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Germany, Nigeria to sign accord on return of Benin Bronzes

Germany and Nigeria are set to sign an agreement in Berlin Friday paving the way for the return of centuries-old sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes that were taken from Africa in the 19th century and displayed in German museums and elsewhere.

Governments and museums in Europe and North America have increasingly sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects that were looted during colonial times.

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COVID cases up by more than 30% in Britain last week

The number of new coronavirus cases across Britain has surged by more than 30% in the last week, new data showed Friday, with cases largely driven by the super infectious omicron variants.

Data released by Britain's Office for National Statistics showed that more than 3 million people in the U.K. had COVID-19 last week, although there has not been an equivalent spike in hospitalizations. The number of COVID-19 deaths also fell slightly in the last week.

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Ukraine protests Russian film screening at Czech film fest

An international film festival in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary kicked off Friday amid controversy following a protest by Ukraine over the screening of a Russian film alongside Ukrainian-made movies.

Prior to the start of the 56th edition of the festival, several leading Ukrainian filmmakers along with Ukraine's ambassador to Prague protested the scheduled screening of "Captain Volkonogov Escaped."

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New Zealand leader makes first trip to UK since trade deal

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday made her first visit to the U.K. since both countries signed a free trade agreement, meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to boost bilateral ties and discuss Russia's war in Ukraine.

The trip came after both leaders attended the NATO summit in Madrid. They will also discuss security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.

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Tunisian president seeks more powers in new constitution

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Friday unveiled a new draft constitution that would bestow broad powers to the president and curtail the authority of the prime minister and parliament.

A referendum on the constitution is scheduled for July 25, exactly to the day when a year earlier Saied suspended parliament and seized power. He said the move was necessary to "save the country" from political and economic crisis, prompting strong criticism from the opposition, which accuses him of slide toward totalitarianism.

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Rights group says Palestinians torture detainees with impunity

Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip systematically torture critics in detention, a practice that could amount to crimes against humanity, an international rights group said Friday.

Human Rights Watch called in its report for donor countries to cut off funding to Palestinian security forces that commit such crimes and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate.

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N. Korea suggests balloons flown from South brought COVID-19

North Korea suggested Friday its COVID-19 outbreak began in people who had contact with balloons flown from South Korea — a highly questionable claim that appeared to be an attempt to hold its rival responsible amid increasing tensions over its nuclear program.

Activists for years have flown balloons across the border to distribute hundreds of thousands of propaganda leaflets critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and North Korea has often expressed fury at the activists and at South Korea's leadership for not stopping them.

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UK government faces new boozy scandal as deputy whip quits

Britain's government is dealing with another boozy scandal after the deputy chief whip resigned from his post following a drunken incident and Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls Friday to expel the lawmaker from the Conservative Party.

Chris Pincher, whose role was to maintain discipline among Tory members of Parliament, submitted a letter of resignation to Johnson on Thursday.

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Court leaves dwindling paths for Biden's climate mission

More than 500 days into his presidency, Joe Biden's hope for saving the Earth from the most devastating effects of climate change may not quite be dead.

But it's not far from it.

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Serie A finally assigns Middle East rights after beIN issues

A year after Qatar-owned beIN Sports spurned the bidding process over concerns about the Italian league's close relationship with Saudi Arabia, Serie A finally assigned its television rights for the Middle East to Abu Dhabi Media and Starzplay.

The league announced a three-year deal worth a total of $79 million — $23 million the first season, $25 million the second and $31 million the third.

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