Stosur reaches fourth round at Miami Open

Samantha Stosur has claimed her maiden fourth-round WTA berth of the year thanks to a tough three-set victory over Shuai Peng at the Miami Open.

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The 14th-seed Stosur set up a clash with world No.5 Simona Halep after fighting back from a set down to claim a 4-6 6-3 7-5 third-round victory over the world No.43 from China on Sunday (Monday AEDT).

Stosur, who beat in-form fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty in the second round, broke Peng in the match’s penultimate game to claim victory in two-and-a-half hours at Key Biscayne in Florida.

The 32-year-old Stosur started poorly, broken in the opening game of the match on the way to losing the first set before regrouping to take the second.

The deciding set was a see-sawing affair, with Peng losing serve in the first game before breaking back two games later.

The Australian veteran finished strongly to break Peng to love with the set poised a 5-5 before using three match points to see off her opponent’s challenge in the following game.

The result improves on Stosur’s previous best tournament showings of 2017 when she reached the third rounds in Doha and Taipei.

She will play third seed Halep after the Romanian dominated on serve to dispatch qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-0 on centre court.

“(It) definitely will be a tough match,” Halep said of the encounter with Stosur.

“I know Sam pretty well and I know it’s going to be very difficult. But I know how I have to play against her.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for me. I’m coming after a break so I have nothing to lose. I just want to enjoy and give everything, like today.”

Top seed Angelique Kerber rallied after going down 2-4 in the second set to overcome American Shelby Rogers 6-4 7-5.

“It’s always good to have close sets, especially when you win them at the end,” German world No.1 Kerber said.

“They give you confidence that you can go out in your next match knowing you can win close matches because you’ve just done it a day ago.”

Three-time champion Venus Williams made the most of her home-court advantage to steamroll qualifier Patricia Maria Tig 6-3 6-0.

The American will next play No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won in Miami in 2006 and was the runner-up last year.

Kuznetsova beat American qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-4 6-2.

Briton Johanna Konta set up a clash with Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena after the pair were victors over Pauline Parmentier of France and American Madison Keys respectively.

Daley to keep NSW Origin captain waiting

NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley has declared he won’t reveal his new Blues captain until he names his team for the series opener.

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Prop Aaron Woods is considered the frontrunner among a host of candidates to take over from long-serving skipper Paul Gallen, including Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson and Wade Graham.

Veteran rake Robbie Farah is the only player apart from Gallen to have led the Blues under Daley’s watch.

“You’ll find out the night of May 21 I think, when we announce the team. We won’t announce who it’ll be until right up until that date,” said Daley at the Origin series launch in Sydney on Monday.

“We don’t know who’s going to be available. Until then, we’ll keep it pretty close to the chest but we haven’t even discussed who the captain will be at this stage.

“We’ve got an idea of a group we’re looking at and seeing how they’re developing.”

Woods, who hasn’t missed an Origin game since debuting in 2013, was on hand with Daley to officially kickoff the countdown to game one, which will be played at Suncorp Stadium on May 31.

“Woodsy’s a great leader and he’d certainly be someone that we’d consider,” Daley said.

He’s been a part of the team now for the last couple of years and he’s grown as a leader for the Tigers.

“He’s certainly learnt on the run with what he’s been through over the two years. But he’s certainly figured in a lot of the discussions.”

Wests Tigers captain Woods played down his chances of leading the Blues but admitted Gallen’s representative retirement has left a gaping hole in the Blues’ squad.

Gallen signed off last year holding the record for most games as captain of the state.

“It’ll be difficult without big Galza,” said Woods.

“Obviously when you normally refer to NSW the last 5-6 years, it’s always big Gal, big G-train. It’s going to be different without the big fella here.

“Some young guy’s going to have to step up now. It opens up a spot for Dave Klemmer, big Pig (Shannon Boyd) from Canberra, he’s been playing some really good footy, and Jake Trbojevic.

“We’ve got some really good forwards, but everyone’s going to have to pick up their game because Gal does 20 hit ups and 40 tackles. We’re going to have to share the workload around.”

Le Pen plan to jettison euro spooks French business

Le Pen calls the single European currency a “a knife that you stick in a country’s ribs to force it to do what its people don’t want to do”.

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The leader of the National Front (FN) blames the euro for driving up prices, hurting exports and adding to France’s already colossal trade deficit.

She has pledged that, if elected, she will throw off the shackles of the common currency and restore France’s monetary sovereignty by resurrecting the franc.

With all opinion polls showing her getting past the first round of the election on April 23, making the once-unthinkable prospect of a far-right presidency no longer completely implausible, economists and business leaders are worried.

Although Le Pen, 48, currently looks set to lose the May 7 runoff, probably to independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, no one is being complacent.

“No one knows what will happen,” said Jean-Lou Blachier of France’s Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, referring to Britain’s surprise vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s shock election as US president. 

Le Pen argues that bringing back the franc would help retool France’s ailing industrial sector.

She believes a devalued national currency would make exports cheaper, boosting job creation.

Emboldened by Britain’s taboo-breaking Brexit vote, Le Pen also promises to hold a “Frexit” referendum, saying the EU “shuts us in, constrains us, bullies us”.

“The European Union is going to die because people do not want it anymore,” she said on Sunday in Lille.

“We are going to change Europe because the European idea has been undermined by these federalist gravediggers.”

If elected, she would hold six months of talks with the EU on “retaking sovereignty” in terms of budget, territory, legislature and monetary policy after which she would call a referendum on leaving the EU — and would step down if the people chose to stay. 

‘Whole eurozone could disappear’

Most experts however say that scrapping the euro would be disastrous, and not just for France.

Ratings agencies have warned that the eurozone’s second-biggest economy could be headed for a default if the country converts its towering 2.2 trillion-euro debt into francs. 

“If France leaves the single currency, the whole eurozone could disappear,” said Mathieu Plane of a French economic think tank, the OFCE, warning of an “unprecedented crisis”.

Benoit Coeure, who sits on the board of the European Central Bank, warned that France’s borrowing costs would rise and that prices would rise, rather than fall.

“Inflation, which would be out of the hands of the ECB, would eat into savings, fixed incomes and pensions,” he said.

“Leaving the euro would be choosing impoverishment.”

‘Project Fear’

Le Pen has dismissed the criticism as scaremongering.

“That’s called Project Fear. It was used before Brexit,” she told her conservative rival Francois Fillon during a TV debate this month when he warned her programme would trigger “economic and social chaos”.

Le Pen has said she can organise an orderly exit from the eurozone and suggested bringing back the European Currency Unit (ECU), a pre-euro basket of currencies, that businesses could use alongside the franc.

But polls show voters are still unconvinced.

Paris University economics professor Dominique Meurs said that despite the resistance, he expected Le Pen to stick to her guns.

“Leaving the euro and the EU is completely consistent with the FN’s obsession with the national identity (and) its total rejection of multilateral decisions,” she said.

Such a move would be a “dramatic break” with European convention, Meurs said. 

“What she is proposing is not some small change, it’s really a big deal because she could potentially be elected.”

It is not just in France that big business is worried about Le Pen’s election pledges.

Giant Swiss bank Credit Suisse said this month a Le Pen victory in May was the biggest risk to European stability.

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Chinese premier dismisses ‘so-called’ military build-up

Chinese premeir Li Keqiang’s visit to Canberra was billed as talks on economic ties, but it was always going to involve the South China Sea issue as well.

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Emerging from talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and asked about militarisation in the South China Sea, Mr Li said China is only interested in maintaining freedom of movement.

“With respect to the so-called militarisation, China never has any intention to engage in militarisation in the South China Sea. China’s facilities, Chinese islands and reefs, are primarily for civilian purposes, and, even if there is a certain amount of defence equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, because, without such freedom, or without stability in the South China Sea, the Chinese side would be among the first to bear the brunt of it.”

Mr Turnbull says he discussed regional security issues with Mr Li and the importance of maintaining the international rules-based order.

He says that order has been vital for peace in the region.

For his part, Mr Li says China is committed to peace in the region.

He and Mr Turnbull say they discussed the threat posed by North Korea and the need for North Korea to curtail its nuclear program.

Mr Turnbull welcomed China’s decision to freeze North Korean coal imports in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Mr Li says China has long maintained a consistent position on North Korea.

“About the situation on the Korean Peninsula, for example, China has a consistent position that is, ‘China is committed to the denuclearisation of the Peninsula and peace, to peace and stability on the Peninsula, and to resolving issues through dialogue.’ The situation there has, indeed, become quite tense, so we hope that all the parties concerned will work together to de-escalate the situation and uphold regional stability, because any instability in the region will only do harm to the parties involved.”

While referring to the regional-security discussions, Mr Turnbull has focused his remarks on the positive, though, following the meeting.

He has tried to accent trade discussions.

“This visit provides the opportunity to reflect on our achievements over 45 years and map a future course for our relationship. In our meeting this morning, it was clear we have a strong set of common interests, which we will pursue for the benefit of both nations. And during this visit, as you’ve seen, Chinese and Australian companies have signed deals which will contribute billions to our economies and create thousands of jobs.”

The two leaders announced a new trade deal to allow greater access into China for Australian chilled-meat exports.

The deal will expand access from 11 exporters to all eligible Australian exporters.

Mr Turnbull says China shares a mutual interest in free and open trade.

“We’re very committed to, as you know, free trade and open markets. We recognise there is a protectionist sentiment in many parts of the world, and, as I’ve said before, as I said in Hangzhou at the G20, protectionism is not the ladder to get you out of the low-growth trap. In fact, it’s a big shovel to dig it a lot deeper. And so, we welcome President Xi’s (Xi Jinpeng) recent statements, notably his speech at Davos, on the importance of free trade and open markets. And, of course, our two countries are manifestly great beneficiaries of that.”

After Canberra, the two were set to travel to Sydney for a number of business meetings and functions.

 

 

 

Split race-hate law reforms: Lambie

A key crossbench senator says the Turnbull government must carve up its overhaul of race-hate laws if it wants to see any elements of the reforms passed.

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Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie says if a contentious section of the Racial Discrimination Act is left untouched, she is open to discussing other changes with the attorney-general.

“I think he’s going to have to split the bill – it’s as simple as that if he wants a result,” Senator Lambie told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

The Turnbull government wants the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act changed to “harass and intimidate”.

Labor, the Greens, Senator Lambie and the Nick Xenophon Team are all opposed to the re-wording.

However, Senator Lambie is open to giving the Australian Human Rights Commission power to head off frivolous claims at an early stage, as well as implementing a “reasonable person” test.

Greens Senator Nick McKim is staunchly opposed to such a test.

“It is logically absurd for the government to try and establish a benchmark for racism in this country that doesn’t solely rely on the lived experience of the group of people being impacted by that racism,” he said.

“It’s a crazy suggestion – it’s another attempt to water down protections against racial hate speech in Australia and we won’t have a bar of it.”

The draft laws are expected to come on for debate shortly after an inquiry report is tabled on Tuesday.

The AHRC and Law Council say the existing Act has worked well but acknowledge processes could be improved to ensure greater fairness for people lodging complaints and those complained against.

Salt to blame for late night loo visits

The annoying need to pee in the middle of the night is related to the amount of salt in your diet, researchers say.

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Nocturia, or the excessive need to urinate during the night, mostly affects people over the age of 60 and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life because of the disruption to sleep.

Scientists in Japan have discovered that reducing your salt intake can significantly reduce the need to wee in the night.

“Research generally focuses on reducing the amount of water a patient drinks, and the salt intake generally is not considered. Here we have a useful study showing how we need to consider all influences to get the best chance of improving the symptom,” said Dr Matsuo Tomohiro from Nagasaki University.

A study of more than 300 men and women found reducing daily salt intake by 10.7 grams to eight grams reduced the number of times participants needed to urinate, from 2.3 times a night to 1.4 times.

Participants who had their average salt intake increased to 11 grams needed to use the loo more frequently. Their need to urinate rose from 2.3 times a night to 2.7 times.

The researchers also found that daytime urination was reduced when salt in the diet was reduced.

The findings of the small study was presented at the European Society of Urology congress in London at the weekend.

Dr Tomohiro says larger studies are needed to confirm the work but believes their findings are very promising.

“Night-time urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older. This work hold out the possibility that a simple dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people,” Dr Tomohiro said.

Fired-up Hodge a boost for humbled Hawks

Hawthorn are banking on a fired-up Luke Hodge to help kickstart their season after the Hawks stumbled out of the starting blocks against Essendon.

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Alastair Clarkson’s side appeared slow at times and lacked composure in key moments in the season-opening 25-point loss to the Bombers on Saturday night.

Hodge’s return from a club-imposed ban won’t help with any leg speed issues, but it will certainly help calm frayed nerves when the heat is on.

“He’s been a fantastic player for our club and when he plays we win more often than not,” vice-captain Isaac Smith said of the former skipper.

“It’s a great confidence boost for the side. He’s going to be fired up and ready to go against a pretty strong Adelaide outfit.”

The 32-year-old is primed to return against the Crows at the MCG on Saturday after he had a final tune-up with VFL side Box Hill at the weekend.

Hodge’s absence after he was banned for missing a pre-season training session was all the more glaring with premiership teammates Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis starring for new clubs West Coast and Melbourne respectively.

Smith backed the club’s bold off-season moves, adding it would take time for Clarkson’s overhauled line-up to find chemistry.

He conceded the Hawks didn’t do themselves any favours against the emotion-charged Bombers, who ran away with the game in the last quarter and a half.

“You have six months to try and win the first game of the year and we stuffed it up,” he said.

“But there are 21 games to go.

“A little bit went wrong but we think a lot went right … a lot of our key indicators we ticked off.

“I think a lot of it was our finishing, we kicked 12.19 and if we kick 19.12 we probably win the game.”

Smith is confident the Hawks can cure their goal kicking yips in time to face the high-flying Crows, who kicked the highest score of the round in their 56-point demolition of flag favourites Greater Western Sydney.

“I don’t know if the Crows were shocked but I think a lot of people in footy were shocked with just how well they moved the ball and how quickly they scored,” Smith said.

“They were brilliant and it’s going to be a really tough test, but it’s our home ground with our supporters there so we’re looking forward to it.”

Four-time premiership star Cyril Rioli was restricted by a corked thigh against the Bombers but is expected to face Adelaide.

Russian opposition leader Navalny among hundreds arrested

On the streets across several Russian cities, protesters gathered in defiance of the authorities, accusing their government of corruption.

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The largest rally was in Moscow with conservative police estimates of around 8,000 people who packed into the city’s central Pushkin Square.

They chanted “Russia without Putin!” and “Down with Putin!”, but were met with heavily armed riot police.

The protests were unsanctioned and illegal, but demonstrators risked the prospect of arrests.

One protestor, Lyudmila, said they believed it was important to make their voices heard.

“One man cannot do anything, but a large number – they can at least show that it is impossible to live like this any longer, impossible. But I am afraid it will not be enough. I am afraid the authorities need to be hit over the head – then they maybe will realise what’s happening. But so far the people are silent.”

Hundreds of people were detained across the country, with at least 500 in Moscow alone, including Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

In chaotic scenes protestors attempted to stop the 40 year old’s arrest by preventing the police van from taking him away.

And in a tweet from the van, he urged fellow protesters to continue with the demonstration.

The call to protest came following a video made by Mr Navalny and Anti-corruption Foundation about corruption linked to the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

The video, which alleges that Mr Medvedev has amassed a collection of luxury mansions, yachts and vineyards, has been watched on YouTube more than 11 million times.

There’s been no official reaction to the allegations.

But this protestor says it’s clear who she supports.

“First of all, I’m a Navalny supporter. I think he’s a fighter and a very honest man – an altruist, which is very important. I’ve been watching his activity for a long time and I think that the time will come that he will become our president. It’s just that the time hasn’t come yet.”

And many are calling for Dmitri Medvedev to resign.

“If the prime minister is guilty of these lies, this corruption, all which is stated in the framework of the constitution – then of course he must be punished. How? Of course it is up to the court. But because our higher courts today are subject to this very corruption, this case will not be investigated.”

Next year Russians will vote in presidential elections which President Vladimir Putin is expected to contest in what would be his fourth term.

Alexei Navalny, a lawyer by training, had announced plans to also run for the presidency after he won a surprise 27 per cent of the vote in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013.

But he has been the subject of several legal prosecutions in recent years.

In February he was found guilty of embezzlement and given a five-year suspended sentence which could make him ineligible to run in next year’s vote.

 

 

 

Johnson holds on to beat Rahm in Match Play final

Johnson built a 5-up lead after eight holes and held on, though only barely, after a late Rahm rally that cut the lead to 1-up after 16 holes.

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“Today was a really tough day. I’m proud of the way I played, the way I stayed in there, even though he (Rahm) made some birdies on the back nine,” Johnson told NBC television after sinking his winning putt from inside three feet at the final hole.

Johnson earlier barely survived his semi-final against 54th seed Hideto Tanihara, winning 1-up after the Japanese player missed a good chance to win the 18th hole.

Rahm beat American 42nd seed Bill Haas 3&2 in the other semi.

It was Johnson’s third consecutive victory, after he won the event formerly known as the Los Angeles Open and then the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Johnson’s five WGC titles puts him second behind Tiger Woods, who has 18.

Johnson said the key to victory had been avoiding mistakes.

“I didn’t give him any holes, except for 10 (where) I three-putted. It was tough out there. The greens got really fast, the wind was affecting all the putts. Jon played really well. I just didn’t really give him anything.”

In a final that matched two of the game’s longest hitters, Johnson looked set to cruise to victory thanks to his big early lead, but it got interesting near the end.

Rahm, 3-down with four holes left, came to life, winning the par-four 15th with a birdie before taking the par-five 16th with another birdie, sinking a 30-footer after an astonishing second shot from the rough that he somehow threaded through an oak tree.

Rahm then drove through the green at the par-four 18th, ending up over the back, from where, perhaps distracted by a loud sudden banging noise just as he started his swing, he misjudged his 80-foot chip shot and could only par, allowing Johnson to escape with the win.

In the match for third place, Haas beat Tanihara 2&1, though the loser at least enjoyed a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)

White House warns rebel conservatives

Fresh off a defeat on US healthcare legislation, the White House warned has rebellious conservative lawmakers that they should get behind President Donald Trump’s agenda or he may bypass them on future legislative fights.

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The threat by White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to build a broad coalition on tax reform that could include moderate Democrats came as the Republican head of the tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives said he hoped to move a tax bill through his panel this spring.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said his committee had been working on tax reform in parallel with the failed healthcare reform push.

“We’ve never stopped working,” Brady told Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo. “We will continue to make improvements.”

Brady said the committee planned to move on the bill in the spring. He said he wanted the House blueprint to be the basis for Trump’s tax reform plan rather than have competing versions from Treasury and the White House.

Both Trump and Priebus have scolded hardline conservatives who rejected legislation backed by the White House to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Priebus held out the possibility of working with moderate Democrats as well as Republicans to pass other aspects of Trump’s agenda, such as his proposed budget, the revamp of the tax code and a renewed effort at healthcare reform.

“If we can come up with a bill that accomplishes the goals of the president with Republicans alone, we’ll take it and we’ll move forward with it,” Priebus said.

But he added: “I think it’s more or less a warning shot that we’re willing to talk to anyone. We always have been and I think more so now than ever.”

In an embarrassment for Trump, who had campaigned for the White House on what he said were his skills as a dealmaker, the healthcare bill was pulled from the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday because it failed to draw enough support from within Trump’s Republican Party.

Trump failed to win over the Freedom Caucus lawmakers despite courting them intensively. Outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America that are closely aligned with the Freedom Caucus had strongly opposed the Republican healthcare bill and urged lawmakers to reject it.

In a tweet on Sunday morning, Trump lashed out at both the Freedom Caucus and the conservative groups, saying their actions had left “Democrats smiling in D.C.”

Priebus said it was a “real shame” that conservative lawmakers decided not to get behind the healthcare bill.

“And I think the president is disappointed in the number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren’t,” he said.

US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer later slammed Trump’s negotiation style during a television interview.

Trump showed a “basic lack of competence” during negotiations, the New York Democrat said during an interview with broadcaster ABC.

“You cannot run the presidency like you run a real estate deal. You can’t tweet your way through it. You can’t threaten and intimidate and say I’ll walk away. It’s more complicated,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the Affordable Care Act was not perfect and that his party was willing to work Republicans on any fixes.