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Medieval Crown Jewels on Display at Prague Castle

The Czech crown jewels went on show at Prague castle Friday, in a rare public display for the 700-year-old items that are pulled out only on special occasions.

The medieval works of art consist of a gold crown decorated with 96 precious stones including rubies and sapphires, along with a scepter, royal orb and other precious objects.

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Belfast Peace Walls Coming Down Within a Decade

Belfast's peace walls, dividing flashpoint Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, are to come down within 10 years, ministers pledged Thursday, in a major step for cross-community relations.

The peace lines were intended to be temporary and protect people from violence during the 30 years of sectarian bloodshed which largely ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

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Getty Museum in LA Lands Rembrandt, Canaletto Works

The Getty Museum of Los Angeles announced Thursday it has acquired a self-portrait by Rembrandt and a painting by the Venetian artist Canaletto.

"Rembrandt Laughing," a small oil on copper work probably done around 1628, came onto the art market in 2007 after spending centuries as part of private collections.

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Vatican: Mexico's Folk Death Saint is Blasphemous

The Vatican's culture minister says Mexico's folk Death Saint is a blasphemous symbol that shouldn't be part of any religion.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi says worshiping such an icon is a degeneration of religion.

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China Investigates Director Alleged to Have 7 Kids

Authorities are investigating whether one of China's top film directors fathered seven children in violation of the country's strict family planning laws, state media and a local official said Thursday.

Reports circulated online this week that Zhang Yimou, director of "The Flowers of War" starring Christian Bale and also known as the architect of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, has seven children from his two marriages and from relationships with two other women.

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Havana Bay Slowly Reclaims Historic Splendor

Pelicans and their prey are back in Havana Bay in a sign that efforts to clean up the historic and once splendid port of the Cuban capital are paying off.

"They disappeared long ago but because of the cleanup the fish have returned -- and therefore so have the pelicans," said fisherman Eduardo Lozano who spends every day out on the sheltered expanse of water.

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Impressionist 'Chef' Cooks up Record Art Sale

An Impressionist oil painting depicting a chef in his white uniform fetched a tasty $18 million on Wednesday, the most ever paid at auction for a work by the artist Chaim Soutine.

Soutine's "Le Petit Patissier" (The Little Pastry Chef), was the highlight of the Christie's auction in New York. It was estimated before the sale to be worth $16-22 million.

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Madonna's French Painting Sells in NYC for $7.2M

A French painting owned by Madonna has sold at a New York City auction for more than $7 million.

Sotheby's auction house hasn't said who bought Fernand Leger's "Three Women at the Red Table" for $7.2 million on Tuesday. The abstract work had a pre-sale estimate of $5 million to $7 million.

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Orania, South Africa's Whites-Only Town

Welcome to Orania, South Africa: a whites-only enclave established in 1991 during the dying years of apartheid.

The town in the sparsely populated Karoo region is inhabited only by Afrikaners.

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Cezanne Painting Goes for $41.6 mln in U.S. Auction

Paul Cezanne's "Les Pommes" sold for $41.6 million at an auction of Impressionist and Modern art held by Sotheby's in New York, while a painting owned by pop star Madonna went for $7.16 million.

"Les Pommes," a landmark still life of apples on a table from 1889-90, went for the highest price at the Tuesday night auction, followed by Amedeo Modigliani's famed portrait "L'Amazone," which went for $25.9 million.

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