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Amsterdam's Famed Canal Belt Gets its Own Museum

Amsterdam's famed 17th century canal district, a major tourist draw which was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List last year, now boasts its own museum.

"The history of the canals had never been told," said Piet van Winden, the head of the "Grachtenhuis" private museum which has just opened to the public. "They are probably the best conceived urban extension project in the world," he said.

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Cinema Powerhouse Egypt to Be Cannes' First Guest Country

Arab cinema powerhouse Egypt, which in January rose up in revolt to topple president Hosni Mubarak, will become the Cannes Film Festival's first guest country at this year's event.

Festival organizers said on Thursday that they hoped to make the invitation of a guest country a tradition for future events after the 64th edition of the festival opens on May 11.

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Mexico Returns Smuggled Ancient Egypt Artifact

Mexico's antiquities authority said Wednesday it had returned a 4,000-year-old statue to Egypt five years after it was first detected by customs agents.

The National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) said the "invaluable" 15-centimeter (six-inch) statuette was carved in southern Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, which ruled the Nile from 2055 BC to 1650 BC.

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Vienna Ballet Sets Sights on Japan, Monte Carlo

After a first season rich in premieres, the Vienna Ballet under director Manuel Legris will pack its bags next season for a couple of tours to build up its name on the international stage.

So far, two tours are planned: to Monte Carlo in December for two evenings, and to Japan in April 2012, where the company will perform Roland Petit's "Die Fledermaus" as well as a gala evening, Legris announced at a press conference Wednesday.

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Georgia Rediscovers Ancient Culinary Traditions

In the kitchen of one of the most fashionable restaurants in Tbilisi, the chef is cooking up hearty peasant food using recipes long forgotten by most of his countrymen.

"Nobody cooks a bird like this these days," said chef Malkhaz Maisashvili, raising his carving knife to sweep slices of chicken into a pot. "I discovered the recipe in a small village."

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Turkey Dismantles Armenia Friendship Statue

Turkey began Tuesday to demolish a 100 foot monument near its eastern border dedicated to friendship with Armenia after the prime minister called it a "monstrosity", Anatolia news agency reported.

Overriding widespread protests, the company tasked with demolition by the local authorities in Kars city took apart the first piece, which is one of two heads of the statue, depicting two figures emerging from one human shape, a witness told Agence France Presse.

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Bitter Herbs of Passover Are Sweet for Poland's Jews

The Passover herbs are bitter, but the symbolism is sweet for Poland's Jews, a community which has emerged from the shadow of Nazi German genocide and communist-era anti-Semitism.

As Jews worldwide commemorate the ancient Exodus from Egypt with traditional fare from dry matzoh crackers to herbs in saltwater recalling their forebears' tears, those in Poland say they are grounded confidently in their faith and culture.

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Grotto Galleries Show Early Somali Life

A galaxy of colorful animal and human sketches adorn the caves in the rocky hills of this arid wilderness in northern Somalia, home to Africa's earliest known and most pristine rock art.

But in a region ravaged by two decades of relentless civil unrest and lawlessness, the archeological site is at risk of destruction, looting and clandestine excavation.

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Poland Lets Da Vinci Gem Travel

The "Lady with an Ermine", a rare painting of a woman by Leonardo da Vinci and Poland's greatest art treasure, was set to hit the road Wednesday after a year of heated debate by officials and experts.

Fearing it could be damaged, Poland's culture ministry was initially hostile to the idea of the masterpiece painted on wood leaving the country.

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U.S. Embassy Celebrates Earth Day with the AFDC in Aley

Representatives of the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Forest Service joined the Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC) at the Aley Cultural Secondary School on Thursday to celebrate the 41st annual Earth Day with an event that included a theatrical play about forest fire prevention and a training demonstration with a fire truck donated by the U.S. Government.

Earth Day, established in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, is observed annually to bring together individuals, private organizations and governments to promote environmental conservation and natural resource management. Preventing forest fires is vital to promoting and preserving Lebanon’s natural environment.

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