Library of Congress awards prize for American fiction to James McBride

NEW YORK — The Library of Congress has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to James McBride, whose acclaimed novels include The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, Deacon King Kong and The Good Lord Bird.  Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Thursday that McBride, whose story lines have ranged from the crusades of abolitionist John Brown to…

New sports minister promotes South African car ‘spinning’

South Africa’s newly-appointed minister of sports – a self-described former gangster – wants to promote a sport that has associations with South African gangster culture. The sport of “spinning” involves fast-moving cars and dangerous stunts, and as Kate Bartlett reports from Johannesburg, the way it’s conducted is not always legal. …

Colombia beats Uruguay, will face Messi and Argentina in Copa America final

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Colombia is headed to the Copa America championship game for the first time in 23 years after a contentious win over Uruguay in which it played the second half a man short and players brawled with fans in the stands following the final whistle. Jefferson Lerma scored in the 39th minute for…

In ‘Rust’ trial, Alec Baldwin accused of breaking gun rules; defense blames experts

SANTA FE, New Mexico — A New Mexico prosecutor on Wednesday said Alec Baldwin broke “cardinal rules” of gun safety in the 2021 killing of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while his lawyer said he was failed by firearms experts.  The 66-year-old Baldwin, on trial in Hollywood’s first on-set shooting fatality in three decades, took notes at…

Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial begins with jury selection

SANTA FE, N.M. — Alec Baldwin’s trial in the shooting of a cinematographer is set to begin Tuesday with the selection of jurors who will be tasked with deciding whether the actor is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Getting chosen to serve in a trial of such a major star accused of such a major crime would…

Eugenio Derbez’s ‘Acapulco’ brings feel-good nostalgia to global audiences

Popular Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez has successfully transitioned to Hollywood. His bilingual comedy “Acapulco” on Apple TV is critically acclaimed and has put his work in front of new audiences. The show’s star and producer spoke with Veronica Villafañe about his mission to create an authentic, family-friendly series that positively represents his home country. …

Paramount, Skydance merge, ending Redstone family reign

NEW YORK — The entertainment giant Paramount will merge with Skydance, closing out a decades-long run by the Redstone family in Hollywood and injecting desperately needed cash into a legacy studio that has struggled to adapt to a shifting entertainment landscape.  It also signals the rise of a new power player, David Ellison, the founder of…

Spain recovers lost ‘language’ of ringing church bells by hand

JOANETES, Spain — Xavier Pallàs plants his feet on the belfry floor, grips the rope, and with one tug fills the lush Spanish valley below with the reverberating peal of a church bell.  Clang-clong! Clang-clong! Clang-CLONG! The swinging bronze bell resonates with each strike of the clapper, filling the small stone tower with an undulating hum.…

Bangladeshi protesters demand end to civil service job quotas

Dhaka, Bangladesh — Thousands of Bangladeshi university students threw roadblocks across key highways Sunday, demanding the end of “discriminatory” quotas for coveted government jobs, including reserving posts for children of liberation heroes. Students in almost all major universities took part, demanding a merit-based system for well-paid and massively over-subscribed civil service jobs. “It’s a do-or-die situation…

New Orleans Essence Festival wraps up 4-day celebration of Black culture

New Orleans, Louisiana — For 30 years, the Essence Festival of Culture has brought together people from all walks of life and from around the world to connect through conversation, shared experiences and, of course, music. The nation’s largest annual celebration of Black culture was set to end Sunday with musical performances by Janet Jackson and…

‘Despicable Me 4’ debuts, raking in $122.6 million since opening Wednesday

New York — After a historically bad first half of the year, the box office is suddenly booming. “Despicable Me 4,” the Illumination Animation sequel, led the way over the holiday weekend with $75 million in ticket sales Friday through Sunday and $122.6 million since opening Wednesday, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Independence Day holiday…

In Senegal, French expat gains internet fame with Wolof language learning videos

A young Frenchman who settled in Senegal a little over a year ago decided to master the local Wolof language. Now he’s teaching it to other people on social media. Allison Fernandes has the story, narrated by Michelle Joseph. …

Pope deplores state of democracy, warns against ‘populists’

Vatican City — Pope Francis decried the state of democracy and warned against “populists” during a short visit to Trieste in Italy’s northeast on Sunday ahead of a 12-day trip to Asia — the longest of his papacy. “Democracy is not in good health in the world today,” Francis said during a speech at the city’s…

TikTok has launched tons of trends. Will its influence last?

new york — TikTok and its bite-sized videos arrived in the United States as a global version of the Chinese app Douyin in 2018. Less than six years later, the social media platform is deeply woven into the fabric of American consumerism, having shortened the shelf life of trends and revamped how people engage with food…

Turkey supporters make controversial hand gesture en route Euro 2024 stadium

berlin — Turkish supporters making their way to the European Championship quarterfinal against the Netherlands made the same nationalistic hand gesture that got a Turkey player banned from the match. More did the gesture again in the stadium during Turkey’s national anthem before Saturday’s game. Berlin police said on X on that the gesture was “massively…

Anti-doping agency sharpens its tools for Paris Olympics

Lausanne, Switzerland — In the battle against drug use at the Paris Olympics, the International Testing Agency plans to deploy a more streamlined, high-tech approach to identify and target potential cheats. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Benjamin Cohen, director general of the ITA, said potential tools at its disposal included biological and performance passports as…

London exhibit looks at Barbie’s design evolution over 65 years

LONDON — A new exhibition looking at the evolution of Barbie opens in London this week as the famed Mattel doll celebrates her 65th birthday this year.  “Barbie: The Exhibition,” running at the Design Museum from July 5 to February 23, features more than 250 items from the Barbie universe, including an array of dolls showing…

Flowers fill Ukrainian cities, providing beauty and hope amid war

Kyiv, Ukraine — On his way to the Kyiv train station to greet his wife and daughter returning from Poland to Ukraine, Oleksander Tryfonov made a stop.    He bought two red roses from one of a half-dozen flower shops lining a dimly lit underpass — something beautiful for the two most precious people in his life.   …

Mount Everest’s highest camp is littered with frozen garbage

KATHMANDU, Nepal — The highest camp on the world’s tallest mountain is littered with garbage that is going to take years to clean up, according to a Sherpa who led a team that worked to clear trash and dig up dead bodies frozen for years near Mount Everest’s peak. The Nepal government-funded team of soldiers and…