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Syria, Bahrain, Yemen Get Worst Ever Press Freedom Ranking

Syria, Bahrain and Yemen received their worst ever press freedom ranking Wednesday in Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) index for 2011, a tumultuous year that saw the downfall of several Arab dictators.

Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan came right at the bottom of the 10th annual list by the press freedom group, with the same clutch of European states -- led by Finland, Norway and Estonia -- at the top.

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India Protests to U.S. Over TV Host's Golden Temple Joke

India's embassy in Washington has contacted U.S. assistant secretary of state Robert Blake to protest a gag by late night TV host Jay Leno involving Sikhism's holiest shrine, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Indian government "contacted us" and Blake responded along the lines of an earlier State Department position, which affirmed US constitutional rights to free speech.

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JFK Saw 'Tough Day' on Eve of Assassination

In an unintentionally ominous prediction, John F. Kennedy said ahead of a trip to Dallas, where he would be assassinated, that he was expecting a "tough day," secret recordings reveal.

The John F Kennedy Presidential Library on Tuesday released 45 hours of recordings that Kennedy made of his White House meetings, covering everything from U.S.-Soviet relations to his reelection plans.

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Lit Fest Cancels Rushdie Video, Fearing Violence

The organizers of an Indian literary festival have canceled a video conference with author Salman Rushdie after protests and threats.

Sanjoy Roy said Tuesday they decided to cancel the video address to avoid violence by Muslim activists gathered at the Jaipur Literary Festival.

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Louvre's Da Vinci Restoration Ignites Art World Row

Delicate work to restore a Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, to be unveiled in March, has turned into a headache for the Louvre, after experts accused the Paris museum of putting the precious oil work at risk.

Da Vinci began painting "The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" in 1503 and when he died in France in 1519 the unfinished work, depicting Christ beside his mother and grandmother with a sacrificial lamb, was acquired by King Francis I.

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Iraq Shrine City to Make Guinness World Record Bid

Karbala is considering petitioning for a Guinness World Record for the number of Shiite pilgrims who visit the Iraqi shrine city for annual Arbaeen rituals, its governor told Agence France Presse on Saturday.

Amal al-Din al-Har admitted the move was partly motivated to convince those who are skeptical of official estimates of the numbers of pilgrims passing through Karbala during Arbaeen and the preceding Ashura commemorations.

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Rushdie to Speak by Video Link at India Book Fest

British author Salman Rushdie is to address an Indian literature festival by video link after he was forced to pull out in person because of protests by Islamic hardliners, organizers said on Monday.

Rushdie's appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival was cancelled on Friday, with the Indian-origin writer citing alleged threats to his life from underworld gunmen who had been hired to kill him.

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Pakistan's Historic Walled City Under Threat

The medieval walled city of Lahore is under threat from a construction 'free-for-all' ruining centuries of heritage, as an ambitious Pakistani restoration project to protect it stalls.

Rapid and illegal growth is crowding out the "old city" -- the section of the eastern hub fortified by a wall during the Mughal era -- while its unique carved wood balconies jutting on to bricklined streets fall into disrepair.

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Jim Reeves' Music Royalties at Issue in Trial

A trial over how music royalties of the late country singer "Gentleman" Jim Reeves should be split is set to begin this week.

Reeves was a country music sensation when he died nearly 50 years ago in a plane crash at the age of 39.

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Purported Bonnie and Clyde Guns Sells for $210K

Two guns thought to have been used by bank-robbing fugitives Bonnie and Clyde have snatched $210,000 at an auction.

The Joplin Globe ( reported an online bidder from the East Coast on Saturday bought the weapons believed to have been seized from the outlaw couple's Joplin hideout in 1933.

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