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Two Tibetans set themselves on fire in China

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BEIJING — Two more Tibetans have set themselves on fire in a restive southwestern region of China, a rights group said, the latest in a wave of such protests against Beijing’s rule.

The incidents occurred Thursday in the Tibetan prefecture of Aba in a rugged area of China’s Sichuan province, the London-based group Free Tibet said in a statement.

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It added that the fate of the pair was not known, but a Tibetan Buddhist monk in the area told AFP by phone that both had died.

Free Tibet said Chinese security forces were en route to the town of Barma, where the incident took place in front of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

Local authorities either refused to comment when contacted by AFP or calls went unanswered.

A total of 34 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, are now reported to have set themselves on fire since the start of 2011 in protest at what they see as Chinese repression of their culture.

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Many of them have reportedly died as a result of severe burns.

Free Tibet identified those involved in Thursday’s protest as Sonam and Choephak Kyap, saying they were laypeople in their 20s.

Local people took the pair away after the incident, it said, citing local sources.

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A Tibetan monk at a monastery near where the incident occurred told AFP the pair had died.

“Yes, they both died that night,” he said, but refused further comment.

China has imposed tight security on restive Tibetan regions since 2008, when deadly rioting against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet’s capital Lhasa and spread to neighbouring Tibetan-inhabited regions.

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Since then, confirming reports of unrest has been difficult.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities on Thursday publicly recognized 6,773 “patriotic and law-abiding” Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in a ceremony in Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital.

Many Tibetans in China complain of religious repression and a gradual erosion of their culture blamed on a growing influx of majority Han Chinese to their homeland.

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China, however, denies repressing Tibetans and says it has improved their lives with investments in infrastructure, schools and housing and by spurring economic growth.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, of inciting the self-immolations in a bid to split the vast Himalayan region from the rest of the nation — a charge he denies.


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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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