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'The Wire' actor Pierce arrested after scuffle over Democratic politics

ATLANTA Actor Wendell Pierce, who starred in HBO's "The Wire," was arrested in Atlanta over the weekend and charged with battery after an altercation sparked by differences in opinion about the U.S. presidential race, police said on Monday.The incident occurred early Saturday morning after Pierce, a Hillary Clinton backer, got into a political debate with a couple at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, according to an Atlanta Police Department arrest report. Media reports said the couple supported Clinton rival Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.The police report said Pierce followed the couple through the hotel and tried to force his way into their room, and also that he pulled the woman's hoodie off and hit her in the head. Pierce denied the allegations, police said, and no one needed medical attention.Pierce's representatives could not be reached for comment. On Monday, Rutgers University-Newark said Pierce had withdrawn as the speaker for the school's commencement this week, citing the incident.Pierce declined to give the address "in order to assure that commencement 2016 will be a celebration of the accomplishments of our students, free from distractions," the school said in a statement, adding that journalist Soledad O'Brien would replace him as speaker. "In addition to his role as Baltimore police detective Bunk Moreland on HBO's critically acclaimed 'The Wire,' Pierce, 52, is also known for roles on television shows including "Treme" and "The Odd Couple" as well as the film "Selma." He was arrested early on Saturday and released after posting a $1,000 bond, according to police and jail records. Media reports said Pierce, whose residence was listed as Pasadena, California, was staying at the Atlanta hotel while shooting a film. (Additional reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alan Crosby)

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China tech workers asleep on the job - with the boss's blessing

BEIJING Dai Xiang has slept his way to the top.The 40-year-old Beijinger got his start as an engineer, pulling 72-hour shifts at a machinery company while catching naps on the floor. After a switch to the tech industry and around 15 years of catching naps on desks and other flat surfaces, Dai co-founded his own cloud computing firm, BaishanCloud, last year. One of his first orders of business - installing 12 bunk beds in a secluded corner of the office."For technology, it's more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration," Dai said. "Our rest area isn't just for sleeping at night, the midday is also OK."Office workers sleeping on the job has long been a common sight in China, where inefficiency and a surplus of cheap labor can give workers plenty of downtime in many industries. But China's technology sector is different. Business is booming faster than many start-up firms can hire new staff, forcing workers to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines."The pace of Chinese internet company growth is extremely fast. I've been to the U.S. and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China," said Cui Meng, general manager and co-founder of start-up data company Goopal. The company's programmers, in particular, work overtime every day, he said. To get them through, they are allowed to sleep around lunchtime and after 9 p.m., either facedown at their desk or by commandeering the sofa or a beanbag chair.LIVING AT THE OFFICEAt its most extreme, some tech company employees even live at the office during the work week. Liu Zhanyu at DouMiYouPin, a recruitment and human resources platform, bunks down in a converted conference room Monday-to-Friday to avoid the daily commute of more than an hour to his home in Beijing's far eastern suburbs.The head of the "large clients" department usually retires to the room shared with one or two others between midnight and 3 a.m."We have to get up at 8:30 a.m. because all our co-workers come to work at 9:30 and we wash in the same bathroom everyone uses," said Liu.While workers across companies said the potential pay-off of working at a start-up was worth the long hours, they aren't without a social cost. "My kid misses me, I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf," Liu said, speaking about his three-year-old son who he only sees on weekends. "That makes me feel a bit guilty."Programmer Xiang Shiyang, 28, works until 3 or 4 a.m. at least twice a week at Renren Credit Management, which uses big data to help firms manage financial risk, leaving little room to socialize outside of work."I don't have that many opportunities or much time to find a girlfriend," he said.The company provides cots for workers like Xiang to sleep on during late nights."Actually working overtime is a very casual thing," he said. "Because I've invested the whole of my being into this company." (Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Michelle Obama helps Prince Harry launch second Invictus Games

ORLANDO, Florida Britain's Prince Harry and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama mixed with headline acts from music and film to launch the second edition of the Invictus Games for wounded military personnel on Sunday.British singers James Blunt and Laura Wright performed at the two-hour ceremony before Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman led the crowd at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Champion Stadium in reciting the Invictus Games pledge.Former U.S. President George W Bush, the honorary chairman of this year’s Games, also spoke on stage to the near 500 athletes from 14 different countries who will compete over four days from Monday in 11 Paralympic sports.Harry, who started the Games two years ago in London, paid tribute to the courage of the athletes, who paraded through an interactive 3-D cube decorated in their country's colors to warm applause. "When we give a standing ovation to the competitor with the missing limbs, let's also cheer our hearts out for the man who overcame anxiety so severe he couldn't leave his house," the 31-year-old royal told the crowd. "Let's cheer for the woman who fought through post-traumatic stress." That spirit was echoed by Obama, who thanked U.S. veterans for their service. "I'm here and honor all of you: our extraordinary service members, our veterans, and of course our military families. You all are amazing. Truly amazing," she said. (Reporting by Gavino Garay. Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore. Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Canada hopes cooler weather aids battle with Alberta wildfire

LAC LA BICHE, Alberta Canadian firefighters looked to cooler weather on Monday to help with their battle against the country's most destructive wildfire in recent memory, as officials sought to gauge the damage to oil sands boomtown Fort McMurray.The fire, which started on May 1, spread so quickly that the community's 88,000 inhabitants barely had time to leave and whole neighborhoods were destroyed."This is great firefighting weather, we can really get in here and get a handle on this fire, and really get a death grip on it," Alberta fire official Chad Morrison said on Sunday.The wildfire scorching through Canada's oil sands region in northeast Alberta had been expected to double in size on Sunday, but light rains and cooler temperatures helped hold it back.The temperature, which reached a high of 17 C (63°F) on Sunday, was expected to cool further, with Environment Canada forecasting a 40 percent chance of showers in Fort McMurray on Monday. Cooler temperatures around 10 C were expected through to Friday after last week's record heat. Still, much of Alberta is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring. Alberta's government estimated on Sunday that the fire had consumed 161,000 hectares (395,000 acres). Officials made clear it was too early to put a time line on getting thousands of evacuees camped out in nearby towns back to Fort McMurray soon, even if their homes are intact. The city's gas has been turned off, its power grid is damaged and the water is undrinkable.Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said on Sunday recovery efforts had begun, with 250 employees from power company ATCO working to restore the power grid and assess gas infrastructure. Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of the crude output from the sands, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate. Oil prices jumped almost 2 percent in trading early on Monday, as Canada's fire contributed to tightening supply.[O/R] The inferno looks set to become the costliest natural disaster in Canada's history. One analyst estimated insurance losses could exceed C$9 billion ($7 billion). Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two people were killed in a car crash during the evacuation.In his now regular evening message Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen on Sunday sent condolences to the families of the two teenage cousins in the crash. One of the victims, 15-year-old Emily Ryan, was the daughter of a fireman in the city.Regional officials also said via Facebook that firefighters were getting their first break since the fire began a week ago after being relieved by reinforcements. (With additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary; Writing by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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LED-lit pigeons illuminate New York skies in art exhibit

NEW YORK Thousands of pigeons with tiny LED lights strapped to their legs swooped through the darkening skies in a jaw-dropping display of beauty, but savvy New Yorkers gazing up at the performance art knew enough to keep their mouths shut.As evening fell over the Brooklyn Navy Yard, once home to the nation's largest naval fleet of carrier pigeons, artist Duke Riley opened an enormous coop and released the homing pigeons of his "Fly by Night" project.At the call of his whistle, the massive flock took off and circled for 30 minutes late Thursday over the deck of their temporary home on a decommissioned U.S. Navy ship, following a bamboo pole waved in the air by Riley. What resembled air-borne embers swirling from a campfire were actually LED lights in the birds' leg bands, which historically were used to carry messages."It is a collaborative project between me and the pigeons," Riley said. "It's a performance or maybe it's just a drawing that they are doing in the sky." The show will be repeated every weekend evening from May 7 through June 12.Riley's flock includes a variety of specially trained pigeons, some of which are his own, while others were purchased or borrowed from pigeon fanciers. After the project ends, Riley will keep many of them as his pets. "Fly by Night," which was presented by the non-profit organization Creative Time, comes three years after Riley's 2013 performance piece "Trading With the Enemy," in which trained pigeons carried cigars from Havana to Key West, Florida, to protest the U.S. embargo of Cuba and challenge American spying capabilities since the birds evade surveillance equipment. The New York City project pays homage to pigeon keeping, whether for sport, service or companionship. Once a popular pastime on city tenement rooftops, the hobby has dropped off amid escalating real estate prices.While dubbed by some New Yorkers as "rats with wings," pigeons have been revered for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Christians of Cappadocia in Turkey, who valued the birds for their excrement, a rich fertilizer. Pigeon droppings were also at the top of the minds of wary art lovers on Thursday, as 2,000 birds flew overhead, threatening to anoint onlookers with what some superstitions define as good luck. "It was not a concern of mine at all because most animals, including humans, usually don't like to defecate while they are exercising," Riley said.Evidence on a reporter's purse, however, proved otherwise. (Additional reporting by Elly Park and Lucas Jackson; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

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