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U.S. Rabbi Gets Six Years in Jail for Secretly Filming Women

A Washington rabbi who admitted to setting up cameras to spy on women as they prepared for Jewish ritual baths was sentenced Friday to more than six years in prison, the Justice Department said. 

Bernard "Barry" Freundel, 63, was sentenced on 52 counts of voyeurism after pleading guilty in February to videotaping the women from 2009 to 2014.  

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Palestinians' First Saints Leave Mark on Holy Land

In the corner of a pristine Jerusalem church, the tomb of Marie Alphonsine Ghattas looks out over just a small part of her legacy, days ahead of her canonization in Rome.

A box under an altar holds her earthly remains, and Catholic worshippers have already scribbled prayers in Arabic to "Saint Marie Alphonsine", in a notebook placed next to her tomb in the chapel.

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Mondrian Painting Sells for Record $50.6 mn in New York

A painting by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian sold Thursday for $50.56 million at a Christie's auction in New York, the most ever paid for his work.

"Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black," a geometric oil painting made in 1929, sold at an impressionist and modern art auction for more than twice its maximum estimated value, which Christie's said was between $15 million and $25 million.

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Beatles Guitar Headlines NY Music Auction

A guitar played by George Harrison in the Beatles' early days, previously on display in a British museum, goes on auction in New York Friday, valued at $400,000 to $600,000.

The electric guitar is the two-day auction's star item, amid hundreds of possessions once owned by rock 'n' roll's biggest stars, which auctioneers hope will rake in millions.

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Foreigners Flock to Ancient Thai Tattoo Masters

In a cramped Bangkok room filled with statues of deities and plumes of incense smoke, a master is at work.

With expert precision Ajarn Neng repeatedly plunges a razor sharp needle dipped in black ink into the back of a disciple, each stab producing a perfectly placed pixel that forms a traditional Thai tattoo.

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China Church Criticises Proposed Rules on Crosses

A state-approved Chinese church has issued a rare public criticism of proposed local government regulations on religious buildings, including limits on cross sizes, after a wave of church demolitions and symbol removals in the area.

Zhejiang province, one of China's wealthiest and a center of Christianity in the country, has released draft rules requiring crosses for Catholic and Protestant churches to be attached to the front of the building, rather than on the roof, state media have reported.

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Arab Countries to Boost Efforts to Preserve Historic Sites

Ten Arab countries said on Thursday they would coordinate to counter artifact smuggling and preserve the region's heritage sites, as jihadists in Syria advanced to the gates of ancient Palmyra.

Representatives of the countries concluded a two-day meeting in Cairo with a condemnation of the Islamic State group's destruction of historic sites in Iraq.

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French Play Pulled from Croatia Festival over 'Security Risk'

A play by best-selling French author Michel Houellebecq -- whose book imagining France under Islamic rule stirred controversy -- has been pulled from a Croatian arts festival due to security fears, organizers said on Thursday.

Houellebecq's drama "Elementary Particles" ("Les Particules elementaires") was to have been staged at this year's Dubrovnik Summer Festival.

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IS at Gates of Syria's Palmyra Raising Fears for Ancient City

Islamic State group fighters advanced to the gates of ancient Palmyra Thursday, raising fears the Syrian world heritage site could face destruction of the kind the jihadists have already wreaked in Iraq.

As it overran nearby villages, IS executed 26 civilians -- 10 of whom were beheaded -- for "collaborating with the regime," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. 

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Lucian Freud Painting Sells for $56.2 Million at Auction

In the past three days, Christie's in New York City has sold over $1 billion worth of art, a frenzied spectacle that showcases the world's rising class of uber-wealthy and its appetite for trophy art.

Wednesday's bidding was spirited at Christie's contemporary art auction highlighted by iconic works by Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and others.

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