Australia says El Nino-reinforcing weather condition ends

SYDNEY A climate condition that has reinforced the impact of an El Nino weather event in recent months has broken down over the past fortnight, but a strong El Nino persists, Australia's weather bureau said on Tuesday.A positive Indian Ocean Dipole - a difference in sea surface temperatures between two areas - ended in the past two weeks, as is common at the start of the country's monsoon season, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.More broadly, the bureau said Indian Ocean temperatures had remained warmer than average in 2015, which has offset some of the drying influence of the current El Nino. A strong El Nino persists in the Pacific Ocean, it said, comparable to 1997/98, but climate models suggest sea surface temperatures are approaching their peak and will decrease in the first quarter of 2016.An El Nino, a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can cause scorching weather across Asia and East Africa, but heavy rains and floods in South America. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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Britain's Davis Cup team delay departure for Belgium

LONDON Britain's Davis Cup team delayed their departure to Belgium by 24 hours on Sunday after Brussels went on maximum alert amid a search for armed Islamist extremists and fears of imminent attacks.A spokesman for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said the team, led by Andy Murray, had trained on the clay courts at London's Queen's Club on Sunday and now planned to travel on Monday.The LTA said in a statement it was monitoring the situation closely and taking government advice."The safety of everyone in the British contingent, including our players and fans, remains our number one priority," it added.The three-day final between Britain and Belgium is scheduled to start on Friday at the 13,000-seat Flanders Expo in Ghent, 35 miles north west of Brussels.The Flemish Tennis Federation (FTF), who are staging the event, said it believed the final would be played. "Everything is continuing because we believe it will go on," the FTF was quoted as saying by the BBC.FTF chief executive Gijs Kooken is in regular contact with the Belgian government and said he had "not yet had a signal that it's not safe to organize the event."It is an event with international exposure, with 13,000 spectators a day, so it is a risk event, of course, in the current situation - but I'm very confident in our government. "Of course, you never can predict what will happen next, but I would be surprised if it was canceled. I'm quite confident that we will play next weekend," he told the BBC.Belgium put the capital on maximum security alert on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning people to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of coordinated, multiple attacks by militants. The move follows last week's deadly attacks in Paris by Islamic State militants, of whom one suspect from Brussels remains at large.Bernard Clerfayt, mayor of the Brussels district of Schaerbeek, was quoted by broadcaster RTBF as saying there were "two terrorists" in the Brussels area ready to carry out violence.The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Saturday it was greatly concerned by the raised terror alert but preparations for the final were continuing. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris)

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Justin Bieber storms UK charts to equal John Lennon's 1981 feat

LONDON Justin Bieber stormed the British singles charts on Friday with three singles from his new album in the top five, a feat no other artist has managed since John Lennon, posthumously, in 1981.The Canadian singer's singles "Sorry", "Love yourself" and "What do you mean" took first, third and fifth place. "Sorry" pushed Adele's "Hello" slipped to second place from the top spot it had occupied for three weeks.Lennon's "Imagine" was top, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was third and "(Just Like) Starting Over" fifth in January 1981, the month after he was shot dead in New York.Bieber's songs all come from his album "Purpose" which sold 90,000 copies this week. Every track from it charted inside the top 100 singles.But it was narrowly beaten to top position in the album chart by four-piece boy band One Direction's "Made in the A.M." which is now the fastest-selling album of 2015. Notching up over 93,000 sales, this is the group's fourth UK No. 1 having previously scored the top place in 2012 with "Take Me Home," in 2013 with "Midnight Memories" and in 2014 with "Four". Both Bieber's "Purpose" and One Direction's "Made in the A.M." broke the record for most-streamed album in the first week of release on online streaming platform Spotify. "Purpose" set a new record with 205 million global streams while "Made in the A.M." was streamed 106 million times, both outpacing the previous record holder, The Weeknd's "Beauty Behind The Madness," which garnered 90 million global streams in September.The third most popular album was Elvis Presley's "If I Can Dream," produced nearly 40 years after his death. This collection of Elvis classics featuring orchestral reworkings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra had been number one for two weeks running. Jeff Lynne's ELO was fourth with new entry "Alone In The Universe". The group's other album "All Over The World – The Very Best Of" re-entered at number 28.Fifth place was taken by Little Mix’s "Get Weird", slipping down from last week's second place. (Reporting by Lisa Barrington, additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Addison and Diane Craft)

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U.S. agents recover N.C. Wyeth paintings stolen in Maine

BOSTON The last two of six N.C. Wyeth paintings stolen from a Maine collector in 2013 have been recovered by agents from the FBI, closing the book on what officials say was the most significant art theft in that state's history.The paintings were recovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the Boston area in October, a federal official said on Thursday. The FBI in August had offered a $20,000 reward for tips leading to their recovery.The six oil paintings by Wyeth, the patriarch of a line of painters known for Maine seascapes, were taken in May 2013 from the home of a prominent real estate developer in the state. The paintings were estimated to be worth up to tens of millions of dollars, officials said. Four were recovered in a Beverly Hills, California, pawn shop in 2014, according to the FBI. Three men pleaded guilty in federal courts in Maine and California to charges of trafficking in stolen goods for transporting the paintings. No one has yet been charged with stealing the art, and an investigation is ongoing.Born in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1882, Wyeth got his start as an illustrator of books and magazines. He gained acclaim for painting seascapes after settling on the rugged coast of Port Clyde, Maine, where he lived until his death in 1945. Three of Wyeth's five children - Andrew, Henriette and Carolyn - also became noted artists, as did his grandson, Jamie. While the family is associated with Maine seascapes, the missing paintings are of other subjects. One, "The Encounter on Freshwater Cliff," features a swordsman dressed in Renaissance-style clothing standing over what appears to be a slain foe. The other, "Go, Dutton, and that right speedily," features men in medieval-looking attire peering out from a doorway. It is not the only case of stolen artwork facing the Boston FBI office. The agency is still working to determine who stole $500 million worth of art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a 1990 theft that stands as the largest art heist in U.S. history. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Rare pygmy hippo, a week old, dies at San Diego zoo

A rare pygmy hippopotamus born last week at the San Diego Zoo, the first calf born at the California facility in over a decade, has died, staff said on Friday.The calf was born in seemingly good health at the zoo in southern California on Nov. 11, officials said in a statement, but a veterinary exam later found the newborn was not receiving proper nourishment, despite care from its mother."Sad to announce the death of our pygmy hippo calf," an official with the San Diego Zoo wrote on Twitter.It was the first surviving pygmy hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade, it said. The zoo has not said whether the calf was male or female. The pygmy hippopotamus, from the forests of West Africa, is listed on a list of threatened species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.There were roughly 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, the most recent population survey showed, the zoo said. Habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in recent years has likely played a role in reducing the population, it said. The pygmy is less aquatic and smaller than its non-pygmy hippo relatives, having a rounder and narrower head and a median life expectancy of 27 years, the zoo said. It can weigh as much as 600 pounds, it said. In Australia, a pygmy hippopotamus calf was unveiled in June at Melbourne Zoo, the first to be born there since 1981. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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