Serena Williams to play sister Venus in third round

American tennis star Serena Williams will face her sister Venus for the 30th time in US Open 2018 third round.

Six-time champion Serena Williams, 36, beat German world 101 Carina Witthoft 6-2 6-2, while twice champion Venus saw off Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5.

Notably. the last time the American sisters played each other at a Grand Slam was in the final of the 2017 Australian Open, in which Serena won when eight weeks pregnant.

“We’d rather have met later,” 17th seed Serena said.

Serena missed the US Open last year, giving birth to daughter Olympia shortly after the tournament started. She reached the Wimbledon final in July.

Chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, Serena unleashed 30 winners and 13 aces on her way to victory over Witthoft and sealed the victory when the German netted a forehand.

While Serena wrapped up her win in one hour seven minutes, it took Venus an extra 45 minutes to beat Giorgi.

“Obviously, it’s early in the tournament, so both of us are going to be looking forward to continuing to play better,” 16th seed Venus said.

Meanwhile, defending champion Sloane Stephens fought back from a set down to beat world number 134 Anhelina Kalinina 4-6 7-5 6-2 in two hours 46 minutes.

Having lost an enduring opening set in an hour and two minutes, American third seed Stephens broke three times in the second set only to be pegged back to 5-5 by Kalinina after receiving treatment for blisters on her hand.

Stephens, who said she had “two bites of sushi and a slushy” during the 10-minute heat break before the final set, bemoaned the conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It was super hot,” she added. “I was sweating a lot and it was not ideal conditions, but I am happy to get through.

“I hope that I play a little bit better than today [in the next round], go out and compete hard.”

She faces Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka next, after the former world number one beat Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-2.

Facebook debuts international video product to rival Google

Facebook launches its Watch video service to users worldwide in a renewed bid to take on YouTube and Netflix with its original shows.

Facebook Watch is now available to its 2.23 billion monthly users worldwide, hosting original shows and live programs commissioned by the social network, comparable to the push into original content seen by rival technology firms YouTube and Netflix.

Notably, the video service has been trialed in the United States for more than a year.

This marks the first time international Facebook users have been able to view any of the content created for the platform.

In order to access the Watch feature, Facebook mobile users need to tap the ‘Play’ logo in the navigation bar that runs along the bottom of the app. Those on desktop computers will find the icon in the column on the left-hand side.

Watch is the latest move from the scrutinized social network to engage its expanded users, following months plagued by privacy scandals and reports of plummeting usernames in a number of key demographics, including 18-24 year-olds.

In an overnight post, Facebook confirmed the feature would be ‘available everywhere’ starting today.

Facebook says it will provide a platform for publishers and content creators to market their videos to a worldwide audience.

‘With the global launch of Watch, we are supporting publishers and creators globally in two critical areas: helping them to make money from their videos on Facebook and better understand how their content is performing,’ the company said.

With user-generated content airing alongside professional shows, Facebook demonstrates suggestive behavior proving that the launch of Watch is a bid to cash in on the changing viewing habits of consumers.

Otto Warmbier dies a week after release from North Korea

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor and fell into a coma shortly after being sentenced in March 2016.

The American college student who spent more than a year in captivity in North Korea and was released last week in a coma has died.

Otto Warmbier suffered a “severe neurological injury, ” sometime during his 17-month captivity, doctors said, but added that the cause is unknown, according to the Associated Press. Apparently unaware of his surroundings, Warmbier experienced widespread loss of brain tissue along with severe weakness and contraction of his muscles.

Warmbier — raised in a Cincinnatti, Ohio, suburb — was arrested in North Korea while visiting with a tour group. He was convicted of subversion for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda banner and then was paraded in front of North Korean officials and journalists for a televised ‘confession,’ the AP said.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor and fell into a coma shortly after being sentenced in March 2016. North Korean officials attributed the coma to Warmbier contracting botulism and then taking a sleeping pill.

“Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experience today,” said Warmbier’s parents.

His father, Fred Warmbier, said he believed his son had been staying alive so he could return to his family.

“He was at peace. He was home, and we believe he could sense that,” his parents said.

Yahoo’s Co-founder Jerry Yang believes golf is about to enter a new age of innovation

Yahoo’s Co-founder Jerry Yang believes golf is about to enter a new age of innovation, and the game’s ruling bodies stand to benefit and also be challenged by the changes

Yahoo’s Co-founder Jerry Yang believes golf is about to enter a new age of innovation, and the game’s ruling bodies stand to benefit and also be challenged by the changes.

Giving his keynote speech on Monday at the North American Golf Innovation Symposium, Yang said that the same innovations that are reordering the greater consumer world, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, are coming to golf.

Yang, an internet entrepreneur and who now heads own technology start-up investment firm, highlighted on how golf could be set to see the same kind of technology development that is rapidly enhancing human potential.

“If you look at the categories of things that are coming across our investment activities and how people understand their bodies, every element of that applies to golf,” Yang opined, adding that measuring brain waves, measuring all the body metrics are fascinating.

Yang visualizes a future where laser rangefinder technology is incorporated in sunglasses, and where a golf simulator in a person’s garage “will let you play St. Andrews in a way that really feels like St. Andrews.”

Yang also talked about a future ‘smart ball’ technology that would track every shot, its launch condition, direction, and distance.

The tech entrepreneur also suggested that the kind of ‘haptic suits’ designed to help the lame walk could “be the same suit that can make you become a super person where you can literally swing like Dustin Johnson If you wanted to.”

He, however, said that these innovations would pose challenges for golf’s rule-makers, saying that the people who are upholding the essence of the game whether this helps the game.

Google partners with banks, launches digital lending for India

Google’s joining a race to serve a $1 trillion market, renaming its Tez mobile finance app Google Pay, and extend innovation to various markets.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is entering a substantial partnership with four Indian banks to grant consumer loans online, as the competition for a $1 trillion digital finance market intensifies.

Teaming with HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd., Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. and Federal Bank Ltd., Google will offer instant, pre-approved loans to customers “right within Google Pay in a matter of seconds,” it said in a statement.

From Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp to Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, internet giants are joining a race to provide financial services in the world’s fastest-growing mobile arena. Online lending is becoming the next frontier as mobile users look for small loans with minimal paperwork, served to them even without credit ratings as fin-tech companies use data and algorithms to determine risk.

The Mountain View, the California-based company re-branded its made-in-India Tez app, launched in September, as Google Pay — the catch-all label for its payments services. The app’s users can take out a customized loan and get the money deposited directly into their bank account. It now intends to take its innovations and features to other markets.

“We’ve learned that when we build for India, we build for the world,” Caesar Sengupta, vice president of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative and Payments, said at the ‘Google for India’ event in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Over 55 million people in over 300,000 towns and villages have downloaded Google’s payments app to pay for bus rides, split dinner bills with friends or pay repairmen, amounting to $30 billion in annual transactions, Google said. The overall market is forecast to expand to $1 trillion by 2023 from $200 billion currently, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.

China surpasses 800 million internet users

Chinese Internet users surge to 802 million in the test of government’s ability to manage the world’s biggest online community.

The People’s Republic of China has officially surpassed the 800 million mark for the number of Internet users for the first time, further leveraging its position as home to the world’s biggest online community, as the country kept up its investment in infrastructure and pushed to lower fees.

According to the latest data from the Chinese government, the number of Internet users in China rose by 30 million in the first half to 802 million, representing a penetration rate of 57.7%.

A report by state agency China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) released on Monday reveals all but 1.7% of the users access the Internet through mobile devices.

As of June 2018, seven in 10 Chinese Internet users have shopped and paid for purchases online. About 566 million people use mobile payment, an increase of 7.4% compared with six months earlier.

The U.S. is estimated to have approximately 300 million internet users. The number of internet users in China is now more than the combined populations of Japan, Russia, Mexico and the U.S., as Bloomberg noted.

The growth of China’s internet also places pressure on the government to maintain its policy of control over information that appears online.

Tech Crunch has noted, “It is common knowledge that Western services such as Twitter and Facebook are inaccessible in Mainland China, but the government has also cracked down on local services that include Toutiao, which is run by new media firm ByteDance, which is currently talking to investors to raise $2.5-$3.5 billion.”

As an illustration, ByteDance was ordered to shutter a parody app it operated in China while four news and content apps were suspended from the App Store and Google Play for offending authorities. ByteDance responded by doubling its content moderation team and developing stronger systems for checking content.

DOJ accuses two Iranian-Americans of spying for Tehran

The Justice Department has arrested two Irananian-Americans on charges of spying on Jewish organizations and anti-Tehran groups in the United States for Tehran, whom the Justice Department alleges intended to use the intelligence for terrorist attacks.

The Justice Department has charged two Iranians with spying on U.S.-based Jewish and Iranian opposition groups in the United States for the Iranian government. Justice Department agents believe that the suspects, Ahmadreza Doostdar and Majid Ghorbani, were gathering intelligence to select targets for possible assassinations and bombing attacks.

Agents released a wiretap recording of Ghorbani, a California resident, saying of one opposition figure: “Mother-(expletive) needs one, one shot.”

Ghorbani was born in Iran and became a legal U.S. permanent resident in 2015. Doostdar was born in the United States and has dual citizenship, having spent most of his life in Iran and Canada.

The two men were specifically targeting Jewish centers in Chicago, as well as a rally last year in New York against the Iranian government and a similarly anti-Tehran convention this year in Washington, D.C., according to Justice Department charging documents. The New York protest’s organizer was Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a main component of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of groups calling for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling mullahs.

The FBI was the source of some of the evidence against the two suspects. An FBI search of Doostdar’s electronic devices indicated that he had canvassed a number of the targets and that he traveled in July 2017 from Chicago to Tehran. FBI agents put him under physical surveillance and followed him to the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago where, according to the affidavit, he “moved through the museum in an unusual fashion and was alone in a small room with an unidentified female for a short time.”

The affidavit states that Doostdar photographed several Jewish centers afterward and later traveled to Costa Rica, where he met with Ghorbani. Ghorbani observed the MEK rally and photographed several anti-regime protesters, the document also states.

 

Italian auto workers strike over Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer

Some workers are at odds with the plant’s owners paying such a hefty fee for a soccer player when they’re forced to live paycheck to paycheck.

Fiat workers in the Italian town of Melfi on Monday protested the over $100 million transfer fee paid for Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus by the Agnelli family, which owns both a percentage of the car manufacturer and a stake in the football club.

But according to an ESPN report, only about five of 1,700 workers expected for Monday’s shift at the Fiat Chrysler plant participated in the protest.

“The protest actions promoted in recent days over football were a resounding flop,” a Fiat spokesman said.

The protesters say they are opposed to the owners spending such an exorbitant amount of money on a footballer, while workers are forced to make sacrifices just to make ends meet. Particularly, they add, when the car manufacturer has already welched on several promises to improve workplace conditions.

“It is unacceptable that, while for years you have continued to ask FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] workers to make enormous sacrifices on an economic level, the company spends hundreds of millions of euros on the purchase of a footballer,”  a statement from the workers read.  “And, while the workers and their families tighten up the belts more and more the company decides to invest on a human resource for so much money. Is all of this right? Is it right that one single person can earn millions and yet thousands of families don’t even get to the middle of the month?”

Meanwhile, Fiat officials countered that scant participation in the strike shows that it was promoted by groups that were not entirely representative of the workforce. Unions representing the majority of the plant’s workers had reportedly rejected the strike, which was supposed to take place between late Sunday and early Tuesday, calling it “mere advertising.”

 

Saudi Arabia will start allowing women to get driver’s licenses

Saudi Arabia announced its first-ever issuance Monday of driver’s licenses to women.

Effective this month, Saudi Arabia will no longer ban women from driving. The Saudi government said Monday that it has issued its 10 first-ever driver’s licenses to women applicants, with a wholesale repeal of the ban on women’s driver’s licenses to take hold June 24. The repeal fulfills Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s announcement last September that he would end the ban as part of his larger effort to modernize Saudi society and revitalize the nation’s economy.

“The dream became a reality,” one Saudi woman, Ahlam al-Thunayan, wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of her new driver’s license. Al-Thunayan thanked both King Salman and Prince Mohammed for the repeal. Prince Mohammed, as the crown prince, is the second most-powerful person in the kingdom and is the king’s designated successor.

Mohammed is leading a “liberalization” effort aimed at doing away with long-held restrictions on women’s rights and intermixing of the genders. Just last week, Saudi lawmakers approved—also at Mohammed’s request—a law criminalizing sexual harassment.

Momentum for overturning the kingdom’s longstanding restrictions on women has grown in recent years, according to experts, who note that Saudi universities are now graduating more women then men. They also observe more Saudi women working in fields that had been historically off-limits to them.

The government also released “temporarily” released eight activists Sunday after jailing them the week prior for protesting the ban on women drivers. It said that they all remain under investigation, however.

It also kept nine others incarcerated, claiming that they had confessed to crimes and that it had “significant evidence against them.” Their alleged crimes include “suspicious contact with hostile organizations” and recruiting people in sensitive government positions.