Editor

Wimbledon 2017: Celebs love a good match

Venus Williams couldn’t bring home another Wimbledon title … but she drew a star-studded crowd to watch her go down to Spain’s Margine Guburuza.

Celebrities like Woody HarrelsonStanley TucciHilary SwankBradley CooperJude LawPippa Middleton and many more took in the tennis action on the grass Saturday … and looked like they were really into it.

Despite a tight first set from Venus, 23-year-old Guburuza went on to win the last 9 games and take down Williams in straight sets to take home her first Wimbledon title.

Ryan Lochte cleared of Criminal Charges in Rio ‘Robbery’

Ryan Lochte has been cleared of all charges in connection with his Rio hijinks.

An appeals court has thrown out the criminal charge filed against Lochte for allegedly lying to authorities when he told them he was robbed at gunpoint. Lochte was charged with false communication of a crime.

The judges ruled Lochte did not go to cops and report the incident … they came to him after hearing stories in the media. So he never set out to create a lie, and that was the turning point in the case.

As you know, Lochte told NBC he and 3 other members of the U.S. swim team were stopped by men he thought were impersonating police officers. Surveillance video later showed the real story was Lochte and co. were stopped by owners of the gas station they’d vandalized.

Alienware 17 R4 review

OUR VERDICT

Sporting a more powerful processor, cool looks and a strong range of prices, the Alienware 17 R4 may be your best bet if on the prowl for a 17-inch gaming laptop.

FOR

  • Wildly powerful
  • Swanky looks
  • Lots of configuration options

AGAINST

  • Obnoxiously loud fans
  • So-so battery life

Last year, Dell refreshed the 17.3-inch Alienware 17, complete with a 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia 10-series graphics and – perhaps most interestingly – Tobii infrared eye recognition technology.

Now that Intel has finally released gaming-grade versions of its  latest “Kaby Lake” processors for gaming laptops, you can finally purchase an Alienware 17 R4 and enjoy it at its full potential.

In traditional Alienware fashion, this magnificent monster is decked out in LEDs and ranks top-notch in performance. If it weren’t for the mediocre battery life and noisy fans, the Alienware 17 R4 wouldn’t be far off from perfection. Still, price for performance, Dell’s biggest Alienware laptop remains competitive with the wildly more expensive Razer Blade Pro.

SPEC SHEET

Here is the Alienware 17 R4 configuration sent to PremiumHerald for review:

CPU: 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK (quad-core, 8MB cache, overclocking up to 4.4GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM); Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz)
Screen: 17.3-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440), 120Hz, TN anti-glare at 400 nits; Nvidia G-Sync; Tobii eye-tracking
Storage: 512GB SSD (M.2 SATA III), 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM)
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB-C port, 1 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet, Graphics Amplifier Port, headphone jack, microphone jack, Noble Lock
Connectivity: Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: Alienware FHD camera with Tobii IR eye-tracking
Weight: 9.74 pounds (4.42kg)
Size: 16.7 x 13.1 x 1.18 inches (42.4 x 33.3 x 3cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Alienware 17 R4 is available in the US as well as the UK and Australia, though its starting specs and prices vary drastically.

In the US, you can score the cheapest model for $1,299, equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card (GPU), 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. Considering the GPU can’t be replaced over time, this configuration is tough to recommend at such a steep cost.

In the UK, however, you can expect to pay at least £1,549 for the Alienware 17 R4 for roughly the same specs with the exception of the GPU. Instead of a 1050 Ti, the default build contains an AMD Radeon Radeon R9 470 with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM. Unless you customize it yourself, both the US and UK Alienware 17’s max out with an Intel Core i7-7820HK, an 8GB GDDR5X GTX 1080, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive (HDD) for $2,299 and £2,149, respectively.

If you live in Australia, this laptop will set you back a minimum of $2,798 for a middling 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 8 gigs of system memory (RAM), 1TB of hard drive storage and a 128GB solid-state (SSD) boot drive. The most expensive pre-configured model is $4,998 and packs an Intel Core i7-7820HK, a GTX 1080, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD paired with a 1TB HDD.

At Premium herald, we were sent a built-to-order model that would theoretically cost $2,699 (£3,017, AU$5,369) for the absolute highest-end components available.

Design

If you’ve seen a recently-made Alienware laptop, such as the 15-inch Alienware 15 R3 or the 13-inch Alienware 13 R3, the Alienware 17 R4’s appearances shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.

While Max-Q laptops, like the Asus ROG Zephyrus, might lead you to believe otherwise, the Alienware 17 R4 does boast a thinner chassis due to what Dell calls its ‘Hinge Forward’ design. This design pushes the heatsinks from underneath the keyboard to the rear of the device.

Despite allowing for better thermal design power (TDP) and a slimmer profile, this choice also makes the Alienware 17 R4, for lack of a better description, loud as all hell. While playing more demanding triple-A titles, like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Nier: Automata, the fan volume can be a bit distracting, especially without the aid of noise-cancelling headphones.

Otherwise, all the ingredients you’ve come to expect from an Alienware laptop remain intact. With 12 LED-backlit zones in total, everything from the Alienware 17 R4’s svelte edges to its trackpad can be customized to one of 20 different shades and colors.

These look especially attractive surrounding the tri-sectional engraving on the lid of the machine, where the Alienware 17 R4 reminds us most of Dell’s monolithic Alienware Area 51. The only disappointment there is that – aside from the ominous extraterrestrial on the back – much of the glitz doesn’t carry over from the front.

There’s plenty to love about the inputs on the Alienware 17 R4. Although there are no mechanical switches on the table, the upgraded Alienware TactX keyboard makes the best of what it has to offer.

N-key rollover, for instance, will appeal to those looking to pull off tricky combos and shortcuts without any concern that their keypresses won’t be recognized. What’s more, Dell claims that this is the only laptop keyboard there is bearing 2.2mm of key travel. In short, you shouldn’t have to worry about accidental keypresses or your commands not being recognized.

Both the keyboard and the trackpad feel uncharacteristically comfortable for a gaming laptop. If a lack of portability due to its sizable weight and dimensions isn’t a concern, then you can rest easy knowing the Alienware 17 R4 is just as suited for work as it is for play.

Trackpad trials and tribulations

It should be noted that, while forums online will suggest otherwise, there’s an annoying default trackpad setting that can be disabled. It’s called palm rejection, and it limits your ability to use the trackpad while any key is pressed. You can find it and turn it off in your computer’s additional touchpad settings under sensitivity, if you plan on gaming without a mouse.

That said, gaming with a trackpad is almost always advised against. So, if you’re spending over a grand on a new gaming laptop already, definitely consider shelling out just a fraction of your funds on a new gaming mouse as well.

PDP holds BoT, NEC meetings July 17

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has fixed its expanded National Caucus, Board of Trustees (BoT), and National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings for Monday. July 17.

The notice of the meeting was jointly issued in Abuja on Saturday by Sen. Ben Obi, the National Secretary of PDP National Caretaker Committee, and Amb. Aminu Wali, the National Secretary of BOT for BOT Chairman.

It stated that the meeting of the expanded National Caucus would hold at 8 a.m, at PDP National Secretariat (Wadata Plaza), Abuja.

Those invited to attend the meeting were former presidents and vice presidents, PDP governors, NEC members, BoT members, National Assembly members, former PDP governors, former PDP ministers and all former national officers of the party.

It added that the BOT and NEC would also be holding separate meetings on Tuesday, July 18, at the same venue.

NAN

BREAKING: Eight dead in Senegal stadium crush

Eight people were killed during Senegal’s football league final in Dakar on Saturday in a stampede that broke out following clashes at the end of the match, the official APS news agency said.

A wall collapsed at Demba Diop stadium as people attempted to exit the stadium after the game between local teams Ouakam and Stade de Mbour, APS reported, adding many more were injured.

Mugabe returns from Singapore medical trip

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home on Saturday after medical treatment in Singapore, the state broadcaster said, putting to rest speculation over the 93-year-old’s whereabouts.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mugabe, who left for Singapore last Saturday, “had eye surgery in the Asian country a few years ago” and had returned for a “routine medical check-up”.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980, is his party’s presidential candidate for next year’s elections despite concerns over his age and fitness to rule.

ZBC later reported that Mugabe’s wife Grace was injured in an “freak car accident” involving her motorcade at Harare airport as she returned with the president.

“(She) suffered some soft tissue bruising on the right ankle as a result,” ZBC said, adding that she did not suffer any major injury and was discharged from hospital shortly after the incident. It is unclear exactly how Grace’s ankle was injured.

This week’s trip there is Mugabe’s third there this year.

Public hospitals in Zimbabwe often suffer from chronic shortages of drugs and staff as the economy has struggled to rebound following years of mismanagement.

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party was forced to postpone a rally on Friday at which he was due to address supporters, triggering speculation about his whereabouts.

Early in 2015, he tripped and fell as he left a podium after addressing supporters who had gathered at Harare airport to welcome him back from a foreign trip.

The same year he also read a speech to parliament apparently unaware that he had delivered the same speech before.

Mugabe’s party is sharply divided over his succession. Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife Grace are seen as likely contenders to take over in the event of his death or retirement.

Opposition parties have formed a coalition to fight Mugabe’s party in next year’s vote.

Chinese Nobel laureate’s ashes scattered at sea

Deceased Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo‘s ashes were scattered at sea on Saturday, Liu’s brother said, in a move described by a family friend as an effort to erase any memory of him.

Liu, 61, died of multiple organ failure on Thursday in a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, where he was being treated for late-stage liver cancer, having been given medical parole but not freed.

He had been jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after helping to write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.

His widow, Liu Xia, has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, but had been allowed to visit him in prison about once a month. She has never been formally charged with any crime.

Speaking at a government-arranged news conference, Liu Xiaobo’s eldest brother Liu Xiaoguang offered thanks several times to the Communist Party for its thoughtful care considering the dissident’s “special situation”.

“Why has Liu Xia not come here? Her health is very weak at the moment,” Liu Xiaoguang said, sitting in between an English-language interpreter and a Shenyang government official. “So she can’t come here. It’s very regretful.”

After speaking for about 20 minutes, Liu was escorted out by two unidentified women, an unlit cigarette in his mouth, and did not answer questions from journalists who surrounded him.

The government then showed reporters images of the ashes being scattered from a boat.

City government information official Zhang Qingyang said Liu Xia and Liu Xiaoguang had decided upon the scattering of ashes at sea.

But close friend and fellow dissident Hu Jia said the motivation behind the sea burial was so that there was “nothing to remember him by on Chinese soil” and so that supporters could not create a shrine to pay tribute to him.

“We know that Liu Xiaobo’s home is Beijing, his spiritual home is here, his love was also found here,” he said.

Hu said it was well-known among Liu’s friends that his elder brother did not agree with his political views and that it was a cynical move for him to be presented to the media as representing Liu Xia and the family.

“The extent to what the authorities are capable of always exceeds our imagination, they always have something worse than imagined planned,” Hu said of the news conference.

“Crude, Cruel and Callous”

Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Director, tweeted that the news conference was “one of the most crude, cruel and callous political show(s) I have ever witnessed”.

Government official Zhang, speaking earlier, said Liu’s widow was “currently free”, adding that as a Chinese citizen, her rights would be protected under the law.

“But she just lost her spouse. She is extremely sad. In the period after dealing with the death of Liu Xiaobo, she won’t take anymore outside disturbances. This is the wish of the family members. It’s natural.”

Zhang did not say where Liu Xia currently was.

A government statement said Mozart’s Requiem was played during the funeral, a work of music Mozart left unfinished on his death bed.

Liu family lawyer Mo Shaoping told Reuters he did not know whether the cremation was in accordance with family wishes, however, as they had been unreachable.

“They are likely still to be under the watch and control of authorities,” Mo said. “They can’t be contacted.”

In funeral photographs handed out by the government, Liu Xia and other family members stand around the coffin containing Liu’s body, surrounded by white flowers that signify mourning in China.

During the past couple of weeks, Liu Xia had been at the hospital as her husband’s health deteriorated.

Rights groups and Western governments have mourned Liu Xiaobo’s death and urged authorities to grant freedom of movement to his wife and the rest of his family.

Several thousand people in Hong Kong held an evening vigil for Liu, holding up candles and white roses in a largely silent march to China’s main representative office. Some carried banners calling Liu a “people’s hero” and demanding Liu Xia be truly freed.

“Even though he is dead, his fight and beliefs will never be forgotten,” said a 62-year-old marcher surnamed Wu. “We have to do something to commemorate him.”

China has repeatedly attacked foreign governments for their concern about Liu and calls to allow Liu Xia to leave the country if she wishes, and foreign reporters in Shenyang have been closely monitored by plainclothes security.

Efforts are being made to secure permission from Chinese authorities for Liu Xia and her brother Liu Hui to leave, a Western diplomat said on Friday.

The last Nobel Peace Prize winner to live out his dying days under state surveillance was Carl von Ossietzky, a pacifist who died in Berlin in Nazi Germany in 1938.

Reuters

Iran blames Trump for instability, rejects ‘rogue’ label

Iran on Saturday blamed what it called Donald Trump’s “arbitrary and conflicting policies” for global security threats, rejecting the U.S. president’s description of Tehran as a rogue state.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have heightened since the election of Trump, who has often singled out Tehran as a key backer of militant groups.

“(Trump) ought to seek the reason for subversion and rebellion in his own arbitrary and conflicting policies and actions, as well as those of his arrogant, aggressive and occupying allies in the region,” said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi, quoted by Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

President Trump said on Thursday that new threats were emerging from “rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran and Syria and the governments that finance and support them”.

Senior Iranian officials have blamed U.S-allied Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Sunni Muslim regional rival, for instability and attacks in the Middle East, including last month’s assaults that killed 18 people in Tehran.

Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in the attacks which were claimed by Islamic state.

While Trump has kept up his criticism of Tehran, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday that the president was “very likely” to state that Iran is adhering to its nuclear agreement with world powers although he continues to have reservations about it.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Stephen Powell

Reuters

Trump picks lawyer Ty Cobb to handle Russia probe

U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a statement on Saturday that veteran Washington lawyer Ty Cobb will serve as special counsel, and sources familiar with the hiring said Cobb would handle the White House’s response to Russia-related investigations.

Cobb, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, is expected to be an intermediary between the White House and Congress, as well as outside attorneys as probes into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia continue.

A federal special counsel and several congressional panels are investigating allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential connections between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Moscow has denied any interference and the president has denied any collusion.

The last person to hold a similar position to Cobb’s was lawyer Emmet Flood, who worked in the George W. Bush administration to respond to Congressional inquiries.

Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Tom Brown

Reuters

Arsenal score three goals in final Australian tour win

Arsenal completed their Australian tour with a 3-1 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers with all their goals coming in the first half in Sydney on Saturday.

The Gunners scored their goals in an 11-minute period late in the first half through Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny.

The English giants were held in the second half with the 2014 Asian Champion League winners pulling a goal back off an indirect free kick from Steven Lustica.

Arsenal leave for China winning both games on their first tour to Australia in 40 years after beating A-League champions Sydney FC 2-0 on Thursday.

“They made it quite physical for us, they pushed us a little bit and we played very well for long periods in the first half,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

“The players who came on in the second half gave us more impetus and we finished strongly, unfortunately, we couldn’t score anymore but overall it was a positive game.”

The game drew 83,221 fans for a two-game total of 163,653 for Arsenal’s visit.

Arsenal broke away with three goals late in the opening half after a competitive opening.

French striker Giroud swept home a cross from Spaniard Nacho Monreal after an overlapping run on the left in the 33rd minute and they were two-up a few minutes later.

Monreal found Ramsey with a long ball and he lobbed goalkeeper Janjetovic on the edge of the box.

The Gunners grabbed a third goal nearing half-time when Egyptian Elneny’s long-range volley deflected off defender Brendan Hamill’s leg past Janjetovic into the unguarded net.

Gunners’ record signing Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette showed his immense skills when he turned his marker and fired a shot at the keeper in the opening minutes.

Elneny came close to a second goal when another long-range shot cannoned off the underside of the bar with Janjetovic beaten minutes after the resumption.

But the Wanderers stuck at it and Jack Clisby hit the bar with a drive and Ramsey conceded a free kick with a back pass to substitute goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

Lustica hammered the indirect free kick against Monreal on the goal-line and put the rebound into the roof of the net for his team’s opener in the 57th minute.

Wenger made mass changes midway through the second period with Lacazette and Giroud among those substituted.

The Gunners came close to adding to their tally in the final stages with Mesut Ozil and Eddie Nketiah hitting the post and Theo Walcott having a sharp chance saved by goalkeeper Janjetovic.

AFP