Hordes of humans will sprint ahead of thundering beasts this week at Pamplona's famed running of the bulls, but Spain's most storied fiesta is being overshadowed by a crisis in the bullring.
A proposed regional bullfighting ban is combining with grim economic times to send a chill through the national pastime. Across Spain, the number of bullfights has dropped from about 1,000 in 2008 to a projected 800 or fewer this year, as local governments that have always subsidized small-town bullfights cut budgets because of declining tax revenue.
Making matters worse for bullfighting aficionados, the vast northeastern Catalonia region, where more than 10 percent of Spain's 46 million people live, could wind up without bullfights when provincial legislators vote on a proposed ban in mid July. That would shut down Catalonia's last bullring in Barcelona.
Animal rights activists say the gory spectacles are one of the planet's most blatant forms of animal cruelty. "It would be a huge step forward, Catalonia telling Spain and the rest of the world that they are not for torturing animals," said Mimi Bekhechi, special projects manager and antibullfighting campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Jose Carlos Arevalo, editor of Spain's top bullfighting magazine, 6 Toros 6, said a ban like the one that could happen in Catalonia would never happen in Pamplona. "It's a tradition here," he said. "If there aren't any bulls, there's no party."
Fischer's DNA part of paternity case
Authorities in Iceland have exhumed the body of American chess champion Bobby Fischer to determine whether he is the father of a 9-year-old girl from the Philippines. Police said his corpse was dug up from a cemetery near Selfoss in southern Iceland early Monday and was reburied after DNA samples were taken.
Fischer moved to Iceland in 2005 and died in 2008. He left no will, and legal wrangling continues over his estate. A court ruled his remains should be exhumed so DNA testing could determine whether he was the father of Jinky Young, whose mother, Marilyn, says she had a relationship with Fischer when he spent time in the Philippines.
Cities in Northeast fear heat wave
Forecasters say a potentially life-threatening heat wave could develop this week in the Northeast. Readings of 100 degrees or hotter are predicted for cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and New York City today and Wednesday. A spokesman for Consolidated Edison in New York said the utility was preparing for peak usage to break the record set in August 2006.
Warm air is "sitting over the top of us, and it's not really going to budge much for the next day or two," said Brian Korty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Md.
Yale gallery makes 'thrilling' discovery
Yale University has found a treasure in a storage room underneath its art gallery: an oil painting it now attributes to 17th century Spanish master Diego Velazquez. "This is thrilling for us," said Laurence Kanter, curator of European art at the Yale University Art Gallery. "This is one of the most important discoveries in the old-master field in decades."
The unsigned painting, The Education of the Virgin, depicts the Virgin Mary and her mother. It was originally credited to an unknown 17th century Seville artist. As for its market value, paintings by Velazquez seldom publicly change hands. In 2007, a Velazquez sold at Sotheby's in London for about $17 million.
Spain cools to bullfighting
How much the royal family cost Britons per person last year, for a total of $57.8 million, Buckingham Palace said Monday. That's $4.5 million less than the previous year.