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German customs seize Stradivarius violin, demand $1.5 million

An acclaimed concert violinist has been told to pay $1.5 million in duty to German customs, who confiscated her Stradivarius saying she may plan to sell it, the instrument’s Japanese owner said Thursday. German-based Yuki Manuela Janke, 26, was returning home through Frankfurt airport on September 28 when customs officers…

Three men in Japan arrested for dismembering victim, making curry stew out of remains

Three men suspected of dismembering and barbecuing the remains of their victim were being held by authorities in Japan, police and reports said Thursday. Police said the trio used a hammer to cut up Kazuyuki Kobayashi, before grilling parts of his body and getting rid of it in mountains in…

British woman could face death in Indonesia for smuggling cocaine to Bali

A British woman was indicted in an Indonesian court Thursday on multiple drug charges including smuggling cocaine to the resort island of Bali, which could see her face the death penalty. Lindsay Sandiford was arrested in May upon arrival at Bali’s Denpasar airport on a flight from Bangkok after customs…

Climate change skepticism highest in U.S. and Britain

Awareness of climate change is high in many countries, especially the tropics, but in Britain, Japan and the United States many are doubtful about the cause, a poll published on Thursday said. A survey of 13,492 adults in 13 countries who were questioned by Internet found that 88 percent believed…

Costa Rica set to ban hunting, a first in the Americas

SAN JOSE — Costa Rica is set to be the first country in the American continent to ban recreational hunting after the country’s legislature approved the popular measure by a wide margin. The bill, which bans hunting for sport but still allows culling and subsistence hunting, was approved late Tuesday…

U.S., British universities top in academic excellence

LONDON — US and British universities continue to dominate in academic excellence but Asia is catching up fast, said an influential education rankings report published Wednesday. The California Institute of Technology kept its top spot in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2012-2013 which also saw the University…

Turkey bombs targets in Syria

The Turkish government said Wednesday that its military shelled targets within Syria after a mortar killed five Turkish citizens, including a woman and three children. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a prepared statement that Turkey is prepared to strike Syria again if more of its citizens are killed,…

Sweden plans to open ABBA museum

A museum dedicated to legendary Swedish disco group ABBA, which disbanded thirty years ago, will open in Stockholm this spring, former member Bjoern Ulvaeus announced on Wednesday. “This is a Cinderella story worth telling,” he said at a press conference. ABBA, one of the most popular and enduring bands of…

Spain provided a record number of organ donations in 2011

Spain provided a record number of donors of bodily organs in 2011 as the number of transplants in Europe rose, the health ministry said Wednesday. In Spain there were 35 donors per million inhabitants, while the number of transplants performed in Europe passed 30,000 for the first time, it said.…

Dutch customs confiscated hundreds of tarantulas

Dutch customs confiscated hundreds of poisonous tarantulas on a flight from Peru after discovering them hidden in a suitcase, officials said Wednesday. “Customs at Schiphol airport found 200 live tarantulas and an assortment of other insects including bugs, crickets, grasshoppers and millipedes,” customs officials said in a statement, issued by…

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