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Artist Pleads Guilty to Smashing Ai Weiwei Vase

A Dominican-born man pleaded guilty and apologized Wednesday for destroying a valuable vase that was part of a Miami exhibition by celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Maximo Caminero, 51, a local artist, must pay $10,000 in restitution and was given 18 months' probation as part of a plea bargain, prosecutors said.

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Long-Neglected Gaza Heritage Wilts in War

The Israeli missile tore through the vaulted ceiling and pulverized age-old sandstone. One direct hit destroyed the Omari mosque in Jabaliya and dealt another blow to Gaza's beleaguered heritage.

The site is believed to have housed a mosque since the seventh century and parts of the Omari were said to date back to the 14th century.

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Mummies in Egypt Began Long before Age of Pharoahs

The earliest evidence of mummification in Egypt suggests that the practice of wrapping bodies to preserve them after death began around 1,000 years earlier than thought, said a study Wednesday.

The study in the journal PLOS ONE is the first to describe resins and linens used as funeral wrappings dating back as far as 3350 to 4500 BC.

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Pope Seeks to Boost Asia Church with S.Korea Trip

Pope Francis will fly to South Korea on Wednesday, bringing a message of peace to the divided peninsula and reaching out to the growing millions of Christians on the Asian continent.

Although the numbers of Catholic faithful are rising in Asia as a proportion, they still make up just 3.2 percent of inhabitants on the world's most populous continent.

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Indian State Passes Bill to End Dress Code 'Dhoti' Ban

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu passed legislation Tuesday upholding the right of men to wear traditional wraparound garments known as "dhotis" in fancy clubs and end what lawmakers called "sartorial despotism".

A dhoti consists of a piece of white unstitched cloth tied around the waist and is highly popular among men in southern India.

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A Century of Hard Work on the Panama Canal

From painter Paul Gauguin's illness-ridden misadventure in the Central American rainforest to tugboat captain Eileen Vinueza's purple nail polish and sneakers, working on the Panama Canal has changed considerably in the past century.

Digging a massive trench across the Isthmus of Panama was grueling work for the men brought in from around the world to build the canal, whose 100th anniversary this Friday is a testament both to the engineering genius of the era and their backbreaking labor.

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Jewish Group Urges Name change for French Hamlet 'Death to Jews'

Prominent Jewish group the Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent a letter to France's interior minister to demand that a tiny hamlet south of Paris called "Death to Jews" be renamed.

The group's director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote to Bernard Cazeneuve saying he was "shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called 'Death to Jews'."

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Thousands Mark Moon Death Anniversary in S. Korea

More than 20,000 followers of the Unification Church gathered in South Korea on Tuesday for the second anniversary of the death of their "messiah" and church founder Sun Myung Moon.

The devotees packed an indoor stadium at the church's global headquarters in Gapyeong, east of the capital Seoul, and listened to Moon's 70-year-old widow Hak Ja Han deliver a eulogy on his life and legacy.

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Chinese Group Appeals to Japan's Emperor over Artefact

A Chinese organisation has appealed to Japan's Emperor Akihito to return a 1,300 year-old stele taken from China over a century ago, state media reported.

The Honglujing Stele was "looted by Japanese soldiers early last century from northeastern China", the official Xinhua news agency said, and now sits in "virtual seclusion" in Japan's Imperial Palace.

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Italians Go to School to Learn about Corruption

Is helping a pal win a contract just being friendly? What's wrong with taking the kids to the beach in the office car? And why not linger over lunch at the trattoria if things aren't too hectic at work? These are the kinds of questions that city bureaucrats pondered recently in Florence in what has been billed as Italy's first anti-corruption class for public officials.

Italy, the birthplace of the Mafia, is notorious for its problems with corruption — and these days it's awash with scandals that have tainted some of its most important public works projects. But the lessons in Florence took aim at more mundane problems: the little instances of everyday corruption that many Italians don't even recognize as being wrong.

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