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United States' Danielle Collins reacts after a shot from Australia's Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

United States' Danielle Collins reacts after a shot from Australia's Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


Australia's Daria Gavrilova reacts after missing a shot from United States' Danielle Collins during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


United States' Danielle Collins returns a shot from Australia's Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)2


Romania upsets Czechs in Fed Cup, France, Belarus advance

By The Associated Press

Sunday, February 10

Romania upset defending champion Czech Republic 3-2 to advance to the semifinals of the Fed Cup on Sunday, along with France and Belarus.

Romania made the last four for the first time after its first victory against the Czechs, who won six titles in the last eight years.

Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu teamed up to clinch the best-of-five series against their hosts with a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 over Czech pair Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova, who won the mixed doubles at the Australian Open with Rajeev Ram.

Romania took a 2-1 lead on an indoor hard-court in Ostrava after Simona Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in a reverse singles featuring two former top-ranked players. Halep improved her record against Pliskova to 7-2 to put Romania one win from advancing.

Siniakova, the star of last year’s final victory against the United States, made it 2-2 after defeating Mihaela Burzanescu 6-4, 6-2.

In Liege, Caroline Garcia clinched an insurmountable 3-0 lead for France over host Belgium after easing past Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to set up a semifinal against Romania.

Garcia marked her return to the Fed Cup for the first time since the 2016 final with a couple of victories after overcoming Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-2 in the opening singles on Saturday.

In the doubles, Ysaline Bonaventure and Kirsten Flipkens won a consolation point for Belgium with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 victory over Fiona Ferro and Pauline Parmentier to reduce the final score to 3-1 with the second reverse singles not played.

In Braunschweig, Aryna Sabalenka cruised past Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1 to give Belarus an insurmountable 3-0 lead over host Germany on an indoor hard court at the Volkswagen Halle.

The ninth-ranked Sabalenka hit 18 winners compared to five for her opponent to help Belarus avenge losing to Germany 3-2 last year in Minsk.

In the final doubles match, Victoria Azarenka teamed up with Lidziya Marozava to beat Mona Barthel and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-1, 0-6, 11-9 to win 4-0 overall.

Belarus, which lost the 2017 final to the United States, will face the U.S. or Australia in the semifinals in April.

In Asheville, North Carolina, Danielle Collins, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open, leveled the match at 2-2 after a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Daria Gavrilova.

Earlier, Ashleigh Barty beat Madison Keys 6-4, 6-1 to give Australia a 2-1 lead.

Collins and Nicole Melichar take on Barty and Priscilla Hon in the deciding doubles.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Thousands of dogs begin vying for Westminster show title

Monday, February 11

NEW YORK (AP) — Dogs from affenpinschers to Yorkshire terriers are rounding the rings at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Breed judging began Monday at the illustrious show in New York. More than 2,800 dogs in 203 breeds and varieties are signed up to compete over two days, leading up to the televised Best in Show award Tuesday night.

Monday’s judging includes dogs in the herding, hound, non-sporting and toy groups. One closely-watched contestant is expected to be Whiskey, a whippet that notched big wins in shows televised on Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day.

This year’s Westminster show features two new breeds, the grand basset griffon Vendeen (grahnd bah-SAY’ grih-FAHN’ vahn-DAY’-ahn) and the Nederlandse kooikerhondje (NAY’-dehr-lahn-seh KOY’-kehr-hahnd-jeh).

The show also featured an agility championship Saturday and is holding an obedience competition Monday.

South Korea picks Seoul for 2032 Olympic bid

By KIM TONG-HYUNG

Associated Press

Monday, February 11

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has chosen its capital, Seoul, for its bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics, which it hopes to jointly host with rival North Korea as a peace gesture.

South Korea’s Olympic committee announced the decision after a meeting Monday in which Seoul received 34 of 49 votes, edging out the southern port city of Busan.

The Koreas are expected to officially inform the International Olympic Committee of their intent to co-host the 2032 Olympics on Friday during a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. While North Korea has yet to formally announce its candidate city for the Olympics, its capital, Pyongyang, is seen as the obvious choice because it’s much more developed than other North Korean cities.

While Monday’s decision by the South Korean Olympic committee needs approval from the country’s sports and finance ministries, that is seen as a formality since the government has described the 2032 Games as a crucial opportunity to stabilize relations with North Korea.

Following a meeting of their leaders in September, the rival Koreas agreed to pursue a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics and also send combined teams to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, among other steps to promote reconciliation.

“Seoul will cooperate with the national government so that the 2032 Summer Olympics become something more than a sports festival — an opportunity to change the fate of the Korean Peninsula,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in a statement.

Currently it would be extremely difficult to host the Olympics in North Korea because of heavy U.S.-led sanctions against the North which are unlikely to be removed until it takes firmer steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons. There continue to be doubts whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to deal away an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.

There is also declining public support among South Koreans for hosting large sports events due to worries over huge costs.

Following a provocative series of nuclear and missile tests in 2017, Kim met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times last year and also held a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June in Singapore. But the summits failed to produce much substance regarding how and when North Korea would denuclearize, and negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang seemed to be reaching a stalemate before they agreed to a second Trump-Kim meeting on Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

For some South Koreans, it’s mind-boggling that the Koreas are even talking about jointly hosting the Olympics. North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both held in Seoul, and relations dramatically worsened ahead of the Seoul Olympics with the North’s bombing of a South Korean passenger jet that killed all 115 aboard in November 1987.

The Koreas have often used sports to facilitate diplomacy. North Korea sent hundreds of people to the Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang in February last year, including Kim’s sister, who conveyed his desire for an inter-Korean summit following tensions over North Korea’s weapons tests.

Thai court orders release of Bahrain refugee soccer player

By KAWEEWIT KAEWJINDA

Associated Press

Monday, February 11

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court ordered the release of a refugee soccer player on Monday after prosecutors said they were no longer seeking his extradition to Bahrain in a case that had drawn worldwide attention.

Thailand had come under great pressure from Australia’s government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia, where he has refugee status and plays semi-professional soccer.

Australian Prime Minister praised the decision and said late Monday that al-Araibi was on his way to the airport.

“Now the next step is for him to return home,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. “But as is always in these cases, people aren’t home until they’re home.

Thai prosecutors on Monday submitted to court a request to withdraw the case to extradite al-Araibi to Bahrain, where he faces a 10-year prison sentence for an arson attack that damaged a police station. He has denied those charges and says the case is politically motivated.

Prosecutors made the decision after Thailand’s foreign ministry sent their department a letter Monday morning that indicated that Bahrain had withdrawn its request for al-Araibi, said Chatchom Akapin, the director general of the attorney general office’s international affairs department

Officials in Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the country “reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against” al-Araibi.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement after his release that the “guilty verdict against Mr. al-Araibi remains in place and Mr. al-Araibi holds the right to appeal this court verdict at Bahrain’s Court of Appeal.”

It did not elaborate.

Al-Araibi, 25, a former Bahraini national team player, says he fled Bahrain due to political repression and that he fears torture if he returns. He has been living in Melbourne, where he plays for a semi-professional soccer team.

He has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain previously. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

His supporters had said he should be freed and was protected under his status as a refugee with Australian residency. He was detained at the request of Bahrain relayed through Interpol upon his arrival in Bangkok in November while on honeymoon with his wife.

Activists praised Monday’s developments.

“This is a huge victory for the human rights movement in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia — and even the whole world,” said Sayed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Hakeem’s ordeal ended after 70 days when there was a clear public stance and solidarity movement.”

Former Australia national team captain Craig Foster, who has been leading the campaign for al-Araibi’s release, praised all those who worked on the campaign.

“Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem,” he wrote Monday in comments on Twitter. “They all deserve to be in front of camera now, not only me. I can’t list them, but will thank each of them in time. My thoughts are with Hakeem’s wife. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end. Our prayers answered.”

It was not immediately clear what prompted Bahrain to withdraw its request.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, but offered no specifics on their discussions.

Separately, BNA said Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met Sunday with Thailand’s foreign minister who was visiting the island. Again, no specifics on their talks was offered.

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that al-Araibi was detained because Australian authorities had forwarded them an Interpol Red Notice that Bahrain was seeking his arrest. Australian police acknowledge doing so, but there have been questions raised about why the Red Notice appeared to have been issued just before al-Araibi departed on his trip, and whether Bahraini authorities had been tipped off about his travel plans.

Morrison, the Australian prime minister, had in recent weeks has spoken out strongly on behalf of al-Araibi’s freedom.

In his comments Monday, he said he appreciated the work of all involved in securing al-Araibi’s release.

“What we would like to do tonight is to thank and show our appreciation to the Thai government for the decision that they have taken today,” he said. “We greatly respect the process that they have had to work through and we greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case.”

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

Economists: Hard Brexit would hit German auto industry hard

By DAVID McHUGH

AP Business Writer

Monday, February 11

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A no-deal Brexit could affect more than 100,000 jobs in Germany, and regions of the country with Volkswagen and BMW factories would be among those worst hit, according to economists at a prominent nonprofit institute.

The economists from the Halle Institute for Economic Research said Monday they modeled what would happen if imports to Britain from the remaining European Union countries fell 25 percent due to the absence of a negotiated trade agreement when Britain leaves the EU. ,

After calculating the effects — in theory — on 401 German regions, the researchers found the auto industry would be the sector most affected. They said the city of Wolfsburg in northcentral Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered, was one of the places that would see the most jobs affected. So would the Dingolfing-Landau region in southern Bavaria, where BMW has manufacturing facilities.

Another region that would be hit is the Maerkischer Kreis region in western Germany, where there are many export-oriented small and medium-size firms.

The authors, Hans-Ulrich Brautzsch and Oliver Holtemoeller, cautioned the figures do not predict the precise numbers of people who would be laid off. Companies could put workers on shorter hours or find other markets.

Still, “a hard Brexit would disrupt global value creation chains,” Holtemoeller said in a statement accompanying the report. “Therefore, an exit by Britain from the EU without an agreement could mean significant losses in well-being. From the economic point of view, it must be hoped that an agreement is reached.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to win a majority in parliament for a negotiated agreement setting out the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, which is set to take place on March 29.

Unless lawmakers approved a deal or the withdrawal date is pushed back, customs duties would be levied on Britain’s imports from and exports to the 27 remaining nations in the free-trade bloc.

Part of the institute’s reasoning for saying autos would be the German sector that suffers most is a no-deal exit would mean 10 percent import duties on cars and car parts, according to the Halle report. The duties would add costs and hassles to trade, and increase prices for imported goods to consumers.

The German auto industry has some 15,000 jobs related to trade with Britain, or about 0.9 percent of total employment in the sector, according to the report.

UK’s May seeks compromise with Labour in EU divorce deal

Monday, February 11

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May sought a compromise Monday with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in hopes of securing his backing for a divorce deal with the European Union.

The political maneuvering comes amid strong signs that uncertainty over Brexit is already clamping down on Britain’s economic growth.

Taking a cordial tone, May suggested further talks with the Labour Party leadership even as she said she did not see the advantage of permanent membership in the EU’s customs union, a key demand Corbyn is seeking in exchange for backing her troubled Brexit bill in Parliament.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart told the BBC that differences between the two parties aren’t as great as some suggest, but said the Conservative government can’t accept Corbyn’s customs union demand because it would prevent Britain from negotiating trade deals with other countries. He said May’s agreement would achieve most of Corbyn’s goals without preventing independent trade deals.

“I agree that the longer this goes on, the more risky it gets, obviously,” Stewart said. “But, the solution to this has to be to get Jeremy Corbyn, or the Labour Party, or indeed Parliament as a whole, to come behind a deal.”

Time pressure is mounting. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but lawmakers in Parliament have emphatically rejected May’s divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal exit from the bloc unless more parliamentary support is found.

EU leaders have turned down May’s plea to renegotiate parts of the legally binding Brexit withdrawal bill, making the no-deal outcome more likely even though both sides believe it would harm their economies.

May is to give a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, a day earlier than planned. Downing Street said that would give Parliament a few days to consider her remarks.

Lawmakers may be unnerved by the latest round of financial data, which showed Monday that Britain’s economy slowed last year to its weakest growth rate since the global financial crisis.

The Office for National Statistics said the British economy grew by a quarterly rate of only 0.2 percent during the fourth quarter, down from the 0.6 percent uptick recorded in the previous three-month period.

In the fourth quarter, British business investment fell 1.4 percent for the fourth straight quarterly decline — the first time that has happened since the 2008 financial crisis.

With less than 50 days to go to Brexit day on March 29, British firms still have no idea what the country’s new trading relationship with the EU will look like, so they’re taking a safety-first approach.

Although Britain’s Treasury chief Philip Hammond argued the British economy remains “fundamentally strong” and is “enjoying the longest unbroken quarterly growth streak” among the Group of Seven industrialized countries, he conceded that Brexit unease was taking its toll.

“There is no doubt that our economy is being overshadowed by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process,” he told Sky News. “I’m afraid this has gone on longer than we would have liked.”

Pan Pylas contributed from London.

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

Brexit unease sees UK economy takes a turn for the worse

By PAN PYLAS

Associated Press

Monday, February 11

LONDON (AP) — The British economy has not had a worse year since the global financial crisis and Brexit uncertainty is clearly to blame. The government even admits it.

Official figures released Monday showed that a lack of clarity over Brexit weighed on businesses throughout 2018 and kept a lid on their investments.

For 2018 as a whole, the economy grew by 1.4 percent. The last time it performed so weakly was in 2012, during Europe’s debt crisis. The last time it had a worse year was in 2009, when it contracted by 4.2 percent in the wake of the global financial crisis that brought much of the world’s banking system to its knees.

Monday’s figures showed the slowdown gathering pace as the year came to an end. A surprise 0.4 percent contraction in December means the economy grew at a tepid rate of only 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 0.6 percent in the third quarter.

That backs up other indicators that suggest the uncertainty over Brexit is increasingly hurting the economy at a time when global trends, like a trade war between the U.S. and China, are weighing on world growth.

Business investment fell at the end of last year for a fourth straight quarter— the first time that has happened since the financial crisis.

With less than 50 days to go to Brexit day on March 29, firms have no idea what the country’s new trading relationship with the EU will look like, so they’re taking a safety-first approach that involves some relocating activities — and jobs — to continental Europe.

Though Britain’s Treasury chief Philip Hammond argued that the British economy remains “fundamentally strong,” he conceded Brexit unease was taking its toll.

“There is no doubt that our economy is being overshadowed by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process,” he told Sky News. “I’m afraid this has gone on longer than we would have liked.”

While the British economy largely held up better than expected in the immediate aftermath of the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, firms are getting edgier as Brexit day draws nearer — the government had expected to be ratifying a withdrawal agreement with the EU by now.

There is no sign that the uncertainty, described as the “fog of Brexit” by the Bank of England, is going to lift anytime soon, so the economy is not expected to have improved at the start of this year.

Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to salvage the Brexit deal she agreed on with the EU late last year after it was overwhelmingly rejected by British lawmakers. She’s trying to eke out concessions from the EU, particularly on a controversial provision intended to make sure no hard border returns between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

It’s unclear she will be able to get any concessions and fears have grown in recent weeks that Britain could crash out of the EU without a deal. That’s a worst-case scenario that the Bank of England has said could see the British economy shrink by 8 percent within months and house prices collapse by around a third as trade barriers like tariffs are put up on EU-U.K trade.

In 2018, net trade was a drag on the British economy as it imported more than it exported, a possible reflection of the waning effects of the prior year’s fall in the pound and a slowing global economy.

Analysts were careful not to conclude that the British economy would start contracting in the first quarter of 2019, not least because British consumer spending tends to be resilient.

“Today’s data bring clear signs that Brexit uncertainty is depressing the economy, but we would not rush to conclude yet that GDP is on track to fall outright in the first quarter,” said Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Solid growth in households’ spending, thanks to low inflation and robust labor income growth, should keep GDP on a slightly rising path.”

French yellow vest anti-govt protests turn violent in Paris

By THOMAS ADAMSON

Associated Press

Monday, February 11

PARIS (AP) — A French yellow vest protester’s hand was ripped apart Saturday during violent clashes in Paris as demonstrators tried to storm the French National Assembly in a 13th consecutive week of unrest.

Police said the injured protester lost four fingers as police swooped in to stop protesters from breaching the parliament’s exterior. Police could not confirm French media reports that the hand of the demonstrator, who is now being treated in the hospital, was blown up by a grenade used to disperse unruly crowds.

As scuffles broke out in front of the National Assembly and French police responded with tear gas, paramedics huddled around the injured protester at the National Assembly gates.

Police used batons and fired tear gas in Paris to disperse demonstrators, some of whom threw debris at riot police. Cars, motorbikes and trash bins were set ablaze as the protest moved toward the city’s Invalides monument and onto the Eiffel Tower.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner went to Twitter to express his “disgust” as protesters set alight an anti-terror military car. Its yellow smoking plumes, against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, made for a powerful image of rejecting authority.

Such vehicles have been a common sight in Paris since deadly extremist attacks in 2015.

“Every day the military … protects our compatriots from the risk of terrorism. These attacks are intolerable,” Castaner said.

Police said 31 demonstrators had been arrested in the unrest. But France’s Interior Ministry said this week’s protest was significantly smaller than last week’s.

The yellow vest activists, who have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets over the past three months, are now trying to achieve electoral success but the movement is politically divided and has no appointed leader.

French President Emmanuel Macron — the target of many demonstrators’ anger — seems to be clawing back support from the public as he tries to address the movement’s anger with a national political debate on economic injustice. Recent polls show Macron’s approval ratings are rising.

Earlier Saturday, activists in Latvia staged a picket in front of the French embassy in Riga, the capital of the small Baltic EU country, to support the yellow vest movement and urge Latvians to demand higher living standards.

The activists waved Latvia’s red-and-white flag, shouting slogans like “the French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep.”

Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

United States’ Danielle Collins reacts after a shot from Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122297710-8043c9f4e4834548a633dc6da40843e9.jpgUnited States’ Danielle Collins reacts after a shot from Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Australia’s Daria Gavrilova reacts after missing a shot from United States’ Danielle Collins during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122297710-5bca62c6d07b45bc8c4795afb154a90a.jpgAustralia’s Daria Gavrilova reacts after missing a shot from United States’ Danielle Collins during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

United States’ Danielle Collins returns a shot from Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)2
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122297710-872e4aaf604e42feae84c15af6bc494f.jpgUnited States’ Danielle Collins returns a shot from Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their first-round Fed Cup tennis match in Asheville, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)2
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