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Taliban Claims to Have Kidnapped 50 Afghan Policemen

The Taliban claimed Sunday that it kidnapped 50 Afghan policemen in northeastern Afghanistan — part of the insurgents' murder and intimidation campaign against anyone affiliated with the U.S.-backed government.

Militants ambushed the policemen Saturday afternoon after being tipped off that they would be traveling in Kunar province, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement to reporters. The policemen from Nuristan province had just finished their training to join the Afghan National Police, he said.

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Syria Frees 260 Political Detainees

Syria has freed 260 political detainees, including Islamists and Kurds, who were being held at the country's infamous Saydnaya prison, rights groups reported Saturday.

"Syrian authorities have freed 260 detainees, mainly Islamists but also including 14 Kurds, in a move that comes as part of the promises authorities made recently to boost freedom in Syria," Abdul Karim Rihawi, president of the Syrian League for the Defense of Human Rights, told Agence France Presse.

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Oil Below $106 Amid Unrest, Strong Demand

Oil prices hovered below $106 a barrel Friday in Asia as political upheaval in the Middle East and signs of strong global demand keep crude near two-year highs.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was up 10 cents to $105.70 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 15 cents to settle at $105.60 on Thursday.

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'Day of Honey': Memoir of Comfort, Food in Mideast

By her own admission, Annia Ciezadlo is "always, always hungry."

A journalist who spent years covering the Middle East, she once scuttled along the floor to stir a pot of pasta as bullets whizzed by her window in Beirut. She braved the streets of Baghdad for a taste of masquf, roasted fish she describes as "a giant, edible fishy halo."

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80 Filipinas Rescued from Traffickers who were Planning to Send Some to Lebanon

Philippine police have rescued 80 Filipino women from a suspected human trafficking syndicate that was planning to send them to be maids in Malaysia and the Middle East, including Lebanon.

Police Superintendent Celso Bael said they stopped the women, who pretended to be tourists, from boarding a chartered flight from the southern city of Zamboanga to Malaysia on Thursday.

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Film Legend Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79

Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed film goddess whose sultry screen life was often upstaged by her stormy personal life, died Wednesday at age 79.

She died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks, publicist Sally Morrison said.

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Chris Brown Destroys Dressing Room

Chris Brown trashed his dressing room at "Good Morning America" and broke a window with a chair Tuesday after co-host Robin Roberts asked him about his attack on Rihanna, according to a person familiar with the show.

The person was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Security was called, but not police.

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Oil Hovers Above $102 as Traders Eye Libya Strife

Oil prices hovered above $102 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as traders mulled how long Libyan oil exports will remain shut down amid a third night of allied attacks on forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 14 cents to $102.19 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract, which expires Tuesday, rose $1.26 to settle at $102.33 on Monday.

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Canadian Singer Bryan Adams Gets Hollywood Star

Bryan Adams is now enshrined in concrete.

The Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist and producer got his Hollywood Walk of Fame star Monday in front of the Musicians Institute.

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Longtime Blues Piano Player Pinetop Perkins Dies

Muddy Waters was looking for a new piano player when chain-smoking journeyman Pinetop Perkins showed off his aggressive keyboarding during a jam session.

"He liked what he heard. The rest is history," said Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, who was a drummer in Waters' band back in 1969.

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