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Human rights experts urge FIFA to scrutinize Saudi Arabia before 2034 World Cup vote

FIFA was urged by international lawyers Wednesday to uphold its own policy and scrutinize Saudi Arabia's human rights record before picking the kingdom to host the men's 2034 World Cup.

A 22-page document was delivered to FIFA headquarters in Zurich on behalf of Mark Pieth and Stefan Wehrenberg of Switzerland and British barrister Rodney Dixon. They offered to work with FIFA on an action plan and monitoring of Saudi Arabia by independent experts.

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Pope trip to Luxembourg, Belgium confirmed for September

Pope Francis has added a stop in Luxembourg to a trip to Belgium in September, a three-day visit that will come as he is recovering from a much longer and challenging trip to Asia.

The Vatican on Monday announced the Sept. 26-29 dates of the planned trip, saying Francis would first stop in Luxembourg and then travel onto Brussels, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium.

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In KSA, all-women psychedelic rock band jams out as conservative society loosens up

Leaning into the microphone in Saudi Arabia's capital, Nora let loose a primal scream. Guitars wailed and drums throbbed behind her as part of a set with her bandmates during a recent show.

The performance by Seera, an all-women psychedelic rock band that blends traditional Arabic melodies with the resurgent psychedelia of bands like Tame Impala, would have been unthinkable just years earlier in the kingdom.

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For the children of Gaza, war means no school

Atef Al-Buhaisi, 6, once dreamed of a career building houses. Now, all he craves is to return to school.

In Israel's war with Hamas, Atef's home has been bombed, his teacher killed and his school in Nuseirat turned into a refuge for displaced people. He lives in a cramped tent with his family in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, where he sleeps clinging to his grandmother and fears walking alone even during the day.

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Abu Dhabi, once desert city, sees first brewery open as UAE relaxes alcohol laws

In 2018, Chad McGehee opened Side Hustle Brews and Spirits, an Abu Dhabi-branded brewery and distillery with funky camels on its cans and playful names familiar to anyone living in the United Arab Emirates.

The only problem was it was illegal to produce alcohol in the country, so his company made its hoppy India pale ale in the United States and then imported it to the UAE for sale.

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PEN America gathers for annual gala despite criticism over response to Gaza war

With guests including Paul Simon and Seth Meyers, PEN America will gather Thursday night for its annual gala, a dressed-up, high-profile event raised even higher because some wondered if it would be held at all.

The literary and human rights organization has faced ongoing criticism over its response to the Israel-Hamas war, with hundreds of writers alleging that PEN showed limited concern over the suffering of Gaza residents and the deaths of Palestinian writers and journalists. PEN has already canceled its spring awards ceremony after dozens of nominees withdrew and its World Voices festival after hundreds signed an open letter saying they wouldn't participate.

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Memoirs of Angela Merkel, titled 'Freedom,' will be published in November

The memoirs of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be released in November, nearly three years after her 16-year tenure leading one of Europe's biggest powers ended.

The roughly 700-page volume, titled "Freiheit" ("Freedom"), will be published on Nov. 26, publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch announced Monday. Merkel co-wrote the book with her longtime assistant and adviser, Beate Baumann.

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Palestinian band escapes horrors of war but members' futures remain uncertain

They stroll Doha's waterfront promenade and sing softly about children who are now "birds in heaven," flying free of the pain of the war in Gaza.

For the Palestinian group Sol Band, it seems surreal that weeks ago they were hiding from Israeli shelling.

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EU angry Eurovision banned EU flag from song contest, wants to know why

The Eurovision song contest continued to spawn unprecedented controversy, days after the winner was crowned, with the 27-nation European Union lambasting organizers for their "incoherence" in banning its flag from the concert hall during the final.

In an unusually sharp letter, EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas wrote to the organizer, the Swiss-based European Broadcast Union, that its ban contributes to "discrediting a symbol that brings together all Europeans."

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Cannes kicks off with Greta Gerwig's jury and a Palme d'Or for Meryl Streep

The Cannes Film Festival opens Tuesday with the unveiling of Greta Gerwig's jury and the presentation of an honorary Palme d'Or for Meryl Streep, as the French Riviera spectacular kicks off a potentially volatile 77th edition.

A 10-day stream of stars will begin flowing down Cannes' famous red carpet beginning with the opening night film, "The Second Act," a French comedy starring Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard. During the opening ceremony, Streep will be given an honorary Palme.

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