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Showing posts from June, 2013

Analysis: As boomers age, Harley hunts for younger riders

Harley-Davidson Inc doesn't do much quietly. Its motorcycles are notoriously noisy. Its slogans - "Screw It. Let's Ride." - are loud too. So why was the Milwaukee company quiet last year when by its own numbers it successfully zoomed past a demographic hazard analysts had fretted about for years? Some background: In a recent interview, a top Harley-Davidson executive told Reuters that in 2012, for the first time in years, the average buyer of the company's bikes was not a baby boomer. For a brand defined by the emergence and, lately, the aging of the post-World War II cohort of consumers, that's a big deal - proof the 110-year-old company is gaining traction with a new generation of riders. Yet its top global marketing guru, Mark-Hans Richer, continues to insist it's no biggie - even though investors have long wondered how Harley would survive as boomers, who embraced its bikes as totems of rebellion in the 1960s and 1970s and drove its growth in the

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Benin's voodoo heartland

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The small club-shaped West African country of Benin is not on most tourists' radar but its palm-fringed white sand beaches in the south and surprisingly good wildlife parks in the dusty north will reward more intrepid travelers. It has some of the best and cheapest food in the region, blending French and African influences. But the biggest reason to visit is the country's rich and intriguing history; for hundreds of years it was at the mercy of the slave trade and it remains famous for being the birthplace of voodoo.   Voodoo is the official religion for 17 percent of Beninese, although almost everyone incorporates it into their lives. Originally is was called "vodun" meaning: 'the hidden'. Voodoo centers around several vodun spirits and deities. Traditional priests are consulted for their power to harness the spirits through rituals that often involve the sacrifice of a chicken or goat. It is seen as essential to call upon the spirits for protection or p

Neighbors relieved as Fritzl 'dungeon' sealed off

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The cellar where Josef Fritzl kept his daughter captive for 24 years and fathered seven children with her is being sealed off with concrete, much to the relief of neighbors keen to forget one of Austria's most horrific crimes. _0"> Fritzl, 78, was sentenced in 2009 to life imprisonment in a special unit for the criminally insane for incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and for the negligent homicide of one of his infant sons.   "The dungeon will be filled with concrete and thus sealed at the family's request," estate liquidator Walter Anzboeck told Friday's edition of the Oesterreich newspaper. The construction work began on Thursday and is expected to take a week, costing a total of 100,000 euros ($131,800). The idea is then to sell the house in the town of Amstetten in the province of Lower Austria, Anzboeck told the paper. Neighbors welcomed the news, though some said the house should be demolished. "Hopefully it will qui

Travel Picks: Top 10 European Cities To See Now

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With summer prices on the rise, everyone is eager to explore some places that are just starting to appear on many travelers' radars. With up and coming spots in Europe as the focus, the editors and members of travel website VirtualTourist (www.virtualtourist.com) have compiled a list of the 'Top 10 European Cities To See Now'. Reuters has not endorsed this list: _0"> 1. Lviv, Ukraine   Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine that's become a modern business hub, is the spot VirtualTourist members unanimously agreed is the top European city to see now. Many of its highlights are found in an incredibly compact central area, making it the perfect place to explore on a weekend jaunt. Start in Rynok Square, the center of city, which is surrounded by almost 50 unique architectural monuments including the Kornyakt Palace, a Renaissance landmark. Visitors can't miss the Lviv Opera House, a Neo-Renaissance treasure that is often compared to opera houses of Paris and Vienn

Heeding Putin, Russian Duma backs ban on same-sex adoptions

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Russian lawmakers passed a bill on Friday barring same-sex foreign couples from adopting Russian children, heeding strong signals of support from President Vladimir Putin and broadening a rift with Western nations over gay rights. The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, approved the bill by a 444-0 vote in its third and final reading, sending it to the upper chamber, which is also expected to approve it.   Both houses are dominated by the United Russia party, which is loyal to Putin. In power since 2000, Putin has championed socially conservative values and held up the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral compass since he weathered a wave of protests by mostly urban liberals and started a third Kremlin term last year. He has rejected U.S. and European criticism of a ban on spreading gay "propaganda" among minors that the Duma passed earlier this month that gay rights activists fear has fuelled attacks on homosexuals. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said i

Art helps Roma children dream again in Hungary

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In a classroom in this impoverished corner of eastern Hungary, children draw pictures of an imaginary village filled with colorful houses where Roma and non-Roma families live in harmony and people have enough money to get by. When the class ends in the town of Berettyoujfalu, some 270 km east of the Hungarian capital, pupils go home to their real-life village, Told, where houses have no running water or sewage and illiteracy is often a problem among the mostly Roma families who live there.   A small art class brings little change to the dire poverty that plagues hundreds of thousands of people in Hungary, but that does not stop a few activists from trying such programs in the most destitute areas of the country. A lucky few children do end up better off as a result. Istvan Otvos, 15, started drawing four years ago. Last year he and another pupil had a chance to go to Portugal where they won a prize at an international art contest. From September he hopes to enroll at one of Hu

Merkel tells Putin Germany wants looted art returned

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Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Vladimir Putin on Friday that German art seized by the Soviets in the wake of World War Two should be repatriated to Germany , a claim the Russian leader swiftly rejected. The tense exchange took place as they opened an exhibition at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg during a trip by Merkel to Russia . The exhibition about the Bronze Age includes 600 items carried off by the Soviet Union as war reparations, according to the German government.   Merkel said it was an important step that the works were now going on public display for the first time. "It's our opinion that these exhibition pieces should be returned to Germany," she said. Putin replied that it was time to stop making repatriation claims against each other, otherwise Turkey could also demand the return of art from Germany. He said it didn't matter to the average citizen if art is displayed in Berlin, St Petersburg, Moscow or in Turkey. According to Berlin

Pottyless in Seattle: age-old problem of where to go vexes city

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Seattle has endured sewage problems since the 19th century, when waste from flush toilets washed back to the city at high tide. Today, it is public potties that have officials of the West Coast city on the edge of their seats. Seattle wants to replace five self-cleaning toilets that were installed a decade ago for more than $5 million but ended up auctioned on eBay for less than $13,000 because they were often used for drugs and prostitution.   In its search for the perfect prefabricated public toilet, the city is looking no farther than Portland, Oregon, its trendy neighbor, and the Portland Loo. Patented by Portland in 2010, the toilet reflects the attitude of a number of North American municipalities that simple sidewalk toilets that meet a basic public need while discouraging other uses are the way to go. "It's designed to be not convenient to go into and do something illicit or something you shouldn't be doing," said Linc Mann, spokesman for Portland's

Gangs of Cairo? Egyptian minister fights culture war

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"Gangs of New York" seems a fitting favorite movie for Egypt's new culture minister, a film studies professor who styles himself an outsider fighting to break the hold of a privileged elite over spending on the arts. Artists enraged that he fired the head of Cairo Opera, and fearing Muslim puritans may ban ballet, have barricaded Alaa Abdel Aziz from entering his own ministry.   The "culture war" has come to symbolize a wider conflict between the Islamist government and secular opponents ahead of rival mass rallies later this month to mark the first anniversary in power of President Mohamed Mursi. Speaking at the dusty state publishing house where he has set up camp, Abdel Aziz told Reuters he would ban nothing. Rather, he would support "people's art" beyond the capital, end corruption inherited from the old regime and see that cultural spending reflects how democratic revolution has changed Egyptian society. "My concern is providing cul

Nik Wallenda smiles in face of dangerous Grand Canyon wire walk

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When daredevil Nik Wallenda caught sight of the taut cable stretched over the yawning chasm of the Grand Canyon for the first time on Friday, his reaction ahead of his death-defying high-wire crossing on Sunday was pure glee. "It was funny, I couldn't get the grin off my face. My playground's there and it's almost set up. It looks incredible," Wallenda, looking relaxed in jeans and a blue T-shirt, told reporters at a news conference in Flagstaff, in northern Arizona. "I know that I'm mentally prepared, I know that I'm physically prepared, and now I can see that wire in place and visualize where I'm going to walk and how I'm going to walk and what I'm going to see," he added.   The self-described "King of the High Wire," Wallenda plans to step out late on Sunday onto the two-inch diameter steel cable rigged across a remote section of the Grand Canyon with nothing but the Little Colorado River more than a quarter mile bel

Nik Wallenda confident ahead of Grand Canyon high wire act

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Daredevil Nik Wallenda, confident but with his heart pounding, will take a step onto a high wire stretched taut over the yawning chasm of the Grand Canyon on Sunday in a death-defying crossing that will be broadcast live around the world. "Sunday is go time, and that's when the adrenaline kicks in and ... before you know it, it's all over," Wallenda, smiling and looking relaxed in jeans and a T-shirt, told reporters at a news conference before the challenge. The self-described "King of the High Wire," Wallenda plans to walk a 2-inch diameter steel cable rigged across a remote section of the crimson-hued Grand Canyon with nothing but the Little Colorado River more than a quarter mile below. The 1,400-foot (426.7 meter) walk will be the highest tightrope attempt ever for the 34-year-old, at a height greater than the Empire State Building. The walk will be carried live on the Discovery Channel starting at 5 p.m. PT (midnight GMT), with a 10-second time del

Geeks oust miners among Australia's new rich as boom fades

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In a country synonymous with larger-than-life mining tycoons and Outback heroes, the geeks are quietly inheriting the earth. As coal magnate Nathan Tinkler, the poster boy for Australia's fading 10-year minerals boom, publicly battles against bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are riding high.   The former college buddies behind fast-growing software firm Atlassian unceremoniously bumped Tinkler off the top of Australia's "young rich list", leading a charge in the country's blooming technology industries. The tech start-up and biotech sectors are at the forefront of a push to transform Australia from an exporter of iron ore to an exporter of ideas. "It's a pretty primitive economy," said internet entrepreneur Matt Barrie. "We basically dig stuff up out of the ground, put it on a boat and ship it." As part of ambitious plans to change that, the government has announced millions of dollars in new

As Asia embraces casinos, India hedges it bets

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Like many visitors to the Casino Royale Goa on a rainy Saturday night on India's western coast, Salim Budhwani said he does not gamble but also had no objection to the betting at the busy tables downstairs. Despite socially conservative India's ambivalence about gambling, consultancy firm KPMG estimated that $60 billion was wagered in the country in 2010. Much of the gambling is illegal, but attitudes are slowly changing as more Asian countries embrace class="mandelbrot_refrag"> gaming as a revenue generator and tourist draw.   Legal gambling in the increasingly wealthy country of 1.2 billion is limited to state lotteries, horse races and a handful of class="mandelbrot_refrag"> casinos . Most gambling in India, from penny-stake class="mandelbrot_refrag"> games at street corners and card parties in affluent homes to wagers on cricket and underground numbers games, is illicit and goes untaxed. "People are playing on the roadsi

Daredevil Nik Wallenda completes high-wire walk across Grand Canyon

Daredevil Nik Wallenda completed a historic high-wire walk on a 2-inch (5-cm) steel cable over the Grand Canyon on Sunday and was greeted by wild cheers after his hair-raising stunt. Wallenda, the self-described "King of the High Wire," took 22 minutes and 54 seconds to walk 1,400 feet across the crimson-hued canyon with just a distant ribbon of the Little Colorado River beneath him. The event was broadcast live around the world. Wallenda, the first person to cross the canyon, made the walk without a tether or safety net. Wallenda could be heard praying almost constantly during the walk, murmuring "Thank you, Jesus." He kissed the ground when he reached the other side. "It took every bit of me to stay focused that entire time," Wallenda said. "My arms are aching like you wouldn't believe." He said he stopped and crouched down twice, first because of the wind, the second because the cable had picked up an unsettling rhythm. He spat on

Quirky 'Dumb Ways to Die' campaign sweeps advertising awards

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An Australian public service ad campaign that became an internet hit for its black-humored list of reckless ways to die - such as "poke a stick at a grizzly bear" - has added to its luster by scooping up a record number of international class="mandelbrot_refrag"> advertising prizes. _0"> The three-minute short co-produced by Melbourne private rail service Metro Trains to teach people to be careful around trains, 'Dumb Ways to Die', has notched up more than 50 million views on YouTube since its release in November 2012, sparked hundreds of parodies and even become a smartphone game.   The clip employs an insanely catchy tune and colorful blobs which die in a variety of ways, including "keeping a rattlesnake as a pet" and "selling both kidneys on the Internet," before culminating in train-related deaths that are described as "the dumbest way to die". It swept the awards at Sunday's Cannes Lions International

Geeks oust miners among Australia's new rich as boom fades

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In a country synonymous with larger-than-life mining tycoons and Outback heroes, the geeks are quietly inheriting the earth. As coal magnate Nathan Tinkler, the poster boy for Australia's fading 10-year minerals boom, publicly battles against bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are riding high. The former college buddies behind fast-growing software firm Atlassian unceremoniously bumped Tinkler off the top of Australia's "young rich list", leading a charge in the country's blooming technology industries.   The tech start-up and biotech sectors are at the forefront of a push to transform Australia from an exporter of iron ore to an exporter of ideas. "It's a pretty primitive economy," said internet entrepreneur Matt Barrie. "We basically dig stuff up out of the ground, put it on a boat and ship it." As part of ambitious plans to change that, the government has announced millions of dollars in new

Does adding exercise to a diet help heavy kids?

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Tacking regular exercise on to a diet program for obese kids and teens typically doesn't help them lose any more weight, a new review of past data suggests. "Changing diet, improving diet, reducing calories is enormously important for weight loss both in kids and adults," said Gary Bennett, who studies obesity prevention at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "Exercise is important too, but I think we sometimes overemphasize how important exercise is," Bennett, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.   Researchers analyzed results from 14 earlier trials that assigned overweight and obese youth to a diet and exercise program or a diet-only intervention. Those programs lasted anywhere from six weeks to six months. Most studies found kids tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI) - a ratio of weight in relation to height - and a smaller percentage of body fat after completing either type of intervention. Adding aerobic exercis