Briefs, October 19, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 5:23am

Ai Weiwei tops list of influential artists

LONDON - Dissident artist Ai Weiwei and jailed Russian punks Pussy Riot are among artists, curators and collectors on a list of the 100 most influential figures in the art world. Top spot on Art Review magazine's annual Power 100 list is taken by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, who runs the Documenta 13 art fair in Kassel, Germany. Ai is the highest-rated artist, at No3, ahead of Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst. AP


Colombian peace talks take place in Oslo

HURDAL, Norway - Colombian government and rebel negotiators yesterday formally launched peace talks aimed at ending the South American nation's nearly 50-year conflict. Seven hours of talks, held at a secret venue outside Oslo, focused chiefly on logistics. The next negotiations will begin on November 15 in the Cuban capital, Havana. AP


WTO upholds steel ruling against China

WASHINGTON - The World Trade Organisation upheld its ruling that China violated global trade rules by imposing penalties on more than US$200 million of US steel products. WTO judges correctly ruled in June that China unfairly imposed anti-subsidy and anti-dumping penalties on imports of flat-rolled electrical steel, according to the appellate body's findings. Bloomberg


Moscow backs ban on smoking in public

MOSCOW - Russia's government has approved a bill that would ban smoking in public and tobacco ads. The approval of the bill follows a plea by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who on Tuesday called for a crackdown on tobacco companies for "making money on children". AP 


Support for sovereign Scotland waning: poll

EDINBURGH - Support among voters in Scotland for quitting the United Kingdom and becoming an independent country is declining, according to a poll. Backing for independence fell to 30 per cent of respondents, while those wanting to keep the status quo increased to 58 per cent, according to the Ipsos Mori survey published in London-based The Times. Bloomberg


Turkish pianist goes on trial for insulting Islam

ISTANBUL - World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say went on trial on charges of insulting Islam and offending Muslims with provocative comments on Twitter. "I reject all the accusations," a visibly upset Say told the Istanbul court, as about 100 supporters gathered outside. The court adjourned the case to February 18. AFP


Vincent the hippo fed to Zulu king

JOHANNESBURG - A South African hippopotamus named Vincent has been killed and cooked for Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini after the animal wounded a game ranger. Wildlife authorities donated the carcass to the Zulu king, who had it cooked up for the annual reed dance, where maidens dance bare-breasted before the monarch, The Star newspaper reported. The hippo was named after the painter Vincent van Gogh because he only had one ear. AFP