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Seoul Plans Pageant to Mark Return of Historic Books

South Korea will Saturday stage a city-center ceremony rich in pageantry to welcome the return of priceless ancient royal books, 145 years after they were looted by French troops.

After years of diplomatic wrangling, France in April and May sent back 296 volumes of "Uigwe", richly illustrated records of major court ceremonies and events during the Chosun Dynasty, which ran from 1392 to 1910.

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Ancient Wheat Plague Threatens World Crops Anew

Diseases that ravage wheat fields are as old as time itself. The ancient Romans even had a legend to explain the terrible plagues.

According to the myth, a mischievous young boy tied a flaming wheat straw to a fox's tail, torturing the animal. This single act angered the Roman god Robigus so much that he unleashed a rust-colored plague on the fields that turned all the crops to black.

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Czech Cork-Clad House Draws Crowds to Wine-Making Town

A bricklayer in the Czech Republic's picturesque South Moravian wine-making region is drawing legions of tourists curious to see the elaborate cork-decorated facade of his house.

"It has taken 180,000 wine corks in total -- halved, quartered," Miroslav Svoboda from Mutenice, a small town about 230 kilometers (145 miles) southeast of the Czech capital Prague, told Agence France Presse.

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M.F. Husain: 'The Picasso of India'

Artist M.F. Husain, who died in self-imposed exile on Thursday aged 95, was often referred to as "The Picasso of India" and was the most recognizable figure of the post-independence Indian art scene.

But his vast body of work was overshadowed by controversy over his depiction of nude Hindu goddesses, which enraged ultra-nationalists, saw an $11.5-million bounty put on his head and forced him to flee India.

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AUB Students Unease at ex-World Bank Chief Honorary Degree

Lecturers and students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) have launched a petition against honoring former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, accusing him of supporting Israel.

The petition, entitled "Not in our name: AUB faculty, staff and students object to honoring James Wolfensohn," had by Wednesday garnered the signatures of 90 faculty members and was being rapidly disseminated on Facebook.

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Azerbaijan Removes Statue of Egypt's Mubarak

The authorities in Azerbaijan have removed a monument to deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak which had angered government critics, an Agence France Presse correspondent reported Wednesday.

The statue of the former Egyptian leader sitting in an armchair in front of three pyramids was taken away from a park in the town of Khirdalan near the capital of the ex-Soviet republic on Tuesday.

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Beirut to Host Danish Cultural Week 2011

The Danish Embassy in Beirut will be launching the Danish cultural week 2011, celebrated for the first time ever in Lebanon.

The cultural week will host music events, movies, gastronomy, a puppet show, architecture, modern dance, cultural workshops and competitions, as well as a bike day.

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'Chateau London' Offers Urban Vintage

On balconies, in gardens and on the facades of their houses, Londoners are growing vines to create their own "urban wine" -- although the great vineyards of the world have little to fear just yet.

In 2007, urban regeneration specialist Richard Sharp was on holiday in France and became fascinated with the "community spirit" of French villages during the harvest, wondering whether the same could be achieved in Britain.

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Dubai Looks to Bag Top Spot as Tea Goes Green

Exotic and organic teas are wooing tea drinkers and challenging traditional black tea's dominance as never before, tea industry experts say, as a tea factory in Dubai bids to become the world's largest.

The shift in global tea-drinking trends is felt at the Jebel Ali Free Zone, despite it being more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) from the nearest tea bushes in the lush misty mountains of South Asia and East Africa.

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Napoleon's English Lessons Sell for 90,000 Euros

Napoleon's first English lessons while he was banished to exile on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena fetched more than 93,000 Euros at an auction in France Sunday, several times more than they had been valued.

Three lots of text in English and French, as well as drawings, by the fallen emperor had been valued 7,000 to 9,500 Euros, said the Osenat auction house.

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