NRL rise cold comfort for gutted Dragons

At some point, Paul McGregor knows he will be able to see the positives out of the 2017 NRL season.

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But that point isn’t likely to arrive any time soon.

McGregor was a shattered man following St George Illawarra’s 26-20 loss to Canterbury on Sunday, which ended the Dragons’ finals hopes.

The Dragons were widely tipped to go closer to the wooden spoon than the play-offs at the start of the season, making their ninth-place finish a significant result.

But that would be cold comfort to McGregor, who watched his side become just the third in 23 years of the top-eight system to go from first spot after seven rounds to missing the finals.

“Right now I’m actually gutted,” McGregor said.

“But I’m sure once I assess the year there is a lot of good things to look at.

“If you look at our development throughout the year, how much we’ve improved from this time last year, there is only one way for the club, and that’s forward.

“But we all start the pre-season in October to play finals footy … That’s why you like to be involved in the game to play in the best time of the year.

“And that starts next week, and we’re not going to be a part of it.”

The Dragons had their chances to book a finals spot on Sunday.

They led 20-14 with 20 minutes to play, before the Bulldogs sealed it with two late tries.

Josh Dugan was also held up by Will Hopoate after he looked certain to score a try which would have created a 10-point lead

But McGregor said their early post-season holiday couldn’t be blamed on Sunday’s result.

“There’s six games this year that come to mind that could’ve went each way and we didn’t win any of them,” he said.

“The competition is that tight, when you don’t win the close ones continually you don’t play finals footy.”

Dragons captain Gareth Widdop echoed McGregor’s sentiments.

“We played some good football, that’s for sure – we certainly improved on last year,” he said.

“But you want to play finals and we didn’t. I’m certainly disappointed.”

The Dragons will welcome halfback Ben Hunt to the club next year, while star centre Dugan will depart for Cronulla.

Dugan shed tears on the field following the loss, but refused to talk to waiting media following his return match after being dropped for missing the team bus.

Vettel still smiling after difficult day

With the Italian team’s home crowd cheering as he stood on the podium, despite trailing in third and half a minute behind race winner Hamilton, Vettel said he was energised for the battles ahead.

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“For sure, they are giving us a very, very hard time, especially at the moment, but we’ll see,” the German told reporters. “It’s a long journey still.

“I’m still full of adrenaline from the podium, the atmosphere was amazing. You can ask whatever you want now, I don’t care. You will always get a positive answer.”

Ferrari had arrived for their home race knowing that it was likely to favour Mercedes but encouraged by a strong showing in Belgium the previous weekend when Vettel was on Hamilton’s tail all the way.

There have been races this season where the Italian team have dominated, and they could well do so again in Singapore in two weeks’ time, but Monza was the equivalent of a bucket of cold water in the face.

“I think we just screwed up,” Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne told RTL television. “The set-up for the car was wrong. I think we underestimated the circuit.”

Vettel is three points behind Hamilton with seven of the 20 races remaining; Ferrari are 62 points adrift of Mercedes.

“For me, it looks like this weekend Ferrari have taken a step back,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after another one-two finish for the ‘Silver Arrows’.

“I think we were very solid, but they (Ferrari) have not performed in the way everybody expected.

“Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo started from the back of the grid, and almost finished third, which suggests something is out of synch here and not how it should be.”

Vettel, who had started in sixth place, said his Ferrari simply did not have the pace to match Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the fastest track on the calendar.

But he also knew Ferrari had a strong car and would be competitive to the end of the season.

“Overall you could say it was a bad day, but I know the team is on the right way and there is a lot of stuff that is going to improve,” said Vettel.

“I know that we only get stronger, so I’m in a very, very positive mood,” added the German.

“I am not worried… it was a difficult weekend but I know that there is still a long way to go and we have got the people behind us so it is a great feeling.”

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

Global condemnation after Korea nuclear test

World reaction to North Korea’s biggest nuclear test to date: :

United States

US President Donald Trump tweeted “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they (North Korea) only understand one thing!”

In another tweet he said North Korea’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States” and the regime “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.

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Later when asked by reporters if the US would attack North Korea the president said: “we’ll see”.

Australia

Australia condemned North Korea’s “flagrant defiance” of UN Security Council resolutions and urged the world body to take further action against the “dangerous pariah regime”.

“We call for the UN Security Council to urgently consider further strong measures that would place pressure on North Korea to change course,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Australia called for all countries, especially the five UN veto powers “to apply the maximum possible pressure to this dangerous pariah regime”, according to the statement.

I guess Donald Trump is now preparing to launch a tweet. It will lift off in smoke and fire, and then with a roar disappear into nowhere.

— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) September 3, 2017France

President Emmanuel Macron: “The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea to come back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic program.”

China

China, the only North Korean ally that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, urged its neighbour to stop “wrong” actions that worsen the situation. It said it would fully enforce UN resolutions on the country.

Russia

The Russian foreign ministry: “In the emerging conditions it is absolutely essential to keep cool, refrain from any actions that could lead to a further escalation of tensions,” it said on its website, adding that North Korea risked “serious consequences”.

Japan

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea’s “nuclear and missile development programs pose a new level of a grave and immediate threat” and “seriously undermines the peace and security of the region”.

South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korea’s sixth nuclear test should be met with the “strongest possible” response, including new United Nations Security Council sanctions to “completely isolate” the country.

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Nations Security Council should urgently look at imposing new sanctions and speed up implementation of existing ones.

“This latest action by North Korea is reckless and poses an unacceptable further threat to the international community,” May said in an emailed statement.

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said North Korea’s provocations have “reached a new dimension” with the nation’s sixth nuclear test.

IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has no access to North Korea, called the nuclear test, Pyongyang’s test is “an extremely regrettable act” that is “in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.”

United Nations

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the test as “profoundly destabilising for regional security” and called on the country’s leadership to cease such acts.

 

UN to meet after North Korea’s nuke test

The United Nations Security Council is set to meet and discuss North Korea’s nuclear test at the request of the United States, Japan, Britain, France and South Korea, but Russia is pushing for talks rather than more sanctions.

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North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

The UN will meet on Monday morning, the US mission to the United Nations said.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea in early July over its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

The sanctions were said to have the potential to cut the Asian state’s $US3 billion ($A3.8 billion) annual export revenue by a third, but Russia questions their effectiveness.

“The imposed sanctions have not created any positive outcome. On the contrary, the situation leaves something to be desired,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.

Peskov said it was premature to speak of “specific modalities” of Russia’s possible actions ahead of new talks on North Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is now in China for a summit of BRICS leaders, discussed the bomb test with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier on Sunday. Both leaders expressed their deep concerns about security on the Korean Peninsula.

Later on Sunday Putin also had a phone call with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and they both condemned Pyongyang’s bomb test, Peskov said.

“Vladimir Putin said the international society should avoid being overwhelmed by emotion, it should act calmly and prudently. He also highlighted that a complex settlement of the nuclear and other problems of the Korean Peninsula could be achieved solely by political and diplomatic means,” Peskov said.

Australian Copts voice hope for brighter future as Pope Tawadros II continues outreach

At a Coptic Christian church service in Sydney, the parishioners follow the same liturgy they have for centuries.

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One of the world’s most ancient churches, Coptic Christianity broke from other branches of Christianity in 451 AD, with differing beliefs about the nature of Christ.

“We say that his divinity never parted from his humanity for a single moment, or a twinkling of an eye, actually acknowledging both natures exist in Christ,” Coptic priest Father Joshua said.

The Pope describes his church as a church of martyrs, but its priests admit there is also growing fear.

Nehad Kelada lived through that fear.

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Back home in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, she was an accountant – until the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power in 2013.

“I couldn’t live my life freely, even at work I couldn’t live freely,” she said. “I was scared for my life.”

She says followers of the Brotherhood still pose a threat in Eygpt – and now there is also the threat from IS.

Members of Coptic congregations at churches say they feel safe here in Australia, but many also say they worry about family and friends back home.

Australian Coptic Christians at a church service in Sydney (SBS)SBS

Former immigration minister Philip Ruddock has been embraced by Australia’s Coptic Christian community.

He was behind the first programme for their migration to Australia in 1997.

“The problems are more dynamic now, particularly when you’ve had the firebombing of churches and some of the terrorist acts that have occurred,” he said.

“And one of the difficulties Egypt has had to deal with is containing that sort of violence. Not all of Copts – 10 million out of 90 million – are going to be able to be resettled around the world.”

Over the coming days, Pope Tawadros II will travel to Wollongong, Melbourne and Canberra, where he will meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.