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Sudanese Forget their Woes in Sufi Celebration

With flags flying, drums beating and incense burning, thousands of Sudanese faithful converged in Khartoum's Mulid square for the culmination of an Islamic festival that allowed them to leave their daily cares behind.

"Today is a very special day. The people, when they come here, they put all their problems behind them and remember the good things in life," said Ibrahim Ismaili, 40.

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India, China and Japan Sweep Book Prize Shortlist

Authors from India, China and Japan swept the shortlist for Asia's top literary prize on Tuesday, with a debut novelist and Nobel Prize winner among those vying for the $30,000 award.

Manu Joseph grabbed one of five shortlisted spots for The Man Asian Literary Prize with his debut "Serious Men", while Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, was also among the finalists for "The Changeling".

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Luxor a Tourist Ghost Town Amid Uprising

Wandering unhurried in the Egyptian temple of Luxor and photographing the towering colonnades of Karnak without being jostled may be a dream come true for tourists.

But it is a nightmare for traders losing their precious livelihood.

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Historic Gauguin Painting Fails to Sell at London Auction

A historic painting by French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin failed to sell at a London auction Wednesday despite being displayed for the first time in 15 years.

"Nature morte a 'L'Esperance'" was expected to sell for around 10 million pounds (16.1 million dollars, 11.7 million Euros) when it appeared at Christie's auction house, but failed to meet its reserve price.

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Painting of Picasso's Muse Sold at British Auction

A celebrated masterpiece by Pablo Picasso sold Tuesday at Sotheby's auction house in London for 25.2 million pounds, more than double its pre-auction valuation.

"La Lecture" is a work from the Spanish painter's "annus mirabilis," 1932, and depicts the artist's famous muse, Marie-Therese Walter. The painting was sold for the equivalent of 40.7 million dollars or 29.7 million Euros.

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Palestinians Want Bethlehem on UN Heritage List

The Palestinians on Monday made a formal bid to have Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

"We are very proud to announce that we have submitted the nomination file of Bethlehem: birthplace of Jesus -- Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route ... to the World Heritage Center," tourism minister Khulud Daibes told reporters.

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Ancient Temple at Center of Thai-Cambodian Dispute

Built atop a cliff in the 11th century to honor the Hindu god Shiva, the Preah Vihear temple is the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

Constructed under Cambodian King Suryavarman I during the 600-year-long Khmer empire, the temple ruins have largely withstood decades of war, but are again at the center of a deadly border dispute with neighboring Thailand.

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Mumbai's washermen fear rise of the machines

At Mumbai's open-air Dhobi Ghat, Prem Shankar Kanojia picks up items from a pile of laundry stacked at the side of a concrete washing tank and submerges them in water murky with soap suds and grime.

Once the shirts and sheets have been soaked thoroughly, he raises each piece high above his head and smashes it down repeatedly on a large flat stone made smooth by years of pounding.

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Museum Mulls Mummified Maori Heads Next Moves

For decades, New Zealand has campaigned for museums to repatriate the mummified and heavily-tattooed heads of Maori warriors held in collections worldwide -- now it must decide what to do with the gruesome but culturally valuable relics.

New Zealand's national museum Te Papa has more than 100 of the heads, known as toi moko, in storage in Wellington, along with about 500 skeletal remains plundered from Maori graves as recently as the 1930s.

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Fireworks, Dances Greet Year of the Rabbit

Asia rang in the Year of the Rabbit on Thursday with fireworks, lion dances and prayers that the bunny will live up to its reputation for happiness and good fortune in 2011.

From Sydney to Pyongyang, the Lunar New Year was marked by a thundering barrage of firecrackers, family feasts -- and rabbits galore.

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