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In brief: Militants fire rocket on Israel, police say

Tue., Feb. 26, 2013

JERUSALEM – Israeli police say a rocket has been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. A police spokesman says there was damage to a road but no injuries.

It’s the first such rocket from the Palestinian territory to land in Israel since Israeli-Gaza fighting last November.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the remains of a rocket were found today near the city of Ashkelon, in southern Israel.

There have been protests throughout the West Bank in recent days in support of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. This weekend, one Palestinian prisoner died under disputed circumstances, prompting more protests.

A statement from the Palestinian president’s office says President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed Palestinian security officials to preserve order in the West Bank, but he blames Israel for the violence.

Hot air balloon crash kills tourists

LUXOR, Egypt – An Egyptian security official said at least 19 foreign tourists were killed as their hot air balloon crashed near the famed ancient city of Luxor. The casualties included French, British and other nationals.

The official said there was a fire and an explosion and that the balloon then plunged from the sky and crashed into sugar cane fields west of Luxor today. Luxor is 320 miles south of Cairo.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

An Associated Press reporter at the crash site said he counted eight bodies as they were put into body bags and taken away.

Mars rover takes powder from rock

PASADENA, Calif. – The Mars rover Curiosity has successfully transferred a pinch of rock dust to its onboard laboratories for inspection, two weeks after drilling into its first rock.

NASA said Monday it received confirmation of the deliveries over the weekend. Scientists will spend the next several weeks studying the rock’s chemical and mineral makeup.

Curiosity landed in Gale Crater near the equator last summer on a mission to determine whether the environment was favorable for microbes. It drilled into a flat rock earlier this month and collected a tablespoon-size sample from the interior – the first time this was achieved on Mars.

The car-size rover still has to drive to Mount Sharp rising from the center of the crater floor. The trip is expected to take at least nine months with stops.

Vietnam to help U.N. keep peace

HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam says it will begin participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations early next year, a further sign that the Southeast Asian nation wants to assume a bigger role in international affairs.

Facing a rising demand, the U.N. has publicly appealed for countries to send more troops and police officers to help carry out its peacekeeping missions around the world. Vietnam didn’t say how large a contribution it was prepared to make. Most of the 115 participating countries currently make only token contributions of less than 40 people.

State-controlled Tien Phong newspaper today quoted Vice Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh as telling visiting Assistant General Secretary Edmond Mulet that Vietnamese troops would be available early next year.

Mexican president signs school reform

MEXICO CITY – President Enrique Pena Nieto signed Mexico’s most sweeping education reform in seven decades into law Monday, seeking to change a system in which teaching positions could be sold or inherited, and no official census of schools, teachers and students was ever carried out.

The legislation, which is widely expected to weaken Mexico’s powerful teachers union, was approved earlier by congress and the majority of state legislatures. The reform was a plank of a pact signed between Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and the two main opposition parties.

It seeks to create a system of uniform standards for teacher hiring and promotion based on merit, and will allow for the first census of Mexico’s education system.


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