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Sante! Japanese sake becomes a hit in France

Toshiro Kuroda is a man on a mission. Over the past seven years he estimates he has introduced up to 50,000 people in France to the delights of the fermented rice drink sake with fans that include French actor Gerard Depardieu. “When I started seven or eight years ago, nobody…

Palestinian singer from Gaza wins ‘Arab Idol’ contest

Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf on Saturday won a pan-Arab singing contest that has had millions of viewers fixed to their TV screens since March. Powerfully voiced Syrian singer Farah Yousef came second, and Egyptian Ahmed Jamal third in the Arab Idol competition, modelled on the Western Pop Idol. “Mohammed Assaf…

More protests in Brazil despite president’s ‘great pact’ offer

Fresh protests erupted across Brazil Saturday despite conciliatory remarks by President Dilma Rousseff, who pledged to improve public services and fight harder against corruption. Rousseff’s televised address late Friday appeared to have done little to satisfy protesters, as activists vowed to continue the struggle and ordinarily football-mad Brazilians once again…

Obama confirms climate change speech for Tuesday

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Saturday that he will outline a climate change plan on Tuesday centered around reducing pollution from carbon emissions as he attempts to make good on a pledge for his second term. “This Tuesday, I’ll lay out my vision for…

Washington state on alert after leaks found at power plant

Heightened radioactivity levels were found outside a nuclear waste tank in the US state of Washington, officials said Friday, in a new alert about a site used to make Cold War-era bombs. Governor Jay Inslee said there was no immediate public health threat, but urged federal authorities to accelerate action…

Science student crowned first Miss Algeria winner in 10 years

After an absence of 10 years, the Miss Algeria beauty contest was held Friday in the western city of Oran, with 19-year-old science student Rym Amari taking the pageant honours. The competition was suspended in 2003 after the death of Cheradi Hamdad, who launched the beauty contest in 1996 during…

Wine producers go hi-tech to protect against fraud

Making sure a glass of wine is everything it promises on the label was once a relatively simple process: hold against the light, tilt and observe the shade, swirl a little and give it a good sniff. But with the ever-increasing global consumption of wine now attracting the attention of…

India monsoon floods kill at least 560 with thousands still missing

By Danish Siddiqui RUDRAPRAYAG, India (Reuters) – Flash floods and landslides unleashed by early monsoon rains have killed at least 560 people in northern India and left tens of thousands missing, officials said on Saturday, with the death toll expected to rise significantly. Houses and small apartment blocks on the…

Judge blocks audio expert testimony in Trayvon Martin case

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – The judge in the George Zimmerman trial has ruled that two voice identification experts who suggested that unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin screamed for help before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman will not be allowed to testify at the trial. The…

Sopranos star had ‘wonderful’ last day with son: friend

By Steve Scherer ROME (Reuters) – James Gandolfini, star of the U.S. Emmy-winning series The Sopranos, had a “wonderful” last day on holiday with his son before dying of a heart attack in Italy, a family friend said on Friday. Michael Kobold told journalists an autopsy on Friday morning showed…

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