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New Year's Concert Gives Nod to Olympics, Denmark

The London Olympics and Denmark's EU presidency will get a musical salute at the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's concert on January 1, conducted for the second time by the Latvian Mariss Jansons.

Broadcast as every year around the world, the 2012 event will see the return of the Vienna Boys' Choir and, unusually, live performances by the Vienna Ballet, amid the usual Strauss waltzes and polkas.

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Nepali Girls Confined by Stigma and Superstition

Saraswati Biswokarma sits in the dark, rearranging the threadbare cotton sheet and straw bed she is forced to sleep on before bringing her knees up to her chest with a shiver.

It is already mid-morning but she has not been allowed out of the airless brick shed where she has spent every night for the past week.

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Japanese Investor to Restore Ancient Roman Pyramid

A Japanese businessman has agreed to invest around one million euros ($1.3 million) to restore a 2,000-year-old Roman pyramid in the Italian capital, La Repubblica daily reported on Thursday.

Yuzo Yagi, a fashion business owner from Osaka, is due to sign the agreement later this month and work on the pyramid, which was built in 13 AD as a tomb for Roman magistrate Gaius Cestius is set to start in April, officials said.

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Record Ivory Seizures in 2011

The past 12 months has seen a record number of large ivory seizures across the world, confirming a sharp increase in the illegal trade in recent years, a wildlife watchdog said Thursday.

TRAFFIC, which runs the ETIS database of illegal ivory trades, said there had been at least 13 large-scale seizures in 2011, totaling at least 23 tons of ivory -- representing about 2,500 elephants.

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Swiss Acknowledge Those Who Helped Jews Flee Nazis

Switzerland said Wednesday it had finally finished the process of rehabilitating more than a hundred people punished during WWII for having helped Jews escape Nazi persecution.

But only one of the 137 people vindicated by the report actually lived to see their name cleared.

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Russian Court Rejects Ban on Hindu Sacred Book

A court in the Russian city of Tomsk on Wednesday rejected an attempt to ban as "extremist" a translation of a sacred Hindu book, in what was seen as a test case for religious freedoms.

The Siberian court rejected a lawsuit from the Tomsk prosecutor's office to classify a Russian translation of the Hare Krishna edition of the "Bhagavad Gita" as "extremist literature" alongside books like Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf", news agencies reported.

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1st U.S. Museum Dedicated to Greek Culture Opens

Dolls a Greek woman made during World War II. Ice cream bowls and wooden spoons from a 1940s Greek candy store. Thousands of record albums filled with Greek music.

These items and many other beloved objects and family heirlooms have found their way from around the country to the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, which has a new place to store and exhibit them all, in a four-story 40,000-square-foot environmentally friendly building of limestone and glass that opened in early December.

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Tourist Center Planned at Sensitive Jerusalem Site

A hard-line Israeli group said Tuesday it was launching plans for a new tourist center at the site of a politically sensitive archaeological dig in a largely Arab neighborhood outside Jerusalem's Old City, drawing fire from Palestinian officials.

The project's sponsor, the Elad Foundation, said the new visitors center and parking garage will be built above a section of the excavation area known as the City of David, leaving the ruins below accessible. The foundation said no additional land beyond the current excavation site would be used and that construction, which must pass several zoning committees, was still several years away.

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'Forrest Gump' to Be Preserved in U.S. Film Registry

Forrest Gump's oft-imitated line, "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get' " will be immortalized among the nation's treasures in the world's largest archive of film, TV and sound recordings.

The Library of Congress on Wednesday announced that 1994's smash hit "Forrest Gump" starring Tom Hanks was one of 25 films chosen to be included this year in the National Film Registry.

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Chunk of Rock Drops off Italy's Colosseum

The Colosseum lost another piece on Tuesday as Rome's most famous monument deteriorates further ahead of a long-delayed restoration funded by an Italian billionaire now scheduled to start in March.

The chunk of volcanic tuff fell from one of the iconic arches of the nearly 2,000-year-old structure -- just two days after a similar incident reported by a group of concerned tourists on Christmas Day put local staff on alert.

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