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Pennsylvania man spends $135 in charity raffle and wins $1 million Picasso painting

A US ticket-holder in a worldwide online charity raffle on Wednesday walked away with an exquisite $1 million Picasso after paying a mere 100 euros ($135), Sotheby’s said after organising the first-of-its-kind tombola. The perfectly preserved Cubist artwork had been bought by an anonymous donor from a New York gallery…

Vladimir Putin to pardon Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that he planned to pardon former tycoon and bitter Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky after more than a decade behind bars. Putin revealed after his marathon annual news conference that Khodorkovsky had for the first time written a request for a pardon, citing humanitarian…

Muslim fanatics found guilty of murdering British soldier

Two Muslim fanatics were found guilty Thursday of murdering a British soldier whom they butchered in broad daylight on a London street. Lee Rigby was knocked down by a car and then nearly decapitated as Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, hacked him to death with a meat cleaver…

South African sign language interpreter admitted to a psychiatric hospital

The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, who claimed schizophrenia after being accused of being an arm-flapping fraud, has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, South African media reported on Thursday. Thamsanqa Jantjie sparked outrage for his translations of eulogies, including by U.S. President Barack Obama and Mandela’s grandchildren,…

Pakistan’s Imran Khan threatened for criticizing violent attacks on polio immunization teams

Pakistani opposition leader and former cricket hero Imran Khan has been threatened by militants after criticizing attacks on polio vaccination teams, his party said Thursday. Khan on Wednesday declared polio workers as soldiers of Islam and said those attacking them were not doing any justice to humanity, Islam or Pakistanis.…

Egyptian court acquits former prime minister and two Mubarak sons of corruption charges

An Egyptian court has acquitted Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister and presidential candidate, and two sons of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, of corruption charges. Shafiq fled to the United Arab Emirates shortly after he narrowly lost to the Islamist Mohamed Morsi in a 2012 presidential election, a year before…

New Zealand winegrowers report bumper crop, but don’t expect wine bargains

New Zealand winegrowers enjoyed a record harvest in 2013 but are well placed to avoid the oversupply issues that have hampered them in the past, accounting giant Deloitte said Thursday. Deloitte reported winegrowers produced a grape harvest of 345,000 tons in 2013, the biggest on record and a 28 percent…

Bitcoin prices recover after Chinese bank imposed new restrictions

Prices for the volatile virtual currency Bitcoin leaped in China on Thursday, after falling nearly 50 percent one day earlier due to new restrictions reportedly imposed by the central bank. On Thursday afternoon, Bitcoins were trading at 2,900 yuan ($478) each on China’s biggest trading platform BTC China, up more…

Rodman hopes game with ex-NBA players thaws relations between U.S. and North Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Thursday he is hoping a basketball game he is organizing in North Korea could “engage” the American people and President Barack Obama. “Sport is so important to people around the world so I hope this is going to engage the American people, especially Obama,”…

Japanese dumpling magnate shot dead in Yakuza hotspot

The charismatic boss of a well-known dumpling restaurant chain was shot dead on Thursday in the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto, a hotbed of the country’s yakuza mobsters, local media reported. Takayuki Ohigashi, 72, was found bleeding and unconscious in a parking lot in front of the company’s headquarters in…

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