that the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees should be maintained, despite human rights abuses committed by Ankara.

0:00 How Europe will impact the German election Share How Europe will impact the German election

SECURITY AND ISLAMIC EXTREMISM:

The chancellor argues authorities need to have more tools at their disposal to conduct video and social media surveillance.

Mr Schulz says he wants 15,000 more police jobs created and officers should not be tied up with so much bureaucracy.

On the topic of radicalisation, Ms Merkel says a version of Islam which abides by Germany’s constitution is welcome in the country.

Both candidates say preachers who spread extreme views in Germany’s mosques should not be tolerated.

SOCIAL JUSTICE:

Mr Schulz argues although Germany is a wealthy country, not all people in the country are doing well, citing single parents, pensioners and long-term unemployed.

He says he will campaign for free kindergartens to try to lighten the financial burden on parents.

Ms Merkel counters the number of unemployed has sunk from 5 million to 2.5 million since she took over as chancellor.

Mr Schulz wants to reduce taxes on families and also force the top tax rate to apply to those earning higher.

The chancellor says she wants to save German taxpayers 15 billion euros over the next four years.

0:00 Refugees talk about upcoming German election Share Refugees talk about upcoming German election

COALITION OPTIONS:

Ms Merkel categorically rules out forming a coalition with the country’s Left Party or the right-wing AfD party, and avoids answering the question on whether she would enter into a partnership with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

Mr Schulz has refused to rule out his party could again form the junior partner in a grand coalition with Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats, should they fail to win the vote on September 24.

Germany 2017: The final countdown