Month: September 2019

Ward’s upset win puts Britain 2-0 up on U.S

Ward let out a deafening scream after ending the match on the red clay surface with an overhead forehand smash, having improved his Davis Cup singles record to 9-5.

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Asked in a courtside interview how he had managed to claw his way back from two sets to one down and trailing 2-4 in the fourth, Ward replied: “I’m not quite sure at the moment.

“In the third (set), I started reading it a little bit better, he was going to my backhand quite a lot on every first serve. So I started to stand back a little bit further to give myself a little more time.”

Ward was delighted to have been brought in by Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith as the number two player behind the sixth-ranked Murray.

“I think he (Smith) has got confidence in me,” said the 26-year-old, who had upset Querrey 3-6 6-3 6-4 on the grass courts of Queens’ Club in 2011 in their only previous meeting.

“I have played these matches before and I’ve won a few big matches in Russia to get us here. It’s always a proud moment (playing Davis Cup), so when he decided to pick me, it was great news.”

WINNING TONE

Murray had set the expected winning tone against Young in the first match, powering down seven aces and hitting 33 winners to seal victory in one hour 38 minutes against his 79th-ranked opponent.

Though Young came up with 25 winners, 18 of them on his forehand, he piled up 55 unforced errors as Murray improved his Davis Cup record to 17-1 in singles and 20-6 overall.

Querrey then breezed through his opening set against Ward but lost the second on a tiebreak, which was won 7-3 by the Briton after the American blasted a forehand long.

Roared on by the U.S. fans, Querrey stepped up a gear to win the third set and he went up an early break in the fourth before losing serve in the eighth and 10th games as Ward levelled the match.

A fired-up Ward again broke Querrey in the second and fourth games of the fifth set to lead 4-0 before Querrey broke his opponent’s serve on a fortunate net cord to end a run of eight games lost.

However, the American again failed to hold in the sixth game and Ward served out to put his team 2-0 ahead.

In Saturday’s doubles, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are scheduled to meet Murray and Colin Fleming before the reverse singles are played on Sunday when Querrey comes up against Murray and Young faces Ward.

The United States have won the Davis Cup a record 32 times and Britain will be bidding for their first victory over the Americans in the competition since 1935.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Rising sea levels prompt relocations in Fiji

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Rising sea levels have prompted the Fiji government to relocate one of the country’s most vulnerable seaside communities.

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Around 50 families have been relocated to higher ground to escape frequent flooding.

The government says it expects to carry out more relocations within the next decade to help communities adapt to rising sea levels.

Brianna Piazza reports.

(Click on audio tab above to listen to this item)

Until only weeks ago, around 140 people lived in the seaside village of Vunidogoloa, on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu.

But rising sea levels have left the community’s 50 families with little choice but to permanently move to higher ground just over two kilometres away.

Locals say rising tides were flowing into the village, damaging houses and destroying crops.

Senior government official Alipate Bolalevu, says more than 600 villages across Fiji have been identified as threatened by rising sea levels.

More than 40 settlements are expected to be relocated within the next 10 years.

Mr Bolalevu says relocating is a difficult decision for people who don’t want to leave their traditional land.

He says it’s also an expensive process, with the Vunidogoloa project costing about 600-thousand dollars.

“It is the first project of its kind in the South Pacific and for Fiji. The most important factor is the will of the people and if they are willing to relocate to another location given their spiritual attachment to their land where their ancestors have lived for some time.”

Mr Bolalevu says those communities that can’t be relocated will receive assistance to help minimise the risk.

This includes constructing sea walls and planting mangroves near the coast to limit erosion, which is compounded by rising sea levels.

Australian volunteer worker Kiri McGrath spent seven months living on Fiji’s Motoriki Island.

She says recent years have brought more frequent floods to the island.

“The island is one of the smaller islands in Fiji with only about 200 people on it. People on the island live off the island and if they do have money it’s from going to the main island to sell their produce or some of them work in the factories. So in the past five years the sea level had moved in by about five metres. It has come right up close to where all the houses are now, so some houses have actually had to be moved inland. If it’s high tide when the kids are going to school their tracks are flooded so they can’t always get to school and people can’t get to the hospital.”

In a report last year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that sea levels would rise between 26 and 82 centimetres within the next century.

Most of the increase is attributed to the ocean expanding as it warms.

Coastal geomorphologist from Melbourne University Dr David Kennedy says many Pacific Islanders may be forced from their homes because of rising sea levels.

But Dr Kennedy says his own research in Fiji shows some may be able to adapt as sea levels increase.

He says that depending on an island’s foundations, sand can sometimes shift to other parts of an island.

“Some islands with historical sea level rise can actually adjust if there’s enough sediment around to do that. On the flipside, some of the islands may disappear a lot quicker. As we raise sea levels more waves can get across the reef. So some these islands might not necessarily disappear completely but even if you don’t drown you’ll still be losing your house because the island shoreline might be shifting 100 metres somewhere else.”

The aid organisation, Oxfam, warns Pacific Islanders will be among the world’s first people to be displaced due to sea level rise.

Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project manager Taito Nakalevu says the international community’s failure to reduce carbon emissions is unfairly burdening the Pacific Islands, which are poorer and have fewer resources.

“We need to have another agreement that should take over from the Kyoto Protocol that should be legally binding to ensure there is a reduction in emissions from our developed countries. It’s been way over 20 years now and some countries are going back on their agreements. We as Pacific Islanders need to maintain our countries and we don’t want them under water. We don’t ever want to be climate refugees.”

 

Syria peace talks end with accusations

Syria’s warring sides have traded barbs over the failure to achieve concrete results at peace talks in Geneva, amid doubts over the regime’s participation in a planned new round in February.

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No ceasefire was agreed, talks on a transitional government never began, and a deal to allow aid into besieged rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs went nowhere.

After a week of closed-door negotiations wrapped up in Geneva, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he aimed to get the rival camps back to the table from February 10.

“The delegation of the opposition agreed to this date. That of the government said they needed to consult with Damascus first”, Brahimi told reporters on Friday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said President Bashar al-Assad and his government would ponder the next step, with the negotiators returning if the public demanded it.

That sparked criticism from key opposition supporter the US.

“The regime continues to play games,” State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.

Opposition chief Ahmad Jarba confirmed his team would be back, even though sitting down with the regime for the first time since the war erupted in 2011 was like “drinking from a poisoned chalice”.

But he stressed that its presence was conditional on receiving “the means to defend our people on the ground,” according to an official translation of his Arabic speech in Geneva.

“The pace of supporting our revolutionaries is quickening, as you may have heard in recent days,” he said.

Media reports this week alleged that the US Congress had secretly approved funding for weapons deliveries to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions.

Working to rally support, Jarba was scheduled on Tuesday to visit Russia, Assad’s main ally on the global stage.

Before that he was to attend the annual Munich Security Conference, where Brahimi was also scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the US and Russian top diplomats.

The regime also struck a combative tone on the last day of the talks.

“Neither in this round, nor in the next will they obtain any concessions from the Syrian delegation,” Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi told applauding pro-regime demonstrators outside the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva where the talks were held.

With the regime accusing the opposition of being the plaything of foreigners, Zohbi said his message was equally destined for Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and anti-Assad politicians in deeply-divided neighbour Lebanon.

Muallem said there were no “tangible results” from the Geneva talks – the biggest international diplomatic push so far to end three years of war – and blamed the rival delegation.

“They acted as if we had wanted to come here for one hour and hand over everything to them… It’s indicative of the illusions that they are living under,” he said.

Jarba rejected that hands down, saying there was no “serious engagement” from a regime that was “walking in its own funeral procession”.

The talks revolved around a roadmap drawn up by world powers in 2012 that called for negotiated political transition in Syria.

The opposition insists that the 2012 plan known as the Geneva Communique requires Assad to step down – something flatly rejected by the regime.

Palace sign Hennessey and Ledley, Ince joins on loan

Winger Jason Puncheon has also signed on a permanent deal from Southampton having been on loan at Selhurst Park.

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The 27-year-old Hennessey has 41 caps, having made his debut in 2007. Wolves were his only previous club although he was on loan at Championship side Yeovil Town earlier this season.

He was the first signing of the transfer window for Palace, who have moved out of the relegation zone after winning six of their 12 league games under new manager Tony Pulis.

Ledley, 27, joined close to the transfer deadline on a 3-1/2 year deal having won two Scottish Premier League titles and played in the Champions League during 3-1/2 seasons with Celtic.

He began his career at Cardiff City where he made over 250 appearances after his debut in 2004. He joined Celtic as a free agent and scored 30 goals in 153 games in all competitions.

Dann, 26, who has signed a 3-1/2 year deal, played over 100 times for Blackburn and captained the side, having previously had spells with Birmingham City, Coventry City and Walsall.

England under-21 international midfielder Ince, 22 on Thursday, has joined from Blackpool where his father Paul, the former England midfielder, was sacked as manager this month.

Puncheon, 27, has signed a 4-1/2 year deal having been on loan from fellow Premier League side Southampton since August.

Leaving Palace was Spanish midfielder Jose Campana, 20, who moved to German side Nuremburg on loan to the end of the campaign. He had joined from Sevilla in the close season.

(Reporting by Josh Reich and Ken Ferris; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Rodman offers to take jailed American’s place in North Korea

Rodman, 52, appeared on CNN less than a month after his fourth trip within 12 months to North Korea, where he sang “Happy Birthday” to supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, whom he calls a personal friend.

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He said he felt for the family of Kenneth Bae, 45, a devout Christian tour operator arrested in November 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly importing “inflammatory” material.

   

“I feel for them deeply,” he told CNN’s “New Day” program.

   

“Like I said, I will do anything, literally anything — this is Dennis Rodman talking — if they say, ‘We’ll take Dennis Rodman and let Kenneth Bae go,’ straightaway, take me.

   

“I will do that… I have no problem,” he added.

   

Upon leaving North Korea earlier this month, Rodman prompted outrage when he suggested on the same CNN program that Bae was responsible for his own fate.

   

The player later apologized and blamed alcohol for his remarks.

   

In an email to AFP, Bae’s sister Terri Chung declined to react to Rodman’s latest remarks, saying: “We are going to decline politely from making any comments at this time.”

   

Rodman, who checked into a rehab facility in New Jersey upon his return to the United States, also spoke of his alcoholism, stating: “I’ve always been a party animal (and) the reason I drink is because I’m bored.”

   

Of North Korea’s leader, he said: “I don’t know him as a dictator. With him, he’s a 31-year-old guy and I call him a kid all the time, and yeah, he’s my friend.

   

“I look at him as that because he gave me the opportunity to at least come in to the country of North Korea to bring a basketball team, to show the world, just show the world that we can actually get along,” Rodman added.

   

Kim is reportedly a huge fan of basketball and especially of the Chicago Bulls, with whom Rodman won three NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.

   

Rodman also insisted he was “not a traitor” for paying repeat visits to a country that the United States regards as a major threat to regional security in the Asia-Pacific region.

   

“I’ve never been a traitor,” he said. “I want to make people happy in the world… My intentions are not bad intentions. I want people to understand that.”

   

Bae’s mother and sister attended President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address in Washington on Tuesday, a sign of that the US government is not forgetting his plight.

   

Washington has said it was ready to send its envoy on human rights in North Korea, Robert King, to the reclusive East Asian nation to help bring Bae back to the United States.

   

On January 20, Bae appeared at a press conference in Pyongyang at which he admitted to wrongdoing and appealed to Washington to help secure his release “at the earliest possible date,” Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

   

There was no way of knowing if Bae, whose Korean name is Pae Jun-Ho, was speaking under duress.

   

Bae is reported to be suffering serious health problems and to have lost more than 50 pounds (23 kilograms) since being jailed.

   

But at the press conference, Bae claimed he was in normal health after five months of treatment in hospital, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.