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At Least 15 Syrians Killed as U.N. Blasts 'Shocking' Crackdown

At least 15 people were killed in a Syrian crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, activists said Monday, as the U.N. condemned the "shocking" brutality of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Dozens of tanks for a second straight day circled towns and villages in the Homs area, north of Damascus.

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Cuban Ballet Brings 'Message of Peace' to U.S.

The National Ballet of Cuba plans to deliver a "message of peace" when it leaves Sunday for its first United States tour in eight years, its director, Alicia Alonso, said Friday.

"It will be wonderful to visit again... and bring to the United States our art, and a message of peace and love," the dance legend told reporters.

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Feininger Work Fetches 5.7 Million Euros in France

A painting by U.S. impressionist Lyonel Feininger sold for 5.7 million Euros ($8 million) in Paris Sunday -- more than double its estimated price and a nearly two-year French auction high.

A US collector paid 5,775,000 Euros for "Hafen von Swinemuende" ("Swinemuende Harbour"), the highest sum paid for a work at a French auction since 2009, the auctioneers said.

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Zimbabwe Man Crowned Mr. Ugly

A Zimbabwean man upstaged 15 others to win the Mr. Ugly title at a weekend pageant, a local newspaper reported Monday.

Thirty-year-old Austin Mbewe from the second city of Bulawayo won 1,200 South African rand ($174, 122 Euros) and a blanket at the contest held Saturday in the border town of Beitbridge, the Herald newspaper said.

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HSBC Eyes Islamic Services in Australia

Banking giant HSBC said Monday it was thinking of introducing Islamic financial services in Australia where the government is keen to use such offerings to grow as a regional finance hub.

"We are a major player in Islamic finance globally and that's an area that we are keeping an eye on," HSBC Bank Australia chief executive officer Paulo Maia told Dow Jones Newswires. "It could be the next one."

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Midwives on Motorbikes Spread Sex Sense in Cambodia

Sitting in the shade of a large tree and surrounded by a group of women, Cambodian midwife Ly Siyan holds up a colorful poster displaying a range of contraception options.

She patiently waits for the giggles to subside when she points to a condom, aware that the two dozen women in the village of Chanloung in northwest Siem Reap province have rarely experienced such an open discussion about sex.

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Netanyahu: 'Terror' Groups Emerging in Sinai Vacuum

The Egyptian government is having difficulty exerting full control over the Sinai Peninsula, allowing terror groups to flourish there, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Netanyahu, who was addressing the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, also said that changes in the region had seen the Hamas movement begin to shift its activities from its headquarters in Syria to Egypt.

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Philippines Struggles Under Mountain of Dead Fish

Several lakeside towns in the Philippines on Monday were struggling to cope with mountains of rotting fish that were killed by a sudden drop in water temperatures at the weekend.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said more than 750 tons of fish had died since Friday in Taal Lake near Manila, hitting several towns whose economies are heavily reliant on the fishing industry.

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Ex-husband of Schwarzenegger's Lover Plans to Sue

The ex-husband of Arnold Schwarzenegger's lover told a Colombian magazine Sunday that he plans to sue the former governor, alleging that the birth certificate of the couple's love child was falsified.

Rogelio Baena, a Colombian native, was married to Mildred Patricia Baena, who was a housekeeper to the Hollywood star-turned California governor and his celebrity wife Maria Shriver.

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Writer Urges Internet Junkies to 'Switch Off' and Think

Like tens of millions of others, U.S. technology writer Nicholas Carr found the lure of the worldwide web hard to resist -- until he noticed it was getting harder and harder to concentrate.

He set out his concerns in a celebrated essay headlined "Is Google making us stupid?"

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