Wawrinka recovers to make last

Dates: 25 August-8 September Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on Andy Murray’s matches, plus commentary every day from 18:00 or 18:30 BST on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka overcame a mid-match lapse to beat Tomasz Bellucci 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-1) and reach the US Open last 32.

The Australian Open champion went a break down in the fourth set, but recovered with some fine shot-making.

Earlier, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska became the event’s first high-profile casualty, losing 6-3 6-4 to China’s world number 39 Peng Shuai.

The Pole has failed to advance beyond the last 16 in nine visits to New York.

Fifth seed and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova survived the loss of the first set to see off world number 95 Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6 6-3 6-2.

But American 21st seed Sloane Stephens also suffered a shock defeat, beaten 5-7 6-4 6-2 by Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.

Wimbledon semi-finalist, and Sharapova’s off-court partner, Grigor Dimitrov made easier work of his second-round tie, dispatching American Ryan Harrison 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in a little over two hours.

After her second-round win over Madison Brengle, Sabine Lisicki has served both more aces (20) and more double faults (18) than any other player in the women’s draw.

Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz joins American John Isner at the top of the service speed standings after delivering a 140 mph rocket in his win over Dusan Lajovic.

Two-time champion Venus Williams, seeded 19th for in this year’s draw, made the third round for the first time in four years as she beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-1 6-4. The American will play Italian 13th seed Sara Errani next.

Johanna Larsson (Swe) beat Sloane Stephens (US) (21) 5-7 6-4 6-2

Missed opportunities said Stephens. I didn’t take advantage of the times I could have. That’s definitely something I will look back on, but I won’t dwell on it too much. There is room for improvement and I can do a lot of things better

Tomas Berdych (Cze) (6) beat Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) 6-3 6-4 6-3

“The conditions were extremely tough today. The heat, the wind, and facing Lleyton for the first round, it’s nothing that you really want to have said Berdych.

But otherwise, when you are prepared and feel good, that’s a perfect start

Maria Sharapova (Rus) (5) beat Alexandra Dulgheru (Rom) 4-6 6-3 6-2

We started under the sun and finished under the lights,” said Sharapova.

It was tricky conditions, a tough opponent so I’m very happy I was able to come back and come through and win this match

Venus Williams (US) (19) beat Timea Bacsinszky (Swi) 6-1 6-4

I feel like I play my best when my opponent pushes me really said Williams

Once we start to, you know, really start to get into a slugfest, I feel like I really relax. Sometimes I feel like when they aren’t pushing me as much maybe I’m a little too passive at times

Stan Wawrinka (Swi) (3) beat Tomasz Bellucci (Bra) 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-1)

I tried to focus more on my game and not on what he was doing Wawrinka said. I was playing a little bit smarter at the end of the match

Wawrinka’s next opponent is Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, ranked one place below Bellucci at 92 in the world.

Peng Shuai (Chn) beat Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) (4) 6-3 6-4

I didn’t play bad today said Radwanska. “I think it was just her day. Of course I could do something different maybe or try something else, but I really tried my best and I was fighting until the end. I just couldn’t do it.

Marin Cilic (Cro) (14) beat Marcos Baghdatis (Cyp) 6-3 3-1 (Baghdatis retired)

Simona Halep (Rou) (2) beat Jana Cepelova (Svk) 6-2 6-1

I started a little bit too slow, but then I started to be more aggressive and hit the ball said world number two Halep, who won in 56 minutes. I feel great now that I could win so fast because it’s so hot outside

Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) (7) beat Ryan Harrison (US) 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-2

Feliciano Lopez (Spa) (19) beat Ivan Dodig (Cro) 1-6 7-5 2-6 6-4 1-1 (Dodig retired)

Jelena Jankovic (Srb) (9) beat Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) 7-5 6-4

Caroline Wozniacki (Den) (10) beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Bel) 6-3 6-4

“She wasn’t an easy opponent. She’s young and hungry,” said Wozniacki. “She didn’t have anything to lose, so she was going for her shots.”

The former world number one will play Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, who she beat in the 2011 quarter-final, in the next round.

Ernests Gulbis (Lat) (11) beat Kenny de Schepper (Fra) 6-1 6-4 6-2

After defeat to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in the first round of the singles draw, Heather Watson was dealt a similarly swift exit in the doubles as she and Spanish partner Silvia Soler-Espinosa were beaten 7-5 6-3 by American pair Alison Riske and Coco Vandeweghe.

Ross Hutchins, making his return to the US Open since being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, in December 2012, secured a surprise win in the mixed doubles. The Londoner and his Taiwanese partner Yung-Jan Chan beat fourth seeds Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 (10-6).

Jonathan Marray, Britain’s Wimbledon men’s doubles champion in 2012, fell in the first round as he and partner Gilles Muller were beaten 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5) by Australians Sam Groth and Chris Guccione.

Wednesday’s US Open results in full

Combining her tennis with training for November’s New York marathon is working well for Caroline Wozniacki who has won 15 of her last 18 matches So it’s only a positive when you go out on the tennis court. You know you can run out there all day if you want to, if you need to

It’s always a good sign that I don’t have much points to defend, so there’s always a good side the next year.” Agnieszka Radwanska finds a positive after extending her poor record at the US Open.

One brave journalist asks Lleyton Hewitt if he’ll be back next year: Don’t know. Get that asked every week. Don’t know. I haven’t even thought about it

He’s like, Hey, you’re that tennis player I’m like, Oh, my goodness Michael Jordan knows who I am After the basketball legend watched Roger Federer’s match yesterday, Maria Sharapova reveals her own encounter with Michael Jordan a few years ago randomly, unexpectedly, at an airport

The less you think, it’s easier. When you start to question yourself, What are my true goals in life?’ ‘What is my true motivation?’ Then you start to question Why am I doing this? I’m going to be 30 years old, and I’m still warming up like a 10 year old kid Ignorance is bliss for Ernests Gulbis on tour.

At the end of the day, they start to get a little bit drunk Stan Wawrinka on the evening session crowd at the US Open, one of whom he told to “shut up” as he prepared to serve against Tomasz Bellucci. It was OK. I had to talk to a few of them

Midway though a point in her match against Sasnovich Wozniacki found her hair had become tangled in her racquet.

The Dane did not let that stop her having an, admittedly unsuccessful, swipe at her next backhand.

Once it gets to a certain length sometimes it can get stuck in the arm or the racquet Wozniacki explained.

You know, I still tried to hit the ball. And almost took my head off

Will the EU get a dream team?

Rivals for foreign policy chief: Italy’s Federica Mogherini (left) and Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva

August is holiday time for the Brussels elite, but that has not stopped intense behind-the-scenes negotiation over candidates for the top EU jobs.

A special EU summit will take place on Saturday, aimed at deciding who will replace Herman Van Rompuy as European Council President and Catherine Ashton as EU foreign policy chief – officially the “EU High Representative”.

The 28 member states failed to agree on candidates for those two top jobs on 16-17 July.

Now, the field appears to have narrowed quite a lot.

They agreed earlier – controversially – to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.

First of all, a big health warning. Don’t underestimate the ability of EU leaders to spring surprises. In 2009 the emergence of Mr Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton took most observers by surprise.

It is a very complicated balancing act, amid intense national rivalry for power and influence in the EU. If all 28 can be satisfied then the EU may have its dream team.

There is a trade-off between these jobs and the plum jobs in the European Commission, yet to be decided.

Here are some factors that will influence the leaders’ choices when they meet in Brussels:

Last month Italy’s centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi could not persuade a majority in the Council to back his candidate for foreign policy chief – Federica Mogherini.

There was opposition from East European leaders who felt she was too friendly towards Russia. There were also widely reported concerns that she was new to the job as Italian foreign minister and relatively inexperienced in European politics.

But the director of the Carnegie Europe think-tank, Jan Techau, says there are signs that a deal has emerged to put her in the job after all.

“It looks like she’ll be the one,” he told the BBC. This month Mr Renzi managed to persuade other left-leaning governments to support Ms Mogherini – most significantly France, he said.

“Those who opposed her originally realised they had lost the fight, probably because they have been compensated elsewhere.”

This is where the trade-offs get very complicated. Poland has been pushing for its highly experienced foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, to get the job.

But what if Mr Juncker offers Poland the job of EU Energy Commissioner, or another powerful economic job instead? Poland – heavily reliant on fossil fuels – is keen to have more influence on EU energy policy. That could be enough for Mr Sikorski to be quietly dropped.

Sweden’s Carl Bildt is another foreign policy big-hitter. But, like Mr Sikorski, he might be too ambitious and too outspoken on Russia for some EU leaders to stomach.

“As high representative you’re essentially an employee of the member states. They always fear someone who sets an agenda – they don’t want someone over-ambitious,” Mr Techau says.

Next steps

September – Jean-Claude Juncker presents nominees for his new 28-member Commission and Parliament grills each one in turn (one from each member state)

October – Parliament votes on new Commission team

November – New Commission should take office, as should new EU foreign policy chief and new European Council president.

Both top jobs could go to women. Two names are often mentioned by Brussels-watchers: Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Danish Prime Minister, centre-left) and Kristalina Georgieva (Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, centre-right Bulgarian).

Ms Thorning-Schmidt has long been seen as a favourite to replace Mr Van Rompuy as European Council President.

An analyst at the Open Europe think-tank, Pawel Swidlicki, said Ms Mogherini might still be too controversial to get the necessary support.

Ms Georgieva as foreign policy chief would tick the East European box, he said, while Ms Thorning-Schmidt would be the counter-balancing centre-left leader as council president.

The rest of the college of commissioners looks very male-heavy, so having two women appointed could persuade the European Parliament he told the BBC.

But another strong contender for Mr Van Rompuy’s job is Latvia’s ex-Prime Minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, Mr Techau argues. He has the advantage of being both an East European and from a eurozone country.

The leaders will try to agree by consensus, without taking a formal vote. The vote which resulted in Mr Juncker’s appointment was unusual

Shares rebound at carmaker BYD

BYD said sales of its so-called new energy vehicles had grown compared to a year earlier.

Shares in the Chinese car and battery maker BYD fell by more than 8% in Hong Kong trade on Monday, a day after the firm posted worse than expected first half earnings.

The Shenzhen-based company said its net profit for the six months to June this year fell by 15.5% to $58.6m (£35.3m).

Shares in BYD, backed by the billionaire US investor Warren Buffett, later recovered to close up by 2.24%.

The firm is also listed in Shenzhen, where shares fell by 0.22% on Monday.

China’s car market, which has experienced huge growth in recent years, became the largest car market in the world in 2009.

However, the Chinese government has aimed to cut the number of motorists on the roads in an attempt to battle chronic pollution problems.

In mid-2010 it started removing financial subsidies for traditional car purchases, which put the brakes on sales growth.

BYD said sales of its so-called traditional fuel cars fell by 27% during the six months to June from a year earlier.

It also said it expects weak third-quarter earnings due to a continued slowdown in traditional car sales.

The battle for traditional car sales between both domestic and foreign car manufacturers on the Mainland was a factor BYD said had also affected its bottom line.

Due to the intense competition in the automobile market and the change of subsidy policy for energy-efficient automobiles, the market share of China’s local brands has shrunken by 3.48 percentage points as compared with that of last year, the firm said

But the company said sales of its so-called new energy vehicles had grown compared to a year earlier

In China, a new energy vehicle is considered one that is powered in full, or part, by electricity, including plug-in hybrid vehicles, or battery-operated cars

The Mainland first set out to support development for these types of energy-efficient cars in 2009

In February this year, China’s Ministry of Finance said it would boost its subsidy standards for these vehicles until at least next year.

BYD, which also manufactures handsets and rechargeable batteries, as well as some solar products, said its overall first half revenue rose 4% from a year earlier.

China film festival shut down

Chinese police and men claiming to be villagers block an alleyway leading to the festival’s venue

The authorities in China have shut down the 11th Beijing Independent Film Festival on its opening day.

Organisers said they had been under pressure from officials in recent days to cancel the festival, which had been due to run until the end of the month.

An attempt to move the venue from a suburb was blocked by local police.

It has been a rare opportunity for independent Chinese film makers to show their work, but is regarded with suspicion by the government.

The annual festival has suffered disruption in the past, including having its electricity supply cut.

The organisers said they had received a series of warnings from officials to cancel the festival – one report said they complied after being briefly detained on Friday.

Security was tight at the venue in the Beijing suburb of Songzhuang, with about two dozen men blocking the area and preventing around 30 film directors and members of the public from entering, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reports.

The men, claiming to be villagers, tried to stop anyone from photographing or filming the scene, AP says.

The Chinese government keeps a tight control on information and the media – and is suspicious of independent films that could contain criticism of the Communist party and its policies, says BBC World Service Asia analyst Charles Scanlon.

President Xi Jinping has stepped up repression of government critics since coming to office, our correspondent says, with the arrest of hundreds of bloggers.

Happy 55th birthday, Hawaii!

It’s been 55 years since Hawaii officially became a U.S. state. For the occasion, we’re featuring some of the best photos that CNN iReporters have taken of the Aloha State. Here, <a href=’http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-832386′>Jutka T. Emoke Barabas</a> captured a warm sunset over the calm waters off Honolulu in August 2012.

Do you have a gorgeous travel snapshot? Share it with CNN iReport.

(CNN) — Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.

Made up of a chain of volcanic mountains that form eight major islands, Hawaii stretches about 1,500 miles. The state’s vast expanse provides a diverse terrain for visitors to explore — tropical rain forests, cool alpine regions, arid deserts and sunny beaches — all within miles of one another.

The region’s beauty, history and landscape have enthralled novice and seasoned travelers alike. American travel writer Paul Theroux once said, “Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.”

The Aloha State on Thursday marks a milestone as it celebrates 55 years sincebecoming a U.S. state. To honor the occasion, we’re sharing a breathtaking collection of photos that CNN iReport contributors have captured on the islands.

29 beach photos that’ll make you drool

Schumacher theft suspect found dead

Rega describes itself as a non-profit foundation that operates air ambulances

A man arrested on suspicion of leaking Michael Schumacher’s medical files has been found hanged in his cell, Swiss police say

The man, who has not been named, was a manager at Swiss air rescue firm Rega

Michael Schumacher’s medical records were allegedly stolen and offered for sale to several newspapers.

The ex-F1 champion suffered a head injury in a skiing accident in France last December and was flown by Rega to a Swiss hospital in June.

Prosecutors had been investigating a possible breach of privacy at Rega.

The suspect was arrested on Tuesday but denied any wrongdoing. He was found in his Zurich jail cell on Wednesday

Schumacher, 45, was transferred on 16 June from a hospital in the French city of Grenoble to Lausanne in Switzerland.

His medical documents were shared with the medical and rescue teams involved in planning his move, including Rega.

Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, said last month that the F1 ex-champion’s medical files had been “clearly stolen” and were being offered for sale.

The records were apparently being offered to media across Europe for 50,000 euros (£40,000, $68,000).

In June, Schumacher’s family announced that he was no longer in the medically-induced coma aimed at reducing swelling in his brain.

Republicans ignoring their own advice on immigration

Washington (CNN) — Republicans already are steaming about President Barack Obama’s expected executive action to potentially allow millions of undocumented workers to remain in the country.

But another debate on immigration will refocus on internal GOP splits and raise questions about whether the party is taking any of its own advice about being more open to Hispanics.

Pointing to inaction by Congress, Obama signaled last week that he’s done waiting for Republicans to negotiate a compromise on any immigration measures.

“I promise you, the American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done,” he said.

How far can the President go on executive actions?

House Speaker John Boehner warned Obama that any move to expand earlier executive action would be “a grievous mistake.”

In an opinion piece in Politico on Friday, Boehner insisted any action to fix immigration “must be done by Congress, and it must be done in a common-sense, step-by-step fashion so that the American people have a say in what we are doing.”

Boehner was one of the first top Republicans after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to say that the party needed to deal with immigration.

But a bipartisan Senate bill approved last year and backed by some prominent Republicans hit a wall in the GOP-led House.

Because most House Republican districts are solidly red, most of the party’s rank and file feared primary challenges from the right. The incentive was to stop immigration reform, not move it forward.

Recent actions contradict efforts to be inclusive

With Congress divided, Obama to go his own way on immigration

Many Republican Party leaders and possible presidential candidates, however, say the GOP needs a more inclusive message to Hispanics if it hopes to win the White House in 2016.

But the message they’re hearing on immigration from many in the party could make it harder to build relationships with the Latino community.

House bill

Right before leaving town for August, the House passed a bill requiring that some 600,000 children born in the United States to parents who entered the country illegally would be deported.

The vote was largely along party lines and Republicans pressing for broader reform said that ending the Obama administration’s program easing such deportations sent the wrong message.

“Why are Republicans continuing to shoot themselves in the foot?” Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican himself and a former commerce secretary for George W. Bush, asked in a CNN interview.

A chief proponent of the House bill, Iowa Rep. Steve King, was confronted in his home state last week at an event with Sen. Rand Paul, a likely 2016 presidential candidate.

With media present covering Paul, a woman claiming that she would be deported if the measure became law confronted King about the legislation. Paul was seen leaving before the matter turned into a heated debate.

Paul has made broadening the Republican Party’s appeal a cornerstone of his message.

He helped open GOP offices in minority neighborhoods in his home state and appeared before numerous African-American groups, highlighting his support for reforming criminal sentencing guidelines.

Former 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has also traveled to more than a dozen communities around the country to discuss poverty issues and promote his economic growth policies.

But Democrats have pounced on King’s Iowa dust-up as well as others trying to paint the GOP as more extreme on immigration.

Rick Perry says youths crossing the border is a ‘side issue’

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks said in a recent interview that he believed some were waging a “war on whites.”

Brooks was responding to a reporter pointing out the GOP’s own fears about its dwindling appeal among Hispanics. But he argued that Democrats are “claiming that whites hate everybody else,” which he insisted was “not true.”

Republicans nervous

Rep. Jeff Denham of California was one of 11 House Republicans to oppose the House bill and told CNN the decision by GOP leaders to allow a vote on it was “disappointing.”

Echoing the same sentiment expressed by Obama, Denham said the measure was “a messaging bill” and “would never see the light of day” over in the Senate.

“We’ve got kids who are going to high schools that know of no other country to call home and we’ve got to address all aspects of immigration reform,” Denham said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no plans to take it up in the Democratic-led Senate and Obama has said he would veto it anyway.

Boehner didn’t want to turn the discussion over addressing the crisis of Central American migrant youth streaming across the southern border into a broader debate over immigration.

He agreed that Congress needed to work with the White House and Democrats to pass narrow legislation to deal with the issues that caused the surge of immigrants and provide resources to handle the tens of thousands who already arrived.

Number of unaccompanied minors crossing into U.S. tops 60,000

A political wedge

But Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party hero, insisted that halting Obama’s ability to defer future deportations had to be part of the GOP’s response to the border situation.

As part of a deal to pass a $694 million border funding bill, Boehner and his top lieutenants agreed to allow a separate vote on a measure promoted by House conservatives that went even further than Cruz’s proposal.

The bill would end all deportation deferments because they worried Obama would use his executive authority to expand them.

Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also voted against that bill and told CNN that the GOP proposal helps Democrats continue to use immigration as a political wedge.

“It gives them another bullet point in their narrative,” Diaz-Balart said.

Both Denham and Diaz-Balart criticized Obama’s actions on immigration. They said it was appropriate for Congress to respond to when it believes he is overstepping his legal authority.

“If the message is perceived as strictly to protect the civil liberties and basic rights of our democracy, that is one thing. But if the message is perceived to be anti-immigrant, that is very, very negative,” Diaz-Balart said.

Party not taking its own advice

The recent actions show Republicans aren’t taking their own advice on growing their party.

Last spring, the Republican National Committee issued a report that examined its 2012 loss and called for the GOP to address immigration reform.

The so-called “autopsy report” warned that “if Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States, they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”

Henry Barbour, a top party strategist and a report co-author, told CNN that “tone is important.”

He conceded that taking on immigration reform “takes political courage.” But he also warned against “talking in a way that’s not too hot and comes across as negative or exclusive.”

Barbour added, “We’re a big, broad party — we’re not all going to agree on immigration — not going to agree on everything, but we certainly have to have people in Washington on the Republican and Democratic side that want to get things done.”

House Republicans also heard about it on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which doesn’t usually criticize Republicans.

“A party whose preoccupation is deporting children is going to alienate many conservatives, never mind minority voters. The episode is also sure to raise doubts among swing voters about whether Republicans would be prepared to govern if they do win control of the entire Congress,” the Journal said.

Advice on what to do

Even if Republicans can’t enact immigration reform in a divided Congress, others advise it has to look like it is at least trying to do something.

“Republican support among Hispanic voters does not hinge on immigration reform but inaction. Our inaction and poor optics can eviscerate any future we have right now,” Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist and author of “Los Republicanos — Why Hispanics & Republicans Need Each Other,” said.

Gutierrez said that he saw a scenario for Republicans to be on the offense if the party is able to retake control of the Senate in November.

He suggested the House and Senate could come together on a proposal that would both secure the border but also provide some path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented workers.

Presenting a bill to Obama would put the onus on him to respond and make him the subject of blame if he rejected it.

“I think this is one of those ‘Nixon goes to China’ things — it will be a Republican who reforms immigration. I don’t believe that Democrats have the credibility,” Gutierrez said.

Expanding the wedge?

Many Republicans interviewed by CNN said the challenge next year will be even greater because Democrats will want to use any divisions on the issue to further expand the wedge between the GOP and Latino voters going into the 2016 election.

But they warned that the party can’t use that as an excuse to not promote a message of positive reform.

“This is what people are elected to do,” Barbour said. “Just do your job — I’m talking to Republicans and Democrats alike. This is a two-way street.”

Campaign officials from both parties say immigration is not a top-tier issue for the midterms. There are only a handful of House Republicans in competitive races in districts with significant Latino populations.

The GOP is well-positioned to win control of the Senate and immigration is expected to be a factor in just one key contest — in Colorado, where there is a sizable number of Hispanic voters.

But the 2016 vote is again expected to come down to a handful of key swing states where both parties will work hard to win over independents.

And many Republicans agree that the party’s record on immigration will be important in states like Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, which are home to expanding populations of Latino voters.

Calling immigration reform the “800-pound gorilla in the room,” Diaz-Balart said if Latinos perceive that Republicans don’t want to deal with immigration, then “that is a major, major, major stumbling block to get over.”

World’s 7 most remote islands

The British island group of Tristan da Cunha stands profoundly alone in the South Atlantic. The nearest landfall is South Africa, 1,750 miles to the east.

(CNN) — Idiotic TV shows and all the latest apps bumming you out on the 21st century? Ready for some “me time” on the world’s remotest islands?

Forget golden sands and swaying palms — the reality of solitude is different as these terrifyingly distant landfalls demonstrate.

Tristan da Cunha
1,750 miles from South Africa

The British island group of Tristan da Cunha stands profoundly alone in the South Atlantic. The nearest landfall is South Africa, 1,750 miles east, and to the west, South America is more than 2,000 miles.

It’s the world’s most remote inhabited island chain — so precariously occupied that when a volcanic vent erupted in 1961, the whole population was evacuated to England.

Reaching Tristan da Cunha: This is no easygoing excursion.

To quote the official website, “There are no package tours for independent travelers, no hotels, no airport, no holiday reps, no night clubs, no restaurants, no jet skis nor safe sea swimming.”

All visitors need to clear their arrivals in advance through the Island Council, and they also need to obtain a police certificate. (A 40-day wait is typical.)

There are around 10 sailings a year from Cape Town, South Africa, and Namibia, each taking five to six days to reach the islands; it costs $800-$1,500 for a round trip. A list of available ships can be found on the official website: www.tristandc.com.

Bear Island
400 miles off Europe’s north coast

Bjornoya, better known as Bear Island, is the southernmost island in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, 400 miles north of mainland Europe — but only on paper, given that it’s almost 150 miles south of the Norwegian island chainwith which it’s lumped.

It’s been a nature reserve since 2002 and has a lively history of failed occupation — hard to believe for a place of barren cliffs, near-zero precipitation and risk of leaks of radioactive material from the nearby wreck of a nuclear submarine.

Reaching Bear Island: Getting to the heart of Svalbard is a relatively simple matter — there are daily flights from Oslo and Tromso to Svalbard’s capital, Longyearbyen, on the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Now it gets tricky. Research vessels infrequently call on Bear Island (the Norwegian Polar Institute makes an occasional appearance), while individually chartered boats and the occasional adventure cruise (such as this one from Polar Quest) haul in the remaining visitors.

1,000 miles from Antarctica

Tristan da Cunha is the remotest inhabited island in the world — now, welcome to its uninhabited, far bleaker counterpart.

Its cliffs are sheer. It’s almost entirely covered by a glacier. In winter, its seas are pack ice.

And its nearest neighbor is Antarctica, 1,000 miles to the south. In short, idyllic.

Reaching Bouvet: The entire island is a nature reserve — so unless you can make a compelling case for visiting, you’ll be blocked by Norwegian authorities.

Get permission, and it’s now a simple matter of finding a research vessel, quickly mastering a valuable skill such as arctic geological surveying or marine biology and then getting someone to land you via helicopter. (There are no ports or harbors.)

If all else fails, try becoming an amateur radio enthusiast: In 1990, a multinational expedition of operators spent 16 days on the island.

Bishop Rock
30 miles from England

Regarded by Guinness as the world’s smallest island with a building on it, Bishop Rock stands at the end of Britain’s Isles of Scilly, where coastal waters give way to the fury of the Atlantic.

In 1847, engineers started building an iron lighthouse there — and it washed away in a storm. Its extraordinary successor, first lit in 1858, stands to this day.

Reaching Bishop Rock: Visiting the most southwesterly point in Britain is surprisingly easy — the St. Mary’s Boatsmen’s Association runs day trips.

But as Martin Hesp notes, even on a “calm” day you’re in for serious chop.

60 miles off mainland Scotland

Love the Scottish islands, but want something with a little more bite? Head west of the Outer Hebrides, and you’ll find the archipelago of St. Kilda, 40 miles into the Atlantic.

It’s one of Scotland’s five World Heritage sites, with a main island that was abandoned in the 1930s when crops failed. Imagine the surprise of archaeologists when they found that one of the least hospitable islands, Boreray, was occupied in prehistoric times.

Reaching Boreray: Since Boreray comes under the protection of the National Trust for Scotland, you need its permission to visit.

Then? Lots of time and lots of luck — with a rugged shoreline and savage sea swell, this isn’t an island built for landings.

According to one guide, more people have reached the summit of Everest than have landed at Boreray since the National Trust took ownership in 1957.

North Sentinel Island

400 miles from Myanmar

North Sentinel is one of the 572 islands making up the Andaman chain in the Indian Ocean’s Bay of Bengal.

It’s surrounded by dangerous reefs, but North Sentinel is intimidating because of its inhabitants. The Sentinelese want nothing to do with the modern world and have repeatedly rebuffed attempts to make peaceful contact.

Reaching North Sentinel Island: You’re kidding, right? If the above description didn’t put you off, this article about a pair of fishermen who strayed onto the island certainly should.

270 miles from Ireland

If you think Boreray sounds forbidding, try sailing 187 miles west of it. Rockall is the tip of an extinct volcano reaching 20 meters (about 65 feet) above sea level, in seas with waves recorded as high as 29 meters (95 feet).

In 1955, the British Empire, in its final territorial acquisition, seized Rockall– allegedly due to fears the Soviets would build a missile battery on it.

Reaching Rockall: In the words of the recently minted Rockall Club, “visiting Rockall is difficult, completely weather dependent and not cheap.”

Your best bet is contacting Kilda Cruises and arranging a tailor-made excursion. Or you could sail there, lash yourself to the rock and claim it as your very own micronation — but you wouldn’t be the first.

Senate passes bill to overhaul VA, sends to Obama

Passage of the VA bill was a rare example of swift bipartisan action.

(CNN) — The Senate on Thursday night easily approved a $16 billion bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The measure that won overwhelming House approval a day earlier now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

It is a response to the scandal over delayed care at medical facilities and allegations of alarming management shortcomings at the sprawling federal agency that serves millions of veterans.

A CNN investigation dating to November revealed key details of the crisis at VA facilities.

The legislation would provide money for new medical facilities, more doctors and nurses, and a new program that will allow some veterans to seek health care outside the VA system.

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Robert McDonald as the new VA secretary. He replaced Eric Shinseki, who resigned in May over the scandal.

McDonald has promised to swiftly carry out reforms intended to speed up care for returning soldiers entering the VA system and eliminate bogus record-keeping and other problems that resulted in some veterans dying while waiting months or even years for appointments.

More VA employees said they were told to falsify data

Passage of the VA bill was a rare example of swift bipartisan action in the days leading up to the congressional August recess, which is set to begin on Friday.

James Brady’s death ruled a homicide

James Brady, a former White House press secretary who became a prominent gun-control advocate after he was wounded in the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life, died Monday, August 4. He was 73.

(CNN) — Former White House press secretary James Brady’s death this week was directly related to wounds he sustained in the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, and authorities are now investigating it as a homicide, police told CNN on Friday.

Brady was shot in the head and partly paralyzed, spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair and advocating against gun violence.

Opinion: The man who made people talk about guns

His family said in a statement that he died from health issues at 73. But a Virginia medical examiner has ruled the case a homicide, prompting a new investigation, Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Gwen Crump said.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Washington, said his office is reviewing the medical examiner’s findings. He had no further comment.

John Hinckley, the lone gunman who fired the shots that wounded Reagan, Brady, a police officer and a Secret Service agent outside a Washington hotel, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

He has spent the ensuing years in a psychiatric hospital.

Hinckley was charged at the time with assault with intent to kill and assault with a dangerous weapon, and it’s unclear if he will face any new counts.

James Brady, former Reagan press secretary and gun-control advocate, dies

Opinion: What James Brady did for gun control

Opinion: Congress, finish the job on Brady background checks