Cibulkova takes revenge on Radwanska to win Stanford title

Earlier this year in the Sydney final, Radwanska handed the Slovakian a humiliating 6-0 6-0 loss which Cibulkova said affected her for weeks.

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But in Sunday’s final, the 24-year-old Cibulkova immediately shook off her nerves by winning the first game and fought tooth and nail to seal the win in two-and-a-half hours.

“The difference between Sydney and today was I made the first game and after that I looked at my coach and said ‘Here we go, I am here and it’s going to be good today,'” the Slovakian said.

“It was big deal for me because I never beat Aga before and she’s a really tough competitor and I had to earn every point. It was really tough physically and mentally. That’s why I am so happy that I won.”

World number four Radwanska entered the final with a 4-0 record against Cibulkova, and appeared to be in control after winning the first set with creative and steady play.

Cibulkova then settled down, breaking Radwanska to lead 4-3 and holding on to win the second set when her opponent missed a return.

The Slovakian wobbled in the decider, with a double-fault conceding a break and allowing Radwanska to take a 4-2 lead, but she broke back immediately and closed out the contest with a searing backhand crosscourt winner.

She fell to her back in joy and her father Milan jumped on to the court to embrace her.

Cibulkova has flirted with the top 10, reaching a career-high 12 back in 2009, but has struggled to break through to the next level.

She has failed to make an impression at the grand slams this year, but will head into the fourth and final slam, the U.S. Open, with renewed belief.

“I believe I can reach the top 10, but every time I get close I feel so much pressure and I feel these expectations, which is sometimes too much,” said Cibulkova, whose win will push her to 21st in the world rankings.

“Maybe (I’ll make it) when I get enough experience, and it could be this year, or next year.”

Radwanska, who was coming off a disappointing defeat in the Wimbledon semi-finals to Sabine Lisicki, was disappointed with her performance.

“Pretty much everything was a problem for me today,” she said. “I didn’t play my best and my serve wasn’t good. I couldn’t hit a ball the whole tournament and I didn’t feel like I had good touch here.”

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

ACCC probing online shopping ‘discrimination’

The ACCC says it’s looking into reports that some fashion importers are asking retail websites to charge Aussies more or block them from buying certain brands.

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Australians are increasingly making their fashion purchases in virtual stores rather than in physical ones.

Some fashion importers say Australia’s appetite for online deals is destroying their livelihood, but the issue is so sensitive for them that they refused to be named.

In order to survive, a handful have made agreements with designer labels either not to sell their products to Australians online, or to charge them more for the same items than customers from elsewhere.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it’s looking into recently-reached deals to establish whether they constitute anti-competitive behaviour.

Chairman Rod Sims urged any online shopper who suspected they were being charged more for an item because of their location to contact the ACCC.

He added that shoppers should always look around before making their purchases.

Whether or not more companies follow suit and strike price deals will depend on shoppers’ reactions, according to Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just.

Consumers were tech-savvy and would find ways around importers’ attempts to charge them more – either by choosing a different brand, or by using third-party shipping websites, she said.

SBS contacted the International Fashion Group – which is reported to have made a deal with some US denim designers – but has not yet received a reply.

The Australian Retailers Association says this country is one of the most expensive in the world to run a bricks-and-mortar store.

“The ARA has recently put submissions forward which call for changes to contemporary wage and penalty rate structures to ensure they’re able to employ people to keep stores open and meet the demands of the modern consumer and remain globally competitive,” Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said in a statement.

It was also calling for the Low Value Imports Threshold to be slashed to zero in order to “level the playing field” for retailers competing with overseas businesses, he added.

Some business owners told SBS they wouldn’t survive if they sold their wares at online prices

They wouldn’t be able to afford the rent, or pay their staff Australia’s relatively high minimum wage, they said.

They added that consumers just didn’t want to know their side of the story.

According to PayPal, 45 per cent of Australians start off by searching for products on local sites, but 30 per cent end up buying from overseas.

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Plan to send humans to Mars

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

The world’s first space tourist, United States multi-millionaire Dennis Tito, has announced the plan, involving his non-profit Inspiration Mars Foundation.

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It calls for sending a man and a woman on a year-and-a-half mission to Mars and back.

On the 5th of January, 2018, the planets will literally align, allowing a spaceship to travel from Earth to Mars and back again in 501 days.

In a rare opportunity, the flight path between the two planets will be a route allowing gravity to guide the flight with no need for major rocket-engine firings.

The two space travellers selected for the mission would not land on the Red Planet — or even enter its orbit — but just fly through the vicinity and back.

The United States space agency, NASA, has aimed for the 2030s in its vague projections of a manned mission to Mars.

It is focusing, in the shorter term, on sending robots, like the Curiosity Rover that landed last year.

Inspiration Mars, by contrast, is starting essentially from nothing, with neither a vehicle nor a clear source of funding.

But founder Dennis Tito, a former NASA astronautical engineer, says it is a pretty easy mission.

“We fly within a hundred miles (160 kilometres) of Mars. I mean that’s essentially being there. It’s just that easy to go out, swing by, use the gravitational shift of Mars and come back to earth. Just like a boomerang, you don’t need to have any propulsive manoeuvres. It’s really simple.”

An Australian space expert, Jonathan Nally, says, by foregoing a landing, the mission lessens the risks and simplifies the manoeuvring required.

And, he says, the five-year time frame is too short for the appropriate technology to be developed for a landing.

“Not really enough time to develop the kind of landing craft to get you down to the surface in these huge heat shields and all the problems of living on the surface of another planet, and then getting off again. To do that kind of mission, you need all those extra technologies, and, also, you’d need the different kind of trajectory and alignment of the planets, which would give you a three-and-a-half-year mission, as opposed to this new proposal, which would only be a one-and-a-half-year mission.”

The Inspiration Mars Foundation acknowledges it will be a risky mission.

But the foundation’s chief technology officer, Taber McCallum, says it is achievable.

Mr McCallum says existing technologies and systems only need to be properly integrated, tested and prepared for flight.

But he says it will be a bare-bones* mission, with as little automation as possible and the crew doing its own repairs and responsible for its own water and waste management.

“The crew will drink the same water over and over again, breathe the same oxygen over and over again. In fact, the crew’s drinking water will be recycled from urine and perspiration that’s processed through distillation and filtration systems, and they’ll probably drink the same water every other day. We’ll get the contaminants out of the atmosphere by oxidising them and treating them, just the way it’s done on the International Space Station. And, of course, the crew will consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide and water. We’ll scrub that carbon dioxide and water out of the air and, through a series of chemical processes, remake the oxygen available for the crew to breathe over and over again.”

Taber McCallum was one of eight people to live in a sealed artificial world, known as Biosphere 2, for two years in the early 1990s.

He and his wife Jayne Poynter — they met during the project — are considered experts in how to live in confined spaces.

Jayne Poynter says the psychological and behavioural health of the crew is a major challenge for the mission.

Ms Poynter says, as the man and woman selected are going to be confined alone together for 501 days, they will need external support.

“And so, of course, that’s what we’ll be offering the crew on Inspiration Mars. They will get psychological support during the mission. They will get extensive training before the mission in this, because there is a lot of training you can do to help. And then there’s, of course, the crew-selection process, and that will be a rigorous process to make sure the people we select are resilient and can, in fact, maintain an upbeat and happy attitude in the face of adversity.”

Dennis Tito says the mission will generate knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration.

“This is not a commercial mission. This is not a mission that, if it’s successful, I’m going to come out to be a lot wealthier. Let me guarantee you, I will come out a lot poorer as a result of this mission. But my grandchildren will come out a lot wealthier through the inspiration that this will give them.”

Syrian crisis to dominate G8 summit

Thousands of protesters are expected on the streets of Belfast to urge G8 leaders to act on global poverty, although the issue looks likely to be overshadowed by concerns over the Syria conflict.

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Police in the Northern Ireland capital expect 10,000 people to join two demonstrations organised by trade unions and campaigners against global hunger ahead of the G8 summit on Monday and Tuesday.

The British-controlled province, still suffering sectarian violence despite a peace deal in 1998, has organised its biggest-ever police operation for the talks, with 8,000 officers deployed.

They will be split between Belfast and the luxury Lough Erne resort where the G8 leaders, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will be staying.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting the summit, is pushing for agreement on his three G8 priorities of trade, tax and transparency.

In a newspaper interview published on Saturday, he revealed plans to require companies in Britain to register their ultimate beneficiaries to make it harder to avoid tax, and said he would urge his G8 colleagues to adopt a similar approach.

There was progress late Friday towards what he has admitted would be the biggest prize of the summit — the start of formal negotiations between the European Union and the United States on a free trade agreement.

EU trade ministers finally thrashed out a deal on how to negotiate for a deal, after meeting a French demand to exclude the key audiovisual sector.

But the Syrian conflict looks set to dominate the talks after Washington upped the ante by pledging military aid to rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House said for the first time on Thursday that the regime had used chemical weapons, notably sarin gas, on multiple occasions against the opposition — crossing what it has described as a red line.

The issue of Syria topped the agenda of an hour-long pre-summit videoconference on Friday between Obama and the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and Italy.

“They discussed the situation in Syria and how G8 countries should all agree to work on together a political transition to end the conflict,” a spokeswoman for Cameron’s Downing Street office said.

Officials said Washington would increase military support to the rebels, a move welcomed by Britain and France who successfully pushed for a lifting of the EU arms embargo on Syria last month.

Damascus rejected the US accusations as “lies”, while Moscow, a key player because of its long-standing support for Assad, said they were “unconvincing” and hurt efforts to make peace.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Cameron in London for pre-summit talks on Sunday and then hold a bilateral with Obama in Belfast on Monday.

The US and Russian leaders will kick-start the G8 discussions on Syria, which British officials hope will get all parties in the conflict closer to the negotiating table.

Moscow and Washington have jointly proposed a peace conference in Geneva, building on a similar meeting last year, but no date has yet been set.

Egypt’s Morsi calls for calm as crowd pelts US embassy

Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on Thursday slammed a film deemed to mock the Muslim prophet but warned against the use of violence as angry crowds pelted the US embassy in Cairo.

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Police fired teargas to disperse the latest protest by stone- and bottle-throwing demonstrators, which came after a night of sporadic clashes and as Yemeni demonstrators stormed the US embassy in Sanaa before being expelled by police.

“We Egyptians reject any kind of assault or insult against our prophet. I condemn and oppose all who… insult our prophet,” Morsi said in remarks broadcast by state television in reference to the controversial film.

“(But) it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad,” said the president, who is on a visit to Brussels.

“I call on everyone to take that into consideration, not to violate Egyptian law… not to assault embassies,” he added, referring to a Tuesday assault on the US mission in Cairo in which protesters tore down the Stars and Stripes and replaced it with a black Islamic flag.

Morsi condemned an attack the same evening on the US consulate in Benghazi in neighbouring Libya, which claimed the lives of four American officials, including the ambassador.

“We condemn what happened in Benghazi,” Morsi said.

“We all know that killing innocent people goes against Islam. The freedom to express opinions and demonstrate… are guaranteed but without attacks on private or public property, diplomatic missions or embassies.”

Morsi said that he had spoken with US President Barack Obama and told him that it was necessary to put in place “legal measures which will discourage those seeking to damage relations… between the Egyptian and American peoples.”

Armoured vehicles were deployed around the US embassy in Cairo on Thursday, an AFP correspondent reported.

The health ministry said 16 people were injured during sporadic clashes outside the embassy during the night.

Protests against the film “Innocence of Muslims” were also held on Wednesday outside US missions in Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. In Tunis, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred.

The low-budget movie, in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, while showing him sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as “the first Muslim animal.”

Mystery has deepened over the film, with conflicting accounts from backers and promoters but no one owning up to having actually directed it.

US media initially cited someone claiming to be an American-Israeli calling himself Sam Bacile as saying he made the film on a $5 million budget with the help of 100 Jews, but no record of such a person has been found.

Coptic Christians have been accused of promoting an Arabic-adapted version of the English-language film in Egypt, where clips were shown on an Egyptian television channel at the weekend, apparently setting off the protests.

And a late Wednesday report cited by US media identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as saying he managed the company that produced the film, and that he was a Coptic Christian.

Obama called Libyan as well as Egyptian leaders to review security cooperation following the violence, the White House said.

Obama urged Egypt to uphold its commitments to protect US diplomats and called on Libya to work with US authorities to bring those behind the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi to justice.

“President Obama underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the United States in securing US diplomatic facilities and personnel,” it said.

Both attacks were initially believed to have been motivated by outrage over the US-made amateur Internet film, but US officials later said the Benghazi attack might have been a planned, pre-meditated assault by jihadist militants among the crowd.