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Salmonella found in world's biggest chocolate plant

Production has been halted in the world's biggest chocolate plant, run by Swiss giant Barry Callebaut in the Belgian town of Wieze, after salmonella contaminations was found, the firm said Thursday. . Swiss group Barry Callebaut supplies cocoa and chocolate products to many companies in the food industry, including industry giants such as Hershey, Mondelez, Nestle or Unilever. 

Russia quits Snake Island, in blow to blockade of Ukraine ports

Russian troops have abandoned their positions on a captured Ukrainian island, a major set-back to their invasion effort that weakens their blockade of Ukraine's ports, defence officials said Thursday.. In peacetime, Ukraine is a major agricultural exporter, but Russia's invasion has damaged farmland and seen Ukraine's ports seized, razed or blockaded -- threatening grain importers in Africa with famine.

Prophet row murder sparks fury on Indian social media

The gruesome killing of a Hindu tailor has inflamed religious tensions in India and sparked a furious response on social media, including calls for reprisal attacks against the country's Muslim minority.. The far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) used social media to issue a nationwide protest call against Islamist terrorism and complain that Muslims had routinely upset the religious sentiments of India's majority religion.

Hong Kong on high alert as Xi Jinping visit expected for handover

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Hong Kong Thursday, prompting a massive security effort ahead of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city's handover to China.. The July 1 handover anniversary in Hong Kong has traditionally been marked by tens of thousands taking to the streets in peaceful rallies every year.

Thousands gather at all-male meeting to rubber-stamp Taliban rule

Thousands of Afghan religious scholars and tribal elders gathered in the capital Thursday for a men-only meeting the Taliban hope will rubber-stamp their hardline Islamic rule.. Afghan media is abuzz with speculation that Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada -- who has not been filmed or photographed in public since the group returned to power -- may attend the gathering.

India's women water warriors transform parched lands

As the monsoon storms bear down on India, a dedicated group of women hope that after years of backbreaking labour, water shortages will no longer leave their village high and dry.. She heard about the volunteer group a decade ago after suffering through years of water shortages, by the end of which every well and hand pump in her village of 500 people had run dry. 

Cairo's floating heritage risks being towed away by grand projects

Dozens of vibrantly coloured floating homes have for decades dotted the banks of the River Nile, rare havens of leafy seclusion in the Egyptian capital's hustle and bustle -- but maybe not for much longer.. Residents of the 30 or so houseboats  that remain moored on the banks of the Nile last week received eviction orders, giving them less than two weeks before their homes are taken away to be demolished.

UK urged to cleanse 'stain' of dirty Russian money

For all its tough talk against Russia, the UK's government is failing to enforce its promises to clean up dirty foreign money, a hard-hitting report by MPs said Thursday.. "The UK's status as a safe haven for dirty money is a stain on our reputation," the Foreign Affairs Committee's Conservative chairman, Tom Tugendhat, said.

Marcos Jr to be sworn in as Philippine president

The son of the Philippines' late dictator Ferdinand Marcos will be sworn in as president Thursday, completing a decades-long effort to restore the clan to the country's highest office.. Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, said the country had a "big chance that we can be moving forward and ahead of the pack" under Marcos Jr. "We are very optimistic on the quality of the leadership that we have now," Ortiz-Luis told AFP. Unlike Duterte, who pivoted away from the United States towards China, Marcos Jr has indicated he will pursue a more balanced relationship with the two superpowers.