Ministry: Blasts close to Damascus’ main Shiite shrine kill 45

Syrian soldiers stand guard after a 2012 car bomb attack on the Sayyida Zeinab shrine on the outskirts of DamascusBy Tom Miles and John Irish GENEVA (Reuters) - Syria's main opposition group is considering a proposal by U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura that could pave the way to the delegation pressing ahead with talks after holding their first meeting with him on Sunday, a Western diplomatic source said. Representatives of the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political and militant opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, had warned earlier in the day that they may yet walk away from the Geneva talks unless the suffering of civilians in the five-year conflict is eased. With Islamic State bombers killing over 60 people near the country's holiest Shi'ite shrine, the Syrian government's chief delegate retorted that the blasts in Damascus merely confirmed the link between the opposition and terrorism - even though Islamic State has been excluded from the talks.


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Saudi police arrest 9 American ‘terror’ suspects: report

Members of a Saudi special police unitSaudi authorities have arrested nine American citizens among 33 "terror" suspects rounded up over the past week, the Saudi Gazette newspaper reported Sunday. Washington, a strong ally of Riyadh, confirmed it was aware of the report but declined to elaborate. A US State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP: "We are aware of reports alleging that several US citizens were detained in Saudi Arabia.


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Poisoned water forces some Flint residents to flee home

Flint Water PlantThe vacant lots and crumbling houses that line a vast majority of the city’s streets are evidence of Flint’s descent from the home of General Motors — a bustling company town with a population of close to 200,000 — into the country’s murder capital, with a population down by roughly half from its peak in 1960, and a poverty rate of more than 41 percent.


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California sheriff ‘concerned’ by slow response to jail escape

Escaped inmates seen in undated photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in CaliforniaHours after the last two fugitives were captured, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said she had ordered an investigation into how the trio broke out of a maximum-security jail in Santa Ana and went unnoticed for about 16 hours, according to a letter her office released late on Saturday. “I have been very clear from the onset of the jail escape investigation that I am deeply concerned about the length of time it took to recognize that three maximum security inmates were unaccounted for,” Hutchens wrote in response to a letter she had received from the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs about the escapes. “I have initiated an internal administrative investigation to determine the facts of what occurred, contributing factors to the escape and inmate count procedures,” Hutchens continued in the letter, which she later disclosed in an emailed statement.


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