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In Ecuador, Indigenous Christians not Sold on Pope Visit

Thirty years ago, Gustavo Negrete took his wooden cross and joined other indigenous Ecuadorans to greet Pope John Paul II. But he has no interest in seeing Pope Francis on Sunday.

Like a growing number of indigenous people in Latin America, Negrete has turned his back on the Roman Catholic faith that was violently forced upon their ancestors by Spanish conquistadors.

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Iceland Decriminalizes Blasphemy after Charlie Hebdo Attack

Iceland's parliament on Friday voted widely in favor of decriminalizing blasphemy, in the name of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

The bill was adopted after 43 of 63 members of parliament voted in favor. One lawmaker voted against, 16 were absent and three abstained.

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Report: Russian Gay Couple Gets Asylum in Finland

A Russian gay couple has been granted asylum in Finland because of the discrimination they faced at home over their sexual orientation, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on Friday.

Vladimir Naumov and Vasily Kolesnikov applied for asylum in the Nordic country in September 2014 and the two men were informed earlier this week that it had been granted, the paper said.

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Rarely Seen Color Photos by Robert Capa in Budapest Exhibit

Rarely seen color photographs by Robert Capa, the legendary Hungarian photographer best known for his battlefield pictures from the Spanish Civil War and D-Day, are being shown for the first time in Europe at the Budapest institution which bears his name.

Capa, born Endre Friedmann in Budapest in 1913, began experimenting with color photography in 1938 and it soon became an integral, though seldom published, part of his work. Afterward, he always carried two cameras, one loaded with color film, the other with black and white.

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Iraqi Musicians Play Ancient Oud to Soften Din of War

In a Baghdad workshop plastered with black-and-white photos from a more peaceful time, Mahmoud Abdulnabi hand-carves a wooden oud, a string instrument with ancient roots that has fallen silent in much of the war-torn country.

"The oud is different than other musical instruments," said Abdulnabi, who has crafted ouds played by some of Iraq's best known musicians, many of whom look down from headshots on the walls. "If you feel joyful, it can play your joy. If the circumstances are sad it can play your sorrow and... help to empty whatever is in your chest."

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New York Man Works to Open African Art Museum

Open the door of a seemingly normal New York apartment and the unwary visitor is transported to another world. Tribal drums jostle for space with forbidding statues and flamboyant masks.

Eric Edwards, a retired phone company executive born and bred in Brooklyn, has spent 44 years amassing an astonishing African art collection.

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IS Destroys Statue outside Syria's Palmyra Museum

Islamic State group jihadists have destroyed a famous statue of a lion outside the museum in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the country's antiquities director said Thursday.

Maamoun Abdelkarim said the statue, known as the Lion of Al-Lat, was an irreplaceable piece and was apparently destroyed last week.

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UNESCO Lists Yemen World Heritage Sites as Endangered

The U.N. cultural agency on Thursday placed two ancient cities in conflict-torn Yemen, Sana'a and Shibam, on its list of endangered World Heritage sites.

UNESCO said Sana'a, known for its many Islamic sites and multi-story rammed earth houses, "sustained serious damage due to armed conflict" between Iran-backed rebels and the beleaguered Saudi-supported government.

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Italy Minister on Hunger Strike for Gay Civil Unions

A junior minister in the Italian government has gone on hunger strike in a protest aimed at speeding up moves to introduce civil unions for gay couples.

Ivan Scalfarotto, 49, said in his blog he was aiming to force discussion of the issue into the mainstream and rally the support of "all those people of good faith who have been thinking up until now that it was enough just to wait."

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Newly Seen Bacon Paintings Fetch £30m in London

Two self-portraits by Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon, never seen before in public, sold for £30 million at a London sale on Wednesday, months after being rediscovered in a private collection.

One of the portraits, painted in 1975, fetched £15.3 million ($24 million) while the other work, from 1980, went for £14.7 million when it went under the hammer at Sotheby's.

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