Tennis: Williams stays alive in second-round singles

RIO DE JANEIRO U.S. tennis powerhouse Serena Williams dispatched France's Alize Cornet in two sets on Monday, ending a streak of weak family performances that saw older sister Venus eliminated from singles on Saturday and the pair knocked out in doubles on Sunday.The younger Williams, a 34-year-old four-time Olympic gold medalist, had a slow and frustrating start against Cornet before turning the momentum to win 7-6 (5), 6-2, picking up the pace in the second set after the first ran over an hour long."I just needed to relax. I was missing shots by literally centimeters," Williams said, adding that she "tried to add a little more spin" in the second set, after a long series of unforced errors in the first.Spain's Garbine Muguruza topped Japan's Nao Hibino 6-1 6-1.Earlier, Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova knocked out former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the Rio Olympics on Monday, in another poorly attended tennis match on center court. Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova overpowered Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 to progress to the third round, where she will face either Russia's Ekaterina Makarova or Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova."It was a tough draw for me. Petra played well today, really played aggressively and got me on my heels a little bit," said Wozniacki, ranked 53 in the world after an injury-ravaged season.Wozniacki's participation had been in doubt as injury prevented her from fulfilling the minimum number of Davis and Fed Cup appearances required in a four-year Olympic cycle to qualify for the Games. But she made it to Rio, where she was Denmark's flag bearer in the opening ceremony.Germany's Angelique Kerber, ranked second in the world, faced stubborn resistance from Canada's Eugenie Bouchard but won 6-4 6-2.United States' Madison Keys, seeded seventh in the tournament, also progressed to the third round after a nail-biting 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5) win against France's Kristina Mladenovic on court one. On the men's side, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-4 6-3.Monday's matches, like most of the other contests in the first three days of the tennis tournament, were played in stadiums that were more than half empty.Olympics organizers say about 82 percent of all Olympic tickets have been sold out, but for tennis, which boasts some of the world's most recognizable sports stars, attendance has been far below that level. (Additional reporting by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Susanna Twidale and Bill Rigby)

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Opponents target North Carolina transgender bathroom law

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. For 20-year-old Payton McGarry, a transgender man and college student, the North Carolina law barring him from using public bathrooms consistent with his gender identity means a routine part of life now dictates his day.He limits how much he drinks to avoid using a bathroom away from home. He looks for gender-neutral restrooms at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he attends, but has missed instruction time when he cannot find one in his classroom buildings."There is a lot of insecurity about being in public spaces," the accounting and business major said in a telephone interview. "If I know I’m going to be out an extended period of time, I just don’t drink a lot."On Monday, McGarry and other opponents of the law, known as House Bill 2, or HB 2, will ask a federal judge in Winston-Salem to block enforcement of its bathroom provisions while the legal fight against the full measure, enacted in March, plays out.North Carolina is the only state in the country to mandate that people use multiple-occupancy public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, placing it at the forefront of the latest civil rights frontier in America.The restrictions put transgender people, particularly students at public schools, in an untenable position, said Chris Brook, one of the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers challenging the measure."It forces all trans kids in our state to choose between breaking the law and using the correct restroom or using the wrong restroom, which could put them in a perilous situation," he said.Republican lawmakers have not been persuaded by such arguments, or boycotts of the state by corporations, conventions, entertainers and the National Basketball Association, which this month said it was pulling its 2017 all-star game from Charlotte in protest of the law, which has been decried by critics as discriminatory. Lawyers for Republican Governor Pat McCrory argue the measure protects the safety and privacy expectations of the state's residents."Plaintiffs purportedly seek to overturn a single state statute, but in reality they seek to overturn millennia of accepted practice by which men and women utilize separate facilities for using the restroom, bathing, and changing clothes," the governor's lawyers said in a court filing opposing efforts to block HB 2.McCrory's office did not reply to a request for comment ahead of Monday's hearing. The University of North Carolina, also named as a defendant, welcomes "resolution of these difficult issues by the court so that we can refocus our efforts on our primary mission - educating students," President Margaret Spellings said in a statement. TELLING THEIR STORIESKaty and Mac Schafer hope their family's story will help change minds. Their eldest child, 17-year-old Hunter, was assigned the gender of male at birth but now lives and identifies as female.She attends high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, where until HB 2 passed she used the women's restroom in keeping with the guidance given to her by medical professionals.Her mother felt sick when lawmakers took that option away. "All that we had done right as parents to love and support our kid and everything the medical community was telling us was important to have our teenager thrive in the world ... none of that was considered," said Katy Schafer, who joined her daughter and McGarry as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal advocacy groups.The case is due to go to trial on Nov. 14. North Carolina also has been sued by the U.S. Justice Department over the law, while McCrory and other public officials in turn have sued the U.S. government.The legal battles have thrust Joaquin Carcano, a 28-year-old transgender man and another plaintiff in the ACLU's case, into the national debate over bathroom access.Court documents tell how the only gender-neutral bathroom available to him in the office where he works as an HIV project coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill requires riding a service elevator to a part of the building used for housekeeping.Carcano said he feels a responsibility to speak for the transgender community. But being in the spotlight on such a personal matter is not always easy."Having your identity and body being a point of public conversation can be really exhausting," he said. (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Firefighters battling California blaze face hot, dry conditions on Tuesday

Firefighters in drought-hit California who are battling a 50-square-mile wildfire could be hampered by triple-digit heat, wind gusts up to 30 mph and low humidity on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. About 3,000 firefighters have been fighting to contain the so called Sand Fire on the rugged northwestern fringes of the Los Angeles National Forest since Friday. The blaze has killed one person, found in a burned-out car parked in a driveway, and destroyed at least 18 homes. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people were forced to evacuate but late on Monday, fire officials lifted the evacuation order for the majority of residents.The fire was just 10 percent contained on Monday evening as crews backed by bulldozers labored to hack buffer lines around its perimeter as it cast a pall of smoke and soot over a wide area. An air quality advisory was in effect in the area of the fire until Tuesday midnight local time after much of the Los Angeles basin was dusted with a thin layer of fine white ash from the fire over the weekend. Among the properties to go up in flames was the landmark Sable Ranch, a popular location for television and movie shoots. About 300 miles to the north, another fire ravaged a hilly area near the scenic coastal city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, churning through 16,100 acres (6,500 hectares) and destroying 20 homes, authorities said. The so-called Soberanes Fire, burning in the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County, threatened 1,650 structures by Monday evening and was only 10 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. The causes of the two fires were under investigation. They are among some 3,750 blazes large and small to have erupted across California since January, a higher-than-normal total, collectively scorching more than 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares), state fire officials said. The biggest so far was last month's Erskine Fire, which consumed 48,000 acres (19,429 hectares) northeast of Bakersfield, killing two people and destroying about 250 structures.By comparison, the 2003 Cedar Fire ranks as the biggest on record in the state, burning more than 273,000 acres (110,480 hectares) and killing 15 people. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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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)

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Philistines were more sophisticated than given credit for, say archeologists

ASHKELON, Israel Philistines were no "philistines", say archaeologists who unearthed a 3,000-year-old cemetery in which members of the biblical nation were buried along with jewelry and perfumed oil.Little was known about the Philistines prior to the recent excavation in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon. The famed arch enemies of the ancient Israelites -- Goliath was a Philistine -- flourished in this area of the Mediterranean, starting in the 12th century BC, but their way of life and origin have remained a mystery.That stands to change after what researchers have called the first discovery of a Philistine cemetery. It contains the remains of about 150 people in numerous burial chambers, some containing surprisingly sophisticated items.The team also found DNA on parts of the skeletons and hope that further testing will determine the origins of the Philistine people.We may need to rethink today's derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985. "The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths," Stager said.Stager's team dug down about 3 meters (10 feet) to uncover the cemetery, which they found to have been used centuries later as a Roman vineyard.On hands and knees, workers brushed away layers of dusty earth to reveal the brittle white bones of entire Philistine skeletons reposed as they were three millennia ago. Decorated juglets believed to have contained perfumed oil were found in graves. Some bodies were still wearing bracelets and earrings. Others had weapons. The archeologists also discovered some cremations, which the team say were rare and expensive for the period, and some larger jugs contained the bones of infants. "The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean," Stager said, adding that this was in contrast to the more modest village lifestyle of the Israelites who lived in the hills to the east.Bones, ceramics and other remains were moved to a tented compound for further study and some artifacts were reconstructed piece by piece. The team mapped the position of every bone removed to produce a digital 3D recreation of the burial site.Final reports on the finds are being published by the Semitic Museum at Harvard University. (Editing by David Goodman)

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