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Gay Couple Sue for Recognition in S. Korea

Buoyed by a landmark US Supreme Court ruling, a prominent South Korean gay rights campaigner and movie director is suing officials for refusing to recognise his 2013 same-sex marriage.

Kim Jho Gwang-Soo -- a rare openly gay celebrity in conservative South Korea -- and his partner Kim Seung-Hwan took their fight for legitimacy to a district court in western Seoul on Monday.

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Locals Turn Forgotten Liverpool Streets into Art Prize Favourite

In Liverpool's Granby neighborhood, proud residents and a group of architects have brought back to life the area's four remaining Victorian streets, earning them a nomination for Britain's prestigious Turner Prize for contemporary art.

Once the vibrant heart of the city's black community, "after the (1981) riots, the area was closed down," explained Erika Rushton, Chair of Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust (CLT).

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Nobel Tributes at Dalai Lama 80th Birthday Bash in U.S.

Fellow Nobel Peace laureates joined thousands of followers of the Dalai Lama Sunday to celebrate the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday, kicking off a three-day honorary bash in California.

A string of minor celebrities also paid tribute to the crimson-robed 14th Dalai Lama ahead of his birthday Monday, although protesters also gathered outside the event south of Los Angeles.

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Thai Folk Music Changes Tune as Coup Suffocates Dissent

Flashing a toothless smile, 96-year-old Gaew breaks into the jaunty, staccato verses of "Mo Lam", a style of folk music that reaches deep into the heritage of northeastern Thailand.

For generations, the humour-laden lyrics have covered tales of unrequited love, rural hardship and changing political winds, with the travelling Mo Lam -- the name also refers to the music's expert singers -- commissioned to spread campaign messages across the remote villages of the Isaan region.

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Japan Hails New UNESCO Listing despite Korean Qualms

Japan on Monday celebrated the inscription of Meiji-era industrial sites on UNESCO's World Heritage list, despite initial opposition from Seoul over the use of forced Korean laborers in the early 20th century.

UNESCO's World Heritage committee on Sunday added 23 sites considered representative of Japan's industrial revolution around the reign of Emperor Meiji (1868-1912) to its vaunted list.

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Israel Rows Back Judaism Conversion Reform

Israeli ministers on Sunday struck down a bill that would have canceled the monopoly the ultra-Orthodox chief rabbinate holds over conversions in Israel.

A proposal approved by the cabinet in November but never passed by parliament stipulated that the chief rabbi of each Israeli city would be able to convene and chair a court on conversions to the Jewish faith, in addition to the four current state-recognized Orthodox bodies.

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Replica French Ship Hermione Salutes America's Liberty Statue

A replica of the Hermione, the 18th century ship that brought French General Lafayette to America, sailed the waters off New York on Saturday, leading a flotilla marking the Independence Day holiday.

The faithful reproduction of the majestic French frigate glided past New York's famed Verrazano bridge, where it was joined by scores of other boats and ships.

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UNESCO Lists Champagne's Vineyards and Wine Cellars

The historic vineyards, wine cellars and champagne houses where the world's most famous sparking wines are produced were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO on Saturday.

In a double victory for French wine, the vineyards of Burgundy were crowned with the same prestigious distinction by the U.N. cultural body in the German city of Bonn.

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In Ecuador, Indigenous Christians not Sold on Pope Visit

Thirty years ago, Gustavo Negrete took his wooden cross and joined other indigenous Ecuadorans to greet Pope John Paul II. But he has no interest in seeing Pope Francis on Sunday.

Like a growing number of indigenous people in Latin America, Negrete has turned his back on the Roman Catholic faith that was violently forced upon their ancestors by Spanish conquistadors.

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Iceland Decriminalizes Blasphemy after Charlie Hebdo Attack

Iceland's parliament on Friday voted widely in favor of decriminalizing blasphemy, in the name of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

The bill was adopted after 43 of 63 members of parliament voted in favor. One lawmaker voted against, 16 were absent and three abstained.

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