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Artists Seek Release of Egyptian Writer Jailed over Sex Scene

More than 120 writers, journalists and artists around the world have urged Egypt's president to free a novelist jailed for two years over a sexually explicit scene in a book.

The signatories, who are also demanding that novelist Ahmed Naji be acquitted, include the writers Robert Caro and Philip Roth, film director Woody Allen and composer Stephen Sondheim, said Pen America, an organization that defends freedom of expression.

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NY's Met Opens Exhibit of Turner Whaling Paintings

Four paintings by JMW Turner depicting 18th and 19th century commercial whaling and their possible link to "Moby Dick" are the focus of an exhibit opening Tuesday at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Turner's Whaling Pictures" features works done in the 1840s as the Briton Turner was near the end of his career and life.

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Egypt Detains Satirist over Video Mocking Government

Egyptian prosecutors have detained a member of a group of satirists that posted a video mocking the government, a prosecution official and his lawyer said Sunday, amid a wide-ranging crackdown on dissidents.

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Iran Filmmaker Sentenced to 233 Lashes Says He's No Activist

An Iranian director sentenced to 223 lashes for making a film that has never been officially shown in his homeland said Friday he just wanted to be left alone to work rather than "be turned into a hero."

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Russian Maestro to Hold Concert in Palmyra's Theater

Russian maestro Valery Gergiev on Thursday will conduct his orchestra in the ancient theater of Syria's ravaged Palmyra, only weeks after it was recaptured from the Islamic State's grip.

The concert will bring music to the ancient site that IS notoriously used to hold public executions after it overran Palmyra last year.

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America's Transgender Bathroom Battle Heats up

A heated national debate over access to bathrooms by transgenders is sweeping the United States, with schools and businesses grappling with the issue that has become a hot topic in the presidential campaign.

The so-called "bathroom battle" erupted after North Carolina in March became the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the sex on their birth certificate, rather than the gender by which they identify.

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Marines Review Iconic Iwo Jima Photo Identities

An iconic image from World War II, depicting Marines raising the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima in Japan, is undergoing new scrutiny after it emerged one of the troops in the picture may have been misidentified.

In a statement late Tuesday, the U.S. Marine Corps said it was reviewing information provided by the Smithsonian Channel related to the photograph, taken in February 1945 during the bloody battle for the Japanese island.

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Original Tintin 'King Ottokar's Scepter' Art Sells for $1.2 mn

The original artwork for the last two pages of the Tintin comic book "King Ottokar's Scepter" sold for a total of 1.046 million euros ($1.2 million) at auction Saturday in Paris.

"This is only the second time a Tintin plate has exceeded a million euros," Eric Leroy, comic book expert at French auction house Artcurial, told AFP.

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Colombia Legalizes Same-sex Marriage

Colombia became the fourth South American country to allow same-sex marriage when the constitutional court definitively legalized it on Thursday.

The Catholic country follows Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in formally recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

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U.S. Embassy Donates Books to Zouk Mikael Youth and Cultural Center

The U.S. Embassy donated American books to the Zouk Mikael and Cultural Center, a press release said on Thursday.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard H. Jones presented 250 books and educational resources to the Zouk Mikael Youth and Cultural Center, it said.

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