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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Berian upset, Montano and Martinez tumble at U.S. trials

EUGENE, Oregon World indoor champion Boris Berian was upset in the men's 800 meters, while Alysia Montano and Brenda Martinez had their Rio hopes dashed when they became entangled in the women's race at the American Olympic trials on Monday.Collegiate champion Clayton Murphy surged past Berian to punch his Rio ticket in 1:44.76, 16 hundredths of a second faster than Berian who still made the team for Brazil along with Charles Jock.The biggest drama came in the women's race over two laps, however, with little-known Kate Grace winning in 1:59.10 after Montano and Martinez came together before tumbling to the track on the final bend.Without naming names, Martinez insisted she was clipped by a runner and Montano denied she was the guilty party."I don't know what happened to Brenda," the tearful Montano said. "She ended up tripping and I found myself jumping around her and someone kicked me out from behind. What can I do in that situation? I didn't touch anyone."Martinez said she had been unable to regain her composure after the incident."I just tried catching my fall but by then they were already making another gear, another move," said the 2013 world bronze medalist, who finished seventh in 2:06.63. A distraught Montano, who believes doping Russian athletes cheated her out of a medal at the 2012 Olympics, lay on the track before getting up, jogging a bit, then falling to her knees before eventually reaching the line in 3:06.77.Officials ruled the contact incidental and said there would be no disqualification.World indoor silver medallist Ajee Wilson claimed second in 1:59.51 with Chrishuna Williams taking third. Men's winner Murphy said he was not sure he could catch Berian after the indoor champion had sprinted to the lead after a hectic 350 metres. "But when I came off the top of the curve in second I had confidence that I could be in top three," said the 21-year-old.Berian, who two years ago was flipping hamburgers for a living, was philosophical about a defeat which still saw him clinch his place on the Olympic team. "It’s all worth it and I’m just so proud right now," the 23-year-old said. Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist Galen Rupp, already on the American team in the marathon and 10,000, squeezed into Saturday's 5,000 metres final as the 12th qualifier, clocking 13:49.50.Woody Kincaid led qualifying (13:47.86) with the better known Ryan Hill and Bernard Lagat also advancing. The U.S. pole vault team for Rio will all be first time Olympians. World indoor silver medallist Sam Kendricks led the way with 5.91 metres for the win, while Cale Simmons (5.65m) and Logan Cunningham (5.60m) took the next two spots.The trials, at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, take a day off on Tuesday before resuming on Wednesday. Only the top three finishers in each event qualify for Rio. (Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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'Walkers on water' overwhelm Italian lake installation

SULZANO, Italy A yellow fabric walkway floating on Lake Iseo in northern Italy has attracted twice as many visitors as expected and has been forced to close at night for essential repairs and cleaning.Last Saturday, Bulgarian-born artist Christo opened "The Floating Piers", a 3 km (two mile)-long walkway from Sulzano on the mainland to the Monte Isola and San Paolo islands, usually accessible only by boat.Authorities in the area 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Milan had expected around 40,000 visitors a day and to keep the walkway open around the clock. But after 97,000 came on Wednesday alone, they decided to close it between midnight and 0400 GMT. Made of some 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes covered with shimmering yellow fabric, the piers have suffered more wear and tear than expected. The linked cubes are anchored to the bed of the lake, forming a 16 meter-wide, 35 centimeter-high surface designed to move gently with the waves.Admission is free. Volunteers are on hand in case anyone falls into the water. The installation closes on July 3. (Writing by Isla Binnie; editing by Andrew Roche)

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