The Iowa State Fair is opening. Time to visit the Butter Cow

In this Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, photo, the Butter Cow displayed at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. More than 1 million people typically visit the Iowa State Fair annually, and sometimes it seems like all of them are clustered around Butter Cow. The creamy creation has been among the state fair’s top attraction since 1911. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Aug 16, 2017 10:16AM (GMT-07:00)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 1 million people typically visit the Iowa State Fair each year, and sometimes it seems like every one of them is clustered around the Butter Cow’s climate-controlled glass enclosure.

Here are some details about the creamy sculpture that has been an essential part of the fair since 1911.

WHY A BUTTER COW?

Butter cow sculptures appeared to have started with the Ohio State Fair in 1903, and the first one was displayed at the Iowa State Fair eight years later as a way to promote dairy products in one of the country’s leading agricultural states.

IS IT REALLY MADE OF BUTTER?

It’s not solid butter. The core of the cow is composed of a wood, wire and steel mesh frame, and that structure is then layered with about 600 pounds (270 kilograms) of Iowa butter. It’s a big sculpture but not as hefty as an actual dairy cow, which typically weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).

THAT SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF BUTTER TO WASTE

The state fair estimates it’s enough butter for 19,200 slices of toast, but even fairgoers with grumbling stomachs probably wouldn’t want to dig into the sculpture. Most of the butter is reused from year to year, and some of it is up to a decade old.

GIVEN IOWA’S STEAMY AUGUST HEAT, DOES THE COW MELT?

Fairgoers often swelter in the heat and humidity, but the Butter Cow looks out of a glass enclosure kept at a chilly 40 degrees (4.4 Celsius).

WHO DOES THE SCULPTING, AND DOES THE COW HAVE COMPANY?

Sarah Pratt, of West Des Moines, has been forming the cow and other buttery creations since 2006, making her only the fifth sculptor in 106 years. This year, she’s also creating of sculpture of Laura Ingalls Wilder in honor of the “Little House on the Prairie” author’s 150th birthday, as well as a replica of the Solheim Cup trophy, awarded to the winners of a golf tournament held this summer in Iowa. Previous sculptures have included Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Leonardo DaVinci’s “The Last Supper.”

DO OTHER STATES HAVE BUTTER SCULPTURES?

Yes. They’re particularly popular in the Midwest, with sculptures in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. They’re also a part of state fairs in other regions, including New York, Texas and Utah. Not all are of cows, though. The Minnesota State Fair’s sculptures are especially beloved, as each year a dairy association’s Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court have their likenesses carved into 90-pound (40 kilogram) butter blocks.

Europe-Africa summit yields new approach to asylum claims

Rescuers transfer African migrants to a rescue boat during a rescue operation from the Aquarius vessel of SOS Mediterranee NGO and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in the sea some 25 Nautical miles (29 miles, 46 kilometers) north of the Libyan coast, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Aug 28, 2017 1:23PM (GMT-07:00)

PARIS (AP) — The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed Monday on a new policy to grant asylum to vulnerable migrants who apply for protection while in Africa instead of their destination countries.

At a Europe-Africa summit in Paris aimed at finding long-elusive solutions to illegal migration, the European leaders also agreed to help the African countries through which Europe-bound migrants usually pass with border controls.

French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit’s host, called it the most effective and far-reaching migration meeting in months, though he didn’t say how much the new measures would cost and many specifics remained unclear.

In a joint statement, the four leaders acknowledged the need to initiate a process in Chad and Niger that would lead to the resettlement of “particularly vulnerable migrants” in Europe.

They announced they plan to carry out “protection missions” in the African nations in cooperation with the United Nations’ refugee and migration agencies.

The process would allow migrants to immigrate legally to Europe if they are on an eligibility list provided by the UN refugee agency and registered with authorities in Niger and Chad.

The pre-asylum centers would receive European financing, according to a top French diplomat. The official, in keeping with French presidential policy, requested anonymity and would not provide details on the precise locations and procedures for the missions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European countries must clearly define which asylum-seekers have legitimate humanitarian needs and who is fleeing poverty. She called it “very, very important” that the possibility of resettlement is coupled “with an end to illegal migration.”

The African leaders at the summit — the prime minister of Libya’s U.N.-backed government, Fayez Serraj, Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — stressed that fighting poverty must be a central part of any migration strategy. They asked for Europe’s help in giving human smugglers legal ways of making money.

Issoufou said that poverty is what drives people to emigrate to Europe and into trafficking, and that it’s important “to find alternatives for the smugglers to leave criminal activity,” such as commerce or farming.

Helping chaotic Libya was a key part of Monday’s meetings, and Serraj asked for more support to fight migrant trafficking and in monitoring his country’s southern border.

Merkel said Europe also needs to “urgently” rethink its asylum system, which requires migrants to seek refugee status in the first country they reach. The requirement has put a burden on Greece and Italy, where waves of rickety boats carrying smuggled migrants have arrived in recent years.

The seven world leaders also discussed security cooperation before the Europeans held separate talks focused on European Union matters.

The interior ministers from Libya, Chad, Niger and Mali, who were meeting with Italy’s interior minister in Rome on Monday, said the Paris summit’s agenda “can constitute the beginning of a new relationship between Europe and Africa.”

The ministers also renewed a pledge to back peace accords among Libya’s southern tribes and to stress the importance of backing Libya in the creation of a border guard force.

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Angela Charlton in Paris, Frances D’Emilio in Rome and David Rising in Berlin contributed

Cincinnati Zoo’s baby hippo to star in Facebook video series

FILE – In this May 31, 2017 file photo, Fiona makes her debut to the media in Hippo Cove at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati. The zoo says its popular baby hippo will star in an internet video series called “The Fiona Show” starting next week. The zoo says the first video will be available on the show’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Aug. 29. It’s not clear how many videos are planned or how regularly they will be produced.. (Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP, File)

Aug 25, 2017 10:13AM (GMT-07:00)

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Zoo says its popular baby hippo will star in an internet video series called “The Fiona Show” starting next week.

The zoo says the first video will be available on the show’s Facebook page on Tuesday. It’s not clear how many videos are planned or how regularly they will be produced.

Fiona has already garnered millions of views on the zoo’s Facebook page since her premature birth in January.

Since then, her face has appeared on ice cream and beer, she was named an honorary deputy sheriff and a children’s book about her was announced.

Fiona was born Jan. 24 weighing about 29 pounds (13 kilograms). She overcame early health scares and now weighs more than 450 pounds (200 kilograms).