A Christie's employee posed in March with a subfossilized pre-17th-century elephant bird egg at the auction house in London. The foot-long, nearly 9-inches-in-diameter egg sold for $102,000 on Wednesday.



WikiLeaks claims victory in Iceland's high court

LONDON - WikiLeaks said Wednesday that it has secured a victory in Iceland's Supreme Court against the financial blockade imposed by Visa and MasterCard on donations for the secret-spilling site.

Visa and MasterCard were among half a dozen major U.S. financial firms to pull the plug on WikiLeaks after its decision to begin publishing about 250,000 U.S. State Department cables in late 2010. WikiLeaks has claimed that the financial blockade led to a 95 percent fall in revenue.

It said Wednesday that Iceland's Supreme Court had upheld a district court's decision that MasterCard's local partner, Valitor, had illegally terminated its contract with WikiLeaks' payment processor, DataCell.

The court warned Valitor it would be fined 800,000 Icelandic krona ($6,824) per day if the gateway to WikiLeaks donations is not reopened within 15 days, WikiLeaks said.

Extinct elephant bird's egg fetches $102K at auction

LONDON - A massive, partly fossilized egg laid by a now-extinct elephant bird has sold for more than double its estimate at a London auction.

Christie's auction house said Wednesday that the foot-long, nearly 9-inches-in-diameter egg fetched about $102,000. It was sold to an anonymous buyer over the telephone after about 10 minutes of competitive bidding.

Elephant birds were wiped out several hundred years ago. The oversized ovum, laid on the island of Madagascar, is believed to date back before the 17th century. Flightless, fruit-gobbling elephant birds resembled giant ostriches and could grow to be 11 feet high. Christie's says their eggs are 100 times the size of an average chicken's.


Clashes with police leave at least 21 dead

BEIJING - In the deadliest ethnic violence in China since 2009, 21 people were killed in confrontations Tuesday between police and Uighur residents of Kashgar, the country's westernmost city.

Among the dead were 15 police and neighborhood security officers and six people that the state media described as "mobsters."

Kashgar, which lies close to China's borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, has been a frequent site of violence between the dominant ethnic Han Chinese and the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. As is often the case, it was difficult to confirm details of the incident, and the account offered by authorities was vague.


Jewels, gold are stolen from famed church

LA PAZ - Roman Catholic faithful are praying and holding vigils for the Virgin of Copacabana after thieves stole the jewels, gold and rings that adorned Bolivia's patron saint.

The 16th-century statue graces the altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana in Copacabana, Bolivia. Priests say thieves propped a ladder against a back wall of the basilica Monday, entered through a window and stripped the holy icon of 10 rings, eight adornments and the baby she held in her arms.

It was the latest in a wave of thefts affecting Bolivia's colonial churches.

Czech Republic

Czechs sending donations to town of West, Texas

PRAGUE - The Czech Republic plans to donate $200,000 to help the Texas town of West recover from a devastating fertilizer plant explosion.

The government decided to provide the aid in solidarity because a significant number of people in the town of 2,700 have Czech roots. The blast damaged numerous homes in the town. Thousands of Czechs, mostly from the eastern part known of Moravia, settled in Texas more than 100 years ago.

Wire reports