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Christie’s scraps Miro sale after uproar in Portugal

LISBON (Reuters) – Christie’s auction house canceled the sale of 85 paintings by the Catalan Surrealist Joan Miro on Tuesday after an uproar over whether debt-ridden Portugal, their legal owner, could sell the treasures to buyers abroad. The auctioneers withdr... More »

This U.S. official is heading to Jeopardy! Who is Richard Cordray?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – He’ll take ‘Consumer Protection’ for $200, Alex. Richard Cordray, director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will appear on Jeopardy! on February 5, about 27 years after he won $45,303 as a contestant on the game show. He... More »

Germany must publish list of artworks hoarded by recluse: court

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany must publish the full list of artworks found in the flat of an elderly recluse last year which are mostly believed to have been looted or extorted by the Nazis, a German court ruled on Friday, citing the need for transparency in a ca... More »


Ophidiophobics beware: flying snakes have great aerodynamics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This may be the last thing that anyone with a touch of ophidiophobia – fear of snakes – would want to hear: flying snakes have surprisingly good aerodynamic qualities. Scientists studying the amazing gliding proficiency of an Asian speci... More »

Actress Johansson-Oxfam rift puts spotlight on West Bank

JERUSALEM/LONDON (Reuters) – Actress Scarlett Johansson’s very public rift with the charity Oxfam over her endorsement of an Israeli firm operating in the West Bank has thrown a Hollywood spotlight on one of the thorniest issues in Middle East peace talks. Joh... More »

Scarlett Johansson leaves Oxfam after Israeli settlement uproar

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Actress Scarlett Johansson has quit her role as an ambassador for Oxfam, the charity said on Thursday, after she fell out with group for endorsing an Israeli firm operating in the occupied West Bank. The Hollywood star has become the publ... More »


Modern humans more Neanderthal than once thought, studies suggest

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It’s getting harder and harder to take umbrage if someone calls you a Neanderthal. According to two studies published on Wednesday, DNA from these pre-modern humans may play a role in the appearance of hair and skin as well as the risk of ... More »

Paintings by Richter and Freud to be sold by Sotheby’s

LONDON (Reuters) – An abstract painting by German artist Gerhard Richter will go on sale for the first time at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale in London, alongside works by Lucian Freud and Andy Warhol, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday. Richter’s “Wand (Wall)”, pai... More »

Italy Church appeals to thieves to return John Paul blood relic

ROME (Reuters) – The Catholic Church has appealed to thieves to return a reliquary containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II that disappeared in what it called a “vile and sacrilegious theft”. The gold reliquary was stolen at the weekend from a small ... More »

Thieves steal Pope John Paul’s blood from Italy church

ROME (Reuters) – Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II, a custodian said on Monday. Dozens of police with sniffer dogs scoured the remote area for clu... More »

Asia’s first luxe Nobu Hotel to open in Manila gaming complex

MANILA (Reuters) – Luxury boutique hotel chain Nobu will set up its first Asia hotel in a $1.3 billion Philippines gambling complex operated by Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, mainly targeting wealthy Chinese punters. The Manila-based City of Dreams casino-reso... More »


U.S. anti-abortion marchers brave freezing cold in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thousands of U.S. anti-abortion activists braved frigid temperatures to rally at the annual March for Life on Wednesday, and a top Republican lawmaker vowed that the House of Representatives would vote soon to end taxpayer-funded abortio... More »

New and Asian buyers propel Christie’s art sales to record high

LONDON (Reuters) – Christie’s art sales surged to a record high of £4.54 billion ($7.13 billion) in 2013 as new buyers and rising Asian demand contributed to a buoyant art market in a fragile global economy. Sales at the London-based auction house rose 16 perc... More »


Mystery white rock inexplicably appears near NASA Mars rover

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Scientists are stumped as to how a rock mysteriously appeared in images taken two weeks apart by NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity. The rover, which landed in an area known as Meridiani Planum a decade ago, is exploring the rim ... More »

This little piggy went to the Vatican, to get a blessing

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – With an oink oink here and a cluck cluck there, animals arrived at the Vatican on Friday to get a blessing. The animals, including pigs, chickens, horses, cats and dogs, were at St. Peter’s Square to mark the feast of St. Anthony the A... More »

Bacon portrait of lover seen selling for $49 million at auction

LONDON (Reuters) – A celebrated portrait by Francis Bacon of his lover and muse George Dyer could raise up to 30 million pounds ($49 million) on auction in London next month, Christie’s said on Wednesday. A Bacon triptych sold last year set an auction record o... More »

Argentine poet, political critic Gelman dies in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Juan Gelman, the celebrated Argentine poet and fierce critic of the South American nation’s “dirty war” against leftists, died Tuesday in Mexico City, Mexico’s national art council said. Gelman, who was born in Buenos Aires but lived in... More »

Murder by candlelight at London’s new Jacobean theatre

LONDON (Reuters) – London has a new theatre lit entirely by candles, transporting audiences back 400 years to the kind of performances seen on winter nights in Shakespeare’s time. Constructed mainly of oak, the building sits alongside the established open-air ... More »

Show me the Monet: Philippines seeks return of Marcos paintings

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines aims to recover three paintings, including one by French Impressionist Claude Monet, that a former aide of Imelda Marcos has been jailed in the United States for trying to sell. Vilma Bautista, 75, a one-time secretary to the... More »

Picasso, Magritte feature in Christie’s February auctions

LONDON (Reuters) – A Picasso portrait of his lover and eventual wife Jacqueline Roque and a canvas by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte are among the star attractions of February auctions that Christie’s said on Monday could net almost $380 million. Chr... More »

Titanic museum, shipwreck simulator to anchor Chinese theme park

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A life-sized replica of the Titanic will become the centerpiece of a landlocked theme park in China, featuring a museum and a shipwreck simulation to give visitors a harrowing sense of the 1912 disaster. The Chinese version of “the unsink... More »

France’s Hollande has tight window to step up reform pace

PARIS (Reuters) – The coming weeks will tell whether Francois Hollande can pick up the pieces of his accident-prone presidency and start to pull the euro zone’s second-largest economy out of decline. It may be his last chance to do so. The new year could hardl... More »

French court backs ban on comedy show deemed anti-Semitic

PARIS (Reuters) – A French court upheld a ban on a show scheduled in the central city of Tours for Friday by a comedian accused of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims, the second performance in a nationwide tour to be banned. A lawyer for comedian Dieudo... More »


France’s Hollande considers legal action over report of affair

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s President Francois Hollande on Friday threatened legal action against French celebrity magazine Closer for breach of privacy after it alleged he was having an affair with a film actress. The weekly tabloid, criticized in 2012 for pub... More »

England cricketers talk man out of suicide bid

(Reuters) – England cricketers Matt Prior and Stuart Broad turned Good Samaritans after talking a man out of jumping off a bridge in Darling Harbour, Sydney, media reports said on Wednesday. Wicketkeeper Prior was with fast bowler Broad and England security of... More »


China aims to ban smoking in public places by end of the year

BEIJING (Reuters) – China aims to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in public places this year, as authorities move to stamp out a widespread practice that has taken a severe toll on citizens’ health. China, home to some 300 million smokers, is the world’s la... More »


Spain’s Princess Cristina charged with tax fraud, money-laundering

MADRID (Reuters) – A Spanish judge charged Princess Cristina – younger daughter of King Juan Carlos – with tax fraud and money laundering, possibly paving the way to an unprecedented trial of a member of the royal family, the Superior Justice Tribunal of the B... More »


Rodman lands in North Korea for basketball on Kim’s birthday

BEIJING (Reuters) – Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Monday with a team of retired professional basketball players to mark the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This marks Rodman’s fourth trip to the North Korean ca... More »

North Korean execution by dog story likely came from satire

SEOUL (Reuters) – An international media frenzy over reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle had been executed by throwing him to a pack of dogs appears to have originated as satire on a Chinese microblogging website. The story, which spread like ... More »


Over a thousand candidates shortlisted for life on Mars

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A mission to put humans on Mars that drew 200,000 applicants has selected more than a thousand candidates who will now be tested to come up with a final list of 24 would-be Mars-dwellers. Mars One was set up in 2011 by two Dutch men with ... More »


Dutch entrepreneur to preserve tattoos of the dead

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – When Floris Hirschfeld’s mother died two years ago, he had her portrait tattooed on his back to honor her memory. One day he hopes the image, skin and all, will adorn the wall of an art collector’s home. It might sound like a macabre Roal... More »


Question over purged China leader’s remains as widow dies

BEIJING (Reuters) – The widow of late Chinese Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, toppled for opposing the 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, died this week, the family said, leaving a question over what will happen to his unburied rema... More »


China to triple compensation for parents losing only child

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is to more than triple the amount of compensation that some parents get if their only child dies, the health and family planning agency said on Thursday, in the latest sign of a more lenient stand on an uncompromising population polic... More »

Sculptor Kapoor brings new stone works to old Istanbul

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – For his first major show in Turkey, famed Indian-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor brought huge works that have never before been exhibited to a gallery that ripped down walls to accommodate him. Massive slabs of rough-hewn slate, polishe... More »

The year that was: The good, the bad and the funny

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden congratulated the wrong man on being elected mayor of Boston and college football star Manti Te’o publicly mourned the death of a girlfriend who never was. While U.S. headlines in 2013 were dominated by the Boston ... More »

Hollywood Park horse racing track enters final stretch

INGLEWOOD, California (Reuters) – Hollywood Park is giving horse racing fans a run for their money one last time this weekend, as the 75-year-old track near Los Angeles that was once the playground of movie industry elites closes down amid declining U.S. popul... More »

Cricket holy war on as Anglicans accept Vatican challenge

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Let the holy war begin. The holy war of cricket, that is. The Church of England on Friday formally took up the Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch nearly 500 years after the two Churches split. Last October, the V... More »

UK paper hacked phones of Prince William’s wife, brother: court

LONDON (Reuters) – The phones of Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton and Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, were hacked by staff working for Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, a London court was told on Thursday. Prosecutor Andrew ... More »

Israeli woman appeals rabbinical ruling she must circumcise son

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli woman appealed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday against a rabbinical ruling that ordered her to circumcise her one-year-old son, the Justice Ministry said, in the first case of its kind. There is no law in Israel making circum... More »

‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs dies aged 84

LONDON (Reuters) – Ronnie Biggs, a small-time British criminal who became a celebrity during a life on the run after his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, died on Wednesday at the age of 84. Biggs gained notoriety 50 years ago as one of a 12-member gang... More »

Day after burial, S. Africa unveils Mandela ‘unity’ statue

PRETORIA (Reuters) – A nine-meter (30-foot) bronze statue of Nelson Mandela with his arms outstretched to symbolize unity and reconciliation was unveiled in South Africa on Monday, a day after the nation buried the former president and anti-apartheid hero. The... More »


Obamas, stars come out for Christmas in Washington show

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama mixed the Christmas spirit and the X-Men movies on Sunday at a taping of a holiday show that included performances from a host of stars from Sheryl Crow to the Backstreet Boys. Obama, his wife Michelle and daughter... More »

U.S. Mega Millions jackpot jumps to $550 million

(Reuters) – The U.S. Mega Millions jackpot jumped to an estimated $550 million on Friday, after no winning ticket was sold for the multi-state lottery’s second-largest top prize. The next drawing is slated for December 17 at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday (04... More »

Atlanta’s twin giant panda cubs turn out to be female

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Atlanta Zoo officials said on Friday that twin giant panda cubs, the first to be born and survive in the United States, have both turned out to be female. The zoo, which initially had identified both cubs as male after they were born in Jul... More »

Picassos may face wrecking ball in bombed-out Oslo buildings

OSLO (Reuters) – Five Picasso designs etched into concrete may face the wrecking ball at government buildings in Oslo that anti-Islam militant Anders Breivik bombed in 2011. Spread across two buildings, including the prime minister’s 17-storey High Block offic... More »


Queen Elizabeth went nuts over nibbles, court told

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth was so incensed with royal police officers eating nuts from bowls left out in the corridors of Buckingham Palace that she drew lines on the sides in a bid to catch them out, a London court heard on Thursday. In emai... More »


Mandela’s body lying in state, thousands queue to say goodbye

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Thousands of people queued on Wednesday to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela, whose body was lying in state in Pretoria in the building where the anti-apartheid hero was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president. Foreign dign... More »

Fake ‘signer’ at Mandela memorial outrages deaf

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A fake sign language interpreter took to the stage during the memorial for anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, gesticulating gibberish before a global audience of millions and outraging deaf people across the world. DeafSA, South Afr... More »

With children now grown, Garth Brooks says he will tour again

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – American country singer Garth Brooks, the top-selling recording artist of the last 20 years, on Monday said he would return to touring after more than a decade off the road. Brooks, 51, who has sold more than 125 million albums, said he... More »

With nearly a ton of butter, Texas gingerbread house sets record

BRYAN, Texas (Reuters) – Holiday cheer in Texas has become even sweeter thanks to a giant gingerbread house that has broken a world record for confectionary construction. Coming in at 35.8 million calories and covering an area of 2520 square feet, or nearly th... More »

Ford launches new global Mustang to buoy brand, boost margins

DETROIT (Reuters) – Nearly 50 years after launching its affordable sports car, Ford Motor Co is unveiling a global redesign of the Mustang to try to burnish the U.S. automaker’s image and spur sales of its more expensive models. Top Ford executives, including ... More »


Diners say not biting on KFC’s China revival campaign

NEW YORK/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Yum Brands Inc’s KFC website in China trumpets the slogan “Trust in every bite.” That message is part of the company’s new “I Commit” campaign intended to reassure customers in its largest market, who have cut back on visits since... More »

Miami adds new art museum, sign of evolution beyond the beach

MIAMI (Reuters) – A gleaming addition to Miami’s waterfront will greet the art world elite as they jet into town this week for the 12th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach: a $131 million art museum the city hopes will anchor its burgeoning cultural scene. “Our c... More »

How about a little George W. Bush for the Christmas tree?

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The George W. Bush Presidential Center has joined the holiday festivities, offering for sale a Christmas tree ornament that features a painting by the former U.S. head of state. The ornament, selling for $29.98, is an unsigned Bush pa... More »

World War Two era Japanese submarine found off Hawaii coast

HONOLULU (Reuters) – Scientists plumbing the Pacific Ocean off the Hawaii coast have discovered a World War Two era Japanese submarine, a technological marvel that had been preparing to attack the Panama Canal before being scuttled by U.S. forces. The 400-foot... More »

New York lawsuit seeks ‘legal personhood’ for chimpanzees

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. animal rights group on Monday filed what it said is the first lawsuit seeking to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees. The non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project asked a New York state court to declare a 26-year-old chimp nam... More »

Cost of “Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts leaps in 2013

(Reuters) – Buying a set of the gifts named in the classic holiday carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” will cost a true love $27,393 this year, up 7.7 percent from the 2012 price tag, according to an annual tongue-in-cheek analysis released on Monday. Prices ... More »

Bolshoi performers say Russian dancer’s guilt not proven

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Performers at Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre made a last-minute plea for leniency on Monday for a dancer accused of ordering an acid attack on its artistic director, praising his “wonderful human qualities” and saying he was incapable of such an a... More »

Masked artist makes sticky issue out of radiation in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – With his face hidden behind sunglasses and a white surgical mask, the artist is almost as invisible as the radioactive contamination he is protesting against – yet his stickers are graphic reminders of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Known as... More »


Ireland’s working emigrants reluctant to return home

DUBLIN (Reuters) – When Toby Gilbert decided to emigrate last year, he did not choose Australia over Dublin for sunshine and sandy beaches. He just wanted a few more free hours to see his wife. Fed up with working punishing hours and barely seeing each other, ... More »


Seeing double: Kim Jong Un lookalike turns heads in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A haircut and some makeup was all it took for a Hong Kong musician to transform himself into one of the world’s most notorious dictators, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. When Kim inherited power from his dead father, friends teased the A... More »


Turkeys avoid Thanksgiving fate with U.S. presidential pardon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Taking a break from weighty matters of state and pitched battles with political foes, President Barack Obama exercised the lighter side of his authority Wednesday by sparing two magnificent turkeys the fate of becoming someone’s Thanksgi... More »


Rare diplodocus dinosaur sells for $650,000 at British auction

LONDON (Reuters) – The skeleton of a diplodocus dinosaur that roamed what is now the United States some 160 million years ago was sold for 400,000 pounds ($651,100) to an unidentified public institution at an auction in Britain on Wednesday. Misty, as the dino... More »

Romania hands 6-1/2 year jail term to Dutch art theft boss

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – A Romanian court sentenced the ringleader of a gang that stole paintings from a Dutch museum in one of the world’s biggest art heists to six years and eight months in prison on Tuesday. Radu Dogaru and fellow gang member Eugen Darie, both... More »

Black Friday warriors share their best attack plans

(Reuters) – When Aimee Brittain’s team hits the stores in a commando-like fashion on Thanksgiving night in search of Black Friday deals, they’ll stand out from the crowd in their matching “very bright blue” shirts. They’ll scatter when they hit the store, and ... More »

U.S. television journalist Elizabeth Vargas out of rehab

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Television journalist Elizabeth Vargas, a co-anchor on the ABC news show “20/20,” said on Wednesday she was out of rehab and doing well after receiving treatment for alcohol abuse. “Hello everyone! I am home, and so grateful for all your s... More »


Dueling dinosaur fossils fail to sell at New York auction

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fossils of two dinosaurs locked in a death match failed to sell at auction on Tuesday despite predictions they would fetch a record $9 million. The top bid for the dinosaur fossils was $5.5 million and did not meet the reserve price, Bonha... More »

Singer Adam Levine named People’s sexiest man alive

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Singer Adam Levine, the frontman of the Grammy Award-winning rock group Maroon 5 and a judge on the hit NBC singing show “The Voice,” was named People magazine’s sexiest man alive, the magazine announced on Tuesday. The 34-year-old singer-... More »

Australian kangaroo exporters look to hop into meat-hungry China

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Once considered pet food, kangaroo meat could soon be sold to China as a luxury product, to encourage Chinese consumers to do something few Australians will – eat it. With a booming middle class, China’s appetite for meat is expected to rise... More »


Young Saudis getting creative on YouTube

DUBAI (Reuters) – Turn on a Saudi television and you’ll usually get a diet of religious programming and uncontroversial imported fare. But there’s much more to a “night in” for the average Saudi – they’re also the world’s most avid watchers of YouTube. The pro... More »


German parties agree to introduce quota for women on boards

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed on Monday to introduce legislation requiring German companies to allot 30 percent of their non-executive board seats to women from 2016. Negotiators from the two ... More »


Outdoor exercisers can reap unexpected benefits by moving indoors

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Road runners and cyclists may dread moving their exercise routines indoors as winter approaches but fitness experts say it could be an opportunity to fine-tune a familiar routine or a chance to discover new skills. Jessica Matthews, a Cali... More »

Angelina Jolie receives humanitarian award from Academy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Hollywood film industry recognized Angelina Jolie on Saturday with a humanitarian award for her work with refugees and advocating for human rights through her film career. Actors Angela Lansbury and Steve Martin and costume designer... More »


Ex-Cyprus president, unity advocate Clerides dies at 94

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Former president Glafcos Clerides, a conservative who ushered Cyprus into the European Union but failed in efforts to heal the island’s decades-old ethnic partition, died on Friday, his doctor said. He was 94. Clerides led Cyprus for two co... More »

Colombia’s Botero, Mexico’s Tamayo lead N.Y. Latam art sales

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Fernando Botero reworking of Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players” and a Rufino Tamayo portrait of women are expected to be the top-selling works in Latin American art auctions next week in New York. Sotheby’s predicts sales of up to $29.6 m... More »

Designer Smith throws socks, wins smiles at exhibition debut

LONDON (Reuters) – Eclectic men’s fashion designer Paul Smith, suit maker to Prime Minister David Cameron and footballer David Beckham, kick-started the opening of an exhibition of his work by throwing a pair of his signature stripy socks to the world’s media.... More »

Dueling dinosaur bones could set fossil auction record

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fossils of two dinosaurs found in Montana and locked eternally in a fierce death match could fetch a potential record $9 million when they are sold in New York next week, the Bonhams auction house said on Thursday. The Montana Dueling Dino... More »


Hawaii becomes 15th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage

HONOLULU (Reuters) – Hawaii’s governor signed into law on Wednesday a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, capping 20 years of legal and political rancor in a state regarded as a pioneer in advancing the cause of gay matrimony. The new law, whic... More »


Diabetes battle ‘being lost’ as cases hit record 382 million

LONDON (Reuters) – The world is losing the battle against diabetes as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease soars to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts said on Thursday. The vast majority have type 2 diabetes – the ki... More »


Toronto City Council asks Mayor Rob Ford to go away

TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto City Council asked embattled Mayor Rob Ford on Wednesday to take a break from his job to deal with “personal issues”, which he admits include both buying illegal drugs and smoking crack cocaine. The nonbinding vote came on a day dur... More »