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Nine dead after shelling hits school in Syria

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At least nine people were killed Tuesday after shelling from an attack hit a school just outside Damascus, Syria, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Batiha School, which is located in a refugee camp northeast of Damascus was hit by shelling of mortar fire, the Los Angeles Times said.

According to the New York Times, the Syrian government says that the rebel fighters are the cause of the attack.

The New York Times reported that an activist in Damascus said it is still unclear which side of the conflict is to blame. That activist told the New York Times that the area was usually very calm.

Egyptian president backtracks his overreaching decree

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Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi is working to calm his nation following violent unrest due to a decree that would extend his powers, the BBC reported.

The New York Times reported that a spokesman for Mursi went back on the attempt to assert authority even beyond the courts, seemingly denying any such implications.

Mursi's allies in the Muslim Brotherhood also cancelled plans to rally for his support in an effort to quell the angered nation, the New York Times said.

The BBC reported that the presidential spokesman reassured the Supreme Judicial Council that the president's decree of power would only apply to "sovereign matters." The opposition still plans to rally Tuesday. Mona Amer, a spokesman for the opposition, told Reuters that they asked for a cancellation of the decree, not a compromise.

China blames the Dalai Lama for a wave of self-immolations among Tibetans, accusing him of glorifying the problem, the Washington Post reported today.

The BBC reported that he spoke in Japan and was quoted as saying that China was not looking at the causes of the protests seriously enough.

According to the BBC, the Tibetan activists say they are protesting against Beijing's rule. More than 70 protesters have set themselves on fire since 2011.

The Washington Post reported that China also accuses the Dalai Lama of siding with the Japanese over the territorial island dispute, because they say he called the island by the Japanese name instead of the Chinese name.

Dengue fever in India causes alarm

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India is facing an epidemic as dengue fever threatens millions of people in the region, the New York Times reported.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that the New York Times calls an endemic in half of the globe.

However, the Indian Express reported that doctors in India have it under control. "...Certainly it is not life threatening and we have saved six patients in the ICU and several others are being treated for dengue in the ward," said Dr. Rajesh Gadia, consulting physician at KEM Hospital.

Gadia also told the Indian Express that patients with dengue fever do not need to be admitted to the hospital; the illness can be treated at home.

Syrian ceasefire failed

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The proposed ceasefire among warring groups in Syria turned out to be all talk, according to the New York Times.

Fighting broke out Monday in the form of airstrikes and gun fights, the New York Times reported.

"On the ground, it means nothing," said Abu Mufaa, commander of the rebel unit, The Righteous Special Forces Brigade to the BBC.

According to the BBC, the Syrian government has accepted the truce, but rebel parties such as al-Nusra Front had no intentions of doing so. They issued a statement last Wednesday confirming that no truce would be acceptable, the BBC reported.

According to the New York Times, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi expressed his great disappointment in the failed ceasefire. Brahimi said he will continue to try to reduce the violence.

Syrian army to adhere to a ceasefire for holiday

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The Syrian army announced Thursday that it will observe a four-day ceasefire beginning Friday for a Muslim holiday, the BBC reported.

The New York Times reported that the holiday, Id al-Adha, is the most important Muslim holiday of the year.

The New York Times also reported that, if the ceasefire is adhered to, this will be the first time since April 2011 that both sides have said they would at least make an attempt to stop the violence.

The BBC said that the truce was proposed by the UN and by Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy of the Arab League.

Earthquake verdict in Italy makes other experts nervous

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Italy sentenced seven earthquake experts to six years in prison because of their failure to properly alert citizens of the earthquake that killed over 300 people in 2009, the New York Times reported.

The earthquake experts were convicted of manslaughter on Monday, according to the New York Times. Reuters reported Tuesday that Italy's Civil Protection Agency said that this conviction would paralyze future disaster prevention, because it will make other experts reluctant to express their opinions.

"I'm afraid it's going to teach scientists to keep their mouths shut," said Thomas H. Jordan, a professor at the University of Southern California, to the New York Times.

Before the earthquake, the convicted seismologists assessed the risk in a way that was "incomplete, imprecise and contradictory," according to prosecutors of the case, Reuters reported.

Reuters stated that part of the issue is the language with which scientists assess natural disaster situations, making it difficult for people to clearly comprehend the gravity of the problem.

Popular Monet paintings stolen from Dutch art museum

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Thieves broke into a Dutch art museum early Tuesday, stealing paintings from prominent artists such as Monet, Picasso and Gaugin, the Star Tribune reported.

"Those thieves got one hell of a haul," Chris Marinello, director of the Art Loss Register, told the Associated Press.

The Monet paintings, taken from Rotterdam's Kunsthal Museum, are worth "considerable value" according to USA Today.

Marinello told the Associated Press (reported in Star Tribune) that the thieves don't have many options at this point. Interpol sent a bulletin to inform other countries of the theft, so selling the paintings at an auction is out of the question.

The museum closed Tuesday to allow the police to investigate. It will reopen Wednesday.

U.S. troops sent to Jordan

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The Star Tribune reported that the United States sent troops to Jordan to aid in defense in case the violence with its neighbor, Syria, escalates, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

The Star Tribune reported that the defense secretary is concerned about chemical weapons in Syria. Troops are in Jordan to help deal with Syrian refugees and keep a close eye on these weapons.

The New York Times reported that there is concern that violence will spread throughout the region, with border issues involving Iraq and Turkey.

The New York Times also reported that Americans have been in Jordan since the summer, training and preparing Syrians for the turmoil. "We have been working closely with our Jordanian partners on a variety of issues related to Syria for some time now," said George Little, Pentagon press secretary.

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