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Russian Maestro to Hold Concert in Palmyra's Theater

Russian maestro Valery Gergiev on Thursday will conduct his orchestra in the ancient theater of Syria's ravaged Palmyra, only weeks after it was recaptured from the Islamic State's grip.

The concert will bring music to the ancient site that IS notoriously used to hold public executions after it overran Palmyra last year.

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America's Transgender Bathroom Battle Heats up

A heated national debate over access to bathrooms by transgenders is sweeping the United States, with schools and businesses grappling with the issue that has become a hot topic in the presidential campaign.

The so-called "bathroom battle" erupted after North Carolina in March became the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the sex on their birth certificate, rather than the gender by which they identify.

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Marines Review Iconic Iwo Jima Photo Identities

An iconic image from World War II, depicting Marines raising the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima in Japan, is undergoing new scrutiny after it emerged one of the troops in the picture may have been misidentified.

In a statement late Tuesday, the U.S. Marine Corps said it was reviewing information provided by the Smithsonian Channel related to the photograph, taken in February 1945 during the bloody battle for the Japanese island.

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Original Tintin 'King Ottokar's Scepter' Art Sells for $1.2 mn

The original artwork for the last two pages of the Tintin comic book "King Ottokar's Scepter" sold for a total of 1.046 million euros ($1.2 million) at auction Saturday in Paris.

"This is only the second time a Tintin plate has exceeded a million euros," Eric Leroy, comic book expert at French auction house Artcurial, told AFP.

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Colombia Legalizes Same-sex Marriage

Colombia became the fourth South American country to allow same-sex marriage when the constitutional court definitively legalized it on Thursday.

The Catholic country follows Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in formally recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

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U.S. Embassy Donates Books to Zouk Mikael Youth and Cultural Center

The U.S. Embassy donated American books to the Zouk Mikael and Cultural Center, a press release said on Thursday.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard H. Jones presented 250 books and educational resources to the Zouk Mikael Youth and Cultural Center, it said.

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From Bullet Holes to Lenin's Head: Berlin Lays Bare its History

Some were buried, others riddled with bullet holes, yet others dumped in old depots as the glorious periods they were crafted to commemorate came to an end.

But Berlin authorities have now rescued 100 statues and monuments from neglect and disrepair, assembling them in an exhibition to tell the city's chequered history that spanned royal rule, Nazism and the Cold War.

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Dutch Mark Chilly King's Day with Music, Free Markets

The Dutch marked their king's birthday Wednesday with an official celebration in the northeastern city of Zwolle and festivals and unofficial garage sales around the nation.

Numbers of revelers were expected to be lower than in previous years because of wintery temperatures and showers forecast to sweep over the country of 17 million.

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Romania: Culture Minister Resigns over Opera Dispute

Romania's culture minister has tendered his resignation amid a bitter dispute at the country's main opera house involving internationally renowned ballerina Alina Cojocaru.

Vlad Alexandrescu announced that he would be stepping down in a posting on his Facebook page Wednesday, after he failed to solve a conflict at the Bucharest National Opera that has seen three shows canceled so far.

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U.S. Targets 11 Countries for Lax Copyright Protection

China, Russia and India are among 11 countries targeted by the Obama administration for leaving American producers of music, movies and other copyrighted material open to rampant piracy.

The U.S. is placing the 11 countries on a "priority watch list" that subjects them to extra scrutiny and could lead to sanctions if the U.S. brings cases to the World Trade Organization.

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