While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 21 edition

Islamic State seizes ancient Palmyra city from Syrian forces

Islamic State insurgents stormed the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday, fighting off pro-government forces who withdrew after evacuating most of the civilian population, state television said.

The capture of Palmyra is the first time the Al-Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces, which have already lost ground in the north-west and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks.

The central city, also known as Tadmur, is built alongside the remains of a oasis civilisation whose colonnaded streets, temple and theatre have stood for 2,000 years.

Islamic State has destroyed antiquities and ancient monuments in neighbouring Iraq and is being targeted by US-led air strikes in both countries.

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New York celebrates opening of World Trade Center observation deck

Testament to the regeneration of New York, 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, is the new observation deck at the World Trade Center, offering spectacular views across the city.

"We are back, 100 per cent," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS television in a special programme broadcast atop the observation deck that covers the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of the gleaming glass tower.

The observation deck opens to the general public next Friday.

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US says 'ready to share burden' of Asian sea migrants

The United States is ready to help South-east Asian countries "bear the burden" of a wave of sea-borne refugees, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday.

Welcoming a decision by Malaysia and Indonesia to stop turning away migrants packed into rickety boats, Harf said the United States would help UN agencies to set up protection centres and would consider requests to resettle some refugees.

"The US stands ready to help the countries of the region bear the burden and save lives today. We have a common obligation to answer the call of these migrants who have risked their lives at sea," she told reporters.

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BP oil spill caused dolphins' lung disease, deaths: Study

Dolphins swimming in the oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico after the BP spill in 2010 suffered unusual lung lesions and died at high rates because of petroleum pollution, US scientists said Thursday.

The latest findings in the journal Plos One present the strongest evidence to date that the environmental disaster that was unleashed when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, 2010, pouring 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, was the reason for an unusually high number of dead or dying bottlenose dolphins washing up on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Dolphins take big, deep breaths right at the surface of the water, where oil sheens are most concentrated, and "where there is a good chance of inhaling oil itself," said one of the report's lead authors.

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Chelsea Clinton to publish first book

In a unique position as the child of one, and potentially two, US presidents Chelsea Clinton stepped up her growing public profile Wednesday by announcing publication of her first book.

Her foray into the world of non-fiction will be It's Your World, a treatise for young readers on some of the world's most pressing problems and what they can do to help.

It will be published by an imprint of Penguin Young Readers on Sept 15, 2016 just weeks before the next US presidential election when mother Hillary will be hoping to follow Bill into the White House and become the country's first female president.

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