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Olympic flame lit for London Games

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AFP) – The Olympic flame was lit in Ancient Olympia in Greece on Thursday, in a solemn ceremony filled with mystery and tradition that signals the final countdown to the start of this year’s summer Games in London. Actors in ancient Greek costume invoked the god Apollo…

Fed clears China’s first US bank takeover

The United States opened its banking market to China’s biggest bank ICBC, for the first time clearing a takeover of a US bank by a Chinese state-controlled company. Just days after high-level US-China economic talks in Beijing, the Federal Reserve approved an application from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to buy a majority…

Harry Potter world coming to Japan

OSAKA, Japan (AFP)  Japanese fans of boy wizard Harry Potter will soon be able to explore the magical world of Hogwarts when Universal Studios Japan expands its theme park with a half-billion dollar investment. The company is going to boost the footprint of its park in Osaka, western Japan, by…

Francis Bacon work fetches $44.9 million in New York

NEW YORK — A Francis Bacon painting of a man and his reflection brought in $44.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York, capping a week of breathtaking sales in the luxury art market. Bacon’s “Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror” was one of the three pillars at the Manhattan auction…

Spain’s ‘indignants’ to retake the streets

MADRID — A year after taking over Spain’s streets and squares, sparking a global uprising against economic injustice, the “indignants” are plotting a comeback. The activists, who once led hundreds of thousands into the streets, are launching a four-day protest May 12-15, ending on the anniversary of the movement’s birth…

Stop-and-frisk challenge: Rights group uses NYPD data to claim racial bias

Police in New York City disproportionately stop black and Latino people even in low-crime areas, leading to a “two-tiered” policing system that divides along racial lines, according to civil rights campaigners. A new analysis of NYPD figures by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenges the police’s assertion racial disparities…

Judge orders George Zimmerman to appear August 8

MIAMI — The Miami neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin will appear in court on August 8 after a US judge granted the accused’s request for more time to prepare his defense. George Zimmerman, 28, has pleaded not guilty to the charges arising from the shooting…

Pentagon chief calls for Senate to ratify law of sea treaty

WASHINGTON — US defense chiefs appealed Wednesday for lawmakers to ratify the UN convention on the law of sea, saying the country was at a disadvantage because of the Senate’s refusal to back the accord. The UN convention governing maritime rights entered into force in 1994 but despite support from…

Lugar’s loss marks erosion of Senate moderates

WASHINGTON — The US Senate lost a beacon of bipartisanship when Republican Richard Lugar was trounced by an ultra-conservative challenger — the latest erosion of a moderate congressional middle that will leave Washington more polarized than ever. The crushing defeat of the longest-serving US senator from Indiana in a party…

Fifteen decapitated in apparent Mexico revenge attack

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Police found the dismembered, decapitated bodies of 15 people in two abandoned vehicles in western Mexico Wednesday in an apparent revenge killing between powerful drug gangs. Police initially counted 12 bodies dumped in the car on a road between Mexico’s second city of Guadalajara and the lakeside…

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