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SUGAR IN FOCUS: Aussie actor gets sugar rush from low-fat health foods Reuters 02/03/2015

An Australian actor who set out to expose hidden sugar in health food said he gained 8.5 kg (19 lb) and a paunch after a 60-day low-fat diet, including yogurt, cereal, muesli bars and juices. Damon Gameau's new documentary, "That Sugar Film", studies the effect of consuming what it says is the average daily sugar intake for Australian adults - the equivalent of 40 teaspoons - on the human body. "That Sugar Film", featuring cameos by actors Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry, opened in Australian cinemas this month and will be released in Britain in March.

Reunions and ransoms Reuters 02/03/2015

In Thae Chaung village, a teeming camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar, it's easy to overlook the internet huts. The raw emotion they generate is much harder to ignore. They are filled with dusty laptop computers that allow Rohingya, a mostly stateless people living in grim conditions in Rakhine State, to contact relatives who have left on boats for Thailand and Malaysia. The huts also provide a chilling insight into the human traffickers who prey upon the boat people and the families they leave behind. Reuters reports with a stunning selection of photos taken by Reuters’ photographer Minzayar.

School math answers only a scan away with Croatian app Reuters 02/03/2015

A Croatian computer expert has developed a free app that scans and solves maths equations. PhotoMath has been downloaded more than 11 million times since its introduction in October and now averages about 1.5 million users every month. The creator has received scores of emails from grateful students, parents – and even teachers. "As a means for [students] to check their work it’s unrivalled ... They are far more likely to 'listen' to an electronic device," said one British teacher.

In Japan, women amputees step out of the shadows Reuters 23/02/2015

Despite an estimated 80,000 people in Japan using prosthetic limbs, there remains a stigma of amputation in a country that still holds negative views about disability. Prosthesis maker Fumio Usui hopes to change public opinion and give amputees a new lease of life with his range of designer prostheses. “They make you forget about disability," he said at a fashion show for his new collection. "I want to show that prostheses can be cool and sometimes even cute," added 33-year-old amputee Sato as she modelled a prosthetic leg painted with cherry blossoms and gilded Japanese fans. "It would be great if people felt that prostheses could be fashion items.”

Gay Catholic group gets VIP treatment at Vatican for first time Reuters 23/02/2015

A prominent American Catholic gay rights group has been given VIP treatment for the first time at an audience with Pope Francis, a move members saw as a sign of change in the Roman Catholic Church. A pilgrimage of 50 homosexual Catholics attended the audience in St. Peter's Square and sat in a front section with dignitaries and special Catholic groups. "What this says is that there is movement in our Church, movement to welcome people from the outside closer to the inside," said Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, which ministers to homosexual Catholics and promotes gay rights in the 1.2 billion-member Church.

Lebanon hosting more than 1,500 street children: study Reuters 23/02/2015

More than 1,500 children are living or working on Lebanon's streets, nearly three-quarters of them Syrian and most scraping a living by begging or roadside vending, reveals a recent study. These children earned an average of less than $12 per day and more than half were aged between 10 and 14 years old. The number of children begging in Lebanese cities is one of the most visible signs of the country's refugee crisis. Lebanon hosts more than 1.5 million Syrians from the civil war next door, the highest refugee population in the world per capita.

Moon objects found in astronaut Neil Armstrong's closet Reuters 16/02/2015

A treasure trove of objects that were supposed to have been left behind after the first moon landing have turned up in the closet of Neil Armstrong, the first man to step onto the lunar surface. The items were discovered by the astronaut’s wife and include a camera that was mounted in the window of the Eagle lunar module to record the landing and two waist tethers. They are now part of a temporary exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum.

Women firefighters extinguish stereotypes in India's land of child brides Reuters 16/02/2015

Married before her 18th birthday, Nirma Chaudhary could have ended up like thousands of other child brides in India's desert state of Rajasthan - forced to quit school to be a wife and mother. But thanks to a government initiative aimed at empowering women, she is now one of Rajasthan's first female firefighters. In a region where child marriages are widespread, recruiting women in positions traditionally held by men is also helping to dismantle a harmful practice which affects generations. “Now they see that girls can study and achieve the same as men ... there are other girls that come to me to ask me about how they can also join the fire department," said Nirma.

Ex-supermodel Waris Dirie says FGM can end in her lifetime Reuters 09/02/2015

Supermodel turned campaigner against female genital mutilation Waris Dirie has said she is optimistic that FGM could be eradicated in her lifetime. "FGM breaches all human rights and has no place in any 21st century society," said Dirie, who underwent FGM in Somalia when she was 5 years old and whose sister bled to death after being cut. An estimated 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone FGM which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. Dirie’S Desert Flower Foundation aimS to save 1 million girls across Africa from the "barbaric" ritual in the next few years.

Urban roller skating fights for survival as U.S. rinks close Reuters 09/02/2015

While mainstream roller skating has been on a long decline, a new generation of skaters travel a circuit of rinks around America to compete and show off their moves. The indoor skating scene in Chicago is intense and vibrant, but it is also threatened as roller skating rinks close down in many big cities. And those that survive are financially strapped. But some say the culture is getting stronger as styles evolve and more people take up the sport. "It's an outlet. It's a lifestyle," says one skater. "When I started skating I wasn't getting into trouble anymore. It becomes a family."

After 44 years, Miami orca may edge closer to freedom Reuters 02/02/2015

Lolita, a killer whale that has lived in a tank at Miami's Seaquarium for 44 years, could move a step closer to freedom. After decades of campaigning, animal rights activists hope U.S. officials will include the orca on a list of endangered whales that frequent the waters where she was captured, off Washington State. That decision could trigger a lawsuit by activists who want to fly 7,000-pound (3.2-tonne) Lolita across the country and prepare her for release into the wild. But Officials at Miami Seaquarium say Lolita would not survive in the wild after so many years in captivity.

Nigerians face killings, hunger in Boko Haram's 'state' Reuters 02/02/2015

Boko Haram says it is building an Islamic state that will revive the glory days of northern Nigeria's medieval Muslim empires, but for those in its territory life is a litany of killings, kidnappings, hunger and economic collapse. The Islamist group's five year campaign has become one of the deadliest in the world, with around 10,000 people killed last year. Those who have escaped Boko Haram violence say the rebels do little for them beyond forcing them to adopt their brand of Islam on pain of death. In a hard-hitting report and photo series, Reuters’ Julia Payne speaks to survivors and aid workers about the terror and devastation of the group’s onslaught in Nigeria.

'Friendship Nine' to be cleared of civil rights sit-in crimes Reuters 26/01/2015

Fifty-four years after nine young black men became the first U.S. civil rights protesters to serve jail time for sitting at an all-white lunch counter, surviving members of the 'Friendship Nine' will return to a South Carolina courtroom to be exonerated of their crimes. Their "jail, no bail" strategy helped galvanize the fight against racial inequality in the South and became a model for other protesters. The convictions are among a number of decades-old cases that have been revisited across the South in recent years as courts acknowledge racial injustice in the criminal justice system.

Malala, Tutu back global anti-poverty push in 'crucial year' Reuters 19/01/2015

Almost 1 billion more people will face a life of extreme poverty unless world leaders make progress on poverty and climate change at two crucial summits this year, according to a campaign backed by public figures such as Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu . The "action/2015" campaign was recently launched by 1,000 groups to put pressure on governments ahead of a U.N. summit in September. An open letter signed by Yousafzai and a host of celebrities, warned governments that there were millions of voices they could not afford to ignore.

Worried about Russia? Lithuania says 'Keep calm and read the war manual' Reuters 19/01/2015

Lithuania is publishing a manual to advise its citizens on how to survive a war on its soil as concerns grow that Russia's intervention in Ukraine heralds increased assertiveness in its tiny Baltic neighbors. "Keep a sound mind, don't panic and don't lose clear thinking," the manual explains. "Gunshots just outside your window are not the end of the world." The manual, which the Defence Ministry will send to libraries next week and distribute at army events, also says Lithuanians should resist foreign occupation with demonstrations and strikes, "or at least doing your job worse than usual".

Swiss clamp down on cross-border pizza delivery Reuters 19/01/2015

Switzerland's frugal pizza lovers have had their hopes dashed for a special rule that would have allowed them to keep ordering cheaper pizza delivery from neighboring Germany. Around a year ago the Swiss customs administration scrapped an exception that potentially allowed food delivery like pizza into Switzerland without having to pass through customs. Despite lobbying for an exception in the case of pizza delivery, the Swiss customs administration has decided against such a move for the time being.

China dating app helps gay men banish the blues - and AIDS Reuters 12/01/2015

In China, millions of gay men have found new love and freedom by using a free dating app. Blued lets users scan profiles, chat privately with the potential Mr Right or hang out in a group chatroom. Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but remains a taboo subject. LGBT activists in China say the app has helped gay men develop a positive self-image and fight social prejudices that force homosexuals to stay anonymous. It also promotes safe sex among gay Chinese by giving users easy access to information on condom use and AIDS.

Venezuelans turn to fish smuggling to survive economic crisis Reuters 12/01/2015

People in Venezuela's savannah heartlands struggling to survive the national economic crisis have found a novel way to make ends meet: fish-smuggling to Colombia. Venezuelans pile tonnes of fresh-water fish onto long, motorized canoes and traverse dangerous waterways for days into Colombia. They negotiate with Colombian guerrillas and bribe Venezuelan authorities in a trade that keeps whole villages fed. "There's no other work. The fish pay for our food, our clothes, our children's studies, everything," said Jesus Rodriguez, 53, who supplies coporo fish to buyers at the beginning of the smuggling chain.

Online buyer nets Christie's top lot for $2.8 million at India auction Reuters 05/01/2015

An online buyer from New York overcame spirited bidding to grab a painting by modern Indian artist Tyeb Mehta for $2.8 million at a Christie's auction in Mumbai, highlighting global interest in the finest works of Indian art. Mehta's untitled 1999 painting, featuring the central figure of a falling bull, sold to a private bidder at the auction. The sale beat pre-sale estimates of between $1.3 million and $1.9 million. A pocket book belonging to Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, was sold for $331,325. Art analysts ArtTactic said confidence in the Indian market was at its highest since 2007.

Photo essay: Destination weddings Reuters 05/01/2015

A wedding is always memorable occasion, but for some, a traditional ceremony followed by a sit-down meal just doesn't cut it. Here's a look at a few couples who have opted to say "I do" in a number of unusual places, from cliff faces, fast food restaurants and an aquarium - yes we mean actually in the water with snorkels – to a ceremony conducted inside igloos and in zero gravity.

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