Trump strolls into APEC leaders meeting, as TPP firms up without US

Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached an agreement Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that was in doubt after President Donald Trump abandoned it.

However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries' leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.

A statement issued in the early hours Saturday said an accord was reached on "core elements" of the 11-member pact.

The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.

"Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership," the 11 nations said in a statement.

Japan's delegate to the talks, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, told reporters that disagreements that cropped up Friday had been resolved in five hours of talks that stretched late into the night.

"We have confirmed there was no mistake about us having reached a basic agreement," Motegi said.

Asked by reporters if the deal had the support of Canada, whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not show up for the meeting planned for Friday, Motegi said "yes."

"Canada did agree, and that means the 'top' also agreed," he said.

Japanese media reported that the Japanese and Vietnamese co-chairs of the ministerial meetings would hold a news conference Saturday on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which wraps up later Saturday.

Despite enthusiasm for sticking with the plan following the US withdrawal under Trump in January, criticism over various issues persists.

Detractors of the TPP say it favors corporate interests over labor and other rights. Trudeau said days before arriving in Danang that he would not be rushed into signing an agreement that did not suit Canada's interests.

The US president told an APEC business conference that "we are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore."

He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying "I am always going to put America first."

Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to US involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.

APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments would eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.


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Pauline Hanson says girl, nine, who refused to stand for Australian national anthem at school deserves 'kick up the backside'

Pauline Hanson says a Queensland "brat" who refused to stand for the Australian national anthem should be kicked out of school.

Kenmore South State School grade four student Harper Nielsen, aged nine, was given detention and threatened with suspension for not standing when Advance Australia Fair was played in assembly.

She said she believes the lyrics "we are young" marginalises Indigenous people.

"The reason why I don't sing it or stand is because Advance Australia Fair means advance White Australia," she told The Courier-Mail.

"When it says we are young it completely ignores the fact that indigenous culture was here for over 50,000 years before colonisation."
Harper has the support of her "proud" dad Mark.

"She's shown incredible bravery in wanting to stick to what she believes in and to make a stance for what she believes is right", he told ABC radio today.

But the stance has angered Senator Hanson, who posted a video on Facebook calling for Harper to be kicked out of school.

"Here we have a kid whose been brainwashed and I tell you what, I'd give her a kick up the backside," the One Nation leader said.

"This kid is headed down the wrong path and I blame the parents for it, for encouraging this.

"No. Take her out of the school."

Senator Hanson said there was support for the anthem amongst the indigenous community as sporting stars regularly stood for the anthem.

"I'm angry about this. I'm proud of the Australian flag and the national anthem as everyone should be and so was Cathy Freeman," she said.

"We were all proud of her, her cultural background, the Aboriginality, and the whole fact that she carried the two flags.

"She stood at the podium with the national anthem being played. Have they told this kid that?

"If it's good enough for Cathy Freeman, Johnathon Thurston, and Warren Mundine to stand for the National anthem, it should be good enough for this nine-year- old brat."

Shadow education minister Jarrod Bleijie echoed Senator Hanson's words, saying on Twitter she deserved suspension if she continued her protest.

"Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem. Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat," he tweeted.


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US woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, kept her captive for nine months, to be released

A woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart as a teenager from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 and hold her captive will be released from prison next week.

The surprise move a comes after authorities determined they had miscalculated the time 72-year-old Wanda Barzee previously served in federal custody.

Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping Smart and helping keep her captive for nine months before Smart was found and rescued.

Utah Board of Pardons and Parole spokesman Greg Johnson said Barzee will be freed on Sept. 19. She will be under federal supervision for five years.

Smart, now 30, didn't immediately have comment.

The board said previously that Barzee would be released in January 2024 after it denied her an early parole following a hearing that she chose not to attend.

Wanda Barzee helped kidnap Smart from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. Source: Associated Press

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Watch: Jacinda Ardern says Simon Bridges is 'jealous' of Government during heated exchange over starting wage

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said National leader Simon Bridges is "jealous" of the Government, during a heated exchange over the starting wage in Parliament's Question Time today.

Mr Bridges was seeking clarification on whether the starting wage (also known as the youth rate) would be abolished in October, after he said a press statement from Iain Lees-Galloway in December stated this would be the case.

Ms Ardern didn't answer the question directly, instead giving a passionate defence of her Government's processes.

"It's clear that we have established policy between this coalition Government that is set out in the public domain, everything else goes through a Cabinet process.

"Now I know the member continues to be jealous that he is not on this side of the House in the position to make the changes that this Government has made and that we have achieved in one year more than that government achieved in nine, but we stick to a process," she said.

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett could then be heard saying that "the fairy dust has settled" before Mr Bridges continued to press the Prime Minister.

"So when Iain Lees-Galloway said in December in a ministerial press statement that we will abolish starting out wages by October 2018 was that just a personal commitment?" he asked.

Ms Ardern answered again that the coalition Government follows a process, saying Mr Bridges might find it hard to understand how three parties can work together.

"So can we no longer believe ministerial press statements unless they are signed off by Mr Peters?" Mr Bridges replied.

"No, ridiculous," was Ms Ardern's brief response.

The starting-out wage applies solely to workers aged between 16 and 19 and who are entering the workforce for the first time and is currently set at $13.20 per hour.


 


California woman allegedly invents fake husband to scam thousands of dollars

A woman in California is suspected of inventing a fake firefighter husband to scam donors out of thousands of dollars and supplies.

Ashley Bemis is accused of using social media to get donations which she says were for firefighters battling recent deadly wildfires in the US state.

Police say she used a Facebook group to reach out for help for her fake firefighter husband and his colleagues.

Ms Bemis then allegedly pocketed cash and sold items that were donated to line her own pockets.

Police say the money and goods total around $US11,000 worth.

Ms Bemis has not been charged.