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Lebanese Clerics Piano Playing Strikes Wrong Note For Some

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BEIRUT – A Muslim cleric has been expelled from his seminary in Lebanon after a video of his piano playing, posted online, drew criticism from conservatives who felt it was undignified behavior for a man of the cloth, he said.

Shi’ite Muslim Sayed Hussein al-Husseini, 38, a keen pianist and amateur poet, posted the footage to challenge the traditional image of a cleric.

But the sight of a main in turban and robe performing – even demure classical music – at the piano was a step too far for some.

“I wanted to show that religious study should not be isolated from the world, or from people or from other studies,” Husseini told Reuters, saying the al-Thaqalain seminary in Beirut had expelled him, cancelling his stipend. It declined to comment.

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Audubons Birds Of America Could Fetch 12 Million At Ny Auction

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– A first edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America,” one of the most celebrated books of natural history, is going up for auction in New York in June and could fetch up to $12 million, Christie’s said on Wednesday.

The richly illustrated 19th Century book, featuring more than 400 hand-colored illustrations of 1,037 life-size birds, is one of just 13 complete sets thought remaining in private hands, Christie’s said.

Proceeds from the June 14 sale will benefit conservation of plants, animals and natural habitats through the work of the Knobloch Family Foundation.

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Anti-semitic Letter By Wagner Sold At Auction In Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM – A letter written by German composer Richard Wagner that underscored his anti-Semitism was sold to Jewish collector from Switzerland at auction in Israel on Tuesday for $34,000, the auction house said.

The letter, written on a yellowing double-spread sheet of paper, was penned by Wagner in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1869. It was apparently intended for the French philosopher Edouard Schoure, said Meron Eren, of the Kedem Auction House.

The buyer’s identity was not made public.

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Ethiopia Says British Museum Must Permanently Return Its Artifacts

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ADDIS ABABA – Britain must permanently return all artifacts from Ethiopia held by the Victoria and Albert Museum and Addis Ababa will not accept them on loan, an Ethiopian government official said.

The call comes after the museum, one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, put Ethiopian treasures plundered by British forces on display.

“Well, it would be exciting if the items held at the V&A could be part of a long-term loan with a cultural institution in Ethiopia,” museum director Tristram Hunt said.

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