Gorillaz creators, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and original Tank Girl illustrator Jamie Hewlett, reinvented their virtual band of characters for the Chinese opera, Monkey: Journey To The West, which they’re now using to promote the BBC ‘s coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

After announcing in 2007 that Gorillaz wouldn’t be releasing anymore studio pop albums, Albarn and Hewlett adapted The Monkey King, an ancient Chinese story about a hyperactive ape who leads a revolt against heaven and achieves immortality.

The production, composed by Albarn, designed by Hewlitt and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, is a mix of animations, live-action circus performances and Mandarin songs. It premiered to a standing ovation at the Manchester International Festival last summer and just re-opened at London’s Royal Opera House on Wednesday night.

An album based on the successful opera is already in the works and set to be released this summer.

BBC began airing the Olympics-inspired clip of Monkey: Journey To The West on Thursday and will broadcast it as the opening title sequence for their Beijing Olympics coverage.

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“This is a serious election. I don’t want to be dancing with the stars when I should be protecting the vote.”

–Sharpton on declining an invitation to appear on the next season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, according to the New York Daily News. Instead, he’ll help with voter education for November’s presidential election.

PHOTO: AP

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Hate crimes in L.A hit their highest level in five years in 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The largest number of racial hate crimes involved Latino suspects against black victims, followed by black suspects against Latino victims.

Although blacks made up nearly half the hate crime victims, Latinos made up the largest number of suspects in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, while whites were the leading suspects in religion-based incidents.

“What we’re seeing is the democratization of hate crimes,” said Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. “We’re not only seeing a diversification of victims but also increased diversification of offenders.”

PHOTO: AP

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To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Converse recruited N.E.R.D.’s Pharrell Williams, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and Santogold. The trendsetting artists are helping the century-old sneaker brand remind youngsters of their pop culture relevance by collaborating on the song, “My Drive Thru.”

The distinctively different vocal styles of the three singers coupled with a video featuring stop-motion cut-outs and dynamic camera tricks help to redeem an otherwise monotonous song of looping guitar riffs.

As for Converse celebrating 100 years: It’s hard to imagine turn-of-the-century Americans wearing Chucks, but the brand began as a rubber shoe factory making weather proof footwear. Converse introduced their first athletic line for tennis in 1915, followed by their famous basketball line in 1921.

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After visiting Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel earlier this week, Barack Obama greeted a crowd of nearly 200,000 people in Berlin on Thursday and gave a rousing speech about partnership and unity:

The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand.

The German press likened the presumptive Democratic nominee to the late President John F. Kennedy and his 1963 Berlin speech in which he expressed brotherhood by declaring, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” They also called Obama “young, sexy and charismatic.”

Meanwhile back home in America, news anchors marveled over Obama’s rock star status in Europe and debated over whether his popularity would help or hurt his chances of becoming President.

PHOTO: AP

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