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Japan Releases Master Recording of Emperor's War-End Speech

The master recording of Emperor Hirohito's speech announcing Japan's World War II surrender has been brought back to life in digital form ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

The Imperial Household Agency on Saturday released the original audio from the vinyl master records of Hirohito's radio broadcast on August 15, 1945.

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The Changing Face of Russia's Emblematic Matryoshka Dolls

From cheery peasant girls in Tsarist times to Soviet-era cosmonauts to today's Pussy Riots, the changing face of Russia's matryoshka nesting dolls reflects the country's tumultuous history.

For tourists the dolls inside dolls that generally depict a buxom woman in a colored headscarf are a must-buy souvenir believed to date back to a centuries-old tradition, but a new exhibition throws up some surprises.

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Tokyo's Largest District OKs Same-Sex Partner Certificates

Tokyo's largest district has said it will start issuing "partnership" certificates to same-sex couples from November, becoming the second in Japan to recognize such unions following a pioneering move by the capital's bustling Shibuya ward.

While the certificates would not be legally binding, the Setagaya district council said it hoped they would encourage hospitals and landlords to ensure same-sex couples receive similar treatment to married people.

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Australian Museum to Display 'World's Finest Opal'

An Australian museum said Monday it would exhibit what it believes is the best opal stone ever found -- a 6.0-centimeter (2.4 inch) multi-colored gem unearthed in the Outback named the Virgin Rainbow.

The South Australian Museum said the stone, valued at more than Aus$1.0 million (U.S.$730,000), would go on public display for the first time in September to mark the centenary of opal mining in the country.  

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Taiwan Protesters Demand Scrapping of 'China-Centric' Curriculum

Nearly a thousand people rallied outside Taiwan's education ministry Sunday, demanding the minister's resignation and the scrapping of what they describe as a "China-centric" high school curriculum.

The protesters, whom police estimated at around 800, ripped up the new versions of textbooks printed under the new curriculum guidelines.

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Putin Puts Crimean Archaeological Site under Federal Control

Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Saturday placed a major archaeological site in Crimea, which he has hailed as the country's most sacred spiritual symbol, under federal control following turmoil over the appointment of its director.

The Kremlin said that Putin ordered the area of the ancient Greek city of Chersonesus to be placed under federal oversight. The site is located just outside Sevastopol, the main port city in Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year.

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Jerusalem Gay Pride Attack Suspect Lashes Out in Court

An ultra-Orthodox Jew accused of stabbing six people at a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem weeks after his release from jail for a similar attack lashed out in court Friday, Israeli media reported.

"I do not accept this court's authority," said a defiant Yishai Shlissel, representing himself at a hearing.

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C. African Republic Muslims Forced to Convert

Amnesty International says Muslims in the western part of Central African Republic are being forced to hide their religion or convert to Christianity under threat of death.

The group said in a report Friday that bans against Muslims are happening outside areas under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers.

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China Artist Ai Weiwei Says Britain Restricted his Visa

Britain has denied Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei a six-month visa and restricted him to a three-week trip because he did not declare a "criminal conviction" in his application, he cited an embassy official as saying Thursday.

The decision prompted outrage online and condemnation from rights groups.

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Bangarra Dancers Celebrate Aboriginal Culture, with or Without Lights

Deborah Brown has danced at the Sydney Opera House and on other famous stages around the world, but performances on the dirt of remote Australian Aboriginal communities are her most nerve-wracking.

It is these stripped back Outback dances which can be the most beautiful, says Brown, a choreographer and dancer with the acclaimed Bangarra Dance Theater, which is inspired by Australia's ancient indigenous culture.

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