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) Read more

Mick Jagger, 72, to become father for eighth time

LONDON Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, 72, is to become a father again for the eighth time.A spokesman for the veteran rock band on Friday confirmed media reports saying that Jagger's girlfriend, 29-year-old American ballerina Melanie Hamrick, was pregnant.Jagger, who turns 73 on July 26, already has seven children. He became a great-grandfather in 2014. Jagger's band mate Ronnie Wood became a father again at the age of 68 in May, when his wife Sally, 38, gave birth to twin girls. (Reporting By Mike Davidson; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian) Read more

Ali's gloves, Frazier's jockstrap from famed 1971 fight go on sale

A jockstrap worn by boxer Joe Frazier when he defeated Muhammad Ali for the combined heavyweight title hit the auction block on Monday, along with the gloves Ali wore in that 1971 bout dubbed the "Fight of the Century." The jockstrap - expected to sell for $10,000 - already met its minimum bid of $5,000 bid by mid-morning, said Ken Goldin, owner of Goldin Auctions of Runnemede, New Jersey.No bids had yet been received for the gloves, which are expected to sell for more than $1 million, Goldin said.The auction concludes with live bidding on Aug. 4. "People used to make jokes about auctioning off jockstraps as an example of something outrageous," Goldin told Reuters. "Here we got one consigned for sale."The memorabilia went on sale just over a month after Ali's death at an Arizona hospital at age 74. Frazier died in 2011. Both fighters were undefeated when they met up in the match on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Frazier defeated Ali in a unanimous, 15-round decision. After the fight, Frazier gave the jockstrap to corner-man David Wolf, according to Goldin. Wolf, who was in the Frazier corner for all three of his fights with Ali, later became a manager for Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and other boxers.The jockstrap was found in Wolf's apartment in New York after his death in 2009. Minimum bids were set at $5,000 for the jockstrap and $250,000 for the gloves."Similar (Ali) gloves have sold in the millions,” Goldin said. "And that was before he died." (Reporting by David DeKok in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; editing by Barbara Goldberg and G Crosse) Read more

Floods in China kill almost 130, wipe out crops

SHANGHAI Severe flooding across central and southern China over the past week has killed almost 130 people, damaged more than 1.9 million hectares of crops and led to direct economic losses of more than 38 billion yuan ($5.70 billion), state media said on Tuesday.Premier Li Keqiang traveled on Tuesday to Anhui, one of the hardest-hit provinces, where he met residents and encouraged officials to do everything they could to protect lives and livelihoods. Li was also to visit Hunan province.Heavy rainfall had killed 128 people across 11 provinces and regions and 42 people are missing, state news agency Xinhua reported.More than 1.3 million people have been forced out of their homes, it said.Weather forecasts predicted more downpours during what is traditionally China's flood season.Xinhua said more than 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of cropland had been damaged and another 295,000 hectares had been destroyed, resulting in direct economic losses of 38.2 billion yuan. More than 40,000 buildings have also collapsed, it added.It was not clear how that would affect the summer grain harvest, which was expected to reach 140 million tonnes this year. The stormy weather also took a toll on farm animals.In Anhui, the flooding killed some 7,100 hogs, 215 bulls and 5.14 million fowl, the China News Service reported.In the southern province of Hunan, torrential rain and flooding had forced more than 100 trains to stop or take detours since midnight on Sunday, Xinhua reported. In one city, about 3 tonnes of gasoline and diesel leaked from a petrol station on Monday, contaminating floodwater that flowed into a river, it said.Water in 43 rivers in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River had exceeded warning levels and patrols were monitoring dykes, Xinhua quoted Chen Guiya, an official with the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, as saying. (Reporting by John Ruwitch; Addititional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel) Read more

'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) Read more

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