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Australian officials fly to Paris to discuss saving money

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's foreign department, searching for ways to shrink its spending, flew 23 bureaucrats business class from Canberra to Paris to attend a three-day conference and discuss ways to save money, officials said Thursday. A Senate committee quizzed senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials on whether a video conference or a less expensive city had been considered as cheaper alternatives when the department was trying to reduce its spending by 12.6 million Australian dollars ($9.7 million) a year. The official who chose Paris, John Fisher, told the committee the agenda of the in-house conference in September included ways to save money. "We flew people to Paris to talk about how we might do things in a more effective way," Fisher told the committee. Fairfax Media on Thursday conservatively estimated the …

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Guinness declares massive Michigan ice cream sundae a record

LUDINGTON, Mich. — Guinness World Records says a roughly half-mile-long ice cream sundae that was gobbled up in Michigan this June was the longest ever. The Ludington Daily News reports that the sundae measuring a little over 2,970 feet in length and fed thousands of people lining eight blocks in the Lake Michigan town. House of Flavors organized the ice cream event in Ludington, 100 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. According to Guinness, the previous longest ice-cream dessert was created in 2015 in Manurewa, New Zealand, and it was 1,957 feet and 1 inch. Ludington's record may be short-lived, however. MLive.com reports Moo-ville Creamery and others in Nashville, Michigan, tried to break the record Sept. 17, making a dessert that spanned 3,656 feet.

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Police: Man thanks trooper in letter after speeding ticket

EWING TOWNSHIP, N.J. — New Jersey State Police say the general manager of a company that operates radio stations complimented a trooper in a letter after he was ticketed for speeding. The agency wrote on its Facebook page Thursday that Dave Coskey praised the trooper's attitude after he was pulled over on the Garden State Parkway on Sunday. Coskey says Trooper 7515 could've given him the ticket and walked away, but instead explained that they're trying to save lives, not just hand out tickets. Coskey says the trooper told him they want people to slow down because there have been some deadly accidents recently on that section of the parkway. The former head of marketing for the Borgata casino and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers says the trooper then escorted him off the shoulder and …

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Major California river adding key ingredient: water

FRESNO, Calif. — A decade ago, environmentalists and the federal government agreed to revive a 150-mile stretch of California's second-longest river, an ambitious effort aimed at allowing salmon again to swim up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to spawn. A major milestone is expected by the end of the month, when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the stretch of the San Joaquin River will be flowing year-round for the first time in more than 60 years. But the goal of restoring native salmon remains far out of reach. The original plan was to complete the task in 2012. Now, federal officials expect it will occur in 2022. And the government's original estimate of $800 million has ballooned to about $1.7 billion. "I think we all had hoped we'd be further along," said Doug …

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Belgium has Monday to end EU-Canada deal impasse

BRUSSELS — If Belgium cannot break a deadlock over the European Union's landmark free trade deal with Canada by Monday night, EU leaders will consider canceling a signing ceremony scheduled for later in the week, two officials with knowledge of the negotiations said. The officials told The Associated Press on Sunday that EU leaders plan to have telephone talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about canceling the Thursday summit if Belgium's support for the deal isn't secured by the deadline. The officials asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the talks. The deal needs unanimity among the 28 EU nations, and Belgium needs unanimity among its regions. The francophone region of Wallonia, population 3.5 million, has been the lone holdout and refused to approve the trade pact. During the past week, …

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AT&T’s $85.4B deal for Time Warner: A new bet on synergy

NEW YORK — AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner represents a new bet on synergy between companies that distribute information and entertainment to consumers and those that produce it. The acquisition would combine a telecom giant that owns a leading cellphone business, DirecTV and an internet service with the company behind HBO, CNN, and some of the world's most popular entertainment, including "Game of Thrones," the "Harry Potter" franchise and professional basketball. It's the latest big media acquisition by a major cable or phone company — such as Comcast's 2011 purchase of NBC Universal — and aimed at shoring up businesses upended by the internet. Regulators would have to sign off on the deal, no certain thing. The prospect of another media giant on the horizon has already drawn fire on …

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Prince Albert buys Philadelphia home of mom Grace Kelly

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia home where Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly grew up and accepted a marriage proposal from Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1955 is now in the hands of the royal family. Her son, Prince Albert of Monaco, has confirmed to People Magazine that he was the recent purchaser of the six-bedroom, 2.5-story Colonial home in the city's East Falls section. He said in an interview on the magazine's website posted Friday that the house is "very special to our family." He said he was happy to have saved it "from a near certain death or development." The property last made headlines in 2014 when its 81-year-old former owner pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges for keeping cats and dogs in unsanitary conditions. Officials with the Pennsylvania Society for the …

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Bill Murray to receive humor prize at Kennedy Center

WASHINGTON — Bill Murray will get the sort of attention he doesn't usually seek out when he's honored with the nation's top prize for humor. The actor will be at the Kennedy Center on Sunday to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. David Letterman, Emma Stone and Sigourney Weaver will be among those on hand to celebrate his career. Murray got his break on "Saturday Night Live" and starred in some of the most successful comedies of the 1980s and 1990s before transitioning into more dramatic roles. He was nominated for an Oscar for his soulful turn as a washed-up actor in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." He's become a folk hero in the social-media era by turning up unannounced at wedding receptions, kickball games and house parties. He's also a …

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Cubs back in World Series

Chicago— The Chicago Cubs won their first National League pennant since 1945 and are a step closer to ending a 108-year World Series drought after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 on Saturday to clinch a 4-2 victory in the NL Championship Series. Chicago's Kyle Hendricks outpitched Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw while Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early at Wrigley Field. The pennant drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off wild celebrations among the success-starved fans. The Cubs will open the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday. The Indians haven't won it since 1948. “This city deserves it so much,'' Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. …

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GOP strategists: Clinton is in good shape with 3 weeks left

Des Moines, Iowa  — With roughly three weeks to Election Day, Republican strategists nationwide publicly concede Hillary Clinton has a firm grip on the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House — and may be on her way to an even more decisive victory over Donald Trump. “He is on track to totally and completely melting down,’’ said Republican pollster Whit Ayers, who is advising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign. Like many Republican strategists, he was willing to speak publicly about the GOP nominee’s rough road ahead at the end of an unprecedented campaign. Things can change before Election Day. There is one more presidential debate, and Trump has rallied before. His core supporters remain strongly committed. But along with indicators such as polling, campaign travel, staffing, and advertising, …

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