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Cleaning up Palmyra ... First chat in years ... Dairy producer fight against soy, almond, rice milks

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 3, 2017 at 4:40 a.m.

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian army units are clearing land mines and explosives left behind by Islamic State militants in the historic town of Palmyra (pahl-MEER'-uh), a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists. Syrian security official says the process is expected to be long and difficult because of the large number of mines planted. The Syrian government seized Palmyra from Islamic State militants last March, only to lose it again 10 months later.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top military officer has spoken to his NATO counterpart for the first time in several years. The Russian Defense Ministry says Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, spoke by phone today with Czech Army Gen. Petr Pavel, the chairman of NATO's Military Committee. It was the first such high-level contact since NATO suspended a dialogue with Russia in 2014 over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police in Norway say they're worried about an increasing number of men ordering child-like sex dolls from Hong Kong. Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service says those who have ordered the dolls — described as very lifelike — are men 18 to 60 years old, and include some convicted of sexual offenses against children. Authorities fear those who've bought the dolls "may pose a risk of committing abuses against children in the future."

NEW YORK (AP) — Dairy producers are calling for a crackdown on almond, soy and rice "milks" they say are masquerading as the real thing and cloud the meaning of milk for shoppers. But the Good Food Institute, a group that advocates for plant-based products, has countered by asking the Food and Drug Administration this week to say foods can use terms such as "milk" and "sausage," so long as they're modified to make clear what's in them. It's the latest dispute about what qualifies a food as authentic.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Students at Saint Francis high school in Mountainview, California, have gotten great lesson in investing. High school president Simon Chiu says in 2012, the school board agreed to invest $15,000 in seed money in Snap, Inc., the company behind Snapchat. Snap shares sold for $17 each in an IPO this week, and their price rocketed 44 percent high when trading began Thursday. The school says it sold two-thirds of its shares to raise $24 million.

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