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China's Forbidden City to Lend Works to Louvre

The Forbidden City, China's ancient imperial palace museum, is to loan more than 100 works to the Louvre in Paris, some of which have never left China.

The group of about 130 artefacts includes arms, clothing, bronzes, pieces of jade, lacquerware, enamels, seals, ceramics and personal effects of the Ming and Qing emperors, offering a window on life at China's imperial court.

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German Beer Law Put Forward as World Heritage

A group of German brewers, politicians and public figures have called for the country's 14th century beer purity law to be included on the U.N.'s list of "intangible" world cultural treasures.

"This almost 500-year-old law is one of the oldest food and drink regulations in the world," the German institute for pure beer (DIRB) said after its annual meeting on Wednesday.

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NZ Winegrowers Look to Restore Image After Glut

Striding across her vineyard in New Zealand's picturesque Marlborough region, winemaker Jane Hunter pauses for a moment to reflect on the woes besetting the industry she pioneered.

"It's been a bit soul-destroying really," she says. "If we're all going to survive, we've all got to work together."

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Laos Throws Doors Open to 'Eco Tourists'

In a hilltribe settlement in the forest of northern Laos, an old man sits on the ground weaving a basket while another villager hangs out her washing to dry.

It is a scene of everyday life for the Akha communities living in the Nam Ha Protected Area, where elephants, gibbons and leopards roam among giant bamboo near villages perched on the banks of a tributary of the Mekong river.

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Buenos Aires: A Graffiti Artist's Paradise

A portrait of a murdered activist stares from the graffiti on the wall, a slogan makes a passer-by smile, a colorful pastiche turns visitors' heads: welcome to the city where the walls talk.

"Buenos Aires has become a haven for street art, like Sao Paulo and Mexico City," said Fernando Aita, one of several young editors of the project "Grafiti escritos en la calle" -- or "Graffiti street writings."

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Torn Ancient China Painting to Be Joined in Taiwan

One of China's best-known ancient paintings, torn into two parts in the 17th century, will soon be exhibited in its entirety in Taiwan for the first time in more than 360 years, organisers said Monday.

The public will be able from next week to see "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" as it was originally created, after China sent its piece to Taiwan on loan, the National Palace Museum in Taipei said in a statement.

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Vienna's Life Ball Takes Flight With Angels, Flying Horses

Swarms of angels, flying horses and fantastic birds of paradise converged on Vienna's neo-Gothic City Hall on Saturday for this year's Life Ball.

In line with this year's motto -- "Spread the Wings of Tolerance" -- many of the guests to the 19th edition of one of the world's biggest AIDS charity events let their imaginations take flight with their spectacularly colorful fancy dress.

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Cambodia's Royal Oxen Fail to Predict Good Rice Harvest

Cambodia's royal oxen shunned rice grain on Saturday during an ancient ceremony to predict the country's agricultural fortunes -- prompting fears of a poor rice harvest among superstitious farmers.

King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the ritual in a park outside the palace where thousands of people watched royal astrologers observing the animals' behaviour.

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Damascus Souk Yearns for Tourists

Hani Abou al-Nasser rolls his eyes, shrugs and lets out a worried sigh as he gestures toward his empty store in the old souk of Damascus.

"I haven't made a penny in four days," laments the 64-year-old. "There is no work. The tourists are gone."

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Prince Charles Calls for Protection of Transylvania Heritage

Prince Charles called for the protection of Transylvania's cultural and natural heritage during an interview broadcast late Wednesday by Romanian national TV channel TVR.

"There is still much more to do in Transylvania and throughout Romania with its rich multi-ethnic heritage to ensure that these unique cultural and natural treasures are not lost", he said during a personal visit to the country.

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