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(MENAFN - AFP) A cluster of palm trees next to Milan's Duomo was set ablaze early Sunday as a dispute over the use of non-native plants at one of Italy's most celebrated cathedrals took on a racist tinge.

Three of the 42 trees went up in flames in the overnight attack by vandals, though only one suffered extensive damage to its trunk.

The incident followed protests ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) More than 1,000 ultra-nationalists staged a protest in Kiev on Sunday to back a blockade between the coal-producing separatist east and the rest of Ukraine that the government has warned could cause nationwide power cuts and job losses.

Ukraine has declared a state of emergency in the energy sector over the railway blockade, which was launched in late January ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Tens of thousands of revellers in masks and period costume packed St Mark's Square on Sunday for the "flight of the angel", the traditional opening of the Venice Carnival.

On the 12th chime of midday from St Mark's Campanile, Claudia Marchiori descended gracefully from the famous bell tower, attached to a wire 80 metres (260 feet) above the crowd that had gathered ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) The China National Petroleum Corporation on Sunday secured an eight-percent share in an onshore oil concession in Abu Dhabi in a deal worth $1.77 billion, the Emirati company said.

The Chinese giant signed a deal with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for a stake in the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations which operates the 40-year concession, ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Iraq's proven oil reserves have increased by 10 billion barrels to 153 billion, Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi announced Sunday in a statement.

The country has the world's fifth largest reserves behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Iran.

The ministry said in its statement that exploratory activities in seven fields in central and southern Iraq had ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) French automaker PSA has pledged to keep Opel plants in Germany running if a planned merger goes forward, and to refrain from layoffs until at least 2019, a newspaper report said Sunday.

PSA, the parent company of France's Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.

But the plans ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Nebuchadnezzar II is about to be crowned in a sumptuous Babylonian palace, and production assistants in Havaiana flip-flops are rushing to get a small army of extras into place.

Welcome to the set of "The Rich Man and Lazarus," the latest biblical telenovela from the media empire of one of Brazil's largest evangelical mega-churches.

Edir Macedo, the controversial ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) At the 18th-century Spode pottery works in Stoke-on-Trent, start-up artisans like 22-year-old Emma Price are moving into abandoned buildings and breathing new life into a once-mighty industry.

The 10-acre (four-hectare) site in the heart of the Staffordshire city in central England whose name worldwide is synonymous with pottery has become a creative hub that ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Strong winds and stormy seas have helped turn the Shetland Islands in the North Atlantic into a European renewable energy giant, producing more power than it knows what to do with.

The tidal power underwater turbines that were completed last month are only the latest green energy project for an archipelago that has been reliant for decades on the North Sea ...

 
(MENAFN - AFP) Tourists are slowly returning to Egypt, easing pressure on a key sector battered by years of turmoil and the 2015 bombing of a plane carrying Russian holidaymakers.

"There is an increase in the number of tourists. This situation was much better in January than in previous years," tourism ministry spokeswoman Omaima al-Husseini said.

Visitors from China, ...

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