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'Scary' Lucille Ball statue replaced in her New York hometown

NEW YORK Lucille Ball fans can rest easy.A new statue honoring the "I Love Lucy" star was set to be unveiled on Saturday in Celoron, New York, on what would have been Ball's 105th birthday, after residents of her hometown made it clear they did not "love" an unflattering previous version.The life-size bronze artwork was created by the well-known sculptor Carolyn Palmer, whose proposal was selected from more than 60 submitted by artists around the world.The statue at Lucille Ball Memorial Park will replace another that was installed seven years ago. Critics panned the sculpture, saying it looked nothing like the iconic redhead, and it eventually became known as "Scary Lucy." Palmer spent nine months working on the project, including watching countless episodes of "I Love Lucy" and hiring models to pose in 1950s-style dresses."I not only wanted to portray the playful, animated and spontaneous Lucy, but also the glamorous Hollywood icon," Palmer said in a statement. Palmer has sculpted a number of other famous figures. Her marble statue of Pope Francis stands at the papal residence in New York City, where the pope blessed it during his visit last year.A bronze version of that statue is being produced for St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. "I Love Lucy" aired in the 1950s and is considered one of the greatest television comedies ever. Ball played the wife of bandleader Ricky Ricardo, who was portrayed by her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz. (Editing by Frank McGurty)

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California crews battle Big Sur blaze for eleventh day

Crews battling a deadly wildfire that has gutted dozens of homes near California's Big Sur coast looked forward to cooler weather to help them slow the flames on Monday as the blaze raged for an 11th day, burning most heavily in rugged, inaccessible terrain.The combination of steep mountainous terrain and extremely hot, dry conditions has hampered efforts to quell the so-called Soberanes Fire, which erupted on July 22 just south of the picturesque oceanside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.Carmel itself has remained largely out of harm's way, but the blaze has roared through more than 40,000 acres (16,190 hectares) of drought-parched chaparral, grass and timber in and around the Los Padres National Forest.A force of nearly 5,300 firefighters has managed to slow the pace of the fire's spread during the past two days. But containment of the blaze - a measure of how much of its perimeter has been cleared by fire crews of unburned vegetation - stood at less than 20 percent on Monday. As long as crews can keep the fire's growth somewhat in check, "we should get more containment as we go along," said Toni Davis, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).She added that slightly lower temperatures in the forecast should help that effort, even as some of the heaviest fire has crept into areas largely beyond the reach of ground crews.Flames have already destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings, with at least five other structures damaged, according to the latest tally. Another 2,000 structures were threatened, with an estimated 350 residents displaced by evacuations. The fire threat, coming at the height of the region's summer travel season, has prompted the closure of several popular California campgrounds and recreation areas along the northern end of the Big Sur coastline, including Point Lobos Natural Reserve and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.Officials on Sunday ordered evacuations for the famous Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Pfeiffer Big Sur. The blaze took a deadly turn on Tuesday when a bulldozer operator hired by property owners to help battle the flames was killed when his tractor rolled over. It was the second California wildfire-related death in a week.Another fire broke out on Saturday in grass and brush about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Fresno, in central California, and has since charred about 1,800 acres (607 hectares), threatening 200 homes, according to Cal Fire. (Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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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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