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Supersize me: cigarette round

PARIS, France — It only takes a short walk in the narrow streets of Paris to understand that smoking is an essential part of French culture, where it is tradition to light up while sitting outside a cafe. The word "cigarette" is even French in origin.

South Africa launches world's biggest anti-AIDS drive

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — As South Africa ramps up a high-profile campaign to test 15 million people for HIV in the next year, experts are questioning whether the country’s struggling health care system can support this massive new undertaking. The world’s most ambitious HIV testing campaign is appropriate for South Africa as it has more people with the AIDS virus than any other country. But until recently South Africa's fight against the disease was held back by the denialist policies of the government of former president Thabo Mbeki.

Meet India's tampon king

NEW DELHI, India — Not long ago, women in the small south Indian town of Coimbatore were convinced that 47-year-old A. Muruganantham was some kind of pervert.

Opinion: Stop human trafficking before World Cup

NEW YORK — With the start of the FIFA World Cup Finals quickly approaching, it’s easy for soccer fans to get caught up in the excitement of the matches, the grandeur of new stadiums and the rush of people visiting South Africa from around the world. But the influx of half a million tourists will have the unintended consequence of creating new opportunities for human trafficking — a practice that is unfortunately found in nearly every country around the world.

Zombie pedestrians make for road kill in Toronto

TORONTO, Canada — The other day, I watched a very modern man crossing the street, blissfully oblivious to all that surrounded him. It was at the corner of Queen Street West and Dovercourt Road, the bustling heart of Toronto’s trendy west end. From my vantage point, it wasn’t clear whether he knew the light was green: He stepped off the curb without looking up, eyes fixed on his BlackBerry, thumbs beating out a text, an iPod blaring music in his ears.

Georgian women seek virginity restoration

TBILISI, Georgia — Ia Sartania and Tamuna Bibineishvili are slender, 19-year-old blondes. They are gregarious university students who like popular music, rock climbing and spending time with friends. They are not devout churchgoers and consider themselves somewhat liberal. Both of them are single now but hope to wed within a few years.

Health: Snake bites are a forgotten global threat

NEW YORK — In most Indian villages there is an "ojha," or a magician who doubles as a medicine man. The ojha can cure snake bites with mantras and by rubbing leaves and homemade pastes on the wound. In a village called Sameda, in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district, people put a lot of faith in these age-old remedies. The only problem is, sometimes they don’t work.

Australian smokers get a rude shock

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia's smokers will be finding it even tougher to light up after a raft of tough new government legislation further tightened the country's already stringent restrictions on smoking. On April 29, the Australian government — virtually overnight — announced a 25 percent hike in cigarette tax.

India: More mobile phones than toilets

BANGALORE, India — In populous India, more people have access to mobile phones than to toilets. Shocking as that statistic may be, a combination of social, cultural and economic factors are at play, depriving millions of Indians access to better sanitation. On the one hand, India has some 565 million mobile phone connections, covering roughly half the country’s 1.2 billion people. It is a country whose tech-savvy workforce provides sophisticated tech know-how to the rest of the globe.

Why more Americans perish as Aussies live longer

SYDNEY, Australia — Universal, affordable health care may be expensive, but the world’s first comprehensive adult mortality study provides hard evidence of how well it works to preserve lives. While the risk of dying young in Australia has fallen dramatically over the past 40 years, the United States has failed dismally to improve its record, according to the University of Washington study of premature deaths in 187 countries published in the Lancet. 
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