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Piaf Biography Invites New Look at French Icon

A new book about legendary French singer Edith Piaf reveals much about her life before stardom, including her yearnings for poetry and philosophy as a young girl working to overcome her tough upbringing.

Writer Carolyn Burke said her biography "No Regrets -- The Life of Edith Piaf" delves deeply into the early life of the "Little Sparrow", and invites a reassessment of one of the most famous singers of the 20th century.

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A Feast for The Senses on The Venice Lagoon

An array of sometimes disconcerting sights and sounds went on public display Saturday on the shores of the Venice lagoon for the Biennale contemporary art festival.

From a picture of Jesus in his underwear to a human skull decorated with pearls, the images at the festival provoke, bemuse or titillate.

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Thailand Says Religious Tattoos Taboo

Thailand has ordered a crackdown on foreign tourists having religious images tattooed on their bodies while visiting the kingdom, official media said Wednesday.

Tattoos with images such as of the Buddha may offend Thai people, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat was quoted as telling reporters.

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Chile to Probe Death of Prize-Winning Poet Pablo Neruda

Chile will launch an investigation into the death of Nobel Prize-winning writer Pablo Neruda, who died 12 days after the 1973 coup that overthrew the government, officials said Thursday.

It had long been believed that Neruda, among Latin America's most renowned literary figures and an active Communist Party member, had died of cancer, but officials said they now will try to determine whether Neruda was the victim of homicide.

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Venice Art Festival Becomes City of Light

The City of Water has been transformed into a City of Light for the prestigious Venice Biennale contemporary art festival starting Saturday, where 83 artists and 89 countries are represented.

Venice's historic Arsenal, a medieval shipyard complex in the heart of the historic city, hosts an exhibition entitled "ILLUMInations" while the national pavilions are spread around a park on the shores of the Venice lagoon.

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Torn Ancient China Painting Joined in Taiwan

One of China's best-known ancient paintings, torn into two parts in the 17th century, was shown in its entirety in Taiwan Wednesday for the first time in more than 360 years.

China and Taiwan have one part each, and the fact that the two could be joined together for the first time in generations symbolized a broader trend of closer ties across the Taiwan Strait, officials said.

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Honolulu Remembers Loved Ones By Floating Lanterns

Thousands of people have floated lanterns into the ocean from a Honolulu beach to remember loved ones and pay tribute to ancestors.

The Japanese Buddhist sect Shinnyo-en organized the annual Memorial Day ceremony. Now in its 13th year, the event drew about 40,000 people to Ala Moana Beach Park on Monday.

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Beneath Jerusalem, an Underground City Takes Shape

Underneath the crowded alleys and holy sites of old Jerusalem, hundreds of people are snaking at any given moment through tunnels, vaulted medieval chambers and Roman sewers in a rapidly expanding subterranean city invisible from the streets above.

At street level, the walled Old City is an energetic and fractious enclave with a physical landscape that is predominantly Islamic and a population that is mainly Arab.

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Titanic Launch 100 Years Ago Marked in Belfast

Dignitaries on Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic from Belfast in Northern Ireland with a religious service and the firing of a flare.

The ill-starred ocean liner slid down the slipway of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, then the largest in the world, on May 31, 1911, a little less than a year before she sank.

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India's Pilgrim Trail: A Godsend for Hotel Chains

India's pilgrimage centers are fast becoming hot-spots for hotel chains, as both domestic and international groups look to plug a gap in the market for quality accommodation.

Devotees flocking to so-called "temple towns" such as Shirdi in western Maharashtra state, the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in Punjab and far-flung Haridwar have for years had to make do with basic facilities.

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