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Quintana’s Vuelta dream comes crashing down

The Colombian misjudged a corner on the descent of Alto del Moncayo, flipping over his bike as it broke apart in the barrier, causing injury to his left foot, knee and back.

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He spent nearly two minutes on the ground before he remounted his bike, finishing the stage in 82nd, more than four minutes behind stage winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

The Giro d’Italia champion now sits 11th overall, 3min 25sec behind new race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

“I was feeling great in the uphill, but at that point of the descent my bike simply did not brake enough,” said Quintana.

“Before the turn, I was tightening my shoe, which was a little bit loose, but I think that didn’t have an effect on my crash. The thing is that I kept breaking for quite long, but it wasn’t enough because the bike didn’t stop, and I crashed.

“Fortunately, I could avoid having a bigger crash and I did not hurt myself really badly. I’m hurting my left ankle and I also have blows all over my body, but I hope it’s nothing serious. This is cycling. I lost some time and I might be switching to help out Alejandro (Valverde) so we can conquer the overall podium.”

Bittersweet day for Movistar

While it was a bad day for Quintana, his team-mate Valverde put in a strong time trial performance to finish 22 seconds behind Contador to move into second overall.

“I’m happy with myself. We’re staying in second place, really close to Alberto, but it’s a bittersweet taste with Nairo’s crash,” said Valverde.

“I didn’t know anything, I was told when I finished. It’s awful to have such a crash, when you’re in the lead, clocking good times. Being the two of us closer in the overall would have been better for our interests, but the only important thing now is that Nairo is still racing. I’m sure he will recover well, even though I’m told it was quite a blow. We’ll keep fighting to do great in this Vuelta.

“Losing so few seconds to Alberto and finishing before (Chris) Froome and Purito (Joaquim Rodriguez) is fantastic. I know tomorrow’s finish: it’s a demanding climb, really tough, and I just hope legs respond well. It seems like it’s going to be good weather up there and I hope it plays on my favour.”

Meet North Korea’s celebrity defector

The smiling appearance of the 20-year-old on talent and chat show ‘On My Way to Meet You’ gives little away about her traumatising life in North Korea and her family’s desperate escape.

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“I was nine years old or ten. Next to the school, some street kids were there, and they were dying there,” she tells Mary Ann Jolley from SBS’s Dateline about life during the great famine in the late 1990s.

Her father was sentenced to 17 years in a labour camp for smuggling goods to China to make ends meet. He was beaten daily, but during a brief reprieve for medical treatment, Yeon-mi and her parents decided to escape.

They bribed guards to cross into China and hid from authorities, but then her father was diagnosed with cancer and given just three months to live.

“What can I do with his body after he dies? As a North Korean defector, there is no way to even comfortably die. No funeral too,” she says.

After burying her father alone in the mountains in the dead of night, Yeon-mi and her mother walked across the Gobi Desert for 24 hours in freezing temperatures to reach Mongolia.

“I saw my father’s death. It was not human, he was less better than an animal,” she says. “I didn’t want the end of my life to be like that.”

Her determination eventually saw them reach Seoul after a two year journey, and Yeon-mi vowed to speak out about the regime in the North, despite the dangers and continuing threats.

“For me it’s really dangerous, but you cannot hide the truth, they are criminals,” she tells Mary Ann.

Yeon-mi joined the chat show three years ago and has since become a familiar face. It regularly mocks the regime in the North.

“The show is actually telling the truth about North Korea,” she says. “And of course North Korea itself is propaganda and they don’t want to let people know the truth.”

She’s now also working as a reporter and newsreader for New Focus International, which has received threats from North Korea for its reporting of events there, such as the execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

But family time is important to Yeon-mi too, especially with her older sister Eunmi.

She escaped from North Korea first, but Yeon-mi and her mother didn’t know she had survived the journey until an emotional TV appeal helped bring them back together seven years later.

“I couldn’t speak. I was so happy but shocked,” Eunmi says about them being reunited. She’s still traumatised by her experience and unable to talk about much of what happened to her.

“What can you say if you didn’t see [each other] for seven years?” Yeon-mi says. “There are no words for that. Just seeing each other and holding hands together.”

See the full story on tonight’s Dateline at 9.30pm on SBS ONE.

Last 8 Aussies eye US PGA Tour finale

Australia’s eight remaining contenders aim to cap a huge year with a record delegation in the US PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship.

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Going into the penultimate playoff series event, the BMW Championship, in Colorado on Thursday, 70 players remain in the season-long quest for the FedEx Cup and its whopping $US10 million bonus.

Just 30 will advance to the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week.

Since the FedEx Cup playoff system began in 2007, Australia’s best representation at the Tour Championship was five in 2011, and only two players made it in each of the last years.

The Australians have been buoyed by their resurgence this year, with Adam Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Matt Jones, Steve Bowditch and John Senden all notching tour victories.

There are three distinct groups among them as those six players plus Marc Leishman and Steve Bowditch line up at Cherry Hills Country Club this week for their last chance to get inside the top 30.

Day (seventh in the standings), Scott (13th) and Senden (16th) are locked for Atlanta already with just their seeding up in the air, relieving some pressure and allowing free-swinging thoughts.

“The goal is to win (this week) because that will make it easier to win the FedEx Cup,” Day said.

“If you get into the top five (in the standings) going to Atlanta then you know a win there will win it all so that’s the goal.”

Ogilvy (24th) and Appleby (26th) are likely safe after recent runner-up finishes but cannot be certain – a precarious place for two veterans hoping to rebuild tbheir major championship status.

Just getting to the Tour Championship brings exemptions into the Masters, US Open and British Open in 2015.

For Ogilvy the carrot is Augusta National after missing the last two Masters while Appleby, a veteran of 55 majors, has missed the last 15 majors in a row.

“I don’t feel safe. I definitely have to perform,” Appleby said.

“A win is the ultimate but a top 10 would be nice.

“I won’t be watching the projections. There is too much stress involved.

“If it happens for me this week it will be because I make it happen.

“I have been dreaming of making the Tour Championship and getting back to the majors but I know I am not there yet.”

Bowditch (45th), Leishman (47th) and Jones (67th) are well aware nothing short of a huge week, probably top five or better, will give them a chance to progress.

“We don’t really have an option other than go for it,” Bowditch said.

“But it is a golf course you can get a run going so it should be fun.

“My goal at the start of the year was to try to get in the top 30 and I still have a chance so I’m looking forward to it.”

Russia and NATO square off over Ukraine

Russia has declared NATO a major “threat” after the Western military alliance announced plans to reinforce defences in eastern Europe because of the Kremlin’s perceived stoking of war in Ukraine.

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Moscow’s surprise declaration of a shift in its military doctrine came just ahead of a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday at which beleaguered Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will lobby US President Barack Obama for military support.

Obama will deliver a message of firm NATO support for its newest members from the former Soviet empire when he visits the tiny Baltic state of Estonia on Wednesday.

The Russian national security council’s deputy secretary Mikhail Popov said NATO’s plan for new fast-response units in eastern Europe was “evidence of the desire of US and NATO leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia”.

Popov said he had “no doubt that the question of the approach of NATO members’ military infrastructure to our border” will be taken into consideration as “one of the foreign military threats to Russia” when the country’s defence doctrine is updated later this year.

Popov added that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine – a document that already permits the use of nuclear weapons in case of grave national danger – would focus more on overcoming NATO and its new European anti-missile defence system.

Ukraine on Tuesday reported losing 15 more soldiers in the latest day of clashes with Russian-backed insurgents whose ongoing offensive threatens to stamp Moscow’s permanent hold on the eastern half of the ex-Soviet state.

The United Nations’ refugee agency said on Tuesday that the fighting has driven more than half a million people from their homes in addition to claiming an estimated 2600 lives.

The Ukrainian president’s appeal for European military assistance in the face of Russia’s alleged dispatch of crack troops into the conflict zone was dismissed at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels at the weekend.

But NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the 28-nation alliance would endorse the establishment of a force of “several thousand troops” that could be deployed within “very few days” to meet any perceived Russian military movements in eastern Europe.

The New York Times reported the rapid-response unit would be supported by new NATO members such as Poland that were once Soviet satellites but now view Russian President Vladimir Putin with fear and mistrust.

Yet the plan would be of no immediate help to Ukraine’s government because since the country is not a member of NATO – a point stressed by Obama in his rejection of calls to involve the US military.

London’s Royal Institute for International analyst Affairs Robin Niblett added that “any type of overt military intervention (by NATO) is highly unlikely” because many members – including Russian trade partners Italy and Austria – do not see a sufficient threat in the Kremlin.

Poroshenko convened his national security and defence council late on Monday to discuss mounting setbacks in the mostly Russian-speaking regions in which the army had until recently put rebels on the back foot.

“The situation is difficult but the Ukrainian fighting spirit is stronger than that of the occupants,” Poroshenko said in reference to more than 1000 Russian soldiers that NATO believes the Kremlin has sent across the Ukrainian border in recent days.

Moscow on Monday again denied either sending or planning to deploy troops into eastern Ukraine. Officials dismiss allegations that Russian intervention is being used to carve a land corridor from Russia to the Crimean peninsula – another Ukrainian region which Russia took over in March.

Separatist commanders have termed Russian soldiers in their ranks as having come while off-duty or on vacation.

That admission prompted Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to declared that Kiev would abandon its non-aligned status and seek NATO membership in the coming years – a development Russia would intensely oppose.

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov has said that Putin had recently told European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in private of Russia’s ability to capture Kiev in two weeks if it wished.

High Court challenge to Queensland anti-bikie laws

(Transcripts from SBS World News Radio)

A High Court challenge to the Queensland’s controversial anti-bike laws has begun in Brisbane and outcome will have national consequences.

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The laws ban criminal groups associating in public and carry lengthy prison sentences.

Queensland government says the laws have cut crime, but opponents say they undermine the courts, and deny freedom of speech and natural justice.

Stefan Armbruster reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

It’s a rumble at the highest level⦠bikies versus the Queensland government in the High Court.

The United Motorcycle Council of Queensland represents 17 clubs and has a one million dollar fighting fund.

Spokesman Mick Kosenko says they are arguing for the right of freedom to associate and that the laws poses a threat to everyone.

“It’s every Queenslander. and there’s nothing about any group or anything, if there’s three or more people, they don’t have to be in a club, association or anything, and once they get rid of the motorcyclists they’ll just move on to the next group, and the next group.”

Gatherings of three or more people of an organisation can be charged, and the onus is then on them to prove their group has no criminal intent.

Under the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment, or VLAD, laws those prosecuted face an additional mandatory sentence of up to and extra 25 years if convicted.

They were rushed through parliament in October after a brawl between bikie gangs at a Gold Coast restaurant.

The Queensland government said it was drawing a “line in the sand”.

The bikies argue the laws are unconstitutional, undermine the judiciary and freedom of speech.

“There’s a lof of people who can’t get on with their lives. That’s why we brought it forward because to help all the people living who are living in limbo with these ridiculous laws, a lot of whom haven’t got criminal records and have never been criminals in their lives but are being persecuted by the government.”

The government was not available for comment while the case is before court but has said the laws are a needed for the war on organised crime.

The outcome of the hearing is being closely watched by the Commonwealth and the states and Territories.

The High Court’s decision will determine how far they can go with similar legislation.

The seven High Court judges are expected to hand down a quick decision at the end of the case, with eleven prosecutions on hold because of this challenge.