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Lenin and Soviet Past Not Yet History in Russia

Lenin is still in his mausoleum on Red Square, his statue stares down on central squares and hammers and sickles are a familiar sight on buildings.

Twenty years after the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet past is still very present in Russia.

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Satire Flourishes in Syria as Violence Intensifies

The violent repression of dissent in Syria has sparked an explosion of satire produced by anonymous artists who are flooding the Internet with film, music and art that mock the Damascus regime.

"The revolt has broken the barriers of silence and fear," said Syrian playwright Walid Kowatly, who is based in Dubai.

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Indonesian Hotels, Malls Splurge on Christmas Glitz

An imported Christmas tree. Santa taking wish lists from children. Fake snow and carols at shopping malls. Christmas is serious business in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Malls and luxury hotels in Jakarta are offering holiday deals and are decked out for Christmas, with shoppers at the sprawling Taman Anggrek mall even surrounded by fake snow drifting from the ceilings in the tropical country.

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Nun Famous for Kissing Elvis Prays for Miracle

In the little town of Bethlehem, a cloistered nun whose luminous blue eyes entranced Elvis Presley in his first on-screen movie kiss is praying for a Christmas miracle.

Dolores Hart, who walked away from Hollywood stardom in 1963 to become a nun in rural Bethlehem, Conn., now finds herself back in the spotlight. But this time it's all about serving the King of Kings, not smooching the King of Rock and Roll.

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Scrapbook Tells How Rudolph Went Down in History

You know Dasher and Dancer and the rest of the gang. But do you recall, the most "Perfect Christmas Crowd-Bringer" of all?

That's how executives at Montgomery Ward originally described Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who first appeared in a 1939 book written by one of the company's advertising copywriter and given free to children as a way to drive traffic to the stores.

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West Bank Christians Pray for Threatened Valley

A handful of Palestinian Christians stand on a ridge under grey skies at an open-air mass, praying for protection for the sweeping valley that descends from their feet.

For decades, the dwindling Christian community of Beit Jala and Bethlehem has joined its Muslim neighbors to work the land of the Cremisan Valley during the week, and picnic here with their families at the weekend.

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Vatican Fits Sensors to Preserve Priceless Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel has been fitted with detectors to check for pollution from its millions of visitors every year that could harm priceless frescoes by Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci explained in the Holy See's official daily, Osservatore Romano, on Thursday that the initiative was in order to update the building's air conditioning and ventilating system.

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Ancient Roman Pillar Collapses at Pompeii Villa

A pillar was found collapsed at an ancient Roman villa in Pompeii on Thursday, as the government prepares a series of measures to preserve the unique but dilapidated archaeological area.

Police were called in to carry out checks at the picturesque Loreius Tiburtinus villa from the 2nd century BC after the collapse of a pillar supporting one of the pergolas there was noticed by local technical staff.

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Mexico Mayan Region Launches Apocalypse Countdown

Seize the day.

Only 52 weeks and a day are left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world.

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'The Nutcracker' Rings in Holiday Cheer for Americans

When "The Nutcracker" comes to U.S. theaters, the two-act ballet that enchants children around the world ushers in the Christmas season, on an equal footing with Santa Claus and decorated fir trees.

"It's just an American tradition... When you hear about 'The Nutcracker,' Christmas is right there," said Barb Wilbur, a teacher in Kennewick, Washington state, who has taken her grandchildren to see the show for the past seven years.

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