Chris Arden

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LE MONDE

Elysee Aromatic - Journey Into The Wine Cellar Of France's Presidential Palace

PARIS - The wine cellar of the French Presidential Palace – the Elysée – where President François Hollande now resides, is not that far from the command center of France's nuclear arsenal.

Its location remains just as much a mystery. Except for authorized personnel, it is impossible to visit the wine cellar, with the entrance being vaulted shut. More than 15,000 bottles of the very best France has to offer lie within: Châteaux Ausone, Petrus, Figeac, Yquem, the prestigious châteaux of Burgundy, a collection of vintage champagnes etc. This is where the French Republic keeps its prestige and one of its means of diplomacy.

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Geopolitics

A Chilling Tale Of Ordinary Japanese Abducted By North Korean Spies

AGEO - Shigeo Iizuka still has the black-and-white photo of his little sister, Yaeko, stuck on the inside cover of his pocket diary. It was June 1978, when the 22-year-old suddently disappeared, taken from the bustling heart of Tokyo and transferred to North Korea to be used as a teacher of Japanese language and customs for the spies of Kim Jong-il, the son of the leader of the time, Kim Il-sung.

"No one can imagine the tragedy that we have been through. I still yearn for the years I spent with my sister," sighs Iizuka, a Japanese engineer who is still working at the age of 75.

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Economy

Santa Gadget - Why Kids Don't Want Toys Anymore For Christmas

PARIS - For Christmas this year, eight-year-old Thomas has asked for... a laptop computer, just so he doesn't have to use his mother's. Last year, when he was seven, he got an iPod.

This Christmas will be characterized by society's evolution toward high-tech gadgets; an evolution that has not bypassed children. For dozens of years, toy manufacturers have not only had to adapt to this technological revolution, but they have also had to adapt to a society undergoing profound change.

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Geopolitics

Muslim Brotherhood Accused Of Secret Police Tactics, Torture

CAIRO - On December 5, violent clashes raged for hours between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi, after the latter attacked a sit-in outside the presidential palace by protesters rejecting the constitutional declaration and a snap referendum.

A total of 49 people were captured, beaten and kept overnight in makeshift holding cells as their captors interrogated them about their affiliations and the reason for their presence in the vicinity of the fighting.

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Geopolitics

Japan-China Dispute Escalates As Beijing Planes Fly Around Islands

NHK, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), XINHUA (China)

Worldcrunch

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Geopolitics

Pope's First Tweet - Twitter Reacts To His Social Holiness With Snark And Glee

Worldcrunch

VATICAN CITY - It's been a long time coming, but Pope Benedict XVI has finally graced the world with his first few tweets. Two weeks after establishing his Twitter handle, @Pontifex (Latin for "Pope") in eight different languages, he finally sent out some 140-character blessings Wednesday morning :

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Geopolitics

North Korea Declares Rocket Launch A Success

KCNA (North Korea), THE KOREA HERALD (South Korea), NHK (Japan)

Worldcrunch

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Sources

Why Is There A Giant Rubber Duck Floating Down The River Thames?

LONDON - Londoners were left slightly bemused on Tuesday when they stumbled across a giant rubber duck floating down the River Thames.

First a monkey wearing a coat roaming around IKEA in Toronto? Now a rubber duck swimming up the Thames? Has everyone gone quackers? Is it already the end of the world? No, it was just a mere PR stunt by a British online bingo company named Jackpotjoy.com wanting to inject a bit of fun into the lives of commuters. Enjoy:

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Geopolitics

Nelson Mandela Being Treated For Lung Infection

SOWETAN, THE MAIL & GUARDIAN (South Africa)

Worldcrunch

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Geopolitics

Australian DJs Speak Out After Infamous Royal Hoax

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, NINE NETWORK (Australia)

Worldcrunch

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Sources

The Two-State Solution Is Dead. Long Live The Two-State Solution

Let's be real, says this commentator, Israeli settlers on the West Bank aren't going away, UN statehood for Palestine notwithstanding. Here's another way to imagine a two-state solution.

-OpEd-

GENEVA - Palestine is now a state. The news that the United Nations General Assembly granted it recognition as a non-member observer state on November 29 was met with celebrations the world over. In the West Bank's capital, Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas's staff has already corrected their letterheads and website accordingly. The Palestinian Authority has become a government. Its emissaries will be real ambassadors.

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Economy

Hey Grandpa, You're Rockin' It On Facebook!

Seniors Demographic Reaches Social Media Tipping Point.

When you think of the brands that dominate on Facebook, companies like Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Disney spring to mind. Grandparents.com, not so much.

But according to Track Social, Grandparents.com was actually the 8th most shared brand on Facebook in the last month and a half — beating BMW in the run-up to Christmas and NPR during election season.

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