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Iraqis Get Glimpse of Golden Era in New Exhibit

Iraqis wistful for a golden age in politics, often labelled divided and cynical now, have been able to harken back to such a time through an exhibition on their inaugural parliament 87 years ago.

During the exhibition at the modern Council of Representatives building in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, visitors strolled past historical documents, newspapers, books and photographs.

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Belgium, France Lay Claim to Fries

Fries, crunchy, salty, tasty fried sticks of potato are claimed by Belgium and France as the product of their national gastronomic genius but the true origins are shrouded in popular folklore.

"Fries, they are the orphan of street cooking, of low birth. That is why it's hard to establish where they really come from," says French historian Madeleine Ferriere.

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Pakistan Gallery Defies Dictators

It may not seem the most obvious setting, but a squat building overlooking a slum is home to one of Pakistan's leading galleries, which for 30 years has defied dictatorships and fundamentalists to champion cutting-edge art.

Rohtas Gallery was founded in 1981, at the height of military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq's martial law, as Pakistan was undergoing a program of Islamisation that imposed Draconian restrictions on culture and entertainment.

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Pope Turns to Twitter, New Allies to Battle for Faith Issues

Pope Benedict XVI has galvanized Catholics at the close of 2012 to go on the offensive over key faith issues, forging new alliances and fighting secularism in the West with a media campaign.

Damaging sex abuse scandals and growing opposition to the Church's attitude toward gay marriage and women priests have forced Benedict to rethink how to communicate with the modern world and stem the flood of deserting believers.

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Italy Priest Says Women Bring Domestic Violence on Themselves

A Catholic priest has sparked outrage in Italy by claiming that women bring domestic violence on themselves by dressing provocatively and neglecting housework, Italian media reported Thursday.

"How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?" Piero Corsi said in a Christmas message posted on the door of his church in the small town of San Terenzio in northwest Italy.

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Growing Support for Gay Marriage in Britain

Nearly two-thirds of British people support plans to introduce gay marriage, according to a poll published on Thursday which showed growing backing for the reform.

Some 62 percent of those questioned for the poll in the Guardian newspaper said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, against 31 percent who oppose the change and seven percent who were undecided.

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Czechs, Slovaks to Mark 20 Years Since Historic Split

Their homeland was split in two 20 years ago, but political and economic ties between Czechs and Slovaks remain tight and many insist they feel as if they still live in the same country.

"I still keep thinking about us as Czechoslovakia," said Marek Odrobina, a Slovak-born lawyer living in Prague since the "Velvet Divorce".

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Iran Grounds Domestic Flights During Call to Prayer

Iran has ordered domestic airlines to take off half an hour after pre-dawn Muslim prayers, the website of country's civil aviation organisation quoted its chief as saying on Wednesday.

"According to a directive we issued to the domestic airlines, from now on the airlines will be authorized to take off at least 30 minutes after the morning Azan (the pre-dawn call to prayer)," civil aviation chief Hamid Reza Pahlevani said.

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Israeli Dig Uncovers Ancient Judaean Temple

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a rare temple and religious figurines dating back to the Judaean period nearly 3,000 years ago, Israel's Antiquities Authority said on Wednesday.

The discoveries were made at Tel Motza, outside Jerusalem, during archaeological work taking place ahead of new highway construction in the area.

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Iran Denies Russian Women Paid to Cover up in Nuclear Plant

Iran on Wednesday denied statements by a lawmaker that is it paying Russian women working as technicians at its sole nuclear power plant to adhere to the Islamic dress code, the Fars news agency reported.

"Based on the reports we got from our local office and the governor's office in Bushehr, hijab payment for Russian women is absolutely not true," Hassan Ghashghavi, deputy foreign minister in charge of consular affairs, was quoted as saying.

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