Djokovic sails into Paris last four

PARIS Novak Djokovic moved a step closer to a maiden French Open title on Thursday, sweeping aside Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the eighth time.The world number one, whose half of the draw got easier after nine-times champion Rafael Nadal pulled out injured last week, will next take on Dominic Thiem after the Austrian tyro downed Belgian David Goffin in four sets.Serbian Djokovic breezed through the opening set, overcame a slight glitch in the second and came back stronger after a brief rain interruption to seal a straightforward 6-3 7-5 6-3 win.He ended the contest on his second match point when Berdych returned into the net. "It's a grand slam quarter-final so it's always a difficult match. It's hard to dictate the play in these conditions, it makes it tough tactically," Djokovic said courtside. "I played my best tennis at the right moment, I'm happy about that. I'm happy to come back here on center court every day."Djokovic's fourth-round match against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, in which he lost a set, ended on Wednesday after rain washed out Monday's play and delayed the start of the tie until Tuesday.The 11-times grand slam champion, who will be playing for the third day in a row on Friday when he faces Thiem for a place in the final, was barely bothered by either the conditions or his opponent. Djokovic had won his 10 previous encounters against Berdych and the Czech was never in a position to end the streak on Court Philippe Chatrier.The Serbian won seven games in a row to open a 6-3 3-0 lead before Berdych finally found his range with his booming forehand and broke back hoping to force a tiebreak.The Czech was broken to love, however, in the 12th game as Djokovic took a two-set lead. In a light drizzle, the supervisor sent the players to the dressing room at 3-3 in the third set, much to the annoyance of Berdych, who felt the conditions had not changed since the start of the tie."One big circus. (We've been playing) two and half sets like that," Berdych said.A few minutes later, they were back on court and Djokovic won the three remaining games. (Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by John Stonestreet) Read more

Turning 90, Winnie-the-Pooh meets Britain's queen in new story

LONDON Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 this year and the much-loved children's character returns for a new adventure in which he meets someone else celebrating the same significant birthday -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth. "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday" sees the popular bear from A.A. Milne's children's stories travel to London with friends Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eeyore, where they take in the famous sites and arrive at Buckingham Palace.The short illustrated and audio story, which can be downloaded for free, has been released to celebrate both birthdays. Elizabeth turned 90 last month while Milne's first Winnie-the-Pooh book came out in October 1926. It was written by Jane Riordan and illustrated by Mark Burgess in the style used by E.H. Shepard for Milne's stories. "There's such a wit and a style to the stories that adults enjoy reading them to children," British actor Jim Broadbent, who narrates the audio story, said in a video release. "... The children love them and they then love them and want to pass them on to the next generation and they carry on." (Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt) Read more

De Niro takes boxing drama 'Hands of Stone' to Cannes

CANNES, France Oscar winner Robert De Niro premiered his latest movie, boxing drama "Hands of Stone", at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, walking the glamorous red carpet on the French Riviera.The movie looks at the life of famed Panamanian fighter Roberto Duran, portrayed by Edgar Ramirez, and his trainer Ray Arcel, played by De Niro."Hands of Stone", which also stars singer Usher, is featuring out of competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival.  (Reporting By Reuters Television; Writing by Francis Maguire; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian) Read more

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

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

Officials encouraged by how much of Canada city spared by wildfire

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta Canadian officials who got their first glimpse on Monday of the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray since a wildfire erupted said they were encouraged by how much of it escaped destruction, estimating almost 90 percent of its buildings were saved.But a tour of the fire-ravaged city also revealed scenes of utter devastation, with blocks of homes reduced to blackened foundations, front steps and metal barbecues. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said 2,400 structures had burned within the city while almost 25,000 were saved.The fire that has ravaged some 204,000 hectares (504,000 acres) of the western Canadian province moved far enough from the evacuated town of 88,000 people to allow an official delegation led by the Notley to visit."We were really encouraged today to see the extent of residential communities that were saved," Notley said. "That of course doesn't mean there aren't going to be some really heartbreaking images for some people to see when they come back."Reporters on the tour viewed the charred rubble of the community's Beacon Hill neighborhood, where some 80 percent of the homes had been burned to the ground and the wreckage of blackened and melted cars remained on roads.Notley said it was not safe for residents to enter the city unescorted, with parts still smoldering and large areas without power, water and gas. She said repair crews will have weeks of work ahead of them.Fire Chief Darby Allen told reporters that 85 percent of the buildings in Fort McMurray had survived the blaze, offering a slightly lower estimate than Notley. All schools except one that had been under construction were intact. Notley credited the efforts of firefighters who battled the out-of-control blaze for days.The assessment by officials came a few hours after insurance experts revised sharply downward their estimates of the cost of damage from the blaze, which began on May 1. Canada's largest property and casualty insurer Intact Financial Corp expects to suffer losses ranging from C$130 million to C$160 million ($100 million-$123 million) from the wildfire. Intact used satellite imagery and geocoding technology to see if buildings were a total loss or partially destroyed.Analysts said Intact's forecast implied overall industry losses of between C$1 billion C$1.1 billion, much less than one earlier forecast of C$9 billion.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed a multi-year commitment by the national government to rebuild Fort McMurray but gave no details.Fire officials said the blaze was still large, growing and dangerous. But they noted cooler weather had slowed the fire's spread and would help in the coming days. High temperatures and winds accelerated the blaze last week. RAIN NEEDED TO TAME 'BEAST'The cool weather was expected to linger through Thursday, according to Environment Canada. Still, much of Alberta is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring."This beast is so big, we need rain to fix it," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.Government weather forecasts show the first possibility of rain on Wednesday with a 30 percent chance. Notley said she expected to be able to provide a schedule within two weeks for the return of residents. Thousands of evacuees are camped in nearby towns.Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of its crude output, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate.In one encouraging sign for industry, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it restarted production at a reduced rate at its Albian oil sands mining operation in Alberta, and it plans to fly staff in and out.But Statoil ASA said it will suspend all production at its Leismer oil sands project in northern Alberta until midstream terminals needed to transport crude oil via pipeline reopen.And Imperial Oil said it completed a controlled shutdown of its Kearl oil sands mining project due to uncertainties associated with logistics.Other shutdowns include Nexen Energy's Long Lake facility, Suncor Energy's base plant operations, a Syncrude project and Conoco Phillips' Surmont project.Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two teenagers died in a car crash during the evacuation. (With additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Nia Williams in Calgary and Matt Schuffman, Ethan Lou and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman) Read more

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