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'Back in the Game' Putin Marks Birthday with Eye on Syria

Vladimir Putin marked his 63rd birthday Wednesday with a focus on Syria, as supporters sang his praises -- comparing him to a range of heroic figures from Buddha to Batman.

The Russian president has been back in the international limelight since launching a bombing campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria last week, much to Washington's chagrin.

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French PM Jokes with Robots during Japan Visit

Robots have already begun taking the place of workers in a host of industries but how long before they replace politicians?

That was the thorny philosophical question French Prime Minister encountered during a visit to Japan on Monday.

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Dutch Sandcastle Hotel Turns Childhood Fantasy into Reality

Dutch sand sculptors have taken a childhood fantasy to a new level by creating the world's first real-life "sandcastle hotel", complete with a drawbridge and turrets.

Curious tourists and the young at heart flocked this summer to the small southern Dutch city of Oss to spend a night in a specially-built room deep inside the massive sculpture made entirely of sand.

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Mourinho on the Look out for Ostriches at Chelsea

Jose Mourinho has warned his Chelsea flops to face up to their problems and not hide like ostriches.

Mourinho's side, beaten by Porto in the Champions League in midweek, will bid to improve on their miserable start to the season when they host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

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Train Evacuated in France over Bag of Stinky Meat

A suspicious gas-like stench aboard a high-speed train led to the evacuation Friday of some 250 people in France before bio-chemical experts traced it to a package of stinky fermenting meat in a passenger's bag.

Local government officials in the Burgundy region of central France said passengers aboard the train from Brussels and heading to the southern city of Marseille said passengers had raised the alarm over "a suspicious gas smell."

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Baboons Force Zimbabwe Radio Station off Air

A radio station in Zimbabwe was temporarily forced off the air after a group of baboons raided a transmission tower and chewed through cables, a state daily reported Thursday.

The Chronicle newspaper said the newly-launched YA FM went down during the breakfast show on Wednesday, sending technicians into an emergency search to identify the problem.

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New Home Found for Sandra the Orangutan

A Brazilian nature reserve has agreed to take in an orangutan who shot to fame when a court ruled she was a "non-human" being unlawfully held at a zoo, lawyers said Thursday.

The case of Sandra, a 30-year-old orangutan, made news around the world last December when an Argentine court ruled she had thoughts, feelings and certain basic rights, and as such was being subjected to unjust confinement at the Buenos Aires Zoo.

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Philly Police Say Suspect Got Manicure, Robbed Nail Salon

Police are seeking a robbery suspect with nice nails.

They say a man got a manicure at a nail salon on West Rockland Street in Philadelphia on Sunday and then robbed the place at gunpoint.

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Thirsty Leopard Jams Head into Pot in India

A leopard got its head stuck in a metal pot after venturing into a village in northern India on Wednesday.

Media reports said it was thirsty and tried to drink water.

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202 Skydivers in California Set World Record

More than 200 aerial daredevils plunged into the record books this week, linking up in a giant lattice-like configuration 7,000 feet (2,130 meters) above Southern California to shatter a world record for the largest sequential skydiving formation.

The group of 202 leaped Tuesday afternoon at Skydive Perris, 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported (

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