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Two Russians and an American in orbit commemorated Wednesday the 40th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, when a "handshake in space" brought the two Cold War rivals closer together.

The three delivered a video address to mark the 1975 event as they floated side by side in the International Space Station (ISS), a show of fellowship at a low point in US-Russian relations today.

Bilateral ties are at their lowest ebb in decades, and space remains one of the few areas of dialogue.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko took turns hailing the historic mission, which saw two rockets blast off in the United States and Soviet Union on July 15, 1975.

Two days later they docked in space and the three Americans and two Soviets exchanged gifts and hugs in the first symbolic step away from decades of rivalry.

It was "the first real cooperation in space of -- at that time -- two irreconcilable enemies," Padalka, the current commander of the ISS, said in the video. It can be viewed on the Russian space agency's YouTube page:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqKtFAAARwY#t=162.

 

The Silk Road trading centre of Kashgar has been Muslim for centuries, but despite hordes of people thronging the main bazaar, Gulnur's headscarf shop had barely any customers.

As violence increased last year in China's far western region of Xinjiang, home to mostly Muslim Uighurs, authorities banned veils and other Islamic coverings -- wreaking havoc on her business.

"We're all branded as terrorists because of a few bad people," said Gulnur, who is Uighur. "The Chinese don't understand that we're not all the same.

"Regulations like this will only alienate people," she added.

It is an example of the challenges Beijing faces pacifying the region, where Uighurs accuse the Chinese government of discrimination and restrictions on language, culture and religion.

Xinjiang shares a border with Afghanistan and Pakistan and is culturally closer to Central Asia than China's Han heartland.

Authorities blame the violence -- which has increased in intensity and spread beyond the region in recent years, with more than 200 people killed in 2014 -- on Islamist separatists.

In the past year many forms of Islamic dress have been banned and beards ruled out for young and middle-aged men as Beijing works to root out what it calls "religious extremism".

Posters throughout the region list the prohibited "five abnormal appearances": face veils, burqas, young women in tight headscarves, the beard restrictions, and any clothing with a crescent moon and star logo akin to the Turkish flag.

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis on Monday joked that he did not have to "take drugs" when questioned by a journalist as to the secret of his energy during a whirlwind tour of three Latin American countries.

The 78-year-old pontiff delivered about two dozen speeches and said several masses during a weeklong trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

"You would like to say that I take drugs!" he said in jest, speaking in the plane flying him back to Rome from Asuncion, Paraguay's capital.

"Mate is what helps me," he said, referring to a traditional caffeine-infused beverage popular in the pope's native land Argentina.

"I have never tried coca. That should be made clear," he said, smilingly after Bolivian authorities said they did not exclude him chewing coca leaves to deal with the altitude in La Paz, perched 3,600 metres (11,800 feet) above sea level.

 

 

 

The historic vineyards, wine cellars and champagne houses where the world's most famous sparkling wines are produced were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO on Saturday.

In a double victory for French wine, corks were also popping in Burgundy after its vineyards were crowned with the same prestigious distinction by the UN cultural body in the German city of Bonn.

It picked out the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, where the grand houses sit atop miles of cavernous cellars where millions of bottles of bubbly are aged.

There was special mention too of the village of Hautvilliers, in whose abbey as legend has it the monk Dom Perignon first invented the double fermentation technique that gives champagne its fizz. UNESCO said the champagne world heritage status covers "the places sparkling wine was developed using a second fermentation method in the bottle from the beginning of the 17th century until its early industrialisation in the 19th century."

 

 

The rolling hills of the northern French Champagne region, where the grapes for the sought-after wine are grown, already contain some of the most expensive agricultural land in Europe.

But inclusion on UNESCO's vaunted list can bring further economic benefits, because as well as being a powerful tourist draw, world heritage sites are eligible for financial assistance towards preservation.

In Burgundy, UNESCO recognised the uniqueness of the vineyards of the Cote de Nuits and the Cote de Beaune south of the city Dijon which produce some of the finest red wines in the world made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.

 

Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, who spends millions of dollars on AIDS drug development, said Friday he hoped for a vaccine against the disease within the next decade as a cure remains far off.

"Probably the top priority is a vaccine. If we had a vaccine that can protect people, we can stop the epidemic," the Microsoft mogul said on the sidelines of an anti-AIDS-themed concert in Paris which he backs.

Since 1981, about 78 million people have been infected by HIV, which destroys immune cells and leaves the body exposed to tuberculosis, pneumonia and other opportunistic diseases.

Thirty-nine million have died, according to UN estimates, and about 35 million are living with the immune system-destroying virus today, overwhelmingly in poor countries.

Gates said the quest for an AIDS vaccine has taken longer than expected, with many disappointments along the way.

His charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spends about $400 million a year on AIDS drug research, he told journalists, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

 

French authorities are looking into how a lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein was sold as meat to an unknown customer, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday.

The jellyfish-lamb, called "Rubis", was sent to an abattoir from the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris late last year and somehow ended up on a butcher's slab.

"A female lamb born to a sheep that was genetically modified as part of a medical research programme was sold to a person in the Parisian region in October 2014," said the National Institute for Agricultural Research in a statement, confirming a story first reported by Le Parisien newspaper.

"Although this ovine does not present any risk to humans or the environment, the institute has just informed local prosecutors about this breach of environmental regulations," it added.

The case has been taken up by a public health court in Paris, a judicial source told AFP.

Rubis "found itself on a plate! Who ate it? No one knows," exclaimed Le Parisien on Tuesday.

 

 

The Jarosch Bakery has been supplying goodies for more than 50 years, winning special renown for its butter cream frosting and for butter cookies with an extra tender texture.

But those treats and an array of lip-smacking others face an uncertain future after US regulators this week announced a ban on partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), or trans fats, a key ingredient in shortening used for many confections.

"It will certainly cost us some money to reformulate," said Kenneth Jarosch, who plans to scour his suppliers for shortenings made with alternative oils before the ban takes effect in 2018.

But Jarosch, whose grandfather and father started the business in 1959, also fears customers will not like the change.

"It will have an effect on the taste and texture and that's what we're all about," Jarosch told AFP by telephone from suburban Chicago.

"And that's what distinguishes us from Walmart and Costco and, if that goes down the drain, we're going to be in a world of hurt."

On Tuesday the US Food and Drug Administration, in a long-telegraphed move, announced that PHOs, the main source of industrially produced trans fat, would be barred from the US food supply starting in June 2018, saying the shift would save thousands of lives.

 

 

PHOs are not "generally recognized as safe" due to their role in heart disease, the FDA said.

FDA officials say even very small quantities of trans fats can add up to dangerous levels and will not permit the ingredient without an exemption.

The food industry like PHOs, which are made in an industrial process by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil.

Trans fats allow foods to remain solid at higher temperatures, provide texture to icings and other foods and have distinctive flavors that are desirable in fried foods. They can also increase the shelf life of baked goods.

- No substitutes -

But after extensive research, the FDA said it was banning a dangerous ingredient which carries no health benefits.

 

Food manufacturers were required starting in 2006 to include trans fat information on nutrition labels, a move credited with cutting US trans fat consumption by nearly 80 percent.

After the FDA released a preliminary version of the PHO ban in 2013, they came under heavy fire from the processed food industry, including the Popcorn Institute, the National Frozen Pizza Institute and the International Chewing Gum Association, which called the plan "misguided and overly broad."

Some commentators said the ban would boost use of likewise unhealthy substitutes high in saturated fats. And critics link the production of one PHO substitute, palm oil, to deforestation.

General Mills, ConAgra and others sought unsuccessfully to persuade the FDA to impose very low caps on PHOs, rather than a total ban.

General Mills cited "significant technical challenges" in replacing PHOs for certain items "for which there are few or no suitable alternatives," such as tailored shortenings used in pastries, cakes and icings.

 

 

US business tycoon Donald Trump declared Tuesday he was running for the White House, promising to make America “great again”.

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” Trump said in a launch speech at his Trump Tower skyscraper in Manhattan.

"Our country is in serious trouble. We don't have victories anymore," he said. "When was the last time anyone saw us beating, let's say, China in a trade deal. They kill us. I beat China all the time."

"When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions and what do we do?"

The businessman, whom Forbes values at $4.1 billion, said "the United States has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."

 

 

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hit back at Italy over responsibility for migrants on Monday, saying it must abide by European asylum rules and that France would continue to turn them back.

Hundreds of African migrants are stranded at a border crossing in northern Italy, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi  on Sunday called for a change to regulations.

He argued that after toppling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the international community bore responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have since crossed by boat to southern Italy. Some 170,000 made the journey in 2014 alone, according to statistics agency Eurostat.

But speaking to a French TV station, Cazeneuve said Italy had to implement the so-called Dublin regulations, which assign most asylum seekers to the EU country they first enter.

“The Dublin rules must be respected. When migrants arrive in France that have been through Italy and registered there, the European law applies and that means they must be returned to Italy,” he told BFM TV.

 

 

Kanani and Sylvia, brother and sister aged nine and eight, were grazing the family cattle in rural Uganda when they were approached by a man they vaguely knew.

Sperito Bisekwa was angry. He accused the children of allowing their cows to eat his fodder and dragged them into a nearby forest. He attacked Kanani first. When the boy awoke he had a machete wound on his neck and his sister lay dead beside him.

"He grabbed me, strangled me and cut the back of my neck. When I came to, I realised my sister had been cut everywhere and she was dead," said Kanani.

Sylvia's young body had been gruesomely mutilated, her heart and clitoris cut out with a knife and taken for use in a witchdoctor's ritual, according to police.

Child sacrifice is a disturbing and widespread phenomenon in Uganda, serious enough that the government has established a special taskforce.

Activists say child sacrifice is not about tradition, but greed as people seek a quick route to wealth or power and with elections due in 2016 they worry killings are set to increase.

 

- Anti-Human Sacrifice Task Force -

 

Child sacrifice is "expected to rise", said Moses Binoga, head of Uganda's Anti-Human Sacrifice and Trafficking Task Force.

 

"Now we are going into elections, you will find that there are so many Ugandans, even high profile people, going to witch doctors' shrines," said Binoga.

"Some of them will be so desperate that if they're told to win a seat as an MP 'You must sacrifice a child', they'll do it."

Binoga said there have been five reported cases of child sacrifice so far this year and nine last year, although those numbers are disputed with activists saying the actual figures are higher.

A sharp rise in reported cases of child sacrifice in 2009 spurred the setting up of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM), a charity that works with survivors and victims' families.

Child protection officer Shelin Kasozi said the charity receives a few cases every month, stressing that the ritual murders "cut across all Ugandan society".

"The rich believe, 'If I sacrifice then my business will prosper'," she said. "The poor believe if they sacrifice a child they'll get rich."

 

- Genitals hacked off -

 

Kasozi pointed to the case of "very, very rich" Kampala businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi who received a life sentence in 2012 for the ritual murder of a 12-year old boy who was beheaded and his genitals cut off.

Cases of children disappearing as they walk between school and home, or while fetching water from communal wells, can be found across Uganda. Sometimes their dismembered body parts are later discovered in forests or building sites.