More than 60 Iraqi cultural artifacts smuggled into the United States, including a limestone statue of an ancient king, were returned to the government of Iraq on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said. The move follows investigations led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York, Baltimore, Austin, Texas, and New Haven, Connecticut, the department said in a statement. Immigration and Customs agents seized the looted artifact in August 2008 after an antiquities dealer based in Dubai shipped it to New York. Other artifacts repatriated to Iraq include gold-plated items, such as a soap dish, looted from the private airport and palace of executed former President Saddam Hussein. More »U.S. returns scores of smuggled artifacts to Iraq government
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By Piya Sinha-Roy AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Paul Walker's final appearance in the street-racing franchise "Fast & Furious" left a preview audience teary-eyed at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival for the first public screening of the last film the actor made before he died in a car crash. In the film, Vin Diesel's character says "those who are lost go on in the hearts of the living" and that was how it felt for many fans attending the midnight screening on Sunday. "Furious 7", out in theatres on April 3, is Walker's last appearance as law-enforcement officer Brian O'Connor. The 40-year-old died as a passenger in a one-car crash in Santa Clarita, California, in November 2013. More »SXSW fans see late Paul Walker's 'Furious 7' send-off
By Denis Dyomkin STRELNA, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin reappeared on Monday after 10 unexplained days out of public view, laughing off the "gossip" over his health that had erupted during his absence. His absence had fuelled rumours he was ill, had been overthrown by the army or had even flown abroad to attend the birth of a love child. "It would be boring without gossip," Putin said, smiling easily before television cameras. More »Russia's Putin reappears after 10 day absence, laughs off 'gossip'
NEW YORK (AP) — Preparing for the South by Southwest music festival is like shopping without a budget: there are just too many options. More »6 acts to check out at South by Southwest music festival
By Philip O'Connor March 16 (Reuters) - Fans of English Championship high-flyers Brentford bemoaning the imminent departure of manager Mark Warburton might want to check the Danish league table before condemning the surprise decision by their owner. Having stepped out of the shadows of much-bigger domestic rivals, FC Midtjylland are nine points clear at the top thanks to the 'Moneyball Method' that Matthew Benham, owner of both sides, wants to bring to the London club. His game plan, akin to that used by the Oakland Athletics baseball team immortalised in the best-selling book and hit movie 'Moneyball', has proved a huge success in Denmark and Benham sees no reason why it cannot work in England. Warburton led Brentford, who are known as The Bees, to promotion last season and now they are in with a fighting chance of making the top flight for the first time since 1947. More »FEATURE-Soccer-Bees should be abuzz about 'Moneyball' Midtjylland
Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana on Monday accused Elton John of being authoritarian, ignorant and hypocritical as a celebrity-driven row over IVF babies and gay adoption showed no sign of abating. More »Designer duo hit back at 'hypocritical' Elton in IVF storm
Modest Mouse, "Strangers to Ourselves" (Epic Records) More »Review: Modest Mouse ramp up the weird on new album
By Angus MacSwan LONDON (Reuters) - Outraged celebrities tore into Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana on Monday after Dolce described children born to gay couples through fertility treatment as "synthetic". Victoria Beckham, a former Dolce and Gabbana ambassador, offered John sympathy on Monday, sending a "message of love" to the singer, his husband partner David Furnish and their two sons Zachary and Elijah, and to "all the beautiful IVF babies". More »Fashion duo Dolce and Gabbana attacked for 'synthetic' babies comment
NEW YORK (AP) — Cynthia Erivo will join Jennifer Hudson on Broadway this fall when the musical "The Color Purple" returns. More »Cynthia Erivo to join Jennifer Hudson in 'The Color Purple'
Ikea has reportedly banned thousands of people from playing hide-and-seek in its stores in the Netherlands. The retailer has stopped several events at Dutch stores for safety reasons after thousands took part in the children's game at a store in Belgium last summer, Bloomberg reports. Ikea Group spokeswoman Martina Smedberg is quoted by the news organisation as saying: "It's hard to control. More »Ikea Bans Hide-And-Seek In Stores - Report
The FA has rejected Hull City's appeal against the decision to stop them changing their name to Hull Tigers but the Premier League club can reapply next season, the ruling body said on Monday. Owner Assem Allam tried to push through the name change last year but the FA turned the move down and, after the club appealed, the FA Council confirmed they would continue to be known as Hull City for now. "These included a competition law challenge, arguments that the FA had failed to follow its own rules and a challenge to the process undertaken by the FA in respect of its name change application. Hull will "remain able to pursue a playing name change for the season 2015-16," the FA said. More »Hull still City for now but could yet be Tigers
The FA has rejected Hull City's appeal against the decision to stop them changing their name to Hull Tigers but the Premier League club can reapply next season, the ruling body said on Monday. Owner Assem Allam tried to push through the name change last year but the FA turned the move down and, after the club appealed, the FA Council confirmed they would continue to be known as Hull City for now. "These included a competition law challenge, arguments that the FA had failed to follow its own rules and a challenge to the process undertaken by the FA in respect of its name change application. Hull will "remain able to pursue a playing name change for the season 2015-16," the FA said. More »Soccer-Hull still City for now but could yet be Tigers
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Grammy Award winners Rihanna and the Zac Brown Band will headline this year's March Madness Music Festival. More »Rihanna, Zac Brown Band headline Final Four concerts
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Three smuggled artifacts from Saddam Hussein's private airport and palace that were recovered by federal investigators in Connecticut are among dozens of items being returned Monday to Iraq. More »Iraqi artifacts recovered by US investigators in Connecticut
By Stephen Brown BERLIN (Reuters) - Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tangled yet again with Berlin on Monday after German television aired a 2013 video purportedly showing him making a rude gesture toward Europe's economic powerhouse. Varoufakis denied brandishing his middle finger - known in Germany as the "Stinkefinger" - during a lecture in Croatia where he said Greece should have defaulted in 2010 rather than accept a multi-billion euro bailout package. "The video was faked, without doubt," he told German news magazine Der Spiegel's online version on Monday. Varoufakis has regularly traded barbs with Germany, especially with his irascible counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, since the leftist Syriza party took power in January pledging to end austerity and renegotiate the bailout terms. More »Did Greek minister Varoufakis show Germany the 'Stinkefinger'?
Richie Furay, "Hand in Hand" (Entertainment One) More »Music Review: Richie Furay in strong return after 8 years
France's government is likely to back a bill banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modelling agency or fashion house that hires them and sending the agents to jail, the health minister said on Monday. Style-conscious France, with its fashion and luxury industries worth tens of billions of euros (dollars), would join Italy, Spain and Israel which all adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013. "It's important for fashion models to say that they need to eat well and take care of their health, especially for young women who look to the models as an aesthetic ideal," Health Minister Marisol Touraine told BFM TV on Monday. With major health legislation coming up for debate in parliament on March 17, Touraine said the Socialist government was likely to back two amendments relating to models' weight. More »France likely to pass bill banning super-skinny models
Houndmouth, "Little Neon Limelight" (Rough Trade Records) More »Music Review: Houndmouth delivers on sophomore effort
Mark Knopfler, "Tracker" (Verve) More »Music Review: Mark Knopfler mellow on 'Tracker'
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Husband and wife "X Factor" judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were removed from the New Zealand version of the show Monday after their comments on a contestant's appearance were seen as bullying. More »2 judges on New Zealand's 'X Factor' removed for 'bullying'
LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee pastor who has appeared on a reality television show about handling snakes in church faces charges of assault and reckless endangerment. More »Pastor from snake TV show charged with assault, endangerment
"The Witch of Painted Sorrows" (Atria Books), by M.J. Rose More »Review: 'The Witch of Painted Sorrows' is haunting tale
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are getting older, but not this old: Social Security records show that 6.5 million people in the U.S. have reached the ripe old age of 112. More »Flawed Social Security data say 6.5M in US reach age 112
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Long derided as a cultural wasteland, Orlando's restaurant and performing arts scene has grown up in recent years, and it is starting to attract attention from national arbiters of taste. More »No longer wasteland, Orlando's cultural scene grows up
NEW YORK (AP) — A playful picture book about a little girl named Heather and her two happy mommies was a cultural and legal flashpoint 25 years ago, angering conservatives over the morality of same-sex parenting and landing libraries at the center of community battles over placement in the children's stacks. More »AP Exclusive: 'Heather Has Two Mommies' revised, updated