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10 things you need to know today: May 29, 2012
Kofi Annan and Bashar al-Assad meet in Syria, an earthquake strikes Italy — and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, left, meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.
U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, left, meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.
AP Photo/SANA

1. ANNAN MEETS WITH ASSAD
U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Tuesday, days after a massacre in Houla left more than 100 people, many of them women and children, dead. Details are still emerging as to how the meeting — seen as an attempt to salvage Annan's failing peace plan — played out. The U.N. has stopped short of blaming the government outright for the Houla massacre, but it has said regime forces fired on residential areas in the the town. Horrifying details continue to emerge about Friday's events: A U.N. spokesman says monitors found that fewer than 20 of the 108 people killed in Houla died from artillery fire. Most appear to have been summarily executed in two separate events. As the details of the massacre emerged, France and Australia expelled their Syrian diplomats from their capitals, and other countries were due to follow suit. [CBS News/Associated Press, Reuters ]
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2. DEADLY QUAKE STRIKES NORTHERN ITALY
At least 10 people are dead after a magnitude-5.8 earthquake hit northern Italy Tuesday, nine days after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake in the same area left seven dead. An unknown number of people are said to be trapped. The quake was centered in the providence of Modena, near the city of Bologna. Italy's manufacturing industry is centered in the north, and the earthquakes are expected to have an economic toll, in addition to lives lost. [CNN, Associated Press]
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3. ROMNEY TO CLINCH GOP NOMINATION IN TEXAS
Long-presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is expected to seal the deal with Tuesday's Texas GOP primary. Romney is currently just 58 delegates short of the 1,144 required to be the official nominee, and 152 delegates are up for grabs in Texas, where he's running largely uncontested. [Associated Press]
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4. NATO: AL QAEDA NO. 2 KILLED IN AIRSTRIKE
NATO reports that U.S.-led coalition forces killed a senior al Qaeda leader in an airstrike in Afghanistan. Sakhr al-Tairi was al Qaeda's second-highest-ranking leader in Afghanistan, and commanded insurgents and led attacks against Afghan and NATO troops. While the U.S. initially invaded Afghanistan in 2001 because al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had been based there when he carried out the Sept. 11 attacks, the majority of the terrorist organizations senior leaders are thought to have fled to Pakistan. [Associated Press]
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5. POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN EGYPT
Just hours after Egypt's election commission announced that Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister under Mubarak, would face the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi in a heated presidential run-off election in mid-June, a mob set fire to Shafiq's campaign headquarters. The attack is being seen as the first incident of unrest after last week's general election left citizens with two limited choices: A religious state or a member of the old regime. [Associated Press]
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6. FEDERAL JOBLESS BENEFITS RUNNING OUT
Hundreds of thousand of unemployed Americans will stop receiving their unemployment benefits sooner than expected. In February, Congress renewed extended benefits through the end of 2012, but it also started a reduction in the number of weeks for extending aid, and made it harder for states to qualify for maximum aid, leading a number of states to lose months worth of benefits. By the end of June, nearly half a million people will have lost their benefits prematurely. [New York Times]
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7. QATAR MALL FIRE KILLS 19
Nineteen people are dead in Qatar, 13 of them children trapped in a nursery, after a fire whipped through a major shopping center in Doha. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire. [Aljazeera]
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8. JAPAN'S RADIATION SEEN IN TUNA OFF CALIFORNIA
Researchers have found low levels of nuclear radiation in bluefin tuna off the California coast. The radiation presumably comes from Japan's Fukushima power plant, which was damaged in the March 2011 tsunami. While the level of radiation detected in the fish is not thought to be so high as to make them unsafe for human consumption, the findings suggest that the fish are carrying radioactive compounds across the Pacific more quickly than the wind or ocean waters. [Reuters]
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9. CHROME TO SURPASS INTERNET EXPLORER
According to data from the web analytics company StatCounter, Google's Chrome browser is set to be the top browser for the month of May, knocking Microsoft's Internet Explorer from the top slot. That would be the first time that Chrome takes the number one spot since it launched in September 2008. [Computerworld]
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10. ASPIRIN MAY PROTECT AGAINST SKIN CANCER
A Danish study of nearly 200,000 people found that those taking common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen were less likely to develop certain types of skin cancer. The findings are just the latest to find that common painkillers could help with cancer prevention. [ABC News]

 

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