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As many cities sour on hosting Olympics, Salt Lake City’s enthusiasm endures

SALT LAKE CITY — The International Olympic Committee was effusive Wednesday in its support for a decadeslong effort to bring back the Winter Games to Utah’s capital city in 2034. Unlike so many other past hosts that have decided bringing back the Games isn’t worth the time, money or hassle, Salt Lake City remains one of the few places where Olympic fever still burns strong. Olympic officials praised the city for preserving facilities and public enthusiasm as they kicked off their final visit ahead of a formal announcement expected this July. …


US newsman who created no-frills PBS newscast dies

new york — Robert MacNeil, who created the even-handed, no-frills PBS newscast “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” in the 1970s and co-anchored the show with his late partner, Jim Lehrer, for two decades, died on Friday. He was 93.  MacNeil died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to his daughter, Alison MacNeil.  MacNeil first gained prominence for his coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings for the public broadcasting service and began his half-hour “Robert MacNeil Report” on PBS in 1975 with his friend Lehrer as Washington correspondent.  The broadcast became the …


Clouds gather over Japan’s ambitious Osaka World Expo

Osaka, Japan — One of the largest wooden structures ever built is taking shape in Osaka but hopes that Expo 2025 will unite the world are being dogged by cost blowouts and a lack of public enthusiasm. The imposing circular centerpiece will be crowned by a 20-meter-high sloping canopy, designed by top architect Sou Fujimoto, known as the “Grand Roof.” It has a circumference of a staggering 2 kilometers and 161 countries and territories will show off their trade opportunities and cultural attractions at pavilions within the vast latticed ring. A …


Cambodia’s relocation of people from UNESCO site raises concerns

RUN TA EK, Cambodia — It’s been more than a year since Yem Srey Pin moved with her family from the village where she was born on Cambodia’s Angkor UNESCO World Heritage site to Run Ta Ek, a dusty new settlement about 25 kilometers away. Hers is one of about 5,000 families relocated from the sprawling archaeological site, one of Southeast Asia’s top tourist draws, by Cambodian authorities in an ongoing program that Amnesty International has condemned as a “gross violation of international human rights law.” Another 5,000 families are still …


Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the shadow of Gaza’s misery 

Istanbul — Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday Wednesday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. But events were overshadowed by the worsening crisis in Gaza and Israel’s expected military offensive in Rafah city after six months of war. “We should not forget our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” imam Abdulrahman Musa said in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. “They have been subjected to unjustified aggression and a lot of violence (as) the world is watching in silence.” In a holiday message, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent …


Cambodia investigates YouTubers’ abuse of monkeys at Angkor UNESCO site 

SIEM REAP, Cambodia — A baby monkey struggles and squirms as it tries to escape the man holding it by the neck over a concrete cistern, repeatedly dousing it with water. In another video clip, a person plays with the genitals of a juvenile male macaque sitting on a limestone block from an ancient temple to get it excited for the camera. The abuse of monkeys at the Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwestern Cambodia is not always so graphic, but authorities say it is a growing problem as people …


Vatican’s top diplomat visits Vietnam, looks to normalize relations

HANOI, Vietnam — The Vatican’s top diplomat began a six-day visit to Vietnam on Tuesday as a part of efforts to normalize relations with the communist nation.  Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s foreign minister, met his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son and expressed the Vatican’s “gratitude” for the progress that has been made to improve ties. The visit took place after Archbishop Marek Zalewski became the first Vatican representative to live and open an office in the Southeast Asian country.  “The visit is of great importance,” said Son.  Gallagher will also …


Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, R&B singer of 1956 hit ‘Ain’t Got No Home,’ dies

new orleans — Clarence “Frogman” Henry, who was one of New Orleans’ best known old-time R&B singers and scored a hit at age 19 with “Ain’t Got No Home,” has died. He was 87. Henry died Sunday night, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation said on social media. It didn’t give the cause of death. Henry, who had been scheduled to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival later this month, imitated the voice of a frog in “Ain’t Got No Home.” It was a hit in 1956 …


‘Godzilla x Kong’ maintains box-office dominion in second weekend

New York — “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” easily swatted away a pair of challengers to hold on to the top spot at the box office for the second week in a row, according to studio estimates Sunday. After its above-expectations $80 million launch last weekend, the MonsterVerse mashup brought in $31.7 million over its second weekend, a 60% drop from its debut. The Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures release, directed by Adam Wingard, has thus far outperformed any of the studio’s recent monster films except for 2014’s “Godzilla.” But …


West Virginia University student union says fight against program cuts not over

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sophomore Christian Adams expected he would be studying Chinese when he enrolled at West Virginia University, with a dream of working in labor or immigration law. He didn’t foresee switching his major to politics, a change he made after West Virginia’s flagship university in September cut its world language department and dozens of other programs in subjects such as English, math and music amid a $45 million budget shortfall. And he certainly didn’t expect to be studying — or teaching fellow students — about community organizing. But the …


In coliseum of American over-the-topness, WrestleMania stands alone

PHILADELPHIA — He surveyed the Arizona crowd that had paid to catch a wrestling glimpse of the planet’s mightiest heavyweight, as measured in both box-office heft and ink-stained muscles. Then The Rock let the abuse fly. And as with so many public outbursts these days, attacking his opponents wasn’t enough. He had to insult the people, too. “The Rock did a little bit of research, and here’s what he found out. This is the truth. This is a fact. The No. 1 city in America for cocaine and meth use is …


Morocco hosts one of Africa’s first exhibitions of Cuban art

RABAT, Morocco — When Morocco ‘s King Mohamed VI visited Havana in 2017, Cuban-American gallery owner Alberto Magnan impressed him with a “full immersion” in the Caribbean island’s art and culture, drawing a line between the cultural and historical themes tackled by Cuban artists and those from across Africa. Seven years after that encounter, one of the first exhibitions of Cuban art at an African museum is showing at Morocco’s Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. It’s part of an effort to give visitors a view beyond the European …


Chinese Indonesian Muslims find haven in Lautze Mosque

Discrimination dating back decades has often meant Chinese Muslims living in Indonesia have had a difficult time blending in with others of their faith. Several mosques in the country now aim to bridge that gap, as VOA’s Ahadian Utama reports. VOA footage by Gregorius Giovanni. …


‘Godzilla x Kong’ Roars to $80 Million Box Office Debut

Los Angeles — The Godzilla-King Kong combo stomped on expectations as “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” roared to an $80 million opening on 3,861 North American screens, according to Sunday studio estimates.   The monster mash-up from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures starring Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry brought the second-highest opening in what has been a robust year, falling just short of the $81.5 million debut of “Dune: Part 2.”  Projections had put the opening weekend of “Godzilla x Kong: Frozen Empire” at closer to $50 million.   …


Pope Francis Presides Over Easter Sunday Mass

Vatican City — Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Easter Mass with tens of thousands of Catholics at Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City before his traditional blessing, as concerns persist over his health. The 87-year-old arrived in a wheelchair to preside over the Mass from 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) in cloudy and windy weather, with the events broadcast live around the globe. Francis will pronounce the “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) blessing at midday where he is expected to bring up the international conflicts raging worldwide. For …


Warhol Portrait of Mao Goes Missing, College Seeks Return ‘No Questions Asked’

Washington/Los Angeles — A California college is seeking the return, “no questions asked,” of an iconic image of Chinese Communist Party founder Mao Zedong created by famed American artist Andy Warhol. Two weeks ago, Orange Coast College discovered that one of Warhol’s signed silkscreen prints of Mao was missing from its vault. The portrait has an estimated value of $50,000. Doug Bennett, executive director for college advancement at Orange Coast College, told VOA’s Mandarin Service that the print was purchased by a person close to the school from a gallery in …


US Powerball Jackpot Jumps to $975 Million

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot climbed to an estimated $975 million after no one matched the six numbers drawn Saturday night, continuing a nearly three-month stretch without a big winner. The winning numbers drawn were: 12, 13, 33, 50, 52 and the red Powerball 23. No one has won Powerball’s top prize since New Year’s Day when a ticket in Michigan hit for $842.4 million, bringing the number of consecutive drawings without a jackpot winner to 38. That winless streak nears the record of 41 consecutive drawings, set twice …


Pope Presides Over Easter Vigil, Delivers 10-Minute Homily

ROME — Pope Francis presided over the Vatican’s somber Easter Vigil service on Saturday night, delivering a 10-minute homily and baptizing eight people, a day after suddenly skipping the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum as a health precaution. Francis entered the darkened, silent St. Peter’s Basilica in his wheelchair, took his place in a chair and offered an opening prayer. Sounding somewhat congested and out of breath, he blessed an elaborately decorated Easter candle, the flame of which was then shared with other candles until the whole basilica twinkled. Over …


Vatican Confirms Pope Will Preside Over Easter Vigil

ROME — The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis would preside over the Easter Vigil service Saturday night, after he decided at the last minute to skip his participation in the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum as a health precaution. The Vatican’s daily bulletin confirmed Francis would lead the lengthy vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most solemn and important moments in the Catholic liturgical calendar. The service, which is due to begin at 7:30 p.m. and usually lasts two hours, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus and includes the sacrament …


China’s Gambling Hub Macao Holds Final Horse Race

MACAO — After more than 40 years, Macao’s horse track hosted its final races Saturday, bringing an end to the sport in the city famous for its massive casinos. In January, the city’s government said it would terminate its contract with the Macao Jockey Club in April. The decision came at the request of the Macao Horse Race Company, which cited operational challenges as part of the reasons for the closure. On Saturday, gamblers congregated in the half-full stands and placed their final bets. Some tourists also visited the track. Mai …


Historian Goodwin, Musician Anderson to Get Academy of Arts and Letters Medals

new york — Doris Kearns Goodwin, Laurie Anderson and the president of the Harlem School of the Arts, James C. Horton, are being honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  The academy announced Friday that Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is receiving a Gold Medal for biography. Anderson, the celebrated avant-garde performer, will be given a Gold Medal for music. Horton, who has run the renowned Harlem school since 2022 and has worked in education for decades, is being cited for his “significant contribution to the arts.”  All three …