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Catholic Extremists Target Champs Elysees Theater

One of Paris's top theaters was bracing Thursday for a showdown with Catholic extremists vowing to disrupt the opening of "Golgota Picnic", a virulent on-stage attack on consumerism and religion.

French fundamentalist Catholics have been waging a sometimes violent campaign of protests in recent months against works they perceive as blasphemous, picketing plays and pelting theatre-goers with eggs.

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Vatican University Hosts Unusual Tattoo Conference

Tattooed mummies in ancient Egypt, Crusaders who branded their foreheads with crosses, and New Zealand's inked Maori warriors were fodder for an unusual conference at a Vatican university Tuesday on the role of tattoos in shaping identity.

"Into the Skin: identity, symbols and history of permanent body marks" was the brainchild of a Christian arts association and Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, an unlikely expert in the field given Judaism's prohibition of tattooing and the painful role that tattooed serial numbers played in the Holocaust.

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Experts Stumped by Ancient Jerusalem Markings

Mysterious stone carvings made thousands of years ago and recently uncovered in an excavation underneath Jerusalem have archaeologists stumped.

Israeli diggers who uncovered a complex of rooms carved into the bedrock in the oldest section of the city recently found the markings: Three "V'' shapes cut next to each other into the limestone floor of one of the rooms, about 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep and 20 inches (50 centimeters) long. There were no finds to offer any clues pointing to the identity of who made them or what purpose they served.

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Canada Allocates CAN$7.5 Million for Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Canada announced Tuesday CAN$7.5 million (US$7.36 million) for grassroots celebrations across the country for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee next year.

"The only other time Canada celebrated the diamond jubilee of a reigning sovereign was for Queen Victoria in 1897," said Heritage Minister James Moore.

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Brueghel Masterpiece Nets Record $10.6 Million at London Sale

Pieter Brueghel II's painting "The Fight Between Carnival and Lent" sold at a London auction for almost £7 million on Tuesday, an auction record for the Flemish renaissance artist.

The painting, which depicts the traditional ceremonial battle between the figures of Carnival and Lent -- common in 16th century Netherlands -- was snapped up for £6,873,250 ($10.6 million, 7.9 million euros) at a Christie's sale of Old Master and British paintings.

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Greeks Tighten Belt with Crisis Cookbooks

It's the ultimate belt-tightening handbook: No Meat? Push an eggplant through the grinder instead. Chew your food long enough for your stomach to feel full. And don't forget to sweep crumbs off your table and into a jar.

These are some of the tips Greeks used to survive the World War II occupation that have been collected in "Starvation Recipes" — a cookbook that has become a surprise hit as millions of Greeks struggle to make ends meet in a new era of hardship brought on by economic crisis.

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New Charles Dickens Coin Honors Author

The Royal Mint has come up with a novel way to wish Charles Dickens a happy 200th birthday — a new coin with a portrait of the author made up of the titles of some of his most famous fictional works.

The two-pound ($3.20) uncirculated collectible coin will be available via the Royal Mint's website for a price of 8.50 pounds ($13) starting this week, officials said.

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Ted Hughes Taking his Place in Poets' Corner

British poet Ted Hughes is being honored with a place in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, joining a line of great British writers going back to Chaucer.

A stone bearing his name will be unveiled Tuesday evening on the floor of Poets' Corner, next to one honoring Hughes' mentor and publisher, T.S. Eliot.

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Scottish Installation Artist Boyce Wins Turner Prize

Scottish artist Martin Boyce, whose works include a modernist reworking of a library table and artificial trees, on Monday won Britain's Turner Prize at a ceremony in Gateshead, north-east England.

On picking up the £25,000 ($39,100, 29,200 euros) award at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 44-year-old Boyce paid tribute to his parents and highlighted the importance of teachers in light of the government's spending cuts.

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Japan Returns Looted Ancient Books to S. Korea

Japan on Tuesday returned to South Korea more than 1,000 volumes of historical documents it seized during its colonial rule of the peninsula in a gesture aimed at improving prickly relations.

A traditional troupe greeted the arrival of the 1,200 volumes at Incheon airport west of Seoul. After a ceremony attended by South Korean and Japanese officials, the books were to be transported to a state museum in Seoul.

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