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World Updates

NKorea seeks philharmonic visit

Pyongyang, North Korea -- It may be left to the New York Philharmonic to open the diplomatic doors for normalization of U.S.-North Korea relations, a report said.

A Yonhap new agency report Monday said a Pyongyang date might be in the cards if the philharmonic visits South Korea, which is currently under discussion.

The news agency, quoting sources in Washington, said North Korea had shown interest in such a visit in July when representatives of the six nations discussing North Korean nuclear disarmament met in Beijing.

British minister condemns terror interview

London -- Britain's defense secretary has condemned a television program featuring made-up scenes of soldiers abusing Iraqi captives.

Des Browne called Channel 4's "The Mark of Cain" a publicity coup for insurgents, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.

The program featured a self-proclaimed terrorist and Islamic extremist who urged fellow Muslims to arm themselves against non-Muslims in Britain.

Educated workers go to Calif., Nevada

Buffalo, N.Y. -- California and Nevada retain and attract the most educated workers, a Federal Reserve Bank economist's report said.

California has the nation's highest retention rate of college-educated workers, with 8.2 percent leaving for jobs elsewhere, while Nevada has the highest attraction rate, with a 39.4 percent "in-migration" rate among the college educated, the report by Federal Reserve Bank of New York Buffalo branch Chief Economist Richard Deitz said.

Dutch dizzy over fake cigarettes

Amsterdam, Netherlands -- An innocuous fake cigarette that looks real but doesn't contain tobacco is becoming a trendy accessory in Dutch cities.

Radio Netherlands reported the Belgian manufacturer of the SuperSmoker hasn't been able to keep up with orders for the device, which looks like a cigarette but delivers nicotine from a capsule and releases a harmless puff of condensation that looks like smoke.

Canadian $1M coin up for auction

Irvine, Calif. -- A Southern California company plans to auction the world's largest coin, a 220-pound gold piece minted by Canada.

Teletrade, an online company that deals in coins, plans to begin the auction Monday, The Orange County Register reported. The coin has a face value of $1 million Canadian but the solid gold bullion -- 99.999 percent pure -- would be worth about $2.4 million U.S. if the coin was melted down.

Kennedy to push for another wage hike

Washington -- U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., says he will lead a fight on Capitol Hill to raise the nation's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour in 2009.

Kennedy was one of the original sponsors of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which took effect Tuesday, raising the federal minimum to $5.85 an hour from $5.15. That will increase to $6.55 an hour next year and $7.25 in 2009 under the current law.

2 news helicopters collide over Phoenix

Phoenix -- Two television news helicopters collided Friday afternoon as they followed a police chase in Phoenix, killing the pilots and two cameramen.

The victims worked for ABC15, KNXV-TV, and an independent channel, KTVK, Channel 3. They were identified as Craig Smith, the ABC pilot, and Rick Krolak, a photojournalist, and KTVK pilot Scott Bowerbank and cameraman Jim Cox.

Aussie essayist assails Princess Diana

Brisbane, Australia -- Australian writer Germaine Greer, who has often skewered the dead, is taking on the late British Princess Diana, calling her "slow" and "devious."

Among the stronger invective aimed at the princess is Greer's claim that the late royal might have been partially to blame for the car crash that killed her and her companion Dodi Fayed, The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, Australia, reported Friday.

'Vinny Gorgeous' wants regular haircuts

New York -- A reputed New York gangster nicknamed "Vinny Gorgeous" asked a federal judge to guarantee that he gets clean suits and regular haircuts in prison.

Vincent Basciano -- who is being tried in federal court in Brooklyn -- has been in solitary confinement since the discovery of what prosecutors say is a hit list of names, including that of U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

Iran weaves world's largest carpet

Tehran -- Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi has designed the world's largest, hand-woven carpet, the CHN news agency said Friday.

It took 18 months for Khaliqi to plan his 21,325-square-foot masterpiece, "Qasr al-Alam," which incorporates traditional patterns.

"It's not only noted for its size but also for its trapezoid shape containing one concave, and one convex side," Khaliqi told the news agency.