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Iran's most expensive movie, "Muhammad", which chronicles the childhood of the Muslim prophet, opened nationwide, winning praise from early audiences. Directed by Majid Majidi, the 171-minute, visually stunning film cost around $40 million (36 million euros), partly funded by the state, and took more than seven years to complete. Majidi says the aim of his work, the first part of a trilogy, is to reclaim the rightful image of Islam, which he said extremists have distorted.
"You can't get rid of them," Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia -- near the scene of the latest shooting -- told AFP. A landmark 2008 decision by the Supreme Court outlawed major restrictions on gun ownership by ruling that the constitutional right to bear arms included the right to keep a loaded handgun for self-defense. The government can still impose some restrictions, such as prohibiting convicted criminals and the mentally ill from owning guns and requiring background checks prior to purchase.
Asia stocks staged another rally in early trade on Friday, taking heart from strong US growth figures to cement a recovery after a torrid week when global markets took fright over China's gloomy economic outlook. Tokyo led the gains, with Hong Kong and Shanghai in tow, and oil prices zoomed higher after the US reported a surprisingly strong new estimate of economic growth in the second quarter. The latest data, which showed the world's biggest economy grew at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the April-June quarter, buoyed markets that have been worried over the prospects for China's economy, which accounts for some 13 percent of global output.