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Ai Weiwei puts himself back in a jail cell in new Spanish show

CUENCA, Spain Artist Ai Weiwei has reproduced scenes of his incarceration for a new art installation, a series of almost life-size dioramas - encased in steel boxes - showing his life in jail.Visitors to the exhibition, in a cathedral in central Spain, have to peer through peep-holes in the stark, gray boxes to see the 3D scenes, which show Ai watched by two uniformed guards as he eats, sleeps, showers and uses the toilet in his tiny cell.Ai, one of China's most high-profile artists and political activists, was jailed for 81 days on charges of tax evasion in 2011. China confiscated his passport, only returning it in July last year.His installation, "S.A.C.R.E.D.", is a highlight of a series of events under the title "The Poetry of Freedom" taking place across Spain to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. The Spanish writer was held as a slave in Algiers for five years in the late 16th century and spent months in jail in Spain later in life for bookkeeping discrepancies, where he is thought to have conceived the idea for his masterpiece "Don Quixote". A quote from that novel, about a middle-aged gentleman obsessed by ideals of chivalry who travels central Spain with his loyal squire Sancho Panza, adorns the wall of the Cuenca exhibition: "Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has ever given man." The exhibition, at the 12th century cathedral in the fortified medieval city of Cuenca, opens on July 26 and runs until Nov. 6. (Reporting by Catherine Bennett; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Robin Pomeroy)

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IOC vows 'toughest sanctions' after report finds Moscow ran broad doping scheme

TORONTO With the Rio Olympics less than three weeks away, the IOC on Monday promised "the toughest sanctions available" after a report found Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping tests in many sports ahead of the Sochi winter Games.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not spell out whether it would heed growing calls for Olympic bans already imposed on Russia's track and field athletes and weightlifters to be extended to all its competitors in Rio.However, IOC President Thomas Bach said the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation had revealed "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.The IOC Executive Board is to hold a telephone conference on Tuesday to take its first decisions, which may include provisional measures and sanctions with regard to the Rio Olympics."Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated."WADA itself explicitly urged the IOC to consider banning Russia from the Rio Olympics altogether.Russian President Vladimir Putin, who staked his reputation on the Sochi Games, the costliest in history, said the WADA-backed report was the result of political interference and that the Olympic movement could now split.The report confirmed allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.He told the New York Times two months ago that dozens of Russians had used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with the support not only of national sports authorities but even the domestic intelligence service, the FSB.Monday's report said Russia, a traditional sporting superpower, had been stung into action by its performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, where it finished 11th, with only three gold medals."The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games," said the report, unveiled in Toronto. "FAILSAFE STRATEGY"The investigation was led by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, who sat on the independent commission that last year exposed doping and corruption in Russian track and field, leading to its exclusion from international competition.The report said Deputy Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh had been advised of every positive test across all sports from 2011 onwards and decided "who would benefit from a cover up and who would not be protected."The State implemented a simple failsafe strategy," it said. "If all the operational precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe mechanism."The State had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered."Among the hundreds of samples that disappeared were 35 from Paralympic athletes. In Sochi itself, where international observers were scrutinizing the drug tests, positive results could not simply be brushed away, so the FSB developed a method of opening urine bottles to allow samples to be swapped undetected.Rodchenkov spoke of a clandestine night-time operation in which staff secretly took samples from the lab via a "mouse hole" cut into a wall, and replaced them with clean samples taken from the same athlete months earlier and sometimes manipulated."CREDIBLE WITNESSES"McLaren said Rodchenkov and all other witnesses interviewed had been deemed credible, and the report said the investigators "confirm the general veracity of the published information concerning the sample swapping that went on at the Sochi Laboratory during the Sochi Games".The investigations showed that caps had been removed from a number of samples, and that they contained unusually high levels of salt, "significantly exceeding the levels produced by the human body". Nagornykh and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was mentioned 21 times in McLaren's 97-page report, were not immediately available for comment.Putin said in a statement that there was "no place for doping in sport", and that the officials named in the report would be suspended.Following the statement, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suspended Deputy Sports Minister Nagornykh.Putin also said the allegations were based on the testimony of only one man, and were an attempt to "make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure, to form a negative image of countries and peoples".Harking back to the tit-for-tat superpower boycotts of the 1980s, he said: "The Olympic movement ... may again be on the verge of a split."In a leaked draft letter intended to be sent to the IOC on Monday, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart called for a ban on all Russian athletes, not only in track and field.Paul Melia, head of the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports, said the letter was backed by various athletes' committees and the anti-doping organizations of the United States, Germany, Japan and New Zealand, among others.However, Russian track and field athletes have appealed against their ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is due to rule by Thursday.If it finds in their favor, there would seem to be little chance of a wider ban on Russian competitors holding up.Bach had indicated last week that he was reluctant to see athletes from one sport punished for the crimes of athletes or officials from another. (Writing by Frank Pingue and Kevin Liffey; Additional reporting by Gene Cherry in the United States and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)

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Philistines were more sophisticated than given credit for, say archeologists

ASHKELON, Israel Philistines were no "philistines", say archaeologists who unearthed a 3,000-year-old cemetery in which members of the biblical nation were buried along with jewelry and perfumed oil.Little was known about the Philistines prior to the recent excavation in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon. The famed arch enemies of the ancient Israelites -- Goliath was a Philistine -- flourished in this area of the Mediterranean, starting in the 12th century BC, but their way of life and origin have remained a mystery.That stands to change after what researchers have called the first discovery of a Philistine cemetery. It contains the remains of about 150 people in numerous burial chambers, some containing surprisingly sophisticated items.The team also found DNA on parts of the skeletons and hope that further testing will determine the origins of the Philistine people.We may need to rethink today's derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985. "The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths," Stager said.Stager's team dug down about 3 meters (10 feet) to uncover the cemetery, which they found to have been used centuries later as a Roman vineyard.On hands and knees, workers brushed away layers of dusty earth to reveal the brittle white bones of entire Philistine skeletons reposed as they were three millennia ago. Decorated juglets believed to have contained perfumed oil were found in graves. Some bodies were still wearing bracelets and earrings. Others had weapons. The archeologists also discovered some cremations, which the team say were rare and expensive for the period, and some larger jugs contained the bones of infants. "The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean," Stager said, adding that this was in contrast to the more modest village lifestyle of the Israelites who lived in the hills to the east.Bones, ceramics and other remains were moved to a tented compound for further study and some artifacts were reconstructed piece by piece. The team mapped the position of every bone removed to produce a digital 3D recreation of the burial site.Final reports on the finds are being published by the Semitic Museum at Harvard University. (Editing by David Goodman)

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Noel Neill, Lois Lane in 'Superman' TV series, dies at 95

Actress Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane, the intrepid reporter on the "Adventures of Superman" television series who never quite figured out her Daily Planet colleague Clark Kent was The Man of Steel, has died at the age of 95, a friend said on Monday.Neill died on Sunday at her home in Tucson, Arizona, after a long illness, Jim Nolt, the owner of "The Adventures Continue" website dedicated to the 1950s TV show, said in a statement.Neill was born on November 25, 1920, in Minneapolis, where her father was a journalist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Shortly after high school she traveled to California and found a job as a singer at a restaurant at the Del Mar racetrack. Her connections at the track led to a contract with the Paramount movie studio.She had a series of small film roles, many of them uncredited, in the 1940s. There was no substantial work until 1948, when Columbia Pictures borrowed Neill to make 15 episodes of a comic book-based movie serial about a man from another planet who discovers he has super-human strength and is impervious to bullets.Kirk Alyn was cast as the star of "Superman" and the petite red-headed, blue-eyed Neill was Lois Lane, his friend and co-worker at the Daily Planet.They reprised their roles in another serial, "Superman and the Mole Men," but neither was cast when "Adventures of Superman" was adapted for television. When the original TV Lois Lane, Phyllis Coates, left the show after one season, Neill stepped back into the role that would define her career and make her part of one of American television's most enduring series. The show hit the air just as television was becoming a social force in the United States and became a favorite of generations of children, with a long life through reruns.The TV Superman, as played by George Reeves, was faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive in his blue tights and red cape as he fought a never-ending battle for "truth, justice and the American way."But he was just a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper when he put on his suit and thick-framed glasses as his alter ego, Clark Kent, to work with Lois and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. ALWAYS IN PERILLois Lane was quite competent but her quests to uncover big stories for the Daily Planet always landed her in formulaic peril. It was up to Superman to shed his Clark Kent identity, often in a phone booth, and then swoop in late in the show and rescue her from a variety of evil-doers.Along the way, Lane developed a crush on Superman - even dreaming in one episode that they were to be married - but she was oddly cool toward Kent. Lane never noticed that when Kent would disappear, Superman would appear suddenly to save her and that the two men were never seen together. Neill said she was often asked why Lane never caught on to Kent's secret identity, and would respond, "I didn't want to lose my job.""Adventures of Superman" went off the air in 1958. Plans for a new season ended in 1959 with the gunshot death of Reeves, which was ruled a suicide. With that, Neill ended her career. "I just figured I'd worked enough," she told the New York Times in 2006. "I didn't have any great ambition. Basically, I'm a beach bum. I was married, we lived near the beach. That was enough for me."When the Superman franchise was revived in 1978 as a big-budget movie with Christopher Reeve in the starring role, Neill made a cameo appearance as Lane's mother. In 2006, she had a quickie role in "Superman Returns," as did Jack Larson, who had played Jimmy Olsen in the TV series. They both appeared in a 1991 episode of the "Superboy" show, and Larson died last September at 87.Neill also served as the model for the statue of Lois Lane, poised with pen and notepad, that was unveiled in 2010 in Metropolis, Illinois, which promotes itself as Superman's hometown. (Reporting and writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler)

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'Walkers on water' overwhelm Italian lake installation

SULZANO, Italy A yellow fabric walkway floating on Lake Iseo in northern Italy has attracted twice as many visitors as expected and has been forced to close at night for essential repairs and cleaning.Last Saturday, Bulgarian-born artist Christo opened "The Floating Piers", a 3 km (two mile)-long walkway from Sulzano on the mainland to the Monte Isola and San Paolo islands, usually accessible only by boat.Authorities in the area 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Milan had expected around 40,000 visitors a day and to keep the walkway open around the clock. But after 97,000 came on Wednesday alone, they decided to close it between midnight and 0400 GMT. Made of some 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes covered with shimmering yellow fabric, the piers have suffered more wear and tear than expected. The linked cubes are anchored to the bed of the lake, forming a 16 meter-wide, 35 centimeter-high surface designed to move gently with the waves.Admission is free. Volunteers are on hand in case anyone falls into the water. The installation closes on July 3. (Writing by Isla Binnie; editing by Andrew Roche)

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