Slick Murray downs Kyrgios as title expectations grow

LONDON Andy Murray saw off the mercurial challenge of Australian Nick Kyrgios with little fuss on Monday, before just as smoothly playing down growing expectations that a second Wimbledon title is his for the taking.The second-seeded Scot's straight sets win over a dangerous opponent maintained his standing, following the shock third round exit of world number one Novak Djokovic, as the bookies' odds-on favorite to lift the Challenge Cup again on Sunday.Murray, who in 2013 beat Djokovic to became the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936, has finished runner-up to the Serbian in both of this year's grand slams in France and Australia.On Monday he reached his ninth consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final, hanging on to Kyrgios's coat-tails for much of a pulsating first set before the Australian lost focus to concede the second and third sets tamely in a 7-5 6-1 6-4 defeat.Murray has not yet dropped a set -- but neither has Roger Federer, who beat the Scot in last year's semi-final.The presence of the Swiss seven-times champion looms large on the other side of the draw, which goes a long way toward explaining why the thought of lifting the trophy again has yet to enter Murray's head. PASSING THE TESTDescribing Monday's win as "very good", the Briton said his only focus was on his next match, a quarter-final against French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga."I know the next one is a very tough match against Tsonga. He's a really, really good grass court player, very, very dangerous," Murray told reporters. "I'm aware I'll have to be playing at my highest level to win." For much of Monday's first set on a packed Centre Court, Murray played second fiddle to 15th seed Kyrgios, who thudded down serves at close to 140 mph that the world number two struggled to reach let alone control.Murray's serve, meanwhile, was misfiring and, under darkening skies and roared on by a partisan crowd, he had to dig deep to stay on terms with the Australian. The set and the match turned in the 12th game, when a combination of Kyrgios errors and two inspired Murray backhands presented the Scot with three break points. Kyrgios saved the first two with booming serves but Murray converted the third.Thereafter Kyrgios went walkabout, the Briton breaking him twice in a second set that flew by in 26 minutes. He broke once more in the third, closing out the contest with an ace on his third match point.The Australian, who described his performance after the first set as "pretty pathetic", has now -- in common with a multitude of Britons -- hitched his wagon to the Murray camp."I hope (Murray wins)... I hope so, definitely. I think he's definitely got a great chance," Kyrgios told reporters. (Reporting by John Stonestreet; editing by Ken Ferris)

Read more

Iceland stun England as Euro dream continues

NICE, France Iceland pulled off one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history when they stunned abject England 2-1 on Monday, leading Roy Hodgson to quit and sending the tiny nation into a quarter-final against hosts France. Although the soccer pedigrees of the two countries could not be more different, Iceland looked the better team in just about every aspect of the game and fully deserved to extend their dream run on their first tournament appearance.After falling behind to a fourth-minute Wayne Rooney penalty they levelled almost immediately through Ragnar Sigurdsson and struck again in the 18th with a shot by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.A ponderous England never looked remotely capable of finding a way back into the game and even at the end when they were reduced to launching long balls into the box, Iceland dealt with everything comfortably.“It feels fantastic to come here as an underdog and perform in this way," said Iceland joint-coach Lars Lagerback, who also claimed two wins and four draws against England in his days as Sweden manager.Pundits were quick to rank England's defeat alongside that against the amateurs of the United States in the 1950 World Cup but such a judgement conveniently overlooks the progress the Icelanders have made in recent seasons, not least in beating the Netherlands home and away to get to France in the first place.It also fails to take into account England's miserable European Championship record, where they have won only one knockout match, on penalties at home to Spain in 1996.Hodgson, who steered the team to 10 straight wins in qualifying, duly became the latest in a long line of England managers to fall on his sword after a failure to get to the business end when it really matters."Now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of a hungry and extremely talented group of players," Hodgson said, reading a prepared statement. "They have done fantastically, and done everything asked of them," he added in a bizarre account of yet another failure to perform at a major tournament.Hodgson, 68, then refused to take further questionsSHORT LEAD It all looked so different for England at the start when Raheem Sterling was hauled down by keeper Hannes Halldorsson, allowing Rooney to smash them ahead from the penalty spot on his 115th appearance, matching David Beckham's outfield record.The lead lasted less than two minutes, though, as Iceland, scored via an Aron Gunnarsson long throw, just as they had predicted. It was flicked on by Kari Arnason to an unmarked Ragnar Sigurdsson to sweep home.If England's defending was bad for that goal it was disastrous for the second as Iceland were allowed time and space on the edge of the box to set up Sigthorsson for a low shot that Joe Hart should have saved but merely took the power off as it rolled over the line.England looked shell-shocked and spent the rest of the half struggling to make any inroads, their front men and attacking midfielders static, and were booed off by their own fans.England threw on midfielder Jack Wilshere for the second half and then striker Jamie Vardy but the team's passing was awful and their movement sluggish. Harry Kane, the Premier League's leading scorer last season, summed up the poor quality on show when he took three free kicks and launched each one high into the stands without a team mate even close to connecting with the ball. The final whistle produced extraordinary scenes as the entire Iceland squad and coaches sprinted to the corner of the pitch to celebrate ecstatically with their fans.They can now look forward to facing France with the prize for the winner being a semi-final against Germany or Italy."Everyone started to run towards the fans so I did that too and then I flipped out completely," said Ragnar Sigurdsson."This is the biggest thing everyone in the squad has experienced. I don’t know how big it is, but it’s damn big."In contrast England's players sank to the turf in despair, with a deluge of jeers, boos and whistles raining down from the fans all around them, finally being encouraged to leave the pitch to a chant of "You're not fit to wear the shirt." (Editing by Ken Ferris)

Read more

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Read more

Singing dune draws visitors to Kazakh steppe

ALMATY Rising incongruously above the steppes of southeastern Kazakhstan is a structure as famed for the myths that surround as for the sound it produces -- a single, singing dune.Located between the folds of the Tian Shan mountains near the Chinese border, the 150-metre-high by three-kilometre-long dune generates a low-pitched, organ-like rumble in dry weather.Before physicists established that the sound came from sand grains rubbing against each other, legends about its origins abounded, some claiming the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan was buried beneath it.The sand hill is one of the main attractions of the Altynemel national park some 180 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Kazakhstan's commercial hub Almaty, The park also features volcanic mountains, millennia-old burial sites of the rulers of the Saka, an ancient nomadic tribe, and numerous wild animals including goitered gazelles known for their lightning-fast, bounding gait.Altynemel is adjacent to another national park, Charyn, set up around a 154-kilometer-long canyon that travelers do not notice until they are nearly on top of it. The part frequented by tourists is called the Valley of Castles, where some rocks are shaped like the towers of a mediaeval fortress. Click (reut.rs/25Zvnzf) for a Reuters photo essay on the parks. (Reporting by Shamil Zhumatov; Additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by John Stonestreet)

Read more

College dorms a new front in U.S. battle over transgender rights

BOSTON As lawmakers across the United States battle over whether to allow transgender Americans to use public restrooms that match their gender identities, universities are scrambling to ensure that dorms meet federal standards.At a time of year when the nation's 2,100 residential colleges and universities are sorting out student housing assignments, they also are poring over a May letter from the Obama administration that thrusts them into the national debate on transgender rights.Known as the "dear colleague" letter, it makes clear that federal law protects transgender students' right to live in housing that reflects their gender identity.Schools that fail to provide adequate housing to transgender students could face lawsuits or the loss of any federal funding they rely on.Although hundreds of universities had begun to offer gender-inclusive housing in response to student demand in recent years, many are now reviewing or expediting their plans so they can provide the option to incoming students for the first time this fall.The policies are intended not only to accommodate transgender students, university officials say, but to help siblings, gay students who want to live with straight friends of the opposite gender or simply groups comfortable with mixed-gender housing.The May letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice invoked Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds."Title IX and the 'dear colleague' letters make all of us, all institutions, more accountable for students who may be on the margins," said Darryl Holloman, dean of students at Georgia State University, which offered gender-inclusive housing options for the first time in the 2015-2016 academic year.'ONLY A MATTER OF TIME' There are no official U.S. statistics on the number of colleges that offer gender-inclusive housing, although a count by Campus Pride, a non-profit that focuses on supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in U.S. higher education, found it could be as low as one in 10.The author of that study, Genny Beemyn, director of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Stonewall Center, acknowledged the count, which shows just 203 universities, may underestimate the number of schools that offer gender-inclusive housing."More and more schools are grappling with it," Beemyn said. "It's only a matter of time until this becomes a much bigger issue."Universities in the Northeast and along the West Coast have been quickest to allow gender-inclusive housing, with those in the South and religiously affiliated schools least likely to do so, according to observers, including Demoya Gordon, transgender rights project attorney with Lambda Legal, an LGBT rights advocacy group.The Association of College and University Housing Officers-International has seen an increase in the number of questions it gets about transgender housing, said spokesman James Baumann. "It is certainly something that has gained momentum," Baumann said. "When I first started 10 years ago the questions was, 'Should we?' And now the question is, 'How can we?'"The same letter that has universities examining their transgender housing policies sparked a broader fight by telling U.S. public grammar and high schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identities.Thirteen U.S. states joined a lawsuit accusing the Obama administration of overreaching, attempting to add transgender protections to a 1972 law that never mentioned the subject.LESS OPPOSITION The university moves have been less controversial in part because the population affected is one of the segments of society most comfortable with transgender issues.Some 57 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds told a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken April 14 through May 3 that they believed people should use public restrooms that match the gender with which they identify. That is a far higher percentage than the 40 percent of Americans of all ages who held that view. The poll included responses from 6,723 people and has a credibility interval of 1.4 percentage points.Few students are choosing gender-inclusive housing. At Georgia Tech's Atlanta campus, 42 out of some 4,100 students housed in dorms sought it last year.When Johns Hopkins University first offered it in the 2014-2015 academic year, 30 out of some 2,500 students enrolled, a number that doubled to 60 the following year."There are certainly some transgender students for whom it matters a lot but if it's a gay man whose best friend is a lesbian and they decide they want to live together, this is an option," said Demere Woolway, director of LGBTQ life at the Baltimore university.College officials interviewed also emphasized they have no plans to phase out traditional gender-segregated housing."We have students ... who want to maintain spaces where they are with people who have the same gender identity," said Elizabeth Lee Agosto, senior associate dean of student affairs at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, which has offered gender-inclusive housing since 2007. "It's important to have the full spectrum." (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)

Read more
Older PostNewer Post