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Vienna Celebrates Centenary of Mahler's Death

The prestigious Vienna State Opera will this week mark -- along with the rest of the world of classical music -- the 100th anniversary of the death of composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).

The Austrian capital's legendary Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Italian maestro Daniele Gatti, will perform Mahler's last completed symphony, the Ninth, in a special memorial concert in the opera house on Wednesday.

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China's Forbidden City Rules Out Plans for Elite Club

Beijing's Forbidden City has scotched plans for an exclusive club inside the historic imperial palace complex that raised hackles at a time when China faces public anger over a growing wealth gap.

State media reported recently that an elite club for the super-rich was being planned for a section of the sprawling complex at the heart of China's capital, which is now operated as a vast museum.

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Hong Kong Academy to Offer Cantonese Opera Degree

A Hong Kong performing arts school will offer a Cantonese opera degree in the latest effort to preserve the traditional art form designated as a key cultural heritage.

The Academy for Performing Arts said its program will combine theory and practice to prepare students for Cantonese opera careers as performers, educators or arts administrators.

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French Writer to Lay Sex Assault Charge Against Strauss-Kahn

A French writer is to make a complaint alleging Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her in 2002, her lawyer said Monday, after the IMF chief was arrested in New York on a similar charge.

Novelist and journalist Tristane Banon, 31, previously made the allegation against the leading politician in 2007 on television and in an interview with a news website, but she had not made a formal complaint to authorities.

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Saudi King Opens Largest Women-Only University

Saudi King Abdullah inaugurated on Sunday the largest women-only university campus in the ultra-conservative kingdom which applies strict segregation between men and women.

The $5.3-billion new campus of Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University, spread over eight million square meters (26 million feet) on the outskirts of the capital, could host up to 50,000 students in its 15 departments.

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A 'Tower of Babel' Entirely of Books in Argentina

Marta Minujin, Argentina's most famous artist, is known for artwork that is both out-sized and outlandish.

Her latest creation might also be described as vertigo-inducing -- a spiraling, 25-meter-tall (82-foot) tower meant to pay homage to the written word.

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Pope Says Globalization Creates 'New Forms of Slavery'

Globalization creates "new forms of slavery" by generating more poverty and oppression, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday.

"Globalization often characterized by profit-seeking increases the number of poor, migrants (and) the oppressed," he said as he met with delegates of the Superior Council of missionary societies at the Vatican.

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Christian-Muslim Affair Tests Egypt's Revolution

It started with a Christian woman who wanted a divorce to marry her Muslim lover. With divorce strictly banned by Egypt's Coptic Christian Church, she found no other way but to convert to Islam.

And so began a chain of events that led to an explosion of sectarian violence in Cairo that left 15 people dead, a church in flames and a nation even more uncertain of its path after overthrowing an authoritarian ruler of 30 years.

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Germany Agrees to Return Treasured Sphinx to Turkey

Germany Friday agreed to return a 3,500-year-old statue of a sphinx to Turkey where it was dug up, ending a war of words between Berlin and Ankara.

"Following talks between German and Turkish experts on the question of the Hittite sphinx it was agreed today in Berlin that the statue, which is currently housed in at the Pergamon museum, would be returned as a voluntary gesture of German-Turkish goodwill to Turkey," the culture ministry said in a statement.

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U.S. Returns 'Remarkable Treasures' to Peru

The United States on Thursday returned a collection of stolen historical artifacts to Peru, including textiles and pottery estimated to be up to 1,800 years old.

"The antiquities we are returning today are remarkable treasures of untold historical significance. More than mere objects, they provide clues into the lives of our ancestors," said Luis Alvarez, assistant director for international affairs of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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