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Romania: Museum Checks if Paintings Burned

A Romanian museum is analyzing ashes found in a stove to see if they are the remains of seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others that were stolen last year from the Netherlands, an official said Tuesday.

Prosecutor spokeswoman Gabriela Chiru told The Associated Press that Romania's National History Museum is examining the ashes found in the stove of Olga Dogaru. She is the mother of Radu Dogaru, one of three Romanian suspects charged with stealing the paintings from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery in a brazen daytime heist.

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Libya to Turn Gadhafi Compound into Amusement Park

Slain Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's sprawling residence in Tripoli, Bab al-Aziziya, will be turned into an amusement park under plans announced on Tuesday by the tourism minister.

"The work to clear away the rubble from the ruins of Bab al-Aziziya, which was a black spot in Tripoli and a source of concern for residents, has begun," the minister Ikram Basha Imam said.

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Romanian Mum 'Destroyed' Stolen Picasso, Monet Masterpieces

The mother of a Romanian art heist suspect has admitted to torching seven stolen masterpieces, including works by Picasso and Monet, the Mediafax news agency reported Tuesday.

The mother of suspect Radu Doragu said she incinerated the artworks, valued at over 100 million euros ($130 million), in her stove in a bid to "destroy any evidence".

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Reports: China Shuts Museum with 'Fake' Exhibits

Chinese authorities have closed a museum which contained scores of fake exhibits, including a vase decorated with cartoon characters billed as a Qing dynasty artefact, state-run media reported Tuesday.

The facility, built in northern China's Hebei province at a cost of 540 million yuan ($88 million), has "no qualification to be a museum as its collections are fake", a local official told the Global Times newspaper.

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French Stamp Inspired by Topless Feminist Causes Stir

A new stamp emblazoned with the face of Marianne, France's revolutionary symbol, has caused a stir after its creator said it was inspired by a Ukrainian feminist known for topless protests.

The stamp, unveiled by President Francois Hollande on Sunday's national day, shows the face of a youthful, dewy-eyed Marianne from the shoulders up, her long hair flowing down and her hand raised.

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British Library to Reunite Magna Carta Copies

The Magna Carta will be on the move in 2015.

The British Library plans to celebrate the 800th birthday of the document that laid the foundations of Britain's common law and civil liberties by uniting all four surviving original copies under one roof for the first time.

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World Youth Day: A Tradition Inspired by John Paul II

The World Youth Day (WYD) events Pope Francis will attend in Brazil later this month are a tradition started by the John Paul II during his charismatic papacy.

"You are the future of the world and the hope for the Church," his Polish predecessor, who is soon to be declared a saint, told young Catholics at the dawn of his papacy in 1978.

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Prague Railway Station to Become Shoah Memorial

A Prague railway station that saw tens of thousands of Czech Jews leave for ghettos and Nazi death camps between 1941 and 1945 is to become a memorial for those who died.

Czech Jews and Holocaust survivors have for years been calling for a memorial for the Prague-Bubny station, which last year welcomed a theatre troupe that roamed the Czech Republic and Poland on board a train to perform a play about the Holocaust.

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China Island Centenarians Claim Secret of Long Life

The elderly residents of one Chinese county have endured invasion, civil war and famine, and many live in unheated concrete shacks on only a few dollars a day. But they are apparently among the longest-living people on earth.

Chengmai, a string of villages dotted with orange plantations in the tropical island province of Hainan, claims more than 200 residents aged over 100 out of a population of 560,000 -- one of the highest ratios in the world.

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Tens of Thousands Queue in Russia to See Religious Relic

Around 65,000 people have queued for hours in Saint Petersburg to see a religious relic brought from Greece, officials said Saturday, in the latest sign of the Russian Orthodox Church's influence in post-Soviet Russia.

The cross of Saint Andrew -- said to be a relic of the X-shaped cross on which Andrew the Apostle was crucified -- was placed in Saint Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral on Thursday after arriving from its historic home in Patras in Greece.

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