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Bangladesh Ex-minister Surrenders after Hajj Criticism

An influential ex-minister surrendered to Bangladesh police Tuesday after Islamists staged protests nationwide calling for his arrest and prosecution over remarks criticizing the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage.

Abdul Latif Siddique's surrender came a day after Islamists gave an ultimatum to detain him after he returned home Sunday following a long stay in India and the United States where he called the Muslim ritual Hajj a "waste" of manpower.

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France Awards Highest Honor to Modest WWII Spy Heroine

A World War II heroine who parachuted behind German lines on "perilous" spy missions, but was so modest she only told her children about it 15 years ago, was Tuesday presented with France's highest honor.

British-born Pippa Doyle, now 93 and living in New Zealand, was awarded the Chevalier de l'ordre national de la Legion d'Honneur, or Knight of the national Order of the Legion of Honour. 

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South Koreans Arrested over Stolen Buddha in Japan

Four South Korean men have been arrested in southern Japan on suspicion of stealing an ancient Buddha statue, police said Tuesday.

The suspects were found Monday evening in possession of a copper Buddha statue that went missing from the Bairinji temple in Tsushima city in Nagasaki prefecture, said Keiichi Matsushita, deputy chief of the South Tsushima division of the Nagasaki police. The statue, measuring about 10 centimeters (4 inches), was found in a paper bag carried by the suspects.

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'Casablanca' Piano Sold for $3.4 Million at U.S. Auction

The painted upright piano that adorned Rick's Cafe in the classic movie "Casablanca" fetched $3.4 million at auction Monday after a frenzied sale in New York.

The orange piano -- on which Sam (Dooley Wilson) famously plays "As Time Goes By" at the request of his one-time love Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) -- was among 200 items from Hollywood's golden age that went under the hammer at Bonham's in New York. 

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Turkey Governor under Fire over Museum Plan for Synagogue

A Turkish regional governor was accused Monday of inciting hatred towards the country's Jewish community after suggesting a synagogue be turned into a museum as a reprisal for Israel's policies over the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Dursun Ali Sahin, governor of the northwestern province of Edirne, sparked an outcry when he said Friday that the ancient Buyuk Sinagog (the Great Synagogue) built in 1907 under Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid should only be used as a museum.

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New World Record for Corto Maltese Comic Book Art

A watercolour of the graphic novel hero Corto Maltese has sold at auction for a record 391,800 euros ($485,500), just months after a Tintin strip set a new world high for a comic of 2.65 million euros.

The artwork for a 1979 French edition of Corto Maltese in Africa -- "Corto Maltese – Les Ethiopiques" -- went for more than twice the original estimate, the French auction house Artcurial said Sunday.

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Pope Canonizes 2 Indians, 4 Italians

Pope Francis canonized six new saints Sunday, including a priest and a nun from the Indian state of Kerala, in a packed ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

The pope said the new saints, four Italians from far-flung provinces and two Indians from the Syro-Malabar Church, one of 22 Eastern rite churches that operates in full communion with Rome, provided examples of service to "the smallest and the poorest."

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Swiss Museum Accepts Nazi-Era Art Hoard Bequest

A Swiss museum said Monday it would accept a German recluse's bequest of a spectacular trove of more than 1,000 artworks hoarded during the Nazi era.

The decision, announced at a press conference in Berlin, covers priceless paintings and sketches by Picasso, Monet, Chagall and other masters that were discovered by chance in 2012 in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt.

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S.Korea Women Forecast to Outnumber Men Next Year

South Korea will undergo a major demographic change next year when, for the first time, women will outnumber men -- the result of a rapidly ageing population.

According to the state data agency Statistics Korea, the number of women in 2015 will reach 25.31 million compared to 25.3 million men.

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Lebanese Form Giant 'U' for Unity on Independence Day

Nearly 2,000 people gathered in Beirut Saturday to form a giant letter "U" -- standing for unity -- as the country struggles to contain the fallout from neighbor Syria's civil war.

Organised by the Beirut Celebration non-governmental organisation, the event marked Lebanon's 71st Independence Day anniversary.

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