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Thai monarchy’s billions come from real estate, companies

BANGKOK — Thailand’s king, who died Thursday, was reputed to be the world’s richest royal and one of the wealthiest people on the planet.

It was a status that clashed with the carefully managed image of a monarch intensely concerned for his people’s welfare and one that Thai authorities were always anxious to correct.

Saudi sculptures, Cuban cigars among foreign gifts to Obama

WASHINGTON — Seven boxes of Cuban cigars and matching Dutch bicycles may have been the most appreciated gifts that President Barack Obama and his wife received from foreign leaders last year, but a gem-encrusted horse sculpture from Saudi Arabia’s king and a pair of intricate mechanical birds from the emir of Qatar topped the extravagance chart.

Nobel laureate Tutu celebrates 85th birthday, giving thanks

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu shed tears of gratitude on his 85th birthday on Friday in South Africa, where he presided over a cathedral Mass despite his poor health. Separately, in a newspaper column, the former archbishop said he would like to have the option of a “dignified assisted death” when the time comes.