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Limbless Singer Gives Voice to India's Rural Poor

Bant Singh, a scarred survivor of class violence in rural India, has an indisputable claim to be a voice for India's impoverished and muted millions.

The folk singer lost both arms and a leg in an attack five years ago after he dared to challenge high-caste landlords in his area of the northwestern state of Punjab who had raped his 17-year-old daughter.

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Fire Guts Building at Swiss Watchmaking Heritage Site

A unique 19th-century building in Switzerland's La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaking town, a U.N. world heritage site, has burned to the ground, officials said Sunday.

It was not known what caused the fire, which destroyed seven apartments, a daycare and two businesses in the four-storey building, the town said in a statement.

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Soviet Art Launches Italy-Russia Culture Year

An exhibition of paintings by Soviet artist Alexander Deyneka opened in Rome on Thursday, inaugurating a year packed with hundreds of joint cultural events between Italy and Russia.

The paintings on loan from Russia depict famous scenes from the Russian Revolution and World War II, but also nudes and images of daily life in the Soviet Union with factory workers, sportsmen and children.

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Arab Modern Art Gets its First Museum in Qatar

Paintings acquired by shadowy anonymous buyers paying record prices now hang in the light of day in Qatar in the world's first museum devoted to modern Arab art.

The masterpieces are displayed among other treasures making a collection of almost 6,500 pieces in Mathaf (museum in Arabic), which has gathered works of Arab modern art masters previously scattered among private collections and national museums.

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Thieves Plunder Egypt Treasures

Skilled thieves slid down ropes from a skylight at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo while riots raged outside, targeting priceless ancient treasures, the minister for antiquities said Wednesday.

The world renowned collection was burgled last month during anti-government protests, and several artifacts are still missing, including famous statues depicting King Tutankhamen and Pharaoh Akhenaton.

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Sudanese Forget their Woes in Sufi Celebration

With flags flying, drums beating and incense burning, thousands of Sudanese faithful converged in Khartoum's Mulid square for the culmination of an Islamic festival that allowed them to leave their daily cares behind.

"Today is a very special day. The people, when they come here, they put all their problems behind them and remember the good things in life," said Ibrahim Ismaili, 40.

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India, China and Japan Sweep Book Prize Shortlist

Authors from India, China and Japan swept the shortlist for Asia's top literary prize on Tuesday, with a debut novelist and Nobel Prize winner among those vying for the $30,000 award.

Manu Joseph grabbed one of five shortlisted spots for The Man Asian Literary Prize with his debut "Serious Men", while Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, was also among the finalists for "The Changeling".

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Luxor a Tourist Ghost Town Amid Uprising

Wandering unhurried in the Egyptian temple of Luxor and photographing the towering colonnades of Karnak without being jostled may be a dream come true for tourists.

But it is a nightmare for traders losing their precious livelihood.

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Historic Gauguin Painting Fails to Sell at London Auction

A historic painting by French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin failed to sell at a London auction Wednesday despite being displayed for the first time in 15 years.

"Nature morte a 'L'Esperance'" was expected to sell for around 10 million pounds (16.1 million dollars, 11.7 million Euros) when it appeared at Christie's auction house, but failed to meet its reserve price.

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Painting of Picasso's Muse Sold at British Auction

A celebrated masterpiece by Pablo Picasso sold Tuesday at Sotheby's auction house in London for 25.2 million pounds, more than double its pre-auction valuation.

"La Lecture" is a work from the Spanish painter's "annus mirabilis," 1932, and depicts the artist's famous muse, Marie-Therese Walter. The painting was sold for the equivalent of 40.7 million dollars or 29.7 million Euros.

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