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Eddie Murphy to Host Academy Awards Solo

In the tradition of Bob Hope and Johnny Carson, and later Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg, Oscar is going back to its comedic roots with Eddie Murphy as host.

The actor and comedian will host the 84th annual Academy Awards, producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer said Tuesday — and even they were surprised the reclusive star agreed to the gig.

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University Cooks Up World Record Stir-Fry

Staff and students at the University of Massachusetts celebrated the start of the new semester on Monday by making the world's largest stir-fry.

Using a custom-built, 14-foot (4.27-meter)-frying pan, the 4,010-pound (1,820-kilogram) meal included 800 pounds (360 kilograms) of chicken, 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of onions, 400 pounds (180 kilograms) of carrots, 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of broccoli as well as peppers, green beans, bok choy, peanuts, basil and garlic. It was cooked in 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of canola oil.

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Lebanon Beats UAE in WCup Qualifying

Lebanon came from a goal down to beat the United Arab Emirates 3-1 on Tuesday in the third round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Lebanon, which was routed 6-0 by South Korea in its opening match in Group B, trailed 1-0 after UAE defender Mahmoud Al Hammadi scored in the 15th minute.

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Texas Fires Kill 4, Destroy More than 1,000 Homes

One of the most devastating wildfire outbreaks in Texas history left more than 1,000 homes in ruins Tuesday and stretched the state's firefighting ranks to the limit, confronting Gov. Rick Perry with a major disaster at home just as the GOP presidential contest heats up.

More than 180 fires have erupted in the past week across the rain-starved Lone Star State, and nearly 600 of the homes destroyed since then were lost in one catastrophic blaze in and around Bastrop, near Austin, that raged out of control Tuesday for a third day.

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Starbucks Plans to Triple its China Coffee Shops

Starbucks Corp., the world's largest coffee retailer, plans to triple its coffee shops in China during the next four years and step up expansion elsewhere in Asia, an executive said Tuesday.

Starbucks plans to operate 1,500 outlets in China by 2015 from a current 470, the company's Asia Pacific president Jinlong Wang said. The company also expects to open 700 coffee shops in South Korea by 2016, up from 370 now, Wang said.

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Oil Falls to Near $84 on Global Slowdown Fears

Oil prices headed lower to near $84 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as fears of a recession in developed countries sent stock markets and commodities lower.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down $2.13 to $84.32 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude last settled at $86.45 on Friday because U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

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Swiss National Bank Pegs Franc to Euro

The Swiss National Bank on Tuesday decided to fix the country's exchange rate at 1.20 francs per euro and indicated it would buy an unlimited amount of euros regardless of the risk to maintain that value.

The central bank is exercising what many analysts in recent weeks had called the last-ditch "nuclear option" to shield the Swiss economy and exporters from the damaging impact of a strong franc.

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Italian Workers Strike Against Austerity Measures

A strike by Italy's largest labor union against austerity measures has shut down air, land and sea transport and curtailed other public services throughout the country.

Workers for the state railway, city transit systems and ferry services all were on strike. Hospital workers, postal employees and bank tellers also joined in.

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Williams, Wozniacki Move on in Different Ways

They are two different players and, at times, it looks as if they're playing two different games.

There's the Serena Williams style, filled with intimidation and huge shots. And there's the way Caroline Wozniacki does it, with great hustle and even better conditioning.

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Hong Kong's First Apple Store Nears Completion

Hong Kong's first Apple Store appears to be nearing completion after builders this week removed scaffolding from the shop's exterior windows to reveal a giant sign with the company's logo.

Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple Inc., confirmed that the store would open soon but would not comment further.

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