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New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham dies at 87

NEW YORK Bill Cunningham, the celebrated New York Times fashion photographer known for his shots of emerging trends on the streets of New York City, died on Saturday at age of 87 after being hospitalized for a stroke.Cunningham worked for the New York Times for nearly 40 years, operating "as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist," the newspaper said. His photo spreads were a staple of the paper's Style section and chronicled changing fashion through his choice of themes such as swirling skirts, Birkin bags and gaudy floral prints."A lot of people complain about fashion and fast fashion. There is no fashion. That is baloney. Look at this," he said in a video for a recent spread in the paper on the use of black and white contrasts in clothing.Cunningham took pictures of celebrated New Yorkers at swank events and traveled the city by bicycle for decades, often wearing his signature blue jacket, to shoot street fashion typically using a single-lens reflex camera."He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. Asceticism was a hallmark of his brand," the newspaper said. Cunningham, who had tried his hand at hat making, was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After he got out in 1953, he eventually found work as a fashion reporter.In the mid-1960s he acquired a small camera to help him with his work, and that started him off in fashion photography."I had just the most marvelous time with that camera. Everybody I saw I was able to record," he wrote in the Times in 2002. In 2008, the French government awarded him the Legion d’Honneur for his work. A year later, he was named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.Cunningham became known to a wider world through an acclaimed 2010 documentary chronicling his career, in which Vogue Magazine editor Anna Wintour quipped: "We all get dressed for Bill."In an obituary in Vogue, editor-at-large Hamish Bowles wrote "his scrupulous editorial standards of both content and comportment were old world." Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., publisher and chairman of the Times, said Cunningham's "company was sought after by the fashion world's rich and powerful, yet he remained one of the kindest, most gentle and humble people I have ever met."His life was one of austerity. He slept on a single size cot where he lived until 2010 in a studio above Carnegie Hall, chock full of file cabinets containing his negatives.When asked why he spent years ripping up checks for his work from magazines, he said, "Money's the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive," the Times reported. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mary Milliken)

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Ralph Stanley, U.S. bluegrass music pioneer, dies at 89

U.S. bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley, who with his brother Carter helped popularize the Appalachian music and gained late career fame through the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," died on Thursday, the family said. He was 89.Stanley died in his sleep after a long battle with skin cancer, grandson Ralph Stanley said on his Facebook page."I feel so lost and so alone right now. He was my world, and he was my everything," he wrote. Further details about Stanley's death were not immediately available.During a seven-decade career, Stanley, a banjoist and singer from the coal mining country of southwest Virginia, wrote or co-wrote more than 200 songs, including "Hard Times" and "The Darkest Hour Is Just Before the Dawn.""I wrote 20 or so banjo tunes, but Carter was a better writer than me," Stanley said in a 2008 interview with Virginia Living magazine.A major contributor to the so-called "lonesome" style of bluegrass, Stanley and his brother performed as the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys from 1946 to 1966, according to a profile on the International Bluegrass Music Museum's website. The band was the first bluegrass group to play the Newport Folk Festival, in 1959, and headlined folk festivals for decades. The Clinch Mountain Boys were the first bluegrass act to record a cappella gospel hymns, in 1971.As his brother's health began to fail, Ralph Stanley increasingly began fronting as lead singer and as the face of the band. Carter Stanley died in 1966, and Stanley continued to perform into his 80s with the Clinch Mountain Boys.Born Feb. 25, 1927, at Big Spraddle Creek in Virginia's Dickenson County, Stanley took early musical influence from his banjo-playing mother and from the Primitive Baptist Univeralist Church. After service in the U.S. Army in the 1940s, Stanley gave up plans to become a veterinarian and joined his brother to form a band.He took a personal role in recording the soundtrack music for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," a 2000 film about Depression-era convicts on the lam directed by Ethan and Joel Coen.He won a Grammy Award for his a cappella performance of the dirge-like "O Death" in the soundtrack, which became a best-selling album. Stanley was honored with the Library of Congress' "Living Legend" award. He is a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Paris exhibition displays Chirac-like 18th century Japanese masks

PARIS Three antique Japanese theater masks that bear a striking resemblance to former French president Jacques Chirac will go on display from Tuesday in a Paris museum he set up 10 years ago and that will now bear his name."There are thousands of Chiracs in Japan," said Jean-Jacques Aillagon, who served as culture minister during Chirac's presidency, explaining that the late 18th century masks represent a Japanese theater character that was always carved with similar features.The museum, which specializes in early art from Africa, Asia and the Americas, will be renamed "Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac". The exhibition delves into his long-hidden passion for such works of art. The 83-year-old Chirac was better known for his taste for food and beer, and a pundit once said about him: "Men usually read Playboy hidden behind the cover of a poetry book, but Chirac reads poetry behind a copy of Playboy."Saying she also spoke in his name, Chirac's wife Bernadette told reporters: "France is never greater than when it engages with other cultures, other people. It's a strong message and one that is very relevant now." Chirac, a center-right politician who was a prominent figure in French politics for decades, was president from 1995 to 2007. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Bill Murray to be awarded Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize

WASHINGTON Actor and comedian Bill Murray has been chosen to receive the 19th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.Murray, the star of such movies as "Groundhog Day" and "Rushmore," will be awarded the prize named for the great 19th century U.S. novelist and satirist on Oct. 23, the Kennedy Center said in a statement on Monday.“An award-winning writer, actor and comedian, his brilliant wit and infectious spirit continue to inspire our laughter across generations both on and off the screen," said Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter.Murray, 65, is among the best-known stars to emerge from NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He performed on the groundbreaking television comedy show from 1977 to 1980 and honed his skills portraying insincere and lovably smarmy characters.He portrayed a dim-witted groundskeeper in "Caddyshack," was a paranormal investigator in "Ghostbusters" and stood out as a mobster in "Mad Dog and Glory." Murray was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of a jet-lagged movie star in "Lost in Translation." He has won two Emmy Awards.In a statement, Murray said he was honored to receive the award. "I believe Mark Twain has rolled over in his grave so much for so long, that this news won’t disturb his peace,” he said. Previous Mark Twain Prize honorees include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Neil Simon, Carol Burnett, Jay Leno and Eddie Murphy, the 2015 winner.The award ceremony will be recorded for television broadcast. (Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Australia storm sweeps three to their death as it pounds east coast

SYDNEY Giant waves, cyclone-strength winds and torrential rain swept three people to their deaths on Australia's east coast on Monday after the storm forced hundreds to flee their homes.Waves up to five meters (17.5 feet) were pounding much of the east coast, including Sydney, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning of further danger as the storm moves south.Two bodies were found in cars washed away in flood waters while a man was swept off the rocks south of Sydney's surfing beach of Bondi, police said.The New South Wales state emergency services said they had received more than 9,250 calls and had conducted 280 flood rescues. Insurers received more than 11,150 claims with estimated insured losses of A$38 million, the Insurance Council of Australia said. It expects the number of claims to rise further over the coming days. Stocks in Australia biggest insurers, including QBE Insurance, Insurance Australia Group and Suncorp, skidded in a stronger wider market. But CLSA analyst Jan Van Der Schalk did not see a major earnings impact on insurers who said they were still assessing the impact of the catastrophe.Australian websites including Channel Nine, Foxtel Play and Domino's Pizza went down on Sunday when Amazon Web Service's Sydney zone experienced a two-hour power outage, ITnews website said. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment but Amazon Web Services’ status page on Monday showed several connectivity issues in Sydney had been resolved.Automated teller machines and point-of-sale banking services were also hit. A spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New South Wales state said Newcastle, the world's largest exit point for sea-borne thermal coal and used by global miners Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American, was placed on restricted ship movements over the weekend but did not sustain any damage."While some sites had minor production interruptions, none of these has impacted our contractual obligations or production forecasts," Glencore said.Port Kembla, the largest vehicle import hub in Australia, remained closed as the storm moved south. (Editing by Nick Macfie)

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