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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Netanyahu repeats pledge to annex Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank

September 1, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he intends to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, but again gave no timeframe in repeating an election promise he made five months ago.

“With God’s help we will extend Jewish sovereignty to all the settlements as part of the Land of Israel, as part of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a speech in the West Bank settlement of Elkana, where he attended a ceremony opening the school year.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Red Dead Redemption 2 UPDATE: Big PC news ahead of Red Dead Online Summer DLC

A BIG Red Dead Redemption 2 update regarding the PC release has been revealed this week, as games get ready for the launch of the Rockstar Games Summer expansion on PS4 and Xbox One.

PS5 could be joined by ANOTHER new PlayStation console, shock Sony rumours

PS5 release date news is today headlined by rumours the next-gen system could be joined by another new Sony PlayStation console.

Weekly poll results: Realme 5 Pro is a hit, steals the spotlight from the Realme 5

Realme has a future best-seller on its hands - but not two of them. The Realme 5 Pro got a very positive reception in last week's poll - people are happy with the upgrades over the Realme 3 Pro, which launched earlier this year at the same price. The upgrades are mostly in the camera department - going up to a 48MP sensor for the main camera and adding an ultra wide and dedicated macro cameras. The selfie camera dropped in resolution (25MP to 16MP), but the new sensor has larger pixels (0.8µm to 1.0µm). Added splash resistance and a slightly overclocked chipset just about cover...

Indonesia arrests dozens for Papua protests that set buildings afire

September 1, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian police have arrested dozens of people in the easternmost region of Papua following protests last week in which buildings were set ablaze, a police spokesman said on Sunday.

The area has been racked by civil unrest for two weeks over perceived racial and ethnic discrimination. Some protesters are also demanding an independence vote, although authorities have ruled out such a possibility.

In the provincial capital of Jayapura, 28 people have been arrested and named as suspects, and more face investigation, Papuan police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said by telephone.

“Twenty-eight people are suspects in cases of damaging and burning properties, violence, provocation, and looting,” Kamal said, adding that all had been arrested after a protest in Jayapura on Thursday.

The rioters set cars and buildings ablaze, including a local parliament office and a building housing the offices of the state-controlled telco firm, during the protest.

Kamal said the situation in Papua was now calmer.

In Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta, two students suspected of crimes against state security have been arrested, police said in a statement on Saturday.

The evidence against them included their mobile telephones, and a shirt and a shawl emblazoned with the ‘Morning Star’ flag pattern, a banned symbol of Papuan nationhood.

Jakarta Legal Aid lawyer Michael Himan said the two were arrested from a Papuan dormitory in Depok, in a southern part of the capital, late on Friday.

They were charged with treasonous intent against the unity of the nation, Himan told Reuters on Sunday.

In a statement, Jakarta Legal Aid said the police also arrested several other Papuan students and an activist in Jakarta on Saturday.

Himan said the reason for the arrest of the rest was still unclear. Spokesmen for national police and Jakarta police were not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Jakarta bureau; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Macau casino revenue drops 8.6% in August

September 1, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau dropped 8.6% in August on the year, hit by tapering demand from high rollers, due to slowing economic growth amid China’s trade war with the United States and protests in neighboring Hong Kong.

August’ s figure was 24.3 billion panaceas ($3.01 billion), Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination said in data posted on Sunday, below analysts’ expectations of a drop of 2%-6%.

The figure was slightly lower than July’s monthly revenue of 24.4 billion panaceas.

While protests in the Asian financial hub of Hong Kong have disrupted transport and deterred travel to the former British colony and then on to Macau, analysts say the impact on gaming revenues has been minimal.

However, the protests have added to the impact of factors such as a typhoon earlier in the month that hit China’s coastal cities and tightening liquidity in the high-roller VI sector.

Macau’s biggest junket operator, Sun city, which operates VI gambling rooms around Asia, was singled out by state media in July as raking in billions of dollars in online gaming and proxy betting, “causing great harm to China’s social economic order”.

“The negativity surrounding Sun city continues to pressure junket VI, as some agents withdraw some funds and some VI players delay visiting Macau,” said Vital Umansky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong.

(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

PS4 Surprise UPDATE: Download a Free PlayStation console game bonus TODAY

PS4 console gamers can now download a new gaming experience from the PlayStation Store, the latest in a steady stream of new content.

Kyrgios goes quietly into the New York night

September 1, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nick Kyrgios was a lightning rod for controversy at the U.S. Open this week but the fiery Australian was subdued after a third-round loss on Saturday and walked away quietly from the year’s final Grand Slam.

Kyrgios did deliver a one-word jab at a line judge early in his straight-sets loss to Russian Andrey Rublev but otherwise steered clear of any of the sort of drama that he made headlines for earlier in the week.

The Australian delivered a serving masterclass against Rublev but generally lacked his usual intensity and at one point during the match a microphone picked up Kyrgios saying he did not even want to be there.

Still, after the 7-6(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 loss under the bright Arthur Ashe Stadium lights, the Australian 28th seed did not point the blame at anyone but himself.

“He played great tonight. Was super aggressive. I never felt comfortable. That was just credit to him playing his game. Yeah, it was tough,” said Kyrgios. “Nowhere near my best tennis.”

During the first set of his third-round loss Kyrgios did shout “whistleblower” from his seat in the direction of a line judge who had gone to the chair umpire to report foul language.

It marked a very subdued ending to a week in which Kyrgios got in hot water for calling the ATP corrupt, yelled at fans for leaving their seats during his serve, and threatened not to start a match over a dispute about his outfit.

When asked about the comment picked up by microphones Kyrgios said he has been on the road for over five months and he does not have much down time before playing for Team World at the Sept. 20-22 Laver Cup in Switzerland.

“We’ll see how the scheduling works out. I guess that’s a disadvantage playing from Australia,” said Kyrgios. “I got the very important Asia swing. Don’t want to miss that.”

After Kyrgios suggested he may need rest, one journalist asked if he would in fact welcome a suspension for the way he spoke about the governing body of men’s tennis.

“I don’t know if I look at it like that,” Kyrgios said smiling. “I don’t know. I have no say in it. I guess it’s out of my control.”

Kyrgios was in no mood for controversy on this night, and even resisted getting into it with a reporter who asked what he needs to focus on to maximize his tennis potential.

“I don’t know,” Kyrgios shot back. “You guys are the

experts. You tell me.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Kyrgios sent packing as Rublev reaches last 16

September 1, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nick Kyrgios’ eventful U.S. Open ended in the third round as Russian Andrey Rublev turned aside the fiery Australian 7-6(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 in a battle of big servers on Saturday.

Rublev looked up to the task from the start and proved to be unflappable under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights against Kyrgios, who complained to his team in the box several times about not being able to see.

The Australian seemed to have no issues with his vision on serve, however, at one point firing four consecutive aces in a 40-second game to force a first-set tiebreak. He saved two set points before sending a backhand just wide to lose the opener.

Kyrgios got his first two break point chances while leading 3-2 in the second set but Rublev beat them both back.

The pair remained on serve to bring up another tiebreak and while Kyrgios jumped out to a 4-0 lead Rublev took seven of the next eight points to snatch the set and grab control of the match.

The final set remained on serve until Rublev got the break he needed and immediately consolidated for a 5-2 lead that sent him on his way.

Kyrgios lost despite powering down 30 aces to Rublev’s 12 and winning almost 90% of his first-serve points while saving three of the four break points he faced.

After making headlines this week for both his comments and on-court behavior, Kyrgios avoided controversy on Saturday but did shout “whistleblower” in the direction of a line judge who had gone to the chair umpire to report foul language.

Rublev will next face Italian Matteo Berrettini, who beat Australian Alexei Popyrin earlier on Saturday.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

NFL cuts roundup: Notes from every team as rosters trim to 53

September 1, 2019

With the NFL’s mandatory 53-man roster limit set for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, here is a list of the most noteworthy cuts from each team:

Arizona Cardinals: Despite playing in 16 games with eight starts in his first two NFL seasons, wide receiver Chad Williams was cut by Arizona. A third-round pick out of Grambling State in 2017, Williams had 202 yards and a touchdown in his career. According to multiple reports, the Cardinals also cut receiver Pharoh Cooper. With veterans Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree and Damiere Byrd, along with second-year pro Christian Kirk and rookie KeeSean Johnson, the Cardinals carry a stacked receiving corps.

Atlanta Falcons: The team cut 10-year veteran tight end Logan Paulsen, the first of the team’s cuts to get to the 53-man limit. Paulsen started 10 games in his first season with the Falcons last season, catching nine balls for 91 yards and a score. But with Pro Bowler Austin Hooper entrenched as the starter and the team bringing in veteran Luke Stocker, the Falcons will likely go with youth should they keep a third tight end.

Baltimore Ravens: Among the Ravens’ cuts were some of the biggest names to have the ax fall on them, including pass rusher Shane Ray and receiver Michael Floyd. But also among the cuts were a pair of players who the Ravens will likely hope clear waivers and make it to their practice squad. Running back De’Lance Turner and linebacker Donald Payne both have playing experience and were viewed as potential keys on special teams. The Ravens lost Payne to a waiver claim two years ago to Jacksonville.

Buffalo Bills: Another team with big-name cuts is the Bills. Running back LeSean McCoy, defensive back Captain Munnerlyn and receiver Ray-Ray McCloud were all victims to a roster that continues to lean more heavily on youth. Safety Kurt Coleman was also among the cuts, though multiple outlets reported the team is hoping to re-sign him early next week. The team also cut undrafted free agent quarterback Tyree Jackson and former CFL standout receiver Duke Williams.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers released a trio of players who spent multiple seasons with the club and saw plenty of playing time: defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. (two seasons, 18 games, 16 tackles), linebacker Jared Norris (three seasons, 28 games, one tackle) and running back Cameron Artis-Payne (four seasons, 32 games, three starts, 491 yards rushing, five total touchdowns).

Chicago Bears: Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-round pick in 2016, was cut by Chicago. In three seasons in the Windy City, Bullard had 62 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble while playing in 46 of 48 possible games and starting five of them. Among the players reportedly cut who could end up on the Bears’ practice squad should they go unclaimed are running back Ryan Nall and cornerback John Franklin III.

Cincinnati Bengals: The biggest news to come out of Cincinnati on Saturday was not a roster but rather the placement of quarterback Jeff Driskel on injured reserve with the likelihood the team will pursue an injury settlement with the former backup. The move means rookie Ryan Finley out of North Carolina State will likely begin the season the No. 2 quarterback behind Andy Dalton.

Cleveland Browns: Undrafted rookie safety J.T. Hassell, born with only two fingers on his left hand, was among the Browns’ cuts. Another player who failed to make the final roster is receiver Ishmael Hyman, who entered the team’s preseason finale Thursday night. But Hyman failed to make a catch on three straight targets before finishing with five catches for 61 yards. He is believed to be a practice squad candidate. And Jamie Gillan, “The Scottish Hammer,” beat out veteran Britton Colquitt for the punting job.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are another team ending Saturday with only two quarterbacks on the active roster. In cutting Mike White and Taryn Christion, Dallas currently has starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush as the only quarterbacks on the 53-man squad. With Ezekiel Elliott still holding out, the Cowboys nonetheless carried only two tailbacks on the roster in Tony Pollard and Alfred Morris, plus fullback Jamize Olawale.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos are another team apparently going with a veteran starter and rookie backups in the quarterback room. The team cut veteran quarterback Kevin Hogan, whom the team signed last season and had as their No. 2 quarterback when preseason began. Now Joe Flacco will be backed up by rookies Brett Rypien and Drew Lock. In the secondary, the team cut Shamarko Thomas and Dymonte Thomas, a day after cutting Su’a Cravens, to trim one of its strongest position groups — safeties — to four.

Detroit Lions: When training camp opened, Josh Johnson and David Blough weren’t on the Lions’ roster. Now, they’re all the team has if starting quarterback Matthew Stafford goes down. The club let go of Tom Savage and Luis Perez in their final round of cuts, leaving them with Johnson — whose last calendar year included being the first quarterback drafted in the short-lived Alliance of American Football — and Blough, whom the team acquired via trade from Cleveland on Friday.

Green Bay Packers: If Aaron Rodgers goes down this season, the Packers won’t be turning to DeShone Kizer this time. Kizer, Rodgers’ backup last season who saw action in three games, was among those let go by the team Saturday. Instead, the team will apparently go with second-year pro Tim Boyle, while undrafted rookie Manny Wilkins appears to still be on the roster as well. Rookie sixth-round pick Dexter Williams made the final roster, beating out Tra Carson, and Sam Ficken was cut, meaning at-times-embattled kicker Mason Crosby held onto his job.

Houston Texans: While much of the news in Houston centered on the trade of Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle, the Texans went down to the deadline wire addressing the position that has been perhaps its biggest concern the last two weeks, running back. With the team reportedly set to cut second-year offensive lineman Martinas Rankin, it instead traded him to Kansas City in exchange for running back Carlos Hyde, who is expected to share duties with Duke Johnson with Lamar Miller out for the season. The Texans also cut former Colts running back Josh Ferguson.

Indianapolis Colts: When the Colts included Phillip Walker among their final cuts down to the 53-man limit, that left Jacoby Brissett as the only active quarterback on the roster (Chad Kelly is currently suspended). With Andrew Luck retired, Brissett is the clear-cut starter. But the team will be seeking another quarterback before the season opener, so the current 53-man roster will change again in the next week. Ten-year veteran tackle J’Marcus Webb (81 games, 65 starts in his career) and running back Charcandrick West (1,587 career yards, 13 career touchdowns) were also among the cuts.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Despite finishing 5-11 last season, the Jaguars sport one of the league’s deepest and most talented defenses. As such, making the club was always going to be a tall order for anyone on that side of the ball. Among the cuts this weekend were defensive end Datone Jones (a six-year veteran) and linebacker Ramik Wilson (a four-year veteran with 146 career tackles). But undrafted rookie safety and fan favorite Andrew Wingard out of Wyoming was among those to make the team.

Kansas City Chiefs: Sporting one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, the Chiefs weren’t expected make any cuts that would reverberate around the league. Instead, the team tried to recoup something for players it did not have plans for, namely cornerback Mark Fields and running back Carlos Hyde. Fields was traded to Minnesota for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2021 and Hyde was part of the aforementioned trade to Houston, which netted the guard Martinas Rankin. The Chiefs did release veteran guard Jeff Allen and his 66 career starts, an unexpected move until the trade for Rankin.

Los Angeles Chargers: Eyes have been focused on the Chargers’ backfield throughout the preseason. But on Saturday, some focus shifted from running back to quarterback. While the club reportedly gave holdout running back Melvin Gordon permission to seek a trade from other teams, the club cut quarterback Cardale Jones after two-plus years with the team. Instead, fifth-round rookie Easton Stick and veteran Tyrod Taylor will back up Philip Rivers.

Los Angeles Rams: The defending NFC champions are apparently heading into the season with two quarterbacks. Both Brandon Allen and Alliance of American Football alum John Wolford were among the team’s final cuts, meaning as of now only Jared Goff and Blake Bortles are quarterbacks on the active roster. The team also cut running back John Kelly, despite most expecting the team to carry four backs. Potential starting linebacker Micah Kiser was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury, ending his season. The team had hoped he would return at some point this season.

Miami Dolphins: The team made the biggest news on the trade front, sending tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills to Houston for a trove of draft picks after the roster deadline. But perhaps the most surprising moves were the players the Dolphins kept. Already with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage competing for carries at running back, Miami held on to Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird and Mark Walton. Add fullback Chandler Cox, and Miami has six running backs to offset a passing game that has Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen at quarterback and is suddenly without its best lineman from last season.

Minnesota Vikings: Less than three weeks ago, the Vikings sent a fifth-round pick to Baltimore for Kaare Vedvik, a player whom scouts said could win a job as a placekicker and/or a punter. Now, he isn’t even on the team. Vedvik was among the final players cut in Minnesota, as the team will instead go with Dan Bailey at kicker and Matt Wile at punter. The team also cut 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell after three disappointing seasons.

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick must like what he has seen from rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Among the Patriots’ cuts was veteran backup Brian Hoyer, leaving Stidham as the only quarterback on the roster behind Tom Brady. In injury news, the team reportedly cut receiver Demaryius Thomas, placed center David Andrews on season-ending injured reserve (blood clots) and receiver Cameron Meredith was placed on the PUP list with an undisclosed injury.

New Orleans Saints: Perhaps the most noteworthy name among those cut by the Saints is safety Chris Banjo, a special teams ace with the team since 2016 who signed a three-year extension in March. But the team also reportedly reinstated rookie pass rusher Carl Granderson from the did not report/reserve list after his release from jail stemming from a no-contest plea on charges of inappropriately touching two women in college, and also reportedly received a one-week roster exemption for defensive tackle David Onyemata, who is suspended for the season opener.

New York Giants: The Giants drafted quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round in 2018. They drafted Daniel Jones in the first found in 2019. With veteran Alex Tanney’s experienced preferred by the coaching staff and Eli Manning still the starter, Lauletta was the odd man out when the cuts came Sunday. The Giants also held onto all but two of their draft picks from 2019, cutting only their two seventh-round picks.

New York Jets: Four months ago, linebacker Jachai Polite was a third-round draft pick, just four picks away from being a second-round pick. Now, he’s out of a job. The Jets cut the former Florida standout, bringing to an end a preseason that was disappointing in the eyes of many in both camp and preseason games. Mike Maccagnan, general manager at the time of the draft, was fired three weeks after the draft. New coach Adam Gase was clearly unimpressed by what he saw. Veteran running back Elijah McGuire was also let go.

Oakland Raiders: Wide receiver Keelan Doss and linebacker Jason Cabinda, both of whom got plenty of face time on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this preseason, were among the Jon Gruden’s final cuts. According to reports, the Raiders will attempt to add Doss to their practice squad, but he must first clear waivers. Cabinda, who started three games with the Raiders last season, could also end up with the practice squad, though he is considered a more likely candidate to get picked up by another team.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles’ seemingly perpetual backfield by committee will again have some new names this season, as running backs Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams were cut casualties. They were the team’s two leading rushers in 2018 with 364 and 511 yards on the ground, respectively. Two other notable names were quarterback Clayton Thorson — a rookie fifth-round pick out of Northwestern — and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, whose hand tipped Cody Parkey’s ill-fated 43-yard, double-doink field-goal attempt in the playoffs last season in Chicago.

Pittsburgh Steelers: To end their first camp in the post-Antonio Brown era, the Steelers had a very quiet cut day. Perhaps the biggest name cut is veteran receiver Eli Rogers, who had 78 catches for 822 yards and four touchdowns in 30 games over three seasons with the team. The Steelers also kept 10 linebackers on the active roster — two more than they ended last season with — and trimmed from their usual six receivers to five with the release of Rogers (though they did keep three tight ends, as well).

San Francisco 49ers: The nomadic career of Jordan Matthews continues, as the 49ers cut him after signing him this offseason. In his first three seasons in Philadelphia, Matthews averaged 75 catches for 891 yards and more than six touchdowns per season. He has a total of 45 grabs for 582 yards and three touchdowns in the two seasons since, going from the Eagles to Buffalo to New England, then back to the Eagles, then to San Francisco and now the free-agent pool again.

Seattle Seahawks: Perhaps no team’s current quarterback situation is more perilous than that of the Seahawks. Sure, they’re in good hands with Russell Wilson, but after that? There is nothing after that. The team cut both Paxton Lynch and Geno Smith, leaving Wilson as the only quarterback on the active roster. Of course, the team will add at least one quarterback before the season begins, and there are reports it could very well be Smith. Another cut casualty was defensive end Cassius Marsh, who rejoined the club this offseason but may have been squeezed out after Saturday’s acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After a 2016 rookie season in which he collected 22 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks while playing in 16 games, defensive end Noah Spence couldn’t come close to repeating that success in the two subsequent seasons. The Bucs cut the 2016 second-round pick in the final round of cuts, despite the team moving to a 3-4 scheme and fellow outside rusher Jason Pierre-Paul out at least six weeks with a neck injury suffered in a May car accident. The team also will carry only three running backs, but they have four tight ends and six wide receivers with first-year head coach Bruce Arians.

Tennessee Titans: Two of the more surprising names on the cut list in Tennessee were those of players who many observers believed had possibly played their way onto the roster by outperforming their competition. But interior offensive lineman Corey Levin, who could play guard or center, and running back Jeremy McNichols both failed to make the final roster. The Titans are carrying four tight ends and four running backs, but with tackle Taylor Lewan suspended to start the season, more O-line help could be added in the coming days.

Washington Redskins: The team moved on from two underperforming recent draft picks, cutting loose wide receiver Josh Doctson and running back Samaje Perine. Doctson was a first-round pick in 2016 and, after missing all but two games in an injury-plagued rookie season, had 79 catches for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns in the following two seasons. The team declined his fifth-year option in May, a sign his end with the team could be near. A fourth-round pick in 2017, Perine failed to grab hold of meaningful carries. He played in only five games last season, carrying the ball just eight times for 32 yards and failing to score.

–Field Level Media

U.S., Taliban at ‘threshold’ of Afghan agreement: U.S. official

September 1, 2019

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. and Taliban negotiators are close to an agreement that would reduce fighting and allow full peace talks among Afghans, a top U.S. official said on Sunday, a day after insurgent forces stormed the strategic northern city of Kunduz.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat overseeing negotiations for Washington, said he would travel to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday for consultations after wrapping up the ninth round of talks with Taliban officials in Qatar.

“We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country,” he said in a Twitter post.

The comment came a day after a major show of strength by hundreds of Taliban fighters who overran parts of Kunduz, a city they have twice come close to taking in recent years, setting off a day of gunbattles and air strikes to drive them back.

Khalilzad gave no details of the deal, which is expected to see thousands of U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees by the Taliban not to allow the country to be used as a base for militant attacks abroad.

“We will now discuss these developments with our own leadership, while Zalmay Khalilzad is supposed to go to Kabul and inform the Afghan leadership about the decisions made in the peace talks,” said a senior Taliban leader privy to the talks.

The agreement would not on its own end the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces, but would allow the start of so-called “intra-Afghan” peace talks, which are expected to be held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.

However it was not clear whether the Taliban would agree to talk directly with the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, which they consider an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.

Some Taliban officials have said they would only agree to talk to Afghan officials in a private capacity, not as representatives of the state, and they remain opposed to presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28.

It was also unclear whether the agreement would cover the full withdrawal of all 14,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan or how long a pullout would take.

More than 20,000 foreign troops are in the country, most serving as part of a NATO-led mission to train and assist Afghan forces. Thousands of U.S. troops are also engaged in a separate counter-terrorism mission fighting militant groups such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Suicide bombings and combat operations have continued throughout the talks and the fighting in Kunduz underlined the vulnerability of large parts of Afghanistan, where the Taliban control more territory than at any time since being overthrown by a U.S.-led campaign in 2001.

Taliban fighters, who control large parts of the surrounding countryside, stormed the city in the early hours of Saturday, seizing large areas, including a hospital, before Afghan security forces backed by air strikes pushed them back.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

South Korea central bank frees more cheap funds for smaller firms

September 1, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank said on Sunday it would make up to 5 trillion won ($4.12 billion) of extremely cheap funds newly available for local banks that increase lending to smaller firms hit by the economic slowdown.

Banks can use the funds at an interest rate of 0.5% per year, on the basis of their actual amount of lending to smaller companies for purposes ranging from capital investment and additional employment, the Bank of Korea said in a statement.

It is much lower than an actual lending rate of close to 4% that banks actually charge for lending to smaller companies.

The central bank said it was not creating a new lending facility but would make the additional funds available by adjusting ceilings of existing programs.

(Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

Gauff loses match but learns lessons from Osaka

September 1, 2019

By Rory Carroll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coco Gauff’s U.S. Open came to an abrupt end under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday but the 15-year-old said she would leave New York a better player after falling to world number one Naomi Osaka.

Backed by lively support from the packed home crowd, the young American was clearly overmatched against the defending champion, who needed just over an hour to book her ticket to the fourth round.

Osaka, 21, showed impressive sportsmanship by giving Gauff the opportunity to thank her fans in the post-match interview on the showcase court.

“It was amazing. I’m going to learn a lot from this match,” a tearful Gauff said after the 6-3 6-0 defeat.

“She’s the number one player in the world right now, so I know what I need to do to get to that level.

“After the match, I think she just proved that she’s a true athlete. For me, the definition of an athlete is someone who on the court treats you like your worst enemy but off the court can be your best friend.

“I think that’s what she did tonight,” added Gauff, who trained at the same Florida tennis centre as Osaka when they were younger.

Osaka said she had the idea to invite Gauff into the interview when they were shaking hands at the net.

“The thing that people don’t see is that we go into the locker room and just cry and do press after,” she said.

“I thought it would be nice if she addressed the people who came and obviously cheered so hard for her.

“She’s had an incredible week so I thought I’d just make a positive statement out of it.”

While she was full of compassion after the match Osaka was all business on the court, avoiding Gauff’s dangerous backhand and taking advantage of her shaky serving on a warm night in Flushing Meadows.

Osaka predicted Gauff would become a threat to the game’s top players when she builds some more power.

Gauff took the tennis world by storm at Wimbledon this year where she reached the fourth round and was given a wildcard to play at Flushing Meadows.

After a memorable battle in the second round with Tina Babos on Thursday Gauff was unable to make much inroads against Osaka’s powerful serve, converting two of five break point opportunities and issuing seven double faults.

Gauff’s U.S. Open is not quite over, as she will team up with Catherine McNally to take on Kveta Peschke and Nicole Melichar in the second round of the women’s doubles on Sunday.

For Osaka, a meeting with 13th seed Belinda Bencic awaits.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Flashback: the Motorola ROKR E1 was a dud, but it paved the way for the iPhone

Apple began life as a hardware company, selling desktop computers and then adding laptops to its roster. But in 2001 the company started its long journey to becoming a media distribution company - a journey that saw the launch of Apple Music in 2015 and will welcome Apple TV+ later this year. In 2001 Apple released iTunes to the world and a few months later the very first iPod followed. Those two products revitalized the waning company and grew quickly. In 2005 Apple had a commanding 75% share of digital music sales and 80% of MP3 player sales. With over 20 million iPods sold, Steve...

China, U.S. to collect additional tariffs on each other’s goods

September 1, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States will begin imposing additional tariffs on each other’s goods on Sunday, the latest escalation in a bruising trade war despite signs talks would resume sometime this month.

A new round of U.S. tariffs on some Chinese goods and Chinese tariffs on U.S. goods is scheduled to take effect from 0401 GMT on Sunday.

The Trump administration will begin collecting 15% tariffs on more than $125 billion in Chinese imports, including smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and many types of footwear.

As part of its retaliation, Beijing will begin imposing a 5% tariff on U.S. crude oil from Sept. 1, the first time U.S. oil has been targeted since the world’s two largest economies started their trade war more than a year ago.

U.S. President Donald Trump last month said he was increasing existing and planned tariffs by 5% on about $550 billion worth of Chinese imports after Beijing announced its own retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

Tariffs of 15% on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing are to take effect on Dec. 15. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said on Thursday it would collect public comments through Sept. 20 on a planned tariff increase to 30% on a $250 billion list of goods already hit with a 25% tariff.

Trade teams from China and the United States continue to talk and will meet in September, but tariff increases on Chinese goods set to go in place on Sunday will not be delayed, Trump said on Friday.

For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.

China has consistently denied Washington’s accusations that it engages in unfair trade practices, vowing to fight back in kind and criticizing U.S. measures as protectionist.

China has pressed the United States to cancel the tariff increase, but said last week that a September round of talks was being discussed between the two.

The trade war further strains Beijing-Washington ties, already overshadowed by U.S. freedom of navigation exercises near Chinese-occupied islands in the disputed South China Sea, and U.S. support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Hong Kong protesters plan to disrupt airport after night of chaos

September 1, 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Pro-democracy demonstrators planned on Sunday to choke travel routes to Hong Kong’s international airport after a chaotic night of running battles between police and masked protesters, the latest wave of unrest to hit the Chinese-ruled city.

Protest organizers have urged the public to overwhelm road and rail links to the airport on Sunday and Monday, potentially disrupting flights. A similar so-called “stress test” of the airport last weekend failed.

Late on Saturday and into the early hours, police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets and protesters threw petrol bombs, escalating clashes that have plunged the Asian financial center into its worst political crisis in decades.

Officers fired two warning shots in the air to scare off a group of protesters who had them surrounded and were trying to steal their pistols, the police said, only the second time live rounds have been used in more than three months of unrest.

Parts of the metro system ground to a halt as skirmishes spread to the subway, with television showing images of people being beaten as they cowered on the floor behind umbrellas. Three stations remained closed on Sunday morning.

“A large group of protesters participated in unlawful assembly in various districts since yesterday, despite police’s objection and warning,” the police said in a statement.

“The level of violence is rapidly escalating and their illegal acts have no regard to the laws of Hong Kong.”

The protests, which at one point blocked three key roads, came on the fifth anniversary of China’s decision to curtail democratic reforms and rule out universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned in 1997.

The unrest began in mid-June, fueled by anger over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people in the city to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

But the unrest has evolved over 13 straight weeks into a widespread demand for greater democracy in a territory that many residents believe is increasingly being controlled by Beijing. China denies meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Hong Kong returned to China under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows it freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, such as the right to protest and an independent legal system.

(Reporting by Farah Master; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Federer, Serena seek U.S. Open quarter-final berths on day seven

September 1, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Roger Federer will try to avoid a second consecutive fourth-round exit from the U.S. Open when he returns to action on Sunday while Serena Williams resumes her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.

Federer, who wilted in hot and humid conditions last year when he fell to Australian John Millman in the last 16, will kick off the day session inside Arthur Ashe Stadium against Belgian 15th seed David Goffin.

“This is where I always try to remain young in my mindset and think back to how I used to think maybe and take the positives out of that,” said the Swiss third seed.

“And also don’t do the things when you were young like underestimate the opponent, actually respect the conditions. Prepare well if it’s hot, prepare if it’s windy, not to get frustrated.”

Williams, who cruised by Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova to reach the fourth round, will follow Federer onto Ashe when she faces Croatian 22nd seed Petra Martic for the first time.

Other than in the second round when Williams had to rally to beat Catherine McNally, the American eighth seed has looked in solid form and has shown no signs of the back spasms that forced her to retire from the Toronto final.

Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic is also looking fit after a shoulder issue bothered him in his second-round match and the Serb kicks off the night session against Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

Also in action is Daniil Medvedev, who was fined $9,000 for a slew of offences committed during his third round clash with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

The Russian fifth seed will face German qualifier Dominik Koepfer.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

College football notebook: Huskies’ WR Jones to miss time

September 1, 2019

Washington Huskies wide receiver Ty Jones, who led the team with six touchdown receptions last season, likely will miss most of the season, the Seattle Times reported Saturday, citing two sources.

Jones missed almost all of spring ball with a right wrist injury and suffered a left thumb injury in fall camp. He told reporters early in camp that he was still working to recover from two surgeries on the wrist.

Jones caught 31 passes for 491 yards last season and was expected to be a key target, especially in the red zone, for new starting quarterback Jacob Eason, a transfer from Georgia. Jones (6-foot-4, 213 pounds) is a junior with a redshirt year available.

Washington’s receiving corps includes Aaron Fuller (58 catches for 874 yards last season) and Andre Baccellia (55 for 584). Fuller caught five passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 13 Huskies defeated Eastern Washington in their season opener 47-14 on Saturday. Baccellia made five catches for 84 yards and one score.

–Nevada awarded walk-on kicker Brandon Talton a scholarship after his 56-yard field goal capped the Wolf Pack’s 34-31 win against Purdue on Friday night.

“Congratulations, outstanding,” head coach Jay Norvell told the true freshman in the locker room after the game. “Game ball … and a scholarship.”

Talton, who earned the starting job over fifth-year senior Spence Pettit, also made a 34-yard field goal and all four of his extra points.

Nevada trailed 24-7 at halftime and 31-17 to start the fourth quarter. Talton’s 56-yarder as time expired was the third-longest field goal in school history.

–Mississippi State opened its season with a 38-28 win over Louisiana, but it did so without seven players, who were suspended for unspecified violations of team rules.

They were defensive tackle Lee Autry, kicker Jace Christmann, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., receiver Devonta Jason, offensive linemen Michael Story and Kwatrivous Johnson, and safety Marcus Murphy.

Jordan Lawless, a junior, assumed the kicking duties for the day. Lawless made all five of his extra points and made one of two field goals, missing from 27 yards and then nailing a 37-yarder.

–Field Level Media

LAFC coasting to finish as Minnesota visits

September 1, 2019

With seven games remaining, Los Angeles Football Club might need to manufacture some urgency as Minnesota United visits Sunday looking to rebound from a narrow defeat in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final.

In their last game, LAFC (19-3-5, 62 points) came back from two goals down to earn a 3-3 draw against the rival LA Galaxy, and they remain on pace to shatter the record for most points earned in a 34-game season. That mark fell only last year, when the New York Red Bulls earned 71 points en route to the 2018 Supporters’ Shield.

Even more immediate, coach Bob Bradley’s side is one win from clinching the top playoff seed in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the teams who are second through seventh in the West entered the weekend with only three points between them. That includes Minnesota (12-9-6, 42 points), which began the weekend in fifth.

“End of the year, you always understand what teams are fighting for, and it’s our responsibility to keep playing at a high level,” Bradley said. “We want to win games, we want to take the points and put ourselves in the best position going into the playoffs.”

Minnesota heads west after the disappointment of a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United on Tuesday night in both teams’ first Open Cup final appearance.

Finnish international Robin Lod scored his first Minnesota goal since his arrival earlier in August, and the Loons had several opportunities late to tie the match.

Having nearly matched the impressive, Eastern Conference-leading trio of Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, coach Adrian Heath now has to figure out how to stop MLS-leading scorer Carlos Vela (27 goals), Diego Rossi (14) and Adama Diomande (eight). Those three have combined for more goals than 22 of 23 other MLS teams.

Minnesota’s own top scorer, Darwin Quintero, has eight goals and has been used off the subs’ bench in three of his last five games, including the Open Cup final.

“You don’t want to beat yourself,” Heath said. “Don’t give them opportunities in your own defensive third by trying to play out when they’ve got too many bodies around the box, too many people pressing the ball. And you take your opportunities if and when they come.”

–Field Level Media

MLB notebook: Indians’ Naquin (ACL tear) out for season

September 1, 2019

Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin tore his right ACL when he crashed into the fence while making a spectacular catch Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

An MRI taken after the 4-0 loss confirmed the injury, and Naquin will miss the rest of the season. He was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday.

Naquin, 28, batted .288 with 19 doubles, 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 89 games this season.

Cleveland recalled first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers from Triple-A Columbus in a corresponding move.

–The New York Yankees placed left-hander CC Sabathia back on the 10-day injured list with knee inflammation. In a corresponding move, the Yankees recalled right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He threw just 48 pitches Friday night against the Oakland Athletics before exiting with soreness. The ailment has plagued him all season and this marks his third trip to the IL.

Sabathia (5-8, 4.93 ERA) told reporters after the game he hoped to pitch again this season. The 39-year-old has said he will retire after the 2019 campaign.

–The Milwaukee Brewers placed second baseman Keston Hiura on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.

The 23-year-old rookie sustained the injury during Friday night’s 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Hiura is batting .301 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, 43 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 70 games this season.

The Brewers also optioned right-hander Devin Williams to Triple-A San Antonio and recalled outfielder Ben Gamel and third baseman Travis Shaw from San Antonio.

–Field Level Media

South Korea 2019 growth likely to miss lowered target: finance ministry

September 1, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s economic growth this year looks likely to miss the government’s target due to worsening global conditions, its finance minister said on Sunday, just two months after his ministry lowered the target.

“It is getting more difficult now to achieve (the target) as the situation has deteriorated since the target was set,” Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on TV.

The ministry trimmed this year’s growth target to 2.4-2.5% in early July from 2.6-2.7% previously. Since then, the central bank forecast this year’s growth would reach just 2.2%, down from 2.7% in 2018.

(Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Osaka brings Gauff’s New York run to a halt

September 1, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Defending champion Naomi Osaka brought American teen Coco Gauff’s captivating U.S. Open run to a swift end with a 6-3 6-0 win on Saturday to secure her spot in the fourth round.

World number one Osaka, who backed up last year’s New York triumph with a win at the Australian Open, simply overwhelmed her 15-year-old opponent in the marquee matchup under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

Gauff, who stunned the tennis world by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, committed seven double faults and was error prone throughout the match.

Up next for Osaka will be Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic, who beat Estonian Anett Kontaveit earlier on Saturday.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Britain’s finance minister Javid says he has fantastic relationship with PM Johnson

August 31, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance minister Sajid Javid on Saturday he had a “fantastic” relationship with Boris Johnson after reports that he had a furious argument with the prime minister after the sacking of one of his aides.

“I am not going to discuss any personnel issues, it would be inappropriate. I think my views are well understood. The relationship is fantastic with the prime minister,” Javid said.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and William Schomberg; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Friday, 30 August 2019

India leaves nearly two million people off citizens’ list, fate uncertain

August 31, 2019

By Zeba Siddiqui and Zarir Hussain

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Nearly 2 million people have been left off a list of citizens released on Saturday in India’s northeastern state of Assam, after a mammoth years-long exercise to check illegal immigration that critics said targeted the region’s Muslim minority.

Resentment against illegal immigrants has simmered for years in Assam, one of India’s poorest states, with residents blaming outsiders, many said to come from neighboring Bangladesh, for stealing their jobs and land.

Officials checked documents submitted by roughly 33 million people for a draft released last year of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, which left out more than 4 million residents of the state, many of them Hindu.

But the final list now includes 31.1 million people, with 1.9 million excluded, Prateek Hajela, the coordinator of the state’s register, said in a statement.

“Any person who is not satisfied with the outcome of the claims and objections can file an appeal before the foreigners’ tribunals,” Hajela said, adding that everyone had been given an adequate opportunity to be heard.

Those excluded have 120 days to prove their citizenship at hundreds of regional quasi-judicial bodies known as foreigner’s tribunals. If ruled to be illegal immigrants there, they can appeal to higher courts.

Critics accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party of stoking the sentiment against illegal immigrants, and misusing the register to target even legal Muslim citizens.

His close aide, Home Minister Amit Shah, has previously vowed to weed out illegal immigrants, calling them “termites”.

Officials in Assam say they do not know what will eventually be done with those finally adjudged foreigners. Bangladesh has not committed to accepting them.

More than 1,000 people are being held in Assam’s six detention centers for illegal immigrants and the state government has said it seeks to set up more centers.

Human rights activists have criticized conditions at the centers, and lawyers and activists have outlined problems with the functioning of the foreigners’ tribunals.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui and Zarir Hussain; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Medvedev embraces boos to reach last 16 at U.S. Open

August 31, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev overcame a hostile crowd to secure a 7-6(1) 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in a tension-filled clash on Friday and book a spot in the last 16 of the U.S. Open.

Medvedev, who was heartily booed by the crowd inside Louis Armstrong Stadium at every opportunity after giving them the middle finger, relied on his powerful serve to put away Lopez and keep alive his hopes for a maiden Grand Slam title.

Playing for the second consecutive day after rain wiped out a slew of Wednesday matches, Medvedev later told the crowd that their negative energy is what carried him to victory.

“The energy you are giving me right now I think it will be enough for my next (four) matches. The more you do this the more I will win for you. Thank you,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview through a chorus of boos.

“I want all of you to know when you are asleep tonight I won because of you.”

The crowd turned on Medvedev in the first set when he angrily snatched a towel from a ballperson’s hands.

Medvedev got an unsportsmanlike conduct code violation for the incident and when it was announced, the 23-year-old tossed his racquet toward the center of the court before telling the umpire he does not belong in the chair.

The crowd resumed their booing of Medvedev and as he walked back to his chair he decided to hold up his middle finger close to the side of his head.

When Medvedev’s gesture was shown on the replay screen, the crowd showered him with boos and the umpire also gave him a talking to.

“I cannot give you a code because of what I saw on the screen. I have to see it myself,” chair umpire Damien Dumusois told Medvedev.

From there, the crowd were firmly behind Lopez and used every opportunity they could to boo Medvedev, including every time he double faulted or missed a routine shot.

“I paid for it the whole match but the crowd was electric,” Medvedev told a small group of reporters when asked about the inspiration he drew from the crowd. “Even the bad energy I needed to turn it into good energy and that’s why I won.”

The Russian said he talked to Lopez at the net and to the Spaniard’s coach, Jose Clavet, in the lockerroom after that match to assure them his actions were not against them and, according to Medvedev, both understood.

Medvedev also said he was not sure whether the New York crowds would continue their booing for his next match but did say he does not expect to behave the same when he takes the court on Saturday.

“I am working on myself and hopefully I will be better next time,” said Medvedev.

Medvedev arrived at the year’s final Grand Slam with more confidence than ever after reaching the final in U.S. Open tune-up events in Washington and Montreal before securing the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati 12 days ago.

The Russian is also considered one of the favorites to keep one of the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, who have combined to win each of the last 11 Grand Slams, from winning in New York.

Medvedev, who is still four wins away from a maiden Grand Slam title, welcomed the post-match boos and waved for more before addressing the crowd in what was certainly the most bizarre moment of the U.S. Open.

“First of all I can say thank you to all you guys because your energy tonight gave me the win,” Medvedev, who will face German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the next round, said on court.

“If you were not here I would probably lose the match because I was so tired, I was cramping yesterday and it was hard for me to play.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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MLB notebook: Coroner rules Skaggs died of accidental OD

August 31, 2019

Los Angeles Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs died from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol, the Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner’s Office said in a report released Friday.

According to the examiner’s report, the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone, as well as alcohol, were in Skaggs’ system when he was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on July 1 prior to the Angels’ series against the Rangers.

Per the report, Skaggs died by choking on his vomit without signs of trauma. He was 27.

Skaggs’ family released a statement Friday, and in it claimed that an employee of the Angels may have been involved in “the circumstances surrounding (Skaggs’) death.”

–The Kansas City Royals reached an agreement to sell ownership to a group led by local businessman John Sherman, the club’s current owners announced. Royals owner and CEO David Glass and his family had been in negotiations to sell for a reported price tag of about $1 billion.

Glass, who turns 84 on Monday, bought the team for $96 million in April 2000. He had served the previous 6 1/2 years as CEO and chairman of the team following the death of founding owner Ewing Kauffman, for whom the Royals’ home stadium is still named. Glass’s son, Dan, is the Royals’ president.

Sherman, 64, has been a part-owner and vice chairman of the Cleveland Indians since 2016 and will divest himself of that team. He is the CEO of Kansas City-based MLP Holdings and is on the board of trustees for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

–Chicago White Sox outfielder Jon Jay was placed on the 10-day injured list and is expected to undergo season-ending hip surgery next week.

Jay, 34, initially sustained the hip strain in March and didn’t make his season debut until June. He played in just 47 games and was hitting .267 with no home runs and just nine RBIs. He signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the White Sox last winter.

The White Sox recalled Ryan Cordell from Triple-A Charlotte to take Jay’s spot on the roster.

–The Los Angeles Dodgers placed first baseman Max Muncy on the 10-day injured list with a fractured right wrist.

Muncy was hit by a pitch during Wednesday night’s game against the San Diego Padres. Though initial X-rays were negative, a Friday MRI revealed the fracture.

Muncy is batting .253 with 33 home runs and 87 RBIs and 89 runs this season. The Dodgers activated Kristopher Negron from the 10-day IL to take Muncy’s spot on the roster.

–Chicago Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist will be activated Sunday when rosters expand, manager Joe Maddon said.

Zobrist, 38, left the Cubs in May for personal reasons involving his family; he and his wife each filed for divorce. He did not do interviews while on a minor league assignment this month while on the restricted list.

Zobrist, a three-time All-Star, is in his 14th major league season. He has appeared in 26 games with the Cubs this year, hitting .241 with 10 RBIs. He played in 12 minor league games, batting .189.

–The New York Yankees continued their injury list merry-go-round on, reinstating first baseman Luke Voit and sending third baseman Gio Urshela to the 10-day IL.

Voit hasn’t played in the big leagues since July 30 because of a sports hernia but went 8-of-17 with two home runs and four RBIs in a four-game rehab assignment at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Urshela came out of Wednesday night’s victory over the Seattle Mariners with left groin tightness. He was replaced at third base by DJ LeMahieu, who could play there in Urshela’s absence.

–The St. Louis Cardinals activated Tyler O’Neill from the 10-day injured list and placed his fellow outfielder Lane Thomas on the IL with a broken right wrist.

O’Neill played in six games during his rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield, batting 6-for-22 with a homer. The 24-year-old has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a left wrist strain.

Thomas was hit by pitches in the right arm in consecutive games on Monday and Tuesday.

–The Dodgers announced that they will extend the protective netting at their stadium ahead of the team’s return home on Sept. 2.

The club already replaced the nets behind home plate and above each dugout with a 33-foot net, and this week, those nets will be extended by an additional 124 feet, stretching from both dugouts to the bend in front of the baseline seating.

The Dodgers are the latest club to extend the netting at their park. The Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals have increased their netting near the foul poles, and the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates have also stated plans to increase their protective netting.

–Field Level Media

Djokovic shrugs off shoulder issue to reach last 16

August 31, 2019

By Frank Pingue

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Defending champion Novak Djokovic silenced concerns about his left shoulder as the Serbian breezed past American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Friday to reach the last 16 at the U.S. Open.

Djokovic’s title defense looked to be in jeopardy in his previous match when he received treatment on his shoulder several times, an issue which he said had impacted his serve and backhand.

But he looked to be playing pain free against Kudla, the 16-times Grand Slam champion winning 81% of his first-serve points and turning aside all seven break points he faced against the unseeded American.

Kudla, who due to a rain delay earlier this week was playing his second match in as many days, brought incredible energy into the match and raced around the court to make a number of shots that surprised Djokovic but was simply overmatched.

Up next for Djokovic will be former champion Stan Wawrinka, who beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi earlier on Friday.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Highlights: U.S. Open day five

August 31, 2019

(Reuters) – Highlights of the fifth day at the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, on Friday (times GMT):


Defending champion Novak Djokovic showed no signs of the left shoulder injury that dogged him in his previous match as he swatted aside unseeded American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-4 6-2 to reach the fourth round.


Madison Keys beat fellow American Sofia Kenin 6-3 7-5, smashing 10 aces and 26 winners to set up a fourth round clash with Elina Svitolina.


Unseeded German Dominik Koepfer beat 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3 7-6(5) 4-6 6-1 to reach the last 16 on his second main draw appearance at a Grand Slam.


Elina Svitolina beat fellow Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-0 to reach the last 16 for the third year in a row.

The fifth seed converted five of the six break point chances she carved out, wrapping up the one-sided affair in 53 minutes.


Former champion Stan Wawrinka beat Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi 6-4 7-6(9) 7-6(4) to reach the last 16 for the first time since he won the title three years ago.

The 34-year-old, who could face Novak Djokovic if the top seed beats Denis Kudla later on Friday, served 24 aces and hit 64 winners but also made 50 unforced errors.


China’s Wang Qiang beat Fiona Ferro of France 7-6(1) 6-3 to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The 18th seed served five aces and cracked 26 winners to set up a meeting with Australian second seed Ash Barty, who she has lost to in straight sets in both their previous career meetings.


Belgian 15th David Goffin beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(5) 7-6(9) 7-5 to set up a meeting with third seed Roger Federer in the fourth round.

Both players struggled to take their chances, with Carreno Busta converting one of nine break point opportunities and Goffin two of 10.


Briton Dan Evan said having to play two matches in quick succession was partly to blame for his defeat by Roger Federer.

The Briton, whose second round match was postponed by a day due to rain, did not get off court till Thursday evening and he was first up on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Federer.

The Swiss did not take kindly to Evans’ comments.

“I’m sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do. We can give our opinion. That’s what we do. But I’m still going to walk out even if they schedule me at four in the morning.”


Briton Johanna Konta was in cruise control against Zhang Shuai, beating the Chinese 6-2 6-3 to advance.

The 16th seed crushed 34 winners to Zhang’s nine and also sent down four aces as she breezed into the last 16.


Eighth seed Serena Williams reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the 18th time in her career after swatting aside Karolina Muchova 6-3 6-2.

The American, who has won her home major six times, converted five of eight break point chances against the Czech and will face Croatia’s Petra Martic in the next round.


Second seed Ash Barty raced into the fourth round after beating Greece’s Maria Sakkari 7-5 6-3.

The Australian sent down 11 aces as she sealed her second consecutive straight sets victory at this year’s tournament, with her only dropped set coming against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas in the opening round.


Alex de Minaur beat Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-2 2-6 6-3 to reach the fourth round.

Nishikori made twice as many unforced errors as the Australian, who won nearly half his total points against the Japanese’s serve and will face either Grigor Dimitrov or Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak in the last 16.


After dropping the opening set in his first two matches at the U.S. Open, Roger Federer made quick work of Briton Dan Evans with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-1 victory, wrapping up the match in 79 minutes.

Evans was broken seven times by five-times champion Federer, who fired 10 aces and 48 winners at Arthur Ashe Stadium to cruise into the fourth round.


Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova was tested on a hot day by Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur before triumphing 6-1 4-6 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours and eight minutes.

Jabeur took a medical time out midway through the match to have a knee injury looked at before storming back to claim the second set but Pliskova held on in the final set to move into the fourth round, converting seven break points in the match.


Play began on Friday under bright sunshine with the temperature hovering around 25 degrees Celsius (77°F) and a forecast high of 31C. However, rain is expected later in the day.

(Compiled by Rohith Nair and Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge/Pritha Sarkar/Emelia Sithole-Matarise/Amlan Chakraborty)

North Korea says Pompeo remark would make talks with U.S. more difficult

August 31, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – A recent remark by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about “North Korea’s rogue behavior” would make talks with the United States more difficult, the North’s KCNA news agency on Saturday quoted its vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, as saying.

Pompeo’s comment was unreasonable and provocative, Choe said, according to the agency.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Hong Kong protesters expected to regroup despite police ban

August 31, 2019

By Marius Zaharia

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Protesters were expected to gather in downtown Hong Kong on Saturday in the latest of a series of anti-government demonstrations that have plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its worst political crisis in decades.

Police blocked plans for a mass show of force marking the fifth anniversary of a decision by China to curtail democratic reforms in the former British colony, which returned to China in 1997.

The Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of previous mass protests, canceled Saturday’s demonstration after being denied permission, but not having a permit has not stopped people demonstrating in the past.

“Although organizers said they will cancel the event, we anticipate people will come out,” a senior police official with experience as a commander on the ground during recent confrontations told a press briefing.

“If they come out we will see how they act. If they do it in a peaceful manner, police will exercise proportionate action to prevent major confrontation. If they still use violence, police have to take proportional action to stop the violence.”

The MTR subway said one station on the western approach to the protest site would suspend operations in the afternoon because of likely “public activities” and that further action was possible.

Hong Kong police arrested a number of prominent pro-democracy activists on Friday, seeking to rein in a movement which started with anger over planned legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China and broadened into calls for democracy.

Joshua Wong, who was one of the leaders of the pro-democracy “Umbrella” movement five years ago, is the most prominent activist to be arrested since protests escalated in mid-June over fears China is squeezing Hong Kong’s freedoms.

He was charged with inciting and participating in an unauthorized assembly outside police headquarters on June 21.

The bespectacled Wong, who was 17 when he became the face of the student-led civil disobedience movement in 2014 that blocked major roads for 79 days, has not been a prominent figure in the latest protests, which have no identifiable leaders.

China denies the charge of meddling in Hong Kong, which it says is an internal affair. It has denounced the protests and warned of the damage to the economy.

Beijing has also accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the demonstrations and warned against foreign interference.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani urged that protests are peaceful and that Hong Kong ensures the right to peaceful assembly.

“We appeal for restraint on all sides,” she said in Geneva.

There have been frequent clashes between protesters and police, who have often fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, amid accusations of excessive force.

“A lot of people from the outside think it is the police who escalates (the violence) first,” the police officer said. “This is not true.”

With protesters and authorities locked in an impasse and Hong Kong facing its first recession in a decade, speculation has grown that the city government may impose emergency laws, giving it extra powers over detentions, censorship and curfews.

(Additional reporting Jessie Pang and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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