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Media-savvy Thai Monks Wage PR War to Defend Scandal-Hit Abbot

An embezzlement charge against a powerful Buddhist abbot has unleashed his super-rich temple's PR machine, with Twitter-using Thai monks orchestrating his defense over a scandal that has opened a bitter rupture at the heart of the nation's faith.

"There has never been a temple of this size in Thai history," orange-robed Phra Pasura Dantamano says as he gestures towards Dhammakaya temple's pristine, 1,000-acre compound north of Bangkok where peacocks roam the lawns and white-clad devotees meditate.

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Trump or not, 'Big Data' Could Be Huge in 2016 Vote

"Big data" could play a huge role in the 2016 U.S. election, even if Donald Trump doesn't think so.

Trump, who sailed through the Republican primaries using unconventional campaign rallies and Twitter messages, has indicated that he sees little use for popular data analytics tools to help target specific voters.

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French Govt Keeps up Tough Line as Petrol Shortages Ease

The French government maintained a hard line Saturday ahead of a fresh wave of protest over a bitterly-disputed labor law that has seen demonstrators blockading oil refineries and strikes paralyzing the transport network.

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Merkel Hails Franco-German Relations after Verdun Invite

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday hailed Franco-German ties as she prepared to attend centenary commemorations for the Battle of Verdun at the invitation of French President Francois Hollande.

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Putin Wraps up Greek Trip with Russian Monastery Visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday wraps up a two-day trip to Greece by visiting the monastic community of Mount Athos, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites.

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Marcos Threatens Legal Action after Philippine Election Loss

Ferdinand Marcos's son threatened legal action Saturday to reverse his narrow defeat in recent Philippine elections, which analysts said had been the family of the late dictator's best chance to regain the presidency.

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Pakistan's PM Sharif to Undergo Open Heart Surgery

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to undergo open heart surgery in London on Tuesday, his second major cardiac medical procedure in five years, his daughter said.

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Iran's Khamenei Warns of Western 'Schemes' as New MPs Meet

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged newly-elected lawmakers Saturday to resist "schemes" from the West as parliamentarians met in Tehran for the first time since elections finished in April.

"The turbulent state of the region and the world and the international adventurism of oppressors and their vassals have confronted the Islamic Iran with conditions more complicated than before," said a message from Khamenei, read to a packed parliament chamber.

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Sri Lanka Says 100 Missing in Landslides are Dead

Around 100 people still missing following landslides in Sri Lanka last week are believed dead, authorities said Saturday after failing to find signs of life under tonnes of mud.

The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said 67 bodies had been recovered from the worst hit central district of Kegalle where 99 people were still listed as missing following the rain-triggered May 17 disaster.

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Ban Disappointed by U.N. Rejection of Press Freedom Watchdog

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply disappointed by a U.N. decision to deny the Committee to Protect Journalists special status at the world body, his spokesman said Friday.

A U.N. committee voted on Thursday to reject the press freedom watchdog's request for accreditation as a non-governmental organization, by a vote of 10 to 6, with three abstentions.

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