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Sacre bleu! Poor weather ruins wine grape harvest in France

France is facing one of its poorest wine grape harvests in four decades, forecasts showed on Wednesday, due to a cold and rainy spring and severe hail storms. The 2013 harvest is expected to reach just 43.5 millions hectolitres — well below the 10-year average of 45.4 million, according forecasts…

More than half of worldwide drug-related deaths in 2010 were caused by opioids

Heroin accounted for more than half of the 78,000 deaths from illegal drugs in 2010, but amphetamine had most addicts, researchers reported in The Lancet on Wednesday. In a wide-ranging probe into the health impacts from four illicit drugs, a team led by Louisa Degenhardt at Australia’s University of New…

Luxury housing built over grave of famed Russian painter

The burial place outside Moscow of the great Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, famed for his avant-garde works of the early Soviet era, has been paved over to make way for a luxury gated community, activists said Wednesday. A new construction project in the village of Nemchinovka near Moscow was allowed…

Leonardo da Vinci drawings to be exhibited in Venice

Fifty-two drawings by Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci are going on show in Venice from Thursday, including the famous but rarely-seen Vitruvian Man charting the ideal proportions of the human body. The show in the city’s Galleria dell’Academia displays works from the museum’s own archives as well as from the…

Dutch scientists find people lacking a key species of gut bacteria are more prone to obesity

Individuals who lack key species of so-called “good” bacteria in their intestines are more prone to obesity and associated diseases such as diabetes, heart and cholesterol problems, according to research published Wednesday. The findings may hold new clues to help tackle the world’s obesity epidemic, which is predicted to affect…

Scientists identify protein behind age-related memory loss in mice

US researchers said Wednesday they have identified a new protein in the brain that triggers age-related memory loss, a finding that may someday lead to new treatments to reverse it. Using live lab mice and eight human brains that were donated for science, the team led by Nobel laureate Eric…

Federal judge may limit penalties in Apple’s anti-trust case to its e-book business

A US federal court is close to imposing an antitrust remedy on Apple that narrows the scope to the company’s e-book business. US District Judge Denise Cote said in a Tuesday hearing that the remedies to price-fixing that Apple must take should be narrow and should not target Apple’s content…

Syria’s UN envoy now claims regime soldiers inhaled poison gas over the weekend

Syria’s UN envoy said Wednesday that dozens of Syrian soldiers inhaled poison gas in new incidents in his country and called on the United Nations to investigate. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told reporters he had asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to extend the mandate of a UN chemical weapons team…

Sandra Bullock called International Space Station to prep for new movie ‘Gravity’

US actress Sandra Bullock said on Wednesday she spoke to astronauts to prepare for the harrowing space drama “Gravity”, while co-star George Clooney quipped he just used yoga and booze. “I called and left a message and they called me back” from the International Space Station, a toned Bullock said…

Jury sentences Major Nidal Hasan to death in Fort Hood shooting rampage

A court martial sentenced a US army officer to death on Wednesday for carrying out an Al-Qaeda inspired mass shooting on the Fort Hood base that left 13 people dead. After only four hours of deliberations, the forewoman of a jury of military officers said that it was their unanimous…

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