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Picking strawberries in Mexico for U.S. tables leaves workers asking for more Reuters 25/05/2015

In northwest Mexico, day laborers pick strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in the Baja California peninsula for what they say is as little as $1 an hour. Since March, thousands of workers have blocked roads, staged marches and held meetings with lawmakers to express their frustration over pay and conditions and their protests are slowly pressuring companies that supply U.S. markets to make improvements. Reuters visits a strawberry field in the dusty farmlands of San Quintin to speak to workers about their working conditions, described as “near slavery” and their fears of being exposed to pesticides.

Octogenarian cobbler rescues the soles of Beverly Hills Reuters 25/05/2015

Just steps from boutique-lined Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills sits the decidedly unglamorous Arturo's Shoe Fixx, where 88-year-old Argentine immigrant Arturo Azinian toils for 13 hours a day saving the fancy footwear of the elite in the ritzy 90210 zip code. The cobbler’s A-list clients include Jennifer Aniston, Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace, Nicole Kidman, Orlando Bloom and Jodie Foster. But while handling shoes worth hundreds and thousands of dollars, Azinian is utterly clueless about the famous people to whom they belong. "I don't remember a thing. I hardly remember my name!" he laughs.

Largest U.S. needle exchange tries free meth pipes in Seattle Reuters 18/05/2015

A pioneering but illegal program launched in Seattle, USA, aims to curb infectious diseases among drug users by handing out free meth pipes. The theory is that it may steer some away from needles, a far riskier option than smoking, especially if the user is sharing with another person infected with HIV or Hepatitis C. There is little scientific evidence to support that claim, but The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, a privately funded needle-swap group run by drug users, said it has distributed more than 1,000 pipes in Seattle in a matter of weeks and could expand to other cities in Washington state and Oregon.

Soccer eases life in Jordan refugee camp, until goal dispute Reuters 18/05/2015

The small village of Langtang, located on a popular trekking route near the base of Mount Langtang, was wiped of the face of the Earth by the first of the recent devastating Nepalese earthquakes. With an estimated 300 victims, including about 110 foreigners, believed to be buried under up to six meters (20 feet) of ice, snow and rock, it is one of the worst-hit sites in a disaster which has so far claimed more than 8,000 lives. Trapped between mountain and avalanche, terrified foreign trekkers and Nepalese villagers from the nearby area speak about surviving the disaster and their desperate struggle for rescue. “Our minds were lost. We were half-dead, half-alive.”

Survivors battle for helicopters near Nepal village that vanished Reuters 18/05/2015

The small village of Langtang, located on a popular trekking route near the base of Mount Langtang, was wiped of the face of the Earth by the first of the recent devastating Nepalese earthquakes. With an estimated 300 victims, including about 110 foreigners, believed to be buried under up to six meters (20 feet) of ice, snow and rock, it is one of the worst-hit sites in a disaster which has so far claimed more than 8,000 lives. Trapped between mountain and avalanche, terrified foreign trekkers and Nepalese villagers from the nearby area speak about surviving the disaster and their desperate struggle for rescue. “Our minds were lost. We were half-dead, half-alive.”

Connected and angry, African youth groups push for democracy Reuters 11/05/2015

Four years after launching a campaign to get young Senegalese to vote, journalist Fadel Barro found himself in a dark prison cell over 4,000 km from home in Democratic Republic of Congo, accused of fomenting insurrection. His journey and brief incarceration show how youth movements have linked up across francophone Africa to push for change in a region still dominated by "Big Men" leaders. But they face tough challenges and resistance in African nations with deeply entrenched governments that have hardened military support. Reuters reports.

Baby love: three entrepreneurial Finnish dads think inside the box Reuters 11/05/2015

Three 30-something fathers from Helsinki are hoping to create an international market for a peculiarly Finnish package – the baby box. The boxes, sent by the Finnish government, include items such as baby clothes, a sleeping bag and nipple cream, and are popular among first-time Finnish parents. Now, the service is being offered overseas. Finnish Baby Box package costs about 400 euros ($450) and are exported to more than 20 countries, with the contents chosen to suit where the baby lives. A recent recipient is new British royal baby Princess Charlotte.

Baltimore riots: A barber's half-century of clipping hair in a changing Baltimore Reuters 04/05/2015

On April 25, riots and civil unrest erupted in Baltimore, protesting the circumstances surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. Similar events occurred in 1968 after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Local barber Lenny Clay, who opened his shop in 1961, remembers the ’68 riots and recounts a half-century of clipping hair in a changing Baltimore to Reuters journalist Emily Flitter. "In the '60s, we were fighting for equality. Now we're fighting for survival.”

Two migrant sisters from Syria, now worlds apart Reuters 04/05/2015

In a small town south of Beirut, Fawziyeh shares a three-bedroom flat with 12 others including her five children – all, like her, refugees from Syria. Almost every day she gets cellphone messages from her younger sister Rabab, in Germany. After being resettled UNHCR, Rabab, a widow, lives with her children in a comfortable house and receive free education and health insurance. They both fled their homeland three years ago, and their divergent lives capture the fates dealt to millions of Syrians forced from their country by its four-year civil war. Reuters reports.

Remote corner of Bosnia to declare itself 'Town of Twins' Reuters 27/04/2015

Residents of a Buzim, a small picturesque town in northwest Bosnia, have launched an initiative to declare it the "Town of Twins". Nedzib Vucelj, a father of twins, discovered that at least 21 sets of twins had been born in the town of 20,000 people during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Trying to track down Buzim's twins, scattered around the world by the war, Vucelj launched a Facebook page - "Buzim - The Town of Twins". Based on initial responses, he believes he has tracked down some 200 pairs. Locals struggle to explain the phenomenon, but a tradition of large families, and possible inbreeding in an isolated rural area, may help such genes persist. Reuters reports.

Migrant influx strains Greece as economy suffers Reuters 27/04/2015

In Greece, the rising influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East is testing the social and economic limits of a country already crippled by financial crisis. Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for tens of thousands of Asian and African migrants fleeing war and poverty every year. But a lack of infrastructure has left hundreds fending for themselves on the streets, with nowhere to sleep and little eat. Greek reaction to foreigners pouring into city centers, lining up at food banks and shelters already crowded with impoverished Greeks, is turning hostile, and surveys results suggest Greeks see the government’s response to the migrant crisis as barely passable. Reuters reports.

U.S. study finds teacher bias in discipline toward black students Reuters 27/04/2015

New research claims that teachers in the United States are more likely to feel troubled when a black student misbehaves for a second time than when a white student does, highlighting a bias that shows why African-American children are more often disciplined than schoolmates. In the study conducted by Stanford University researchers, students perceived as black who committed two infractions were judged by teachers to deserve more severe discipline than students seen as white. "It's not that these are racist people, it's just that we all are exposed to stereotypes in the world," said one of the researchers. In this case, the stereotype was that black students were more often seen as "troublemakers."

How Vladimir Putin’s skewed view of World War Two threatens his neighbors and the West Reuters 20/04/2015

As the Kremlin ramped up its involvement in eastern Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has become an increasingly unwanted guest at international gatherings marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2. “2015 was meant to be a year of remembrance and celebration of how far Europeans had come in seven decades. Instead, it has degenerated into a clash that says more about the present than the past, especially in Eastern Europe,” writes Lucian Kim in an opinion piece for Reuters that examines how Vladimir Putin’s skewed view of World War Two threatens Russia’s relations with both its neighbors and the West.

General: School lunches are U.S. national-security issue Reuters 20/04/2015

With figures indicating that nearly one in three young adults aged 17 to 24 is too heavy to serve in the military, an ex-army general has said that childhood obesity is now a serious national security issue. In an opinion piece for Reuters, Samuel E. Ebbeson argues that while obesity is a complex problem that has no single solution, school-nutrition is one obvious place to begin changing American’s eating habits. More nutritious school lunches already have proven success rates amongst pupils but more must be done to help schools struggling to source healthy ingredients, says Ebbeson.

Mom sneaks kids to Mickey D’s amid fast-food backlash, won’t tell Dad Reuters 13/04/2015

The fact that young mothers are teaching their children not to tell their dads that they've been to McDonald's may underscore how hard it may be for the world's largest restaurant chain to remake its image and revive U.S. sales. Numerous documentaries, like "Super Size Me" in 2004, have amplified consumer concerns about the health effect of eating fast food. McDonald's has repeatedly tried to change that image. To lure back consumers, McDonald's Corp's new Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook recently pledged to eliminate chickens fed human antibiotics at its U.S. restaurants. But will it be enough for health conscious consumers? Reuters investigates.

Pakistan gets first women-only auto-rickshaw to beat male pests Reuters 13/04/2015

A Pakistani environmentalist, fed up with being groped and harassed by male auto-rickshaw drivers, has launched her own service exclusively for women passengers and drivers in her home city of Lahore - with just the one rickshaw on the road so far. Zar Aslam said she once narrowly escaped kidnapping by a rickshaw driver when she was a student, which triggered the idea of launching her Pink Rickshaw service. "This is another step towards women's financial and professional empowerment,” she told Reuters.

Gaza man feels duped after selling Banksy mural for $175 Reuters 07/04/2015

A Palestinian man from northern Gaza has been left frustrated after selling his bombed-out doorway to a local artist without realizing that the image painted on it was by Banksy and could be worth a small fortune. The man who bought the mural, graffiti artist and journalist Belal Khaled, said he had no plans to give the door back and no plans to sell it "at present" and is considering offers to display it in international galleries to speak about the suffering of Gaza and the agonies of war. Pieces by the British street artist regularly sell for more than $500,000. Reuters reports.

Special Report: Why Brazil has a big appetite for banned pesticides Reuters 07/04/2015

The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer of pesticides and has become an enticing market for pesticides banned or phased out in richer nations because of health or environmental risks. While regulators struggle to keep up with evaluating the health risks of thousands of pesticides flooding the Brazilian market, public-health specialists say rates of human intoxication by pesticides is rising. Reuters unearths the unsavoury facts, statistics and consequences of Brazil’s big appetite for banned pesticides.

The $50 device that symbolizes a shift in North Korea Reuters 30/03/2015

North Korea is one of the world’s most repressed societies, but a $50 portable media player is breaking down barriers to the outside world. Up to half of all urban North Korean households have an easily concealed ‘notel’, a small portable media player used to watch DVDs of South Korean soaps, pop music, Hollywood films and news programs. “If Pyongyang fails to successfully adapt to these trends, they could threaten the long-term survival of the regime itself,” said Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK).

Smartphone use changing our brain and thumb interaction, say researchers Reuters 30/03/2015

A University of Zurich team has used EEG scans to show that smartphone use enhances electrical activity in the brain. Dr Arko Ghosh says that smartphone use is an ideal way to explore the everyday plasticity of the human brain: “What you essentially see is that the most recent usage that people accumulated on their smartphones that reflected on the way that brains processed information from their fingertips. So essentially these day-to-day fluctuations that we encounter through our daily lives they imprint on the brain on the way that it processes information from your hands.”

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