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Angolan Beauty Crowned Miss Universe

Leila Lopes from Angola was crowned Miss Universe Monday night, smoothly handling an interview question about what physical trait she would change if she could by stating it was her inner beauty and principles that counted most.

The 25-year-old Lopes is Angola's first winner. She beat out 88 other competitors to win the title during the 60th anniversary of the world's biggest beauty pageant. She replaces last year's winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.

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No More Cigarettes for Smoking Malaysian Orangutan

A captive orangutan often spotted smoking cigarettes given to her by zoo visitors is being forced to kick the habit, a Malaysian wildlife official said Monday.

Government authorities seized the adult ape named Shirley from a state-run zoo in Malaysia's southern Johor state last week after she and several other animals there were deemed to be living in poor conditions.

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Art Imitates Life in 'Dolphin Tale'

The little injured dolphin they called Winter couldn't have come along at a better time for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rustic sea life rescue center occupying the city's old sewage treatment plant.

The nonprofit public aquarium was about ready to go belly-up at the end of 2005 when the baby bottlenose dolphin was brought there after getting her tail tightly entangled in a crab-trap line. She lived, but her tail fluke withered away, forcing the young animal to learn how to swim with just a stump and then adapt to a revolutionary prosthetic. Winter's inspirational story of perseverance made her a global media star, quadrupled attendance at the aquarium and spawned a lucrative line of toys, books and other merchandise.

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Suzuki Cuts Ties with Volkswagen

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Monday it will abort its alliance with Volkswagen AG, ending a nearly two-year marriage that never worked and eventually escalated into a public feud.

Suzuki's board of directors decided to dissolve its partnership and cross-shareholding relationship with the German automaker because of concerns that it would lose autonomy, it said in a statement. Volkswagen owns a nearly 20 percent stake in Suzuki, while Suzuki holds about 1.5 percent of Volkswagen.

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New Devices Like Motorcycle Ambulances Help Poor

A bit of creativity never hurts, especially when it comes to solving health problems in developing countries.

Instead of the usual donated medicines and health equipment, some experts are inventing new products for the poor, like a solar-powered hearing aid or a motorcycle ambulance. Both inventions were showcased at an engineering conference in London.

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Compact Cars in Focus at Frankfurt Auto Show

Germany's highly profitable auto makers are rolling out important new vehicles in the ferociously competitive small car market at this year's Frankfurt auto show.

The Volkswagen Up subcompact, Mercedes-Benz's streamlined B-Class hatchback and BMW's electric-powered i3, aimed at crowded cities with its zero-emission motor and lightweight, carbon-fiber reinforced body, are all major bets on what will appeal to buyers — and help earnings through an uncertain year ahead in which global demand may slow.

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Nissan Develops Cheaper, Smaller Charger for EVs

Nissan has developed a charger for electric vehicles that's smaller, about half the price, and easier to install.

Nissan Motor Co., Japan's No. 2 automaker, said Monday the new charger will go on sale in November in Japan and is planned later for the U.S. and Europe, although dates are not set.

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New Opera Tells Story of Sept. 11 Heroism

A continent away from where the towers fell, the horror of that September morning 10 years ago is being recreated on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House.

The attack on the World Trade Center comes in the climactic scene of "Heart of a Soldier," an earnest and at times compelling work that was given its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera on Saturday night.

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'Cirque De Legume:' Animal-Vegetable-Maniac Circus

Flouting the age-old parental refrain, "Don't play with your food!" comes a zany Irish production called "Cirque de Legume" which is all about playing with food. Specifically, with root vegetables.

The chewing, spewing and other abuse of leafy produce has been raised to an art form by the hilarious, deliberately awkward duo performing "Cirque de Legume," which opened Sunday night off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters as part of the yearlong 2011 Imagine Ireland festival. It's an animal-vegetable-maniac circus, laden with slapstick and humor at the expense of a basket of vegetables.

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SpongeBob in Hot Water from Study of 4-Year-Olds

The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds.

The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch "SpongeBob," or the slower-paced PBS cartoon "Caillou" or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched "SpongeBob" did measurably worse than the others.

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