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Cosmopolitan New Afghan First Lady Backs French Veil Ban

Afghanistan's cosmopolitan new first lady has backed France's controversial ban on the niqab, comparing the full veil to "blinders" as she prepares to campaign for more respect for women in her conservative adopted homeland.

Rula Ghani shocked Afghan observers earlier this year when she appeared with her husband during the country's presidential campaign, a rare example of a political wife sharing the spotlight.

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60 Years on, Independence War Defines Modern Algeria

Sixty years on, the war of independence from France remains a defining moment for Algeria and its elite, like 79-year-old Zohra Drif, a senator who once set off a bomb that left three people dead.

On the night of November 1, 1954, known as "Toussaint Rouge" (Red All Saints Day) because it coincided with the Catholic festival, some 30 explosions rocked government targets in the colony which had been under French occupation for 132 years, leaving seven people dead.

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Media: Fewer Chinese Couples Want Second Child than Expected

Far fewer Chinese couples applied to have a second child than expected after a relaxation of the country's "one child" policy, state-run media reported Thursday, highlighting the ageing nation's demographic challenges.

The world's most populous country has restricted most families to a single child since the late 1970s, but the Communist party said in November that couples would be allowed to have two offspring so long as one of the parents is an only child, rather than both.

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Pharaonic Temple Found under Egypt House

A group of men discovered a 3,400-year-old pharaonic temple from the reign of warrior king Thutmosis III under their house in a city south of Cairo, Egyptian officials said Wednesday.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said the seven men made the find during an illegal excavation in Al-Badrashin, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital.

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Funeral Museum Rises again in Death-Fixated Vienna

Just in time for Halloween on Friday and a weekend devoted to the dead, Vienna's unashamedly morbid Funeral Museum is now closer to the action: the Austrian capital's huge Central Cemetery.

In a city with a singular attitude to kicking the bucket -- "Death himself must be a Viennese," one local song says -- the "Bestattungsmuseum" was the world's first of its kind when it first opened in 1967.

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Sistine Chapel Dazzles after Technological Makeover

High above the altar in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, the halo around Jesus Christ's head in Michelangelo's famous frescoes shines with a brighter glow, thanks to a revolutionary new lighting system.

Angels, Sybils and prophets in blues, pinks and golds, once lost in the gloom, are brought into sharp relief by 7,000 LED lamps designed specifically for the prized chapel, where red-hatted cardinals have elected new popes since the 15th century.

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Schools in China's Xinjiang to Discourage Religion at Home

Schools in China's mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, where a series of attacks has left hundreds dead in recent months, said they would actively discourage religious practice at home, state-run media reported Wednesday.

Principals at more than 2,000 kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools in Kashgar, near China's border with Pakistan, signed a pledge to "defend schools against the infiltration of religion", according to a report by the Global Times, which is close to the Communist Party.

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Château Kefraya Launches New Look “Les Bretèches’’

Château Kefraya has teamed up with Lebanese artist Mazen Kerbaj, to create a limited edition label to celebrate the launch of the 2012 Les Bretèches, one of Lebanon’s much-loved red wines this year at Vinifest, a press release said on Wednesday.

“This year, we felt like celebrating a mythical wine with Mazen Kerbaj, an authentic, innovating and modern Lebanese artist” said Château Kefraya’s founder and chairman, Michel de Bustros.

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Report: Gender Equality at Work More than 80 Years Off

If you're waiting for gender equality in the workplace, be prepared to wait a long time.

While women are rapidly closing the gender gap with men in areas like health and education, inequality at work is not expected to be erased until 2095, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Tuesday.

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Palestinian Artist Captures Gaza Pain in Clay

Among the mountains of rubble littering Gaza after a deadly summer war, clay outlines emerge of men, women and children with a story to tell about fear, flight and destruction. 

Though his sculptures, which are made of fibreglass and covered with clay, Iyyad Sabbah relates the pain of those who lived through this latest conflict with Israel during which nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians.

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