China gives access to detained Canadian

China gives access to detained Canadian

China has provided Canada consular access to detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig.Canadian officials have confirmed they were granted consular access to one of two Canadians detained in China on suspicion of "endangering national security."
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"Today, Canada was granted consular access to Michael Kovrig," a statement by Global Affairs Canada said.

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, met the former Canadian diplomat in Beijing, the statement said.

"Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family and will continue to seek further access to Mr Kovrig," the statement said.

Tensions between China and Canada have risen after China said Kovrig and the second arrested Canadian, Michael Spavor, are being investigated for endangering national security.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said "compulsory measures" have been taken against Kovrig and Spavor, whose disappearance is seen as retaliation for Canada's arrest of Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou.

The men are "suspected of being involved in activities endangering China's national security law," Lu said. He said China has notified the Canadian embassy and is guaranteeing the men's legal rights.

Canada said it continues to press for consular access to Spavor.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to release the two Canadian citizens, denouncing their "unlawful detention."

"The detention of these two Canadian citizens in China ought to end," Pompeo said in Washington, standing alongside the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, and defence minister, Harjit Sajjan.

Freeland said Chinese officials have not drawn a connection between the detention of the two Canadians and Meng's arrest in Canada, in their discussions with her.

Canada was acting "scrupulously" in the Meng case and the country follows the rule of law, Freeland said. She insisted there should be no political interference in the judicial process.

Her comments were seen directed as much at Chinese authorities as at US President Donald Trump, who suggested on Tuesday that he might intervene in Meng's case if it served national security interests or helped him get a better trade deal with China.

Amid the tensions, Canada's tourism minister also cancelled a trip to China at the last minute, her office announced on Friday.

Meng's arrest has caused an anti-Canadian backlash on Chinese social media sites with many users calling for a boycott of Canadian goods.

Kovrig is an ex-diplomat who works as an expert on North-East Asia for the non-governmental think tank International Crisis Group. He was arrested on Monday by state security in Beijing, the Canadian Foreign Ministry confirmed.

Spavor runs a China-based non-profit that organised the trips to North Korea by basketball star Dennis Rodman in 2013 and 2014.

Ponting’s simple batting advice for Finch

Ponting’s simple batting advice for Finch

Aaron Finch (L) received some simple but vital advice from Ricky Ponting (R) before the 2nd Test .By recalling his own troubles facing Ishant Sharma 10 years ago in Perth, Ricky Ponting helped Aaron Finch to make a minor adjustment that delivered major results in the same city.
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Finch struggled in 's first-Test loss to India at Adelaide Oval, with only a Sharma no-ball saving him from the ignominy of a pair.

But the national white-ball skipper, under increasing pressure to prove he's a viable option at the top of the Test order amid spirited debate, looked far more comfortable in a knock of 50 on day one of the second Test.

If are to level the four-Test series at Optus Stadium, they're likely to highlight the importance of a 112-run opening stand between Finch and Marcus Harris.

And the origins of Finch's innings can be traced all the way back to Sharma's maiden tour of , when he worked Ponting over in a brilliant spell and twice dismissed him at the WACA.

Ponting and Finch shared a long chat on Thursday in the nets, with the legend passing on a simple piece of advice.

"It was basically around covering my off stump and just lining up slightly different," Finch told reporters.

"It was just moving my guard slightly further over - my line where I want to try and hit the ball, with the ball swinging back in.

"Obviously, Ishant troubled Punter a little bit at the start of Ishant's career in , moving the ball back in.

"It was good to have someone to chat to who has had to work through that, and just (about) your alignment and things like that."

Ponting, speaking on Seven during day one, downplayed the importance of his discussions with Finch and other members of 's Test squad.

"He ('s coach Justin Langer) invited me down," Ponting said.

"To be around the boys for a couple of hours, it's always an enjoyable time."

It isn't the first time Ponting has worked closely with Finch, whom he had bought during the 2015 Indian Premier League auction while coaching Mumbai.

Finch returned home because of a hamstring injury and missed Mumbai's charge to the title, but Ponting's mentorship left a big impression.

"It's his first coaching job and he was absolutely outstanding," Finch told AAP at the time.

"Being one of the best players in the world for a long time, he commanded that respect.

"But what impressed me was his energy and drive for the players to get better, plus his attention to detail."

EU refuses to budge on Brexit agreement

EU refuses to budge on Brexit agreement

Theresa May says she had a 'robust' exchange with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.British Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a rescue mission for her ailing Brexit deal, after the European Union rebuffed her request to sweeten the divorce agreement.
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EU leaders meeting in Brussels have shown little appetite to resolve May's Brexit impasse for her, saying the UK parliament must make up its mind.

The choice was either back the Brexit agreement or send Britain tumbling out of the bloc in March without a deal and into unknown economic chaos.

"There is one accord, the only one possible," French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Friday, at the end of a two-day summit.

He said it was "the British parliament's time" to decide whether to accept or reject May's deal.

May came to the EU summit seeking legally binding changes to the agreement, which is opposed by a majority of British lawmakers.

But the 27 other EU leaders offered only reassurances.

They said they would seek to move swiftly on forging a new trade deal after Britain leaves the bloc, and promised that a legally binding insurance policy to keep the Irish border open would only be used temporarily.

The EU rejected British pressure to put a fixed end date on the border guarantee, and refused to re-negotiate the Brexit agreement.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accused Britain of failing to give detailed proposals on Brexit, saying it was "up to the British government to tell us exactly what they want".

May was filmed speaking sternly to Juncker as leaders arrived at Friday morning's session of the summit. She said they had a "robust" exchange.

Nonetheless, May told reporters in Brussels that she welcomed the EU's reassuring words - words that she said had legal status, as formal conclusions of an EU summit.

"There is work still to do. And we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal," May said.

However European Council President Donald Tusk said no talks with Britain were scheduled.

"I have no mandate to organise any further negotiations," Tusk told reporters.

"But of course, we will stay here in Brussels, and I am always at Prime Minister Theresa May's disposal."

EU leaders expressed deep doubts that May could live up to her side of their Brexit agreement and vowed to step up preparations for a potentially catastrophic "no-deal" scenario for Britain's departure.

"We are going to be sure to prepare for all hypotheses, including the hypothesis of a 'no deal', Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.

But there was also sympathy for a leader who has endured the toughest week of her career.

Juncker said May was "a good friend, and I am admiring her, because this is a woman of great courage doing her job in the best way possible".

Robert Clark new Vic Liberals president

Robert Clark new Vic Liberals president

Former Liberal MP Robert Clark replaces Michael Kroger as president of the Victorian Liberals.Former Liberal MP Robert Clark has been elected president of the Victorian Liberal Party.
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Mr Clark won the ballot of Liberal state assembly members on Friday night, succeeding Michael Kroger, who resigned last month amid pressure following Labor's thumping election victory.

"My priority now is to work with fellow Liberal Party members to prepare for next year's Federal election campaign and to re-build following our state election loss," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"This will include examining a wide range of opportunities to improve the party's governance and how we advocate Liberal values and policies in the community."

Mr Clark represented Balwyn and Box Hill for 30 years, from 1988 to 2018, but was beaten last month by Labor's Paul Hamer.

The 61-year-old father-of-two grew up in St Albans and was a solicitor before entering parliament and joined the Liberal Party in 1976.

The Victorian Liberal-National opposition also announced its shadow cabinet on Friday, naming 15 men and eight women to "hold the Labor Government to account".

A joint press release on Friday - from new Opposition and Liberal leader Michael O'Brien and Opposition deputy Peter Walsh - said their new team would "reset the way we engage with the Victorian community to develop solutions to the challenges facing Victoria".

Two women - Roma Britnell and Bridget Vallence - are among three new additions to the shadow cabinet, covering the rural roads, ports and freight and secretary to cabinet portfolios.

Prominent Liberal shadow cabinet members such as John Pesutto and Heidi Victoria are noticeably missing after they lost their seats in Labor's thumping election victory.

Roar’s Bautheac needs protection: Aloisi

Roar’s Bautheac needs protection: Aloisi

Brisbane Roar star Eric Bautheac let frustration get the better of him against Melbourne Victory.Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi has demanded better protection for marquee man Eric Bautheac.
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The French winger's frustrations tipped over against Melbourne Victory when he was sent off in the Roar's 4-2 A-League loss at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Bautheac, clearly incensed by an earlier incident where Victory's James Troisi had caught him on his left ankle, launched into a wild challenge on Corey Brown.

Referee Adam Fielding showed Bautheac a yellow card for the challenge but the Roar star then got into a push and shove with Troisi and Swedish striker Ola Toivenen.

Fielding showed Bautheac a second yellow and the Frenchman kicked advertising hoardings and the wall of the stadium tunnel as he departed.

Aloisi didn't condone Bautheac's actions but said he can understand why his import was upset.

"It's been happening all season to Eric," he said.

"I don't want him to go and bring it into his own hands.

"I just want the referees to help him earlier and protect him earlier and then have a bit of common sense as well.

"Know that he's the one that's being kicked from pillar to post in every single game and then when he does one thing, calm the situation down."

The defeat leaves the Roar floundering second-last on the ladder with just one win from eight games.

Aloisi though remains confident his team has the ability to turn their season around.

"It's three losses in a row. Against Adelaide we didn't deserve to lose. Last week, the last half hour wasn't great. Tonight (Friday) the first 20 minutes was very good," Aloisi said.

"It will turn for us. When you keep playing like that, it will turn.

"We're not going to get too carried away that we're not a good side ... we went on a run last year, seven out of 10 games we won, we'll go on another run like that."