Gore Vidal, the American author, playwright and commentator who became a celebrity for his written works as much as for his outspokenness on the issues of the day, died Tuesday at the age of 86 in Los Angeles.

Sri Lankan mahouts wash an elephant Wednesday near a fountain ahead of the Esala Perahera festival in the ancient hill capital of Kandy. The Buddhist festival, which features a nightly procession of dancers, fire twirlers, traditional musicians, acrobatic fire performers…

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