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December 19, 2013 | By Jung-yoon Choi
SEOUL -- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday to help train the country's national basketball team and prepare an exhibition game celebrating leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. Rodman's trip, his third this year to the reclusive nation, comes just a week after North Korea announced the execution of Kim's uncle by marriage, Jang Song Taek. The dramatic purge of a man believed to have been a mentor to the young Kim and his second-in-command raised questions about the stability of the North Korean regime.
December 17, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken
Dennis Rodman is going through with his plans to return to North Korea this week to train the national basketball team and help celebrate leader Kim Jong Un's birthday, despite the recent execution of Kim's uncle . Rodman has already visited the insular country considered to be one of the world's most repressive regimes twice this year. He has famously declared the dictator a friend for life and still insists that his own basketball diplomacy can help ease the tensions between North Korea and the U.S. “Yes, I'm going to North Korea to train the basketball team,” the flamboyant former NBA star told the Associated Press by phone.
December 17, 2013 | By Tom Kington
ROME -- Pope Francis boosted his down-to-earth image by inviting a group of homeless men to his Vatican residence to help him celebrate his 77th birthday. The group of men - four, according to some Vatican reports, three according to the Vatican's newspaper - joined Francis on Tuesday as he gave his morning Mass and then ate breakfast with him. The Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, said the men, a Pole, a Slovak and a Czech, were sleeping under the portico outside the Vatican's press center when they were approached by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charitable contributions for the pope.
December 16, 2013 | By David Ng
Tim Roth is joining the cast of Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party," which will be directed by William Friedkin at the Geffen Playhouse, with an official opening set for Feb. 12. The new revival production will also feature British stage veteran Frances Barber. "The Birthday Party" was Pinter's second full-length play and was first performed in 1958. Roth will play the role of Stanley, a former pianist whose birthday party at a seaside boarding house is disrupted by enigmatic visitors.  Barber, who appeared in the all-female staging of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" by the Donmar Warehouse that came to New York earlier this year, will play the role of Meg, who runs the boarding house with her husband Petey. The cast will also include Steven Berkoff and Nick Ullett.
December 16, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Jane Austen was born on this day in 1775. Happy 238th birthday, Jane Austen! Austen, of course, was the author of novels that have endured and delighted for centuries. Her biggest hits are "Pride and Prejudice," "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility" -- lasting stories of young women coming of age in Edwardian England. Less well-known, but no less Austen-y, are "Mansfield Park," "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion. " Born into an affluent family, Austen had a comfortable upbringing not unlike her characters': She learned to play piano, visited friends, attended dances.
December 4, 2013 | By Nardine Saad
Jay Z and Beyonce are giving themselves the gift of health for the rapper's birthday. The musical power couple are challenging themselves to a 22-day vegan diet.  The "Magna Carter Holy Grail" rapper, who turned 44 on Wednesday, made the announcement on his Life + Times blog Tuesday, letting fans know that he and his wife are undergoing a major lifestyle change in an effort to become more spiritual. "Psychologists have said it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. On the 22nd day, you've found the way," he wrote . PHOTOS: Beyonce and Jay Z "On December 3rd, one day before my 44th birthday I will embark on a 22 Days challenge to go completely vegan, or as I prefer to call it, plant-based!
December 2, 2013 | By David Ng
Hard as it is to believe that an opera singer can make gossip headlines, Maria Callas was, in her prime, a media phenomenon whose personal life was fodder for journalists and chroniclers of high society.  A symbol of jet-set elegance, Callas was a temperamental celebrity who had a fiery love life. Her diva-hood  on and off the stage was legendary. The American-born Greek soprano would have been 90 on Monday, a fact marked by a Google tribute. Callas was born in New York in 1923 to Greek immigrant parents.
November 26, 2013 | By Lee Romney and Hector Becerra
Oakland police are investigating what may have motivated two men to approach a birthday party Monday night and open fire, hitting seven men. The status of one of two men who were critically injured was upgraded Tuesday to stable condition. All victims were aged 23 to 31, Oakland police said. Several calls regarding gunfire were first reported shortly after 6 p.m. between 96th Avenue and Olive Street. When officers arrived, they discovered several victims. Initial reports state that two armed suspects approached a group of men who were celebrating a birthday and began shooting at them, according to police.
November 10, 2013 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
HOUSTON - Two people were shot to death and at least 22 others were wounded late Saturday at an 18th birthday party that drew a crowd after it was advertised on social media. Harris County sheriff's investigators were seeking two suspects Sunday morning in connection with the shooting at about 11 p.m. in suburban Cypress, about 30 miles northwest of Houston. A man and a woman died, one at the scene, another at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. investigators said. Authorities did not release names of the victims.
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