Djokovic, Federer, Serena on Friday duty at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer can take a step closer to a Wimbledon semi-final duel when they battle for places in the last-16 Friday.Defending champion and top seed Djokovic, bidding for a third successive Wimbledon title and fourth in total, takes…

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer can take a step closer to a Wimbledon semi-final duel when they battle for places in the last-16 Friday.

Defending champion and top seed Djokovic, bidding for a third successive Wimbledon title and fourth in total, takes on America's Sam Querrey.

Victory will give the Serb a 31st successive Grand Slam win taking him level with Rod Laver on the all-time list, six behind the record set by Don Budge in 1938.

Djokovic has an 8-1 career record over the 28-year-old Querrey who has only reached the fourth round on one occasion, back in 2010.

Third seed Federer, the seven-time champion, saw off world number 772 Marcus Willis in the second round and Friday faces another British player, 91st-ranked Daniel Evans.

Federer is looking to clinch his 150th win on grass courts.

Evans, 28, hopes to become the first British man other than Andy Murray to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam since Tim Henman made the semi-finals at the 2004 US Open.

"It's not a day out for me. It's a good opportunity. I'm taking it seriously," Evans said.

"He's not a normal guy obviously. It would be stupid to say it's not a special occasion to play him."

Centre Court action gets underway with Swiss fourth seed Stan Wawrinka taking on former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro who is steadily rebuilding his career after a series of wrist injuries pushed him to the verge of quitting.

Wawrinka is a former French and Australian Open champion.

The last time two Grand Slam champions met in the second round at Wimbledon was in 2008, when Marat Safin defeated Djokovic.

Del Potro last played on Centre Court in 2013 when he lost an epic semi-final to Djokovic.

Defending women's champion Serena Williams, chasing a seventh Wimbledon title and Open era record-equalling 22nd major, faces fellow American Christina McHale on Centre Court.

Williams has a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over McHale, the world number 65, with both wins coming in 2016.

Sister Venus, a five-time champion and the oldest woman in the draw at 36, is on Court One facing Russia's Darya Kasatkina.

That comes a day after Williams was exiled to Court 18, a decision which led to the American to call for more equality when it came to scheduling.

Also bidding for third round spots on Friday are Australian 15th seed Nick Kyrgios who faces Dustin Brown of Germany in a clash between two men who have both defeated Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in recent years.

Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori meets Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov while two-time women's champion Petra Kvitova takes on Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Fine Artist, Francine Tissot selected by Sundance Cinemas via StudioVox for Gallery Exhibition

StudioVox is a Los Angeles-based online network for creative professionals and artists. StudioVox serves as the chosen submission and curation platform for artwork to be exhibited at Sundance Cinemas’ fine art galleries.

StudioVox is a Los Angeles-based online network for creative professionals and artists. StudioVox serves as the chosen submission and curation platform for artwork to be exhibited at Sundance Cinemas' fine art galleries.

Spain energy giant Abengoa announces debt restructuring deal

Spanish energy giant Abengoa, struggling under a debt pile of nearly nine billion euros, said late Thursday it had reached a preliminary debt restructuring deal with banks and bondholders.A Spanish bankruptcy court in March gave the Seville-based compa…

Spanish energy giant Abengoa, struggling under a debt pile of nearly nine billion euros, said late Thursday it had reached a preliminary debt restructuring deal with banks and bondholders.

A Spanish bankruptcy court in March gave the Seville-based company, one of the world's biggest renewable energy firms, until October 28 to finalise its restructuring plan or face going under.

"Today we are in a position to announce that Abengoa has reached an agreement in principle with the Banking Coordination Committee and a group of bondholders and investors regarding the main terms of the financial restructuring proposed by Abengoa," according to a transcript of an address by Abengoa president Antonio Fornieles to a shareholder meeting.

The banking committee Abengoa reached the agreement with is made up of Spain's Bankia, Banco Popular, Santander, and CaixaBank, as well as France's Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (CACIB).

Under the company's latest plan it would have liquidity needs of 1.2 billion euros, down from the 1.5-1.8 billion euros initially foreseen in March, Fornieles told the shareholder meeting, according to the transcript of his speech released by Abengoa.

The company, which posted losses of 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) last year, is under creditor protection.

The world player in solar and wind power, biofuels and water management has launched a recovery plan that includes the sale of biofuels assets and other non-strategic holdings and job cuts as it seeks to reduce its debt burden which stood at 8.7 billion euros at the end of last year.

A family-owned company founded 75 years ago, Abengoa rose from being a local electrical firm, fixing installations damaged in Spain's 1936-1939 civil war, to a major player in solar energy and other renewables.

But risky bets on biofuels and Spain's cuts to renewable energy subsidies during an economic downturn pushed the company to the edge of bankruptcy.

Wonderkid Sanches leaves Ronaldo in the shade at Euro 2016

Cristiano Ronaldo is one step closer to the holy grail of an international trophy but was overshadowed by the rising star of 18-year-old teammate Renato Sanches as Portugal booked their place in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.Despite still having failed to …

Cristiano Ronaldo is one step closer to the holy grail of an international trophy but was overshadowed by the rising star of 18-year-old teammate Renato Sanches as Portugal booked their place in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Despite still having failed to win a game in 90 minutes, Ronaldo is just two games away from delivering Portugal's first major tournament win as A Selecao scraped past Poland 5-3 on penalties in Marseille.

The quarter-final clash had been billed as a shootout between two of Europe's leading marksmen. Poland's Robert Lewandowski and Ronaldo scored a combined 93 goals for Bayern Munich and Real Madrid this season.

And it was Poland who struck first blood as Lewandowski ended his Euro 2016 drought before Ronaldo had even touched the ball.

Yet, rather than being revived by Ronaldo, Portugal's saviour was Sanches as his energy, class and brilliant goal brought Fernando Santos's men back to life.

Sanches hadn't even started an international match before, but his impact off the bench to earn man-of-the-match from a drab 1-0 win over Croatia in the last 16 forced Santos's hand to release him onto the big stage.

Bayern Munich's move to seal his signature from Benfica for 35 million euros ($38 million) now looks a wise one with the reputation of one of Europe's hottest prospects only enhanced by his showing in France.

By contrast, Ronaldo, in keeping with his displays at Euro 2016, looked slow, surly and riled by some Polish roughhouse tactics.

Sanches, by contrast, had taken control with his power and energy in midfield and got his reward.

A neat one-two with Nani opened up a sight of goal and his left-footed effort arrowed into the corner via a slight deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak.

Ronaldo finally got the space he craved early in the second half, yet still couldn't take advantage.

He fired wildly into the side-netting when played in behind by Nani and failed to even make contact with an embarrassing swipe at nothing but fresh air from another dangerous Nani cross.

Ronaldo's mood only worsened. Joao Mario felt his wrath after a misplaced pass and it encouraged Polish fans to chant the name of his eternal rival for the crown of the world's best player, Lionel Messi.

For all that he still had the moment to seize glory from a frustrating night, only to again fail to make contact with just Lukasz Fabianski to beat five minutes from time.

Another miscontrol let the scrambling Polish defence off the hook minutes into extra-time by which point Ronaldo's rage had turned to resignation.

Indeed the swiftest piece of movement he showed all night was to dodge a pitch invader who made for the Real Madrid star in extra-time.

Ronaldo learned his lesson from Portugal's Euro 2012 heartache against Spain when he opted to take Portugal's final penalty and the shootout never got that far as Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves missed.

He went first and scored. So too did Sanches, the coolness to his strike into the top corner under such pressure betraying his tender age.

In scoring Sanches had passed Ronaldo as the youngest ever scorer in the knockout stages in the Euros.

When Ronaldo nodded home against the Netherlands in the semi-finals of Euro 2004 he was stepping out of the legendary Luis Figo's shadow to become the standard bearer for his country.

At 31 and a meeting with Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale's Wales or Belgium to come in the semis, Ronaldo is unlikely to ever get a better chance for international glory.

He has two hurdles left to overcome, after which the baton will be passed to Sanches.

Canadian teen golf star Henderson grabs LPGA lead

Defending champion and world number two Brooke Henderson fired a seven-under par 65 Thursday to seize a two-stroke lead during the first round of the LPGA Portland Classic.The 18-year-old Canadian, who won last year’s event by eight strokes to become t…

Defending champion and world number two Brooke Henderson fired a seven-under par 65 Thursday to seize a two-stroke lead during the first round of the LPGA Portland Classic.

The 18-year-old Canadian, who won last year's event by eight strokes to become the third-youngest winner in tour history, made a solid start toward repeating as champion with nine birdies against two bogeys at the 6,476-yard Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon.

"It was a good day," she said. "I just really like it here. It suits my eye. Winning here last year, that gives me those extra vibes and extra adrenaline which I think will help as the week goes on."

With the last groups just onto the course, Henderson led American Demi Runas and Colombia's Mariajo Uribe by two strokes with Japan's Ayako Uehara and American Daniela Iacobelli on 68.

Henderson began her round on the back nine with a birdie at the par-5 10th, answered a bogey at the par-3 13th with a birdie on 14 and then closed that side of the course with consecutive birdies.

"I started off with a birdie on the first hole and then nothing was really happening through the first five, just getting things rolling again and being out here," she said.

Henderson, who won her first major title three weeks ago at the Women's PGA Championship by downing top-ranked Lydia Ko in a playoff, birdied the par-3 second hole but took a bogey at the fourth only to respond by reeling off four birdies in a row, two on par-5 holes and the last a 36-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth.

"I was able to make four birdies coming in right in a row to put myself in a good position," Henderson said, admitting she was bothered by the bogey at four.

"I came off a bogey and I knew I had two par-5s which were really gettable," she added. "I kind of put my focus on them and I was able to get them. Then a long birdie putt on eight that I'm very thankful for. Wasn't really expecting it to go in, but I'm very happy."

Fond memories of her 2015 victory made the stroll around the course even happier.

"Just walking around I remember some of the shots I hit," she said. "Some of the pin placements are kind of similar, so trying to think back to what the putts did and how they broke."

"Yeah, a lot of great memories."

Global anti-doping system ‘broken’ – US Olympic Committee chief

Doping in sport extends far beyond the scandal engulfing Russia and is a threat to the entire Olympic movement as the Rio Games approach, the US Olympic Committee chief executive said Thursday.Scott Blackmun, USOC chairman Larry Probst and other offici…

Doping in sport extends far beyond the scandal engulfing Russia and is a threat to the entire Olympic movement as the Rio Games approach, the US Olympic Committee chief executive said Thursday.

Scott Blackmun, USOC chairman Larry Probst and other officials said doping was a major topic at the USOC board meeting this week in Omaha, where the US Olympic swimming trials are under way.

"I think the idea at play here is that the system is broken," Blackmun said. "The system needs to be fixed.

"This is a threat to the very meaning of the Olympic movement and I think that whether it's more independence or more quality around the globe regarding how doping rules are enforced, there's a lot of room for progress."

Probst said he backs the idea floated by International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach of a reimagined global anti-doping agency that would operate independently of sports organizations and would have greater investigative powers than the World Anti-Doping Agency currently enjoys.

"I support that initiative and I would urge all those (Olympic) constituencies to come together sooner rather than later to get on that track," Probst said.

Athletics world governing body the IAAF voted in June to maintain Russia's suspension over evidence of state-sponsored doping in the sport, leaving the door ajar for just a few Russian athletes proven to be clean to compete in Rio in August as neutrals.

WADA has also commissioned an investigation into recent claims made by Russian laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov in The New York Times that anti-doping procedures were subverted at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

If that report confirms systematic doping by Russia in other sports, Blackmun said, he would support further bans of the country's competitors.

"I think we have to wait and see what the commission report says when it comes out in the middle of July," Blackmun said.

"We fully support the actions taken by the IAAF and to the extent that there is evidence that other sports were involved in that, we would certainly hope that other (International Federations) would take similar action to the IAAF."

Certainly the vast majority of swimmers and coaches at the US trials voiced confidence that competitors emerging to represent America in Rio would be clean -- even if they couldn't say the same for those of other countries.

Blackmun and Probst said it's wrong to paint Russia as the only culprits.

"We have our own share of doping problems in the United States," Blackmun said.

Building Your Business With Social Media

For businesses to get on the right social media can be a pretty heavy tasks for both large businesses and for startup businesses. Though it is very important for businesses to know what social media they should be investing their time in.

For businesses to get on the right social media can be a pretty heavy tasks for both large businesses and for startup businesses. Though it is very important for businesses to know what social media they should be investing their time in.

Brazil sacks Olympics anti-doping chief

Brazil has sacked the head of its anti-doping body less than a week after suspension of the one lab due to conduct testing in Rio for the Olympics, the sports ministry said Thursday.Marco Aurelio Klein was to be replaced at the head of the Brazilian ag…

Brazil has sacked the head of its anti-doping body less than a week after suspension of the one lab due to conduct testing in Rio for the Olympics, the sports ministry said Thursday.

Marco Aurelio Klein was to be replaced at the head of the Brazilian agency by former Brazilian Olympic judo champion Rogerio Sampaio.

The agency denied that Klein's departure was linked to the suspension of its Rio de Janeiro laboratory by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) this month, saying the switch is instead due to a change of government amid an impeachment trial against president Dilma Rousseff.

It will be up to Sampaio, who does not have experience in the area, to deal with the visit by officials from the world anti-doping body next week.

WADA announced a week ago it was suspending the Rio lab, prohibiting it from carrying out all anti-doping analyses on urine and blood samples.

The suspension was imposed due to a non-conformity with the International Standard for Laboratories, according to WADA.

Rio will be the first city in South America to host the Olympics from August 5-21.

Residence Inn by Marriott-Pleasanton Welcomes Charmaine Woods as Director of Sales & Marketing

The Residence Inn by Marriott Pleasanton is excited to announce that Charmaine Woods has been added to their team as Director of Sales and Marketing, bringing with her over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, most recently as Director of…

The Residence Inn by Marriott Pleasanton is excited to announce that Charmaine Woods has been added to their team as Director of Sales and Marketing, bringing with her over 25 years' experience in the hospitality industry, most recently as Director of...

PharMedQuest Partners with AltaMed on OC Pride Parade and Festival Outreach

PharMedQuest, in collaboration with AltaMed, participated in the 2016 Orange County Pride Parade and Festival.  Both companies shared a booth, which was partially staffed by PharMedQuest employees Christian Ortiz and Augustin Gomes.

PharMedQuest, in collaboration with AltaMed, participated in the 2016 Orange County Pride Parade and Festival.  Both companies shared a booth, which was partially staffed by PharMedQuest employees Christian Ortiz and Augustin Gomes.

Euro 2016 quarter-final – Portugal beat Poland 5-3 on penalties

Portugal beat Poland 5-3 in a penalty shootout on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.The quarter-final ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and when neither side scored in extra-time, it went to a penalty shootout with Ricardo Quaresma scoring the wi…

Portugal beat Poland 5-3 in a penalty shootout on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

The quarter-final ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and when neither side scored in extra-time, it went to a penalty shootout with Ricardo Quaresma scoring the winning spot kick after Jakub Blaszczykowski's attempt was saved.

UN approves deal for Italy, Netherlands to share Council seat

The UN General Assembly on Thursday elected Italy to the Security Council under a deal that will see the Netherlands take over the seat in a year.The two countries agreed to split the two-year term on the council after five rounds of voting earlier thi…

The UN General Assembly on Thursday elected Italy to the Security Council under a deal that will see the Netherlands take over the seat in a year.

The two countries agreed to split the two-year term on the council after five rounds of voting earlier this week ended with a tie.

Under the deal, Italy will take up the seat on January 1 and then make way for the Netherlands to take over in 2018.

The arrangement is rare but not unprecedented at the United Nations.

The last split term was in 1964-65 between what was then Czechoslovakia and Malaysia.

Italy was elected with 179 votes in the General Assembly, which has 193 member states.

During elections on Tuesday, Kazkahstan was elected to the council for the first time along with Bolivia, Ethiopia and Sweden.

The newly-elected countries will take their place alongside the five permanent council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The other five non-permanent members are: Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Brazil impeachment vote to follow Olympics: official

Legislators will vote on removing Brazil’s suspended president Dilma Rousseff from office just days after the Olympic Games end in Rio, the Senate president said Thursday.The vote will take place between August 25-27 after a final debate, Renan Calheir…

Legislators will vote on removing Brazil's suspended president Dilma Rousseff from office just days after the Olympic Games end in Rio, the Senate president said Thursday.

The vote will take place between August 25-27 after a final debate, Renan Calheiros -- who is overseeing Rousseff's impeachment trial in the upper house -- told journalists in the capital Brasilia.

That will provide a few days' breathing space after the end of the August 5-21 Olympics, the first ever to be held in South America.

The Senate had originally considered August 16 for the impeachment vote before moving the date to August 22, which was also rejected as too close to the Games, amid fears that political tensions would ruin the atmosphere.

Rousseff, 68, was suspended on May 12 in a Senate vote, which followed a similar vote in the lower house. The Senate must next vote by a two thirds majority in order to finally strip her of the presidency.

The leftist leader is accused of breaking budget laws by taking illegal loans to mask the country's true financial state.

She accuses her opponents of attempting to stage a right-wing coup d'etat, saying the accounting maneuvers have long been common practice for Brazilian governments.

Her former vice president, center-right leader Michel Temer, has taken over as acting president. He has acted quickly to move the country away from Rousseff's leftist political platform, saying the sickly economy needs urgent reform.

Horrific conditions in Australia’s refugee centers intended to scare off migrants – doctor

The Australian government is creating unbearable conditions at its offshore processing centers to send a message to other migrants not to come to the country, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, a medical officer, who worked at one of such facilities…

Preview The Australian government is creating unbearable conditions at its offshore processing centers to send a message to other migrants not to come to the country, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, a medical officer, who worked at one of such facilities, told RT.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Neymar agrees new five-year Barcelona deal

Brazilian striker Neymar will sign a new five-year contract with Barcelona this week, his agents said Thursday, ending speculation over his future at the Spanish giants.”The athlete, along with his family, has decided to stay with FC Barcelona and will…

Brazilian striker Neymar will sign a new five-year contract with Barcelona this week, his agents said Thursday, ending speculation over his future at the Spanish giants.

"The athlete, along with his family, has decided to stay with FC Barcelona and will renew his contract for five more years," said NN Consultoria, the agency representing the international forward, 24.

"The contract will be formalised this week. The decision puts an end to speculation about the star's future."

Neymar wrote on Twitter: "I am very happy to continue living this dream. Long live Barca and long live Catalonia!"

The Catalan club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu had earlier rejected rumours over Neymar's possible transfer to another club, with Manchester United among the teams supposedly chasing him.

Neymar was already under contract until 2018 with Barcelona, having transferred in 2013 from Brazil's Santos. That transfer deal has haunted the club because of alleged hidden payments that have sparked legal action.

But the prolific Brazil striker has played brilliantly for the Catalan club as part of a much feared attacking trident alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Speculation had mounted around whether or not Neymar would extend his stay at the Camp Nou or make another lucrative move.

Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, United and Manchester City had been named as possible suitors.

"I read that there are many clubs interested in Neymar. It's normal they are, but Neymar has never said he wants to leave Barca, just the opposite," Bartomeu said.

"Neymar wants to continue at Barca and Barca wants Neymar to continue with us."

McClain gets 10-game NFL ban, Manziel four for substance abuse

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was issued a 10-game ban and free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel was given a four-game suspension Thursday by the NFL for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.McClain would miss the first 10 game…

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain was issued a 10-game ban and free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel was given a four-game suspension Thursday by the NFL for violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

McClain would miss the first 10 games of the upcoming season for Dallas after missing the first four games of the 2015 campaign for violating the same policy. The Cowboys re-signed him for 2016 for $5 million.

Last season, McClain recovered from off-season surgery to make 97 tackles over 11 games with two sacks, nine tackles for loss, 10 quarterback pressures, one interception and three pass breakups.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said when McClain missed a June workout camp that the defender was dealing with a family matter in Alabama.

Dallas has other defenders facing bans as well. Defensive end Randy Gregory will be suspended the first four games and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who led the Cowboys in sacks last season, is appealing a four-game suspension.

Manziel was released by the Cleveland Browns in March after going 2-6 in his eight NFL starts and the four-game ban would be served when he returns to the league, if ever.

The 23-year-old is among only a handful of first-round NFL Draft selections to be cut two years into his rookie contract and could face potentially more roadblocks to an NFL comeback.

Manziel would also face a review under the NFL's personal conduct policy after facing misdemeanor assault charges from his former girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, who accused him of domestic violence during a January incident in Texas, saying he hit her and threatened to kill her.

Manziel is pleading innocent but if a league review finds he committed a violation of the league's domestic abuse policy, he faces a six-game ban on top of the four-game suspension for the substance abuse violation.

Manziel told TMZ he plans to become "completely sober" starting Friday.

The NFL has also imposed a one-game ban against New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for a violation of the NFL's personal-conduct policy. He will miss the Jets' regular-season opener in September against Cincinnati.

Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January stemming from his arrest for driving 143 mph while evading police with a 12-year-old in the car. He was not charged with child endangerment or a drug offense despite the police report indicating officers caught the aroma of marijuana while making the arrest.

Tesla driver killed on ‘autopilot’ mode, probe opened

Tesla said Thursday a driver was killed while using the “autopilot” self-driving mechanism on its Model S electric car, leading to a federal safety investigation.Tesla said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had opened a “prelim…

Tesla said Thursday a driver was killed while using the "autopilot" self-driving mechanism on its Model S electric car, leading to a federal safety investigation.

Tesla said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had opened a "preliminary evaluation" into the performance of Autopilot after the electric car company notified the agency of the fatality.

In a statement, Tesla said it the fatality was "a tragic loss" and was the first such incident with autopilot activated.

"This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles (209 million kilometers) where Autopilot was activated," the company said.

"Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles," it said.

"It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA action is simply a preliminary evaluation to determine whether the system worked according to expectations."

EU asylum for suspected Istanbul attack mastermind repeatedly blocked his extradition to Russia

A Chechen national suspected of being the mastermind behind the deadly Istanbul airport terrorist attack, earlier received refugee status in Austria, which helped him to repeatedly avoid extradition to Russia on terror charges. Read Full …

Preview A Chechen national suspected of being the mastermind behind the deadly Istanbul airport terrorist attack, earlier received refugee status in Austria, which helped him to repeatedly avoid extradition to Russia on terror charges.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Venezuela accuses US of ‘interventionist obsession’

Venezuela’s government on Thursday rejected what it called the United States’ “interventionist obsession” after US President Barack Obama backed steps for a referendum on removing his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro from power.Obama warned Maduro…

Venezuela's government on Thursday rejected what it called the United States' "interventionist obsession" after US President Barack Obama backed steps for a referendum on removing his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro from power.

Obama warned Maduro's government on Wednesday not to block the opposition's "legitimate" efforts to hold a recall referendum.

"The interventionist obsession of the US government is unacceptable," the Venezuelan foreign ministry responded in a statement on Thursday.

Maduro's opponents blame him for an economic crisis that has caused food shortages and prompted deadly looting.

They have launched proceedings to call a referendum this year, but Maduro has mounted legal challenges, vowing it would not take place.

Obama described the situation as "very serious."

Maduro's government retorted: "It is contradictory and illogical to urge the Venezuelan government to disregard the state of law with the sole end of satisfying the antidemocratic interests of the Venezuelan opposition."

The government alleged members of the opposition MUD coalition are working for the United States, which it has long accused of trying to depose Venezuela's socialist leaders.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, but last week resumed high-level talks aimed at easing the crisis.

Online holiday queries spike after Brexit vote

Online queries for European holiday flights to Britain soared after its voters chose to abandon the EU, travel web sites reported, offering a glimmer of hope for tourism in the country.People across Europe apparently rushed to find bargain trips after …

Online queries for European holiday flights to Britain soared after its voters chose to abandon the EU, travel web sites reported, offering a glimmer of hope for tourism in the country.

People across Europe apparently rushed to find bargain trips after the June 23 referendum on leaving the European Union, which tipped sterling into a sharp slide against the euro and an even steeper fall against the dollar.

Searches for flights from France to Britain surged 130 percent from a day earlier on June 24, when the results were announced, according to data provided by holiday booking site Kayak, which says it handles some 1.5 billion travel searches a year.

Kayak said it enjoyed a similar spike in searches for flights to Britain from Europe between June 24 and 25 with increases of 86 percent from Germany, 102 percent from Spain and 114 percent from Finland.

Rival Paris-based holiday booking site liligo.com, which claims four million unique online visitors a month, said web interest in Paris-London flights rose 34 percent from June 23 to 26.

"It is too early to say for sure but the first trends we have seen and the devaluation of the British currency suggest that interest in the UK as a destination will be maintained in the weeks ahead, especially for European passengers interested in 'city breaks' to London to go shopping," liligo.com said in a statement sent to AFP.

- 'Double-edged' -

Booking site MisterFly told AFP it had experienced a 60-percent increase in actual flight reservations from France to Britain since the Brexit vote.

The slide in value of the pound may hit bookings by British tourists, however, said the French travel industry umbrella group Les Entreprises du Voyage.

"It is absolutely double-edged: Britain will attract more French people but it is bad news for the French economy as fewer British tourists will come to France because it will be a more expensive destination," said the group's president, Jean-Pierre Mas.

Although four million French people take short holidays in Britain every year, there are 12 million Britons who do the same in France, according to French online travel site Easyvoyage chairman Jean-Pierre Nadir.

Brexit risks hurting tourism in areas favoured by British holidaymakers such as the west of France, and especially Normandy, he told AFP.

British searches for European holidays on Kayak surged 24 percent on June 24 compared to the previous day, the web site said.

France topped the list of flight destinations being queried that day, Kayak said.

But by the next day France had dropped out of the top 10 to be replaced by the Netherlands, up 161 percent, Czech Republic, up 146 percent, and Sweden, up 140 percent, it said.

Kenyans put aside doping fears to focus on Rio Olympics

After narrowly avoiding suspension from the Rio Games, Kenyan athletes went into action at their Olympic trials on Thursday confident that they would prove to the world that they were running clean.Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said that only…

After narrowly avoiding suspension from the Rio Games, Kenyan athletes went into action at their Olympic trials on Thursday confident that they would prove to the world that they were running clean.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said that only dope-free athletes will go to Brazil and vowed to work closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IAAF, athletics' governing body, to ensure stringent drug testing.

Kenya has come under scrutiny from the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) over its flagging doping system, necessitating changes to legislation to avoid expulsion of its world-beating distance runners from August's Olympics.

"There has always been a bit of uncertainty, a bit of doubts, a bit of worry because of the accusations -- undue accusations, let me put it that way -- because it's not every athlete in Kenya who has used performance-enhancing substances," Tuwei told AFP.

"Those who have used banned substances have been cautioned according to the rules of WADA and IAAF. They are not here. All those who are here are clean because they have been tested many times and found to be clean."

He added: "We want to show the world that Kenya can still do well with clean athletes."

Kenya's veteran athletics coach Colm O'Connell, who counts reigning Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha among his athletes, said Kenya had waited too long to act on doping.

"For a long time, Kenya was on the defence. They were not sure what was going to happen. That would have affected many of our athletes, of not being very sure of how it was going to end," he said.

"Naturally that would take its toll. That's why it's only kind of now when there's an air of certainty that Kenya is going (to Rio). Now the Kenyans can put all that aside and now focus on the next five weeks.

"All Kenyan athletes deep down were concerned. Am I really going? Am I going to miss out on the Olympics?

"But now, with the clearing of the air, as far as possible, now the athletes can really focus on Rio."

Kenyan sports journalist Elias Makori believes there have been changes in the lifestyles of many of the athletes, who are now more aware about the consequences of doping.

"Most of the athletes are naive. They don't know what substances they should take, what not to take, what to accept -- drinks or anything from strangers. They don't know," Makori said.

"Now they are becoming more conscious about themselves. They are aware of what kind of medication they can take, and what they cannot take," he added, describing it as "a wake-up for Kenya."

"In terms of legislation, the authorities have done very well," he said, after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week signed an amended anti-doping bill into law.

"But a lot more needs to be done, especially in terms of training and educating the athletes. The thing that in my opinion, needs to be done, is education, education and more education."

On-fire Neuville roars into Rally of Poland lead

Belgium’s on-form Thierry Neuville clinched an opening-night lead in his Hyundai after a curtain-raising super special run over 2.5 km at Mikolajki in the Rally of Poland on Thursday.

Seventh in the world championship standings, Neuville won the last rally in the series at Sardinia three weeks ago and completed this special in 1min 46.2sec.

Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen in a Volkswagen was second at 0.2sec, Estonian Ott Tanak was third for Ford at 0.3sec and defending champion and current runaway leader Sebastien Ogier of France was fourth at 0.4sec.

Stage 1 results:

1. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 1:46.2, 2. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger Synnevaag (NOR/VW Polo-R) at 0.2, 3. Ott Tänak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 0.3, 4. Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/VW Polo-R) 0.4, 5. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/VW Polo-R) 0.7, 6. Stéphan Lefebvre- Gabin Moreau (FRA/Citroën DS3) 0.9

Specials: Neuville 1 (ES1)

World championship standings

Drivers

1. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) 132 pts, 2. Dani Sordo (ESP) 68, 3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 67, 4. Mads Ostberg (NOR) 58, 5. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 57, 6. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 56, 7. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 48, 8. Ott Tänak (EST) 26, 9. Kris Meeke (GBR) 34, 10. Eric Camilli (FRA) 22, 11. Stephane Lefebvre (FRA) 10

Constructors

1. Volkswagen Motorsport, 178 pts, 2. Hyundai Motorsport, 108, 3. M-Sport (Ford), 90, 4. Hyundai Motorsport 2, 76, 5. VW Motorsport 2, 70, 6. Dmack (Ford), 40, 7. Jipocar (Ford), 18

Belgium's on-form Thierry Neuville clinched an opening-night lead in his Hyundai after a curtain-raising super special run over 2.5 km at Mikolajki in the Rally of Poland on Thursday.

Seventh in the world championship standings, Neuville won the last rally in the series at Sardinia three weeks ago and completed this special in 1min 46.2sec.

Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen in a Volkswagen was second at 0.2sec, Estonian Ott Tanak was third for Ford at 0.3sec and defending champion and current runaway leader Sebastien Ogier of France was fourth at 0.4sec.

Stage 1 results:

1. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 1:46.2, 2. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger Synnevaag (NOR/VW Polo-R) at 0.2, 3. Ott Tänak-Raigo Molder (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 0.3, 4. Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/VW Polo-R) 0.4, 5. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/VW Polo-R) 0.7, 6. Stéphan Lefebvre- Gabin Moreau (FRA/Citroën DS3) 0.9

Specials: Neuville 1 (ES1)

World championship standings

Drivers

1. Sebastien Ogier (FRA) 132 pts, 2. Dani Sordo (ESP) 68, 3. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 67, 4. Mads Ostberg (NOR) 58, 5. Hayden Paddon (NZL) 57, 6. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 56, 7. Thierry Neuville (BEL) 48, 8. Ott Tänak (EST) 26, 9. Kris Meeke (GBR) 34, 10. Eric Camilli (FRA) 22, 11. Stephane Lefebvre (FRA) 10

Constructors

1. Volkswagen Motorsport, 178 pts, 2. Hyundai Motorsport, 108, 3. M-Sport (Ford), 90, 4. Hyundai Motorsport 2, 76, 5. VW Motorsport 2, 70, 6. Dmack (Ford), 40, 7. Jipocar (Ford), 18

Austria court to rule Friday on far-right election challenge

Austria’s Constitutional Court has said it will rule Friday on the challenge brought by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) against its candidate’s narrow defeat in May’s presidential election.The court, which has heard from around 90 witnesses during t…

Austria's Constitutional Court has said it will rule Friday on the challenge brought by the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) against its candidate's narrow defeat in May's presidential election.

The court, which has heard from around 90 witnesses during two weeks of public hearings, said Thursday it would announce at noon (1000 GMT) whether the election result was valid or a new vote must be held.

The FPOe's Norbert Hofer, 54, topped the poll in the first round of the election in April but lost out to 72-year-old Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent backed by the Greens, by just 30,863 votes in the May 22 run-off.

Hofer, who would have been the first far-right head of state of an EU country if elected, alleged numerous procedural irregularities in the vote.

Preliminary results on the evening of the election had given him a narrow lead but after some 700,000 postal votes were counted, Van der Bellen was declared the winner of the largely ceremonial post.

The court hearings confirmed that tens of thousands of postal votes were counted in an irregular manner -- either because they were counted after the allocated time or by people not authorised to do so.

Van der Bellen's lawyer described the transgressions as having an "insignificant" impact on the ballot.

If the Constitutional Court were to invalidate the election it would send shockwaves through Austria, which would be obliged to return to the polls in the autumn.

Van der Bellen is scheduled to be sworn in on July 8.

If, however, a new election is ordered, outgoing president Heinz Fischer will be replaced on an interim basis by three parliamentary officials -- one of whom is Hofer.

New version of Android crowned ‘Nougat’

Google’s newest mobile operating system will be called Nougat, continuing a tradition of naming Android software after sweet treats, the tech giant said Thursday.Google had invited people to send in suggestions at its annual developers conference in Ma…

Google's newest mobile operating system will be called Nougat, continuing a tradition of naming Android software after sweet treats, the tech giant said Thursday.

Google had invited people to send in suggestions at its annual developers conference in May, and revealed the winning Android name at a playful ceremony at its campus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

Nutella was thought to be a favorite, but Nougat won the day.

Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars.

The technology giant has been letting developers work with the new mobile operating system, which is expected to be released later this year.

Alphabet-owned Google's Android operating software is a computing phenomenon that powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the world.

There were 1.16 billion smartphones shipped in 2015 that are powered by Android, according to research group Gartner. That accounted for 82 percent of the market, dwarfing the 225.85 million for Apple's iOS.

Cupcake, the first version of the operating software to carry the name of an enticing desert, was released in 2009.

It was followed by Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and current-generation Marshmallow.

Appeals court overturns Canada pipeline approval

Canada’s federal court of appeal has overturned approval of the new Northern Gateway pipeline on grounds that builders failed to adequately consult with affected aboriginals, documents released Thursday revealed.The oil conduit stretching nearly 1,200 …

Canada's federal court of appeal has overturned approval of the new Northern Gateway pipeline on grounds that builders failed to adequately consult with affected aboriginals, documents released Thursday revealed.

The oil conduit stretching nearly 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific coast received regulatory and government approval in 2014, with 209 conditions to mitigate environmental impacts.

But nine indigenous tribes with ancestral lands along the route asked for a judicial review of the decision, arguing that the process failed to meet a constitutional duty to engage aboriginal communities.

The federal appeals court agreed.

"Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity... to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue," the court said in its decision, released by lawyers for the plaintiffs.

"The inadequacies -- more than just a handful and more than mere imperfections -- left entire subjects of central interest to the affected First Nations, sometimes subjects affecting their subsistence and well-being, entirely ignored."

Enbridge first proposed in 1998 construction of the pipeline to move 525,000 barrels of crude per day from Edmonton, Alberta across rugged mountain landscapes to a new marine terminal in Kitimat on British Columbia's northern coast, for shipping to Asia.

Aboriginals and environmental activists, however, feared a spill from tankers at the terminal could damage the pristine coastline that includes salmon-bearing rivers and the habitat of a rare white bear.

"This is a major victory for the First Nations, whose rights and interests were ignored in the assessment of the project's costs and benefits," lawyers for the Gitxaala tribe said in a statement.

Murray eases, Muguruza crashes, Troicki rants at Wimbledon

Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon last 32 Thursday while Serena Williams’ path to a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam was eased by a shock defeat for world number two Garbine Muguruza.Murray, the world number two and champion in 2013, crushed Taiwan’s L…

Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon last 32 Thursday while Serena Williams' path to a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam was eased by a shock defeat for world number two Garbine Muguruza.

Murray, the world number two and champion in 2013, crushed Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, hitting 31 winners and serving six aces.

He will face Australian world number 67 John Millman for a place in the last 16.

"There were a lot of close games in the first set, but once I managed to hang on there I settled down," Murray said.

Muguruza, the French Open champion and last year's runner-up, lost 6-3, 6-2 to Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova, the world number 124, in just 59 minutes on Court One.

It was the same arena where the 23-year-old Cepelova had defeated Simona Halep last year, a result which illustrated the Slovak's liking for the big time -- having also seen off Williams in Charleston in 2014.

"I deserved to win. I'm so happy," said Cepelova.

Spanish 22-year-old Muguruza was bidding to become only the eighth woman to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.

But she was undone by 22 unforced errors and hitting just nine winners in a flat performance.

"I think my energy was missing a little bit today. From yesterday I felt already a little bit tired, I think is the best word," said Muguruza.

In all, 11 seeded women exited the tournament as well as six men's seeds, the highest of which was number eight Dominic Thiem of Austria.

Thiem lost in three tie-break sets to Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Serbia's Viktor Troicki made his case for the greatest Wimbledon rant of modern times as he slipped to a five-set defeat to Spain's Albert Ramos Vinolas.

Infuriated that umpire Damiano Torella had over-ruled a Vinolas serve which was called out to declare it an ace, Troicki unleashed a tirade of abuse at the Italian official.

"You're the worst umpire in the world, you're so bad," screamed Troicki as he went match point down and he continued in the same vein when the match concluded.

"You're horrible, you know what you did. You are an idiot."

- Venus exiled -

France's Gilles Simon, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov on Court One, was also letting off steam, threatening to sue the organisers for making him to play in the rain.

"I won't play when it rains. I know you have commitments to TV but if I get injured I will sue you and I will win," Simon told the umpire before the brief shower passed on.

Poland's third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up to Williams in 2012, saved three match points to beat Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh, 6-2, 4-6, 9-7.

The 18-year-old's challenge ended in tears when she needed a medical time-out at 7-7 in the final set after turning her ankle badly when she stepped on the ball.

Radwanska next faces Katerina Siniakova for a place in the last 16.

Nineteen-year-old Belinda Bencic, the Swiss seventh seed, retired from her second round match against US qualifier Julia Boserup.

Bencic was 6-4, 1-0 down on Court Three to the world number 225 when she quit with a wrist injury.

Five-time women's champion Venus Williams ignored her exile to Court 18 to battle past Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

"It's not the ideal schedule for the women," said 36-year-old Williams when asked about being shifted to Court 18.

"We'd like to see equal amount of matches. We don't want more, just the same amount."

German fourth seed and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber beat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-1, 6-4.

There were also second round wins for fifth seed Halep of Romania and US ninth-seed Madison Keys.

Japan's Kei Nishikori saw off France's Julien Benneteau, whose world ranking has sunk to 547 due to injury, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and goes on to meet Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov.

Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic brushed past Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-2.

Turkey paying for ‘mistakes’ in IS strategy: analysts

Accused of harbouring links to the Islamic State group in the past, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risks paying a high price for his new get-tough strategy against the jihadists blamed for the Istanbul airport attack, observers say.Although no …

Accused of harbouring links to the Islamic State group in the past, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risks paying a high price for his new get-tough strategy against the jihadists blamed for the Istanbul airport attack, observers say.

Although no group has yet claimed Tuesday's gun and bomb attack which killed 42 people, Ankara has pointed a finger at IS, which has been blamed for several suicide attacks around the country in the past year.

On Thursday, 13 suspected IS members were arrested over the bloodshed.

Turkey's opposition has accused Erdogan, whose Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power since 2002, of creating a climate which favours the extremism now stalking Turkey.

"Turkey is currently fiercely fighting IS -- but its past mistakes have had fallout," says Sinan Ulgen, president of the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) and a former diplomat.

Ulgen sees Turkey as highly exposed to attacks owing to its shared border with Syria and Iraq, where IS controls swathes of territory, and the proliferation of IS cells on its own soil.

"Turkey is easy terrain for IS operations -- much easier than Europe," says Ulgen.

- Bulwark against Kurds -

At the start of the Syrian conflict, Turkey took a relatively indulgent approach towards the jihadists, with whom it shares a key goal: ousting the regime of Erdogan's arch-enemy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey also saw the extremists as a potential bulwark against Syrian Kurds, whose separatist ambitions have emboldened Kurdish rebels acting within Turkey's own borders.

The Turkish media has been awash with reports of jihadist recruitment drives in Turkish cities, including Istanbul, and extremist fighters being treated in public hospitals in southeast Anatolia, a region bordering Syria.

What brought about a sea change in Turkey's policy towards IS was last October's double suicide bombing in central Ankara -- Turkey's worst ever attack -- which killed 103 people.

The massacre rang alarm bells for Turkey's shocked leaders and highlighted their previous ambivalence towards extremists.

The attack also prompted Turkey to take an active role in the US-led international coalition to combat IS.

Since then, the authorities have regularly reported arrests or shootings during the dismantling of terror cells around the country and during attempts by suspected IS members to cross from Syria, some wearing explosives belts.

- Political Islam 'boosts IS' -

According to the interior ministry, the authorities have made some 4,000 IS-linked arrests. But that has not been enough to tamp down extremism in a majority Muslim, yet officially secular, country straddling Asia and Europe.

Secularist have condemned Erdogan for pushing an increasingly conservative religious line.

"The capacity of IS and similar Sunni militant groups in Turkey is set to grow as long as the country allows political Islam in the hinterland to grow unfettered," said Ege Seckin, analyst with IHS Country Risk.

Seckin warned that "the semi-autonomous and non-hierarchical nature of IS cells in Turkey", which the intelligence services estimate to include some 3,000 Turks, makes it difficult to detect them before they act.

"It is clear we must be ready to face new attacks," Deniz Zeyrek, Ankara bureau chief at Hurriyet daily, warned this week.

The opposition daily Cumhuriyet warned that students from universities in Ankara and Istanbul who hail from disadvantaged areas were being preyed on by jihadist recruiters.

The political opposition has rounded on the government over the attacks.

"Those who show themselves to be tolerant of, and even complicit in terrorism cannot combat it," Selin Sayek Boke, spokeswoman for the main opposition Republican People's Party said after the airport attack.

"AKP leaders had refused to classify IS as a terrorist organisation, they are responsible for this massacre," Boke accused.

US military lifts ban on transgender personnel

Transgender personnel will no longer be barred from serving openly in the US military, the Pentagon announced Thursday — a major milestone that immediately attracted criticism. Lifting the ban on transgender service members is “the right thing to do, …

Transgender personnel will no longer be barred from serving openly in the US military, the Pentagon announced Thursday -- a major milestone that immediately attracted criticism.

Lifting the ban on transgender service members is "the right thing to do, and it's another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters.

"Good people are the key to the best military in the world."

Up until five years ago, the US military still banned gay troops from openly discussing their sexuality under a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The new transgender policy will be phased in during a one-year period, but effective immediately, the military can no longer discharge or deny reenlistment to troops based solely on their gender identity and transgender service members currently on duty can now serve openly.

By July 1 next year, the services will begin allowing transgender personnel to sign up, assuming they have met the necessary physical and mental standards to do so, the Pentagon said.

Under the new policy, the Pentagon will cover medical expenses related to being transgender, including gender reassignment surgeries when they are deemed "medically necessary."

Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said the move could lead to troops not being ready to deploy for medical reasons.

"This is the latest example of the Pentagon and the president prioritizing politics over policy," Thornberry said.

"Our military readiness -- and hence, our national security -- is dependent on our troops being medically ready and deployable."

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said the new policy allows transgender troops "to continue to serve without living a lie, and provides much-needed clarity to commanders who for years have been stuck in the middle of a confusing policy."

The US military has about 1.3 million service members. According to a RAND study, about 2,500 of these active-duty service members are transgender, as well as about 1,500 out of approximately 825,000 reserve troops.

The military will start paying for transgender-related medical treatment no later than October 1, Carter said.

At least 18 countries already allow transgender personnel to serve openly in their militaries, Carter said, including Britain, Israel and Australia.

He last year ordered all military roles -- including combat positions -- to be opened to women.

Oscars timetable for 2017 revealed

Movie buffs, mark your calendars: your 2017 Oscars party will be on Sunday, February 26.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the timetable for the 89th Oscars on Thursday, one day after it announced that it had invited a record num…

Movie buffs, mark your calendars: your 2017 Oscars party will be on Sunday, February 26.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the timetable for the 89th Oscars on Thursday, one day after it announced that it had invited a record number of artists to join the body, the majority of them women and people of color.

The 683 invitees, 46 percent of them female and 41 percent ethnic minorities, will be joining the exclusive body at a time when it is facing scathing criticism at the lack of diversity within its ranks and among both Oscar nominees and winners.

Voting for nominations for the film industry's top awards will run from January 5-13 for the academy's 6,200-odd voting members.

Nominations will be revealed on January 24.

Those up for Oscars will gather for the traditional nominees' luncheon on February 6, while final voting will run from February 13 until February 21.

The Academy said its Governors Awards -- an annual dinner to celebrate the recipients of several special honors -- will be held this year on November 12.

The 89th Oscars, which traditionally close Hollywood's awards season, will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 26 and will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories.

US man claims Apple owes him a fortune for iPhone idea

A Florida man who claims Apple made a killing with his iPhone idea is suing the technology giant seeking billions of dollars.A lawsuit filed in a federal court in Florida this week by Thomas Ross argued that Apple “hijacked and exploited” a design he c…

A Florida man who claims Apple made a killing with his iPhone idea is suing the technology giant seeking billions of dollars.

A lawsuit filed in a federal court in Florida this week by Thomas Ross argued that Apple "hijacked and exploited" a design he came up with in 1992 for an "electronic reading device."

He is demanding damages of no less than $11 billion and another $10 billion in restitution, as well as at least 1.5 percent of Apple's worldwide gross sales going forward "as a reasonable royalty," according to the complaint.

Ross, who is representing himself in the suit, outlined his vision in several diagrams. He used the drawings in a patent application that the US Patent and Trade Office declared abandoned in 1995 for failure to pay required fees.

Last year Ross copyrighted his concept drawings, and his lawsuit contends that Apple products and packaging violate that copyright and his intellectual property.

In court paperwork, Ross accused Apple of adopting a culture of "dumpster diving" instead of creating its own ideas and argued that the invention pictured in his abandoned patent application was "sucked into" the company's product line in a move he equated with identity theft.

Apple launched the iPod MP3 player in 2001, and the first iPhone was introduced six years later.

Ross said in the filing that Apple did not comply with a cease-and-desist order he sent the company.

Apple did not reply to an AFP request for comment, but the California company was quoted in media reports as saying that the suit is without merit.

CIA agent attacked US Embassy guard in Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry

Preview The US uses its media to spread outright lies about Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, dismissing a report by the Washington Post about a ‘US diplomat’ ‘beaten’ by Russian security. In fact, it was a US spy who attacked a Russian police officer.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Preview The US uses its media to spread outright lies about Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, dismissing a report by the Washington Post about a ‘US diplomat’ 'beaten' by Russian security. In fact, it was a US spy who attacked a Russian police officer.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Bouchard battles past Konta at Wimbledon

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard battled back in style to beat Britain’s 16th seed Johanna Konta in the second round at Wimbledon on Thursday.Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, won the first set 6-3 then lost the second 6-1 before roaring back to win the…

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard battled back in style to beat Britain's 16th seed Johanna Konta in the second round at Wimbledon on Thursday.

Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, won the first set 6-3 then lost the second 6-1 before roaring back to win the final set 6-1 on Centre Court against the British number one.

"I was frustrated after that second set," the world number 48 said.

"She was just dominating, so I told myself that I had to be one doing that, and I did that in the third.

There's no feeling like walking out on Centre Court at Wimbledon and I felt like I played some good tennis out there.

"I've definitely learned a lot in my short career so far," the 22-year-old said.

"I'm just happy that I feel better on the court, I feel strong mentally and physically."

Bouchard will play Slovak 19th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the third round.

Cibulkova beat Daria Gavrilova of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in their second round match.

Bouchard said of her next opponent: "Every match is a battle so I'm going to look forward to another one. Just lay it all out there."

Teen girl killed in West Bank stabbing is US citizen: State Dept

A 13-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed in her home Thursday by a Palestinian attacker in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank is a US citizen, the State Department said.”We have now confirmed that she is a US citizen,” department spokesman John Kir…

A 13-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed in her home Thursday by a Palestinian attacker in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank is a US citizen, the State Department said.

"We have now confirmed that she is a US citizen," department spokesman John Kirby said of the girl, identified as Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

"This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable. We offer our heartfelt condolences of course to her family and to her friends," Kirby told reporters.

The State Department spokesman -- who called the attack "outrageous" -- did not say whether the teen also held Israeli citizenship.

The attacker, who killed the girl after breaking into her home in the Kiryat Arba settlement outside the flashpoint city of Hebron, was later shot dead by security guards.

The girl was taken to hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition and died of her wounds.

S&P cuts EU credit rating after Brexit

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s cut the credit rating for the European Union by one notch on Thursday saying that the bloc had grown more uncertain after Brexit.

“After the decision by the UK electorate to leave the EU as a consequence of the June 23 consultative referendum, we have reassessed our opinion of cohesion within the EU, which we now consider to be a neutral rather than positive rating factor,” the agency said in a statement.

According to the statement, S&P cut the EU’s rating to AA, still the third highest possible level, from AA+ with a stable outlook, which signifies that the agency believes no further cut would be necessary in the medium-term.

On Monday, both S&P and Fitch downgraded Britain’s rating citing last week’s referendum that decided an exit from the EU. S&P cut the country’s rating from the top AAA to AA, while Fitch lowered its rating from AA+ to AA.

The agency said the relatively high rating for the EU “reflects our assumption that member states will fulfil” their budget obligations to the EU.

In 2016, Germany, France, and Britain respectively contributed 21 percent, 16 percent, and 13 percent to the total EU budget.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's cut the credit rating for the European Union by one notch on Thursday saying that the bloc had grown more uncertain after Brexit.

"After the decision by the UK electorate to leave the EU as a consequence of the June 23 consultative referendum, we have reassessed our opinion of cohesion within the EU, which we now consider to be a neutral rather than positive rating factor," the agency said in a statement.

According to the statement, S&P cut the EU's rating to AA, still the third highest possible level, from AA+ with a stable outlook, which signifies that the agency believes no further cut would be necessary in the medium-term.

On Monday, both S&P and Fitch downgraded Britain's rating citing last week's referendum that decided an exit from the EU. S&P cut the country's rating from the top AAA to AA, while Fitch lowered its rating from AA+ to AA.

The agency said the relatively high rating for the EU "reflects our assumption that member states will fulfil" their budget obligations to the EU.

In 2016, Germany, France, and Britain respectively contributed 21 percent, 16 percent, and 13 percent to the total EU budget.

New undersea cable will speed US-Japan connection

An undersea cable backed by Google and Asian companies aimed at boosting trans-Pacific broadband was put into service on Thursday, the consortium announced.The 5,600-mile (9,000-kilometer) FASTER Cable System is aimed at meeting the growing demand for …

An undersea cable backed by Google and Asian companies aimed at boosting trans-Pacific broadband was put into service on Thursday, the consortium announced.

The 5,600-mile (9,000-kilometer) FASTER Cable System is aimed at meeting the growing demand for broadband Internet connections between North America and Asia.

"From the very beginning of the project, we repeatedly said to each other, 'faster, Faster and FASTER,' and at one point it became the project name, and today it becomes a reality," said a statement from Hiromitsu Todokoro, chairman of the FASTER management committee.

Built by Japan's NEC Corporation, the project was backed by China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, Google, KDDI and Singtel.

Kenichi Yoneyama, project manager at NEC's submarine network division, said, "This epoch-making cable will not only bring benefits to the United States and Japan, but to the entire Asia-Pacific region."

Singtel vice president Ooi Seng Keat said the new cable "provides continuous connectivity and sufficiently high capacity for cloud, video streaming, analytics and the Internet of Things, that will help spur innovation on both sides of the Pacific to stimulate the growth of the digital economy."

The project was announced in 2014 with the cost estimated at $300 million.

The cable lands in the US state of Oregon and two points in Japan, but also connects to hubs to boost connectivity to other locations in the United States and Asia.

US military repeals ban on transgender service members

The Pentagon on Thursday ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military, formally removing the risk to an estimated thousands of U.S. troops who once could have been kicked out of the armed forces due to gender identity.

The Pentagon on Thursday ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military, formally removing the risk to an estimated thousands of U.S. troops who once could have been kicked out of the armed forces due to gender identity.

Tennis star Nadal faces race to reach Olympics

Rafael Nadal faces a battle to qualify for the Rio Olympics after the International Tennis Federation announced the entry list Thursday for the 2016 Games.The ITF published the list of players whose place in the Rio draw is assured — though a question…

Rafael Nadal faces a battle to qualify for the Rio Olympics after the International Tennis Federation announced the entry list Thursday for the 2016 Games.

The ITF published the list of players whose place in the Rio draw is assured -- though a question mark hangs over the name of 2008 Beijing champion Nadal.

The injured world number four planned to return to action at Toronto on July 25, but his place rests on him making himself available for Spain away to Romania in the Davis Cup on July 15 or a last-ditch appeal.

The 30-year-old is sitting out Wimbledon after failing to recover from the wrist injury which forced his early withdrawal from the French Open last month.

Nadal is keen to play in Rio after being unable to defend his gold medal at the London 2012 Games due to a knee injury.

The ITF Olympic Committee said it would discuss any outstanding men's appeals on July 15 regarding any player who still had the chance to compete in the July 15-17 Davis Cup ties.

Reigning champions Andy Murray and Serena Williams will defend their Olympic titles on the Rio hard courts, the ITF confirmed.

Top stars including world number one Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic have their places booked in the men's draw.

In the women's competition, Victoria Azarenka, Eugenie Bouchard, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbine Muguruza, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams have their spots confirmed.

Denmark's Wozniacki was relieved by the announcement after winning an appeal.

"It's been a long wait but I am officially going to Rio! Rocking the Danish colours on court!", said Wozniacki who is due to carry her country's flag at the opening ceremony.

- US men's team sweating -

All four US men's players Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla and Brian Baker have their places subject to participation in the July Davis Cup ties or an appeal to the ITF Olympic Committee.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco also have a question mark hanging over their participation.

There is a limit of four singles players per gender per country. Sixty-four players will compete in each draw.

Entries are subject to players being in good standing with their national association and meeting the minimum participation requirements in men's Davis Cup and women's Fed Cup.

Australia will be represented by John Millman and Thanasi Kokkinakis after the highly-temperamental Nick Kyrgios pulled out, blaming "unwarranted attacks" on him by Australian Olympic chiefs after he was warned to behave.

His decision followed compatriot Bernard Tomic making himself unavailable for selection last month after widespread criticism about his recent on-court attitude and behaviour.

"Since the return of tennis to the Olympics in 1988, the event has continued to grow at each Games, with the current generation of players embracing this unique opportunity in our sport," said ITF president David Haggerty.

"We expect that the competition in each discipline will be fierce, and look forward to some memorable matches."

The draw will be staged on August 4. The nine-day tournament begins on August 6.

Lewandoski scores – Poland 1 Portugal 0 in Euro 2016 match

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scored within two minutes of kickoff in the Euro 2016 quarter-final against Portugal to put his nation 1-0 ahead and break his international scoring drought.The Bayern Munich striker, who had not found the net in seven…

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scored within two minutes of kickoff in the Euro 2016 quarter-final against Portugal to put his nation 1-0 ahead and break his international scoring drought.

The Bayern Munich striker, who had not found the net in seven games before the match in Marseille, connected with Kamil Grosicki's low cross. It was the second fastest goal in the history of the tournament.

Signs of ‘healing’ ozone layer over Antarctic: study

The hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic has begun to shrink, signaling good news for the environment several decades after an international accord to phase out certain pollutants, researchers said Thursday.The study found that the September ozon…

The hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic has begun to shrink, signaling good news for the environment several decades after an international accord to phase out certain pollutants, researchers said Thursday.

The study found that the September ozone hole has shrunk by 1.5 million square miles (four million square kilometers) since 2000 -- an area about the size of India.

"It's a big surprise," said lead author Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interview with Science magazine.

"I didn't think it would be this early."

The ozone hole was first discovered in the 1950s.

It reached record size in October 2015, but Solomon and colleagues determined that this was due to the eruption of the Chilean volcano Calbuco.

The overall trend toward recovery became apparent when scientists studied measurements from satellites, ground-based instruments and weather balloons in the month of September, not October when the ozone hole typically peaks in size.

"I think people, myself included, had been too focused on October, because that's when the ozone hole is enormous," said Solomon.

"But October is also subject to the slings and arrows of other things that vary, like slight changes in meteorology."

The study attributed the ozone's recovery to the "continuing decline of atmospheric chlorine originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)," or chemicals that were once emitted by dry cleaning, refrigerators, hairspray and other aerosols.

Most of the world signed on to the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which banned the use of CFCs.

"We can now be confident that the things we've done have put the planet on a path to heal," said Solomon.

Tour de France getting harder for sprinters, says Cavendish

Every year the Tour de France gets tougher for sprinters, British speed king Mark Cavendish claimed ahead of a distinctly mountainous 2016 edition.The 31-year-old Manxman is third in the all-time list of Tour stages wins with 26 behind only legends Edd…

Every year the Tour de France gets tougher for sprinters, British speed king Mark Cavendish claimed ahead of a distinctly mountainous 2016 edition.

The 31-year-old Manxman is third in the all-time list of Tour stages wins with 26 behind only legends Eddie Merckx (34) of Belgium and France's Bernard Hinault (28).

But having won 20 Tour stages in his first four years from 2008-11, he has managed only six in the four years since.

"It's just got harder," said Cavendish at a press conference for his African Dimension Data team on Thursday.

"In 2008 there were 18 category 2 and above climbs in the Tour de France; last year there were 18 in the last week alone and this year there are 28!

"It's not quite double but it's a fair amount, 10 more. But you can see the increase in the years since 2008, it's gone up more and more.

"Obviously the sprint opportunities are less."

Cavendish said that some of the supposedly flat sprinter stages are also turning out to be too tough for the pure fast men.

"If you look at the stage Greg Van Avermaet won last year (stage 13), on paper it was a sprint stage but I lost 40 seconds in the last 300 metres."

On that stage there was a kick up at the finish where overall contenders and specialised climbers like Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali were rubbing shoulders with punchy sprinters at the finish, while the pure fast men had long been dropped.

The changing nature of the race means more riders are trying to get involved in sprint finishes than before.

"You're typically getting GC (overall contenders) guys and sprinters in the final together," said Cavendish.

Two years ago, Cavendish crashed with specialist puncher Simon Gerrans of Australia in the run-in on the opening stage in Harrogate in Yorkshire.

Given the profile of the second day's stage, Gerrans was a genuine contender to wear the yellow jersey after that stage.

Although not a classic sprinter, he was riding at the front of the peloton in the run-in on the opening stage to make sure he would be well placed for the following day -- although neither he nor Cavendish took the start on stage two due to the injuries suffered in their crash.

"It's not often I tangle with Simon Gerrans in a sprint, but there was the chance of him getting the yellow jersey on the second day," explained Cavendish, who said there can be up to "half the peloton" to manoeuvre in the finish at times, making life harder for sprinters.

Cavendish will nonetheless be amongst the favourites on Saturday's largely flat opening stage, although he will be hard pushed to beat German pair Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel.

Kittel won four stages in each of the 2013 and 2014 editions while Greipel matched that feat last year.

Cavendish struggled against those two, winning only two stages in 2013 and just one last year.

I’ve made myself a target, says Muguruza after Wimbledon exit

Garbine Muguruza said winning the French Open had turned her into a target after the Spanish world number two crashed out of Wimbledon.The second seed lost 6-3, 6-2 to Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova, the world number 124, in Thursday’s second round and…

Garbine Muguruza said winning the French Open had turned her into a target after the Spanish world number two crashed out of Wimbledon.

The second seed lost 6-3, 6-2 to Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova, the world number 124, in Thursday's second round and admitted that lower-ranked players would now raise their game to claim her scalp.

"It's part of being at the top level. I would not change that. Every time I step on the court, well, they want to beat me so much. They're all loose because they don't have anything to lose," the 22-year-old said.

"There are more expectations from other people. But I just had a very clear feeling it was going to be a rough tournament for me after winning a Grand Slam and coming here. Everybody is looking at me.

"But I like that. It puts me in a good situation. Hopefully I can keep it like this."

Muguruza was bidding to become only the eighth woman to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.

The new Roland Garros champion said she would have to rethink her preparations -- and hammering herself into the ground practicing might not be the wisest option.

"It is very difficult. I'm just experiencing a lot of things so fast," last year's Wimbledon runner-up said.

"It's my first time after doing a great result, coming to another Grand Slam. So I'm trying to discover how I'm going to feel, how do I have to go on court, how do I have to rest more.

"I'm just dealing with it. I think it's hard. I'm doing my way, trying to prepare every match, trying to be focused every practice.

"One day it's going to go my way, another day no. Hopefully my consistency will improve and I'll be able to be deep in all the tournaments."

The Caracas-born right-hander admitted that it had been a learning experience since claiming the French Open crown, and the process was ongoing.

Muguruza said she felt drained on court and even felt sick as she sank to Cepelova.

"I'm going to learn that you really need to concentrate on how to recover, and don't reach a moment where your energy is too low, especially to play a Grand Slam, and to face opponents that, hey, they're good, they're here, they want to beat you so much," she said.

"You've got to be ready. You cannot go out there not at your best.

"I just have to recover a little bit and get my energy back, then be good again."

Ko, Henderson and Thompson top US Open bill

World number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand will play alongside Canada’s second-ranked Brooke Henderson and fourth-ranked American Lexi Thompson in the first two rounds of next week’s 71st US Women’s Open.Pairings released Thursday by the US Golf Associat…

World number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand will play alongside Canada's second-ranked Brooke Henderson and fourth-ranked American Lexi Thompson in the first two rounds of next week's 71st US Women's Open.

Pairings released Thursday by the US Golf Association put the world's three top-rated healthy players in the same group that tees off the 10th hole Thursday at 2:03 p.m. among the opening day's final trios and Friday at 8:28 a.m. off the first hole at CordeValle in San Martin, California.

World number three Park In-Bee of South Korea has withdrawn from the event with a left thumb injury.

Ko, 19, won back-to-back LPGA major titles at the 2015 Evian Championship and this year's ANA Inspiration but her bid for three in a row was thwarted when Henderson beat her with a birdie on the first playoff hole to win the Women's PGA Championship on June 12.

The Kiwi teen has four titles this year including her major in April, the Kia Classic warm-up event one week earlier, last week's Northwest Arkansas Championship and the New Zealand Women's Open, which she captured for the third time in four years.

Henderson, 18, won her only LPGA title other than her first major at last year's Portland Classic, a crown she is defending this week ahead of her bid for back-to-back major victories. Henderson shared fifth at last year's US Women's Open, just as she had at last year's Women's PGA before claiming the crown this year.

Thompson, 21, won her only major title at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, which last year became known as the ANA Inspiration. She has top-10 finishes in eight of the past 13 women's majors. She was seventh at the US Women's Open two years ago for her best result but last year shared 42nd, her worst showing in the event.

Defending champion Chun In-Gee, the world number six from South Korea, was matched for the first two rounds alongside 2015 US Women's Amateur champion Hannah O'Sullivan, the Singapore-born American who tops the world women's amateur rankings, and ninth-ranked American Stacy Lewis, who was the 2014 US Women's Open runner-up and who shared third last year.