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Cuba's Tobacco Company Sues U.S. Shop Owned by Lebanese over Name

A cigar lounge in suburban Detroit is decorated with paintings and photos of famous people with a stogie: John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, even the 1950s Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

"We have only one thing in common," said owner Ismail Houmani, a U.S. war veteran, who immigrated to Toledo, Ohio, from Lebanon when he was 18, pointing at a cigar in the fingers of Guevara, a Marxist rebel.

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef Under Threat From Floods

Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is under threat from massive floods swamping the country's northeast which are pouring harmful debris and sediment into the sea, an expert said Wednesday.

The full impact of the floods, which are rushing huge volumes of water into the pristine surrounds of the world's largest coral reef, is not yet known, but the influx will stress the colorful corals, said Michelle Devlin.

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Partial Solar Eclipse in Lebanon

Lebanon witnessed a partial solar eclipse between 8:45 am local time and 11:00 am on Tuesday, the first of several eclipses that will occur this year.

An eclipse occurs when the moon swings between the sun and earth.

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More than 1,000 Dead Birds Fall from Sky in US

Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday that it began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile (2-kilometer) area, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area.

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New Year Around the Globe

New Year revelers around the planet will welcome 2011 in a blaze of fireworks and parties Friday, temporarily banishing the misery of extreme weather which has struck countries across the world.

Some 1.5 million people will cram Sydney's foreshore for fireworks on the Harbour Bridge, with sunshine attracting record crowds in the afternoon even as the country's northeast battled devastating floods.

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Boney M's Bobby Farrell Dies

Bobby Farrell, singer and dancer with 1970's disco group Boney M, died early Thursday in a hotel room in Saint Petersburg, where he had been performing, city officials said. He was 61.

The Saint Petersburg investigative committee of prosecutors said the Aruba-born Dutch singer was found dead in his bed by a staffer at the city's Ambassador hotel.

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New Jersey Mom Hopes to be World's Fattest Woman, Gets 30,000 Calories during Christmas

A New Jersey mom who hopes to become the fattest woman in the world got 30,000 calories with a Christmas feast that could have fed dozens of revelers, the British tabloid The Daily Mail reported.

Sitting in a reinforced metal chair, Donna Simpson had the world's biggest Christmas dinner as she ate for two straight hours.

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Web Helps Revival of Zajal Poetry in Lebanon

Zajal, an old form of improvised Arabic poetry that enjoyed its heyday in Lebanon before the 1975-1990 civil war, is making a tentative comeback with thousands of fans on Facebook and YouTube.

Traditionally an emotional oratory duel between two men, zajal once drew crowds of tens of thousands who revered its artists as poets of the highest order. It also enraptured fans who sat glued to their black-and-white television sets for the shows.

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Iraqi Shoe Thrower Signs Book in Beirut: Last Salute to Bush

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush said Tuesday he is suing Iraq's prime minister for his detention and alleged torture during the nine months he spent in custody.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi spoke during the signing in Beirut of his first book, entitled "The Last Salute to President Bush."

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Ukraine Firm Offers Drinking Buddies

With the holidays approaching fast, are you in need of a drinking companion? Hire one, offers a group of entrepreneurial Ukrainians.

For just up to 150 Ukrainian hryvnias (18 dollars), an entertainment firm in eastern Ukraine will provide you with a drinking buddy with whom you can talk everything from politics to art to women or simply bemoan the condition of the world.

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