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Italy works out trade for looted artifacts

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art agreed Monday to return antiquities, including the 6th century B.C. Euphronios Krater vase above, that Italy says were looted in exchange for long-term loans of other artifacts. It is a precedent archaeologists hope will prompt museums to change their acquisition policies. The agreement, first publicly proposed Feb. 2 and expected to be signed today in Rome, will likely have ramifications across the museum world, thrust into the spotlight by a vigorous Italian campaign to reclaim treasures it says were illegally taken from its soil. "Museums that acquire looted antiquities are contributing to the contemporary, ongoing looting of sites," said Patty Gerstenblith, a professor of antiquities law at DePaul University in Chicago. "So it's my hope that the Met's decision will discourage other museums from acquiring these undocumented artifacts, which will discourage the market and which will then protect the sites."

Bird flu scare forces London ravens inside

The Tower of London's legendary ravens have been moved indoors to protect them from the threat of bird flu, said Derrick Coyle, the Tower's raven master. According to legend, if the ravens leave the 11th century fortress on the River Thames, its White Tower will crumble and the Kingdom of England will fall. King Charles II decreed in the 17th century that there must always be six ravens at the Tower.

Emergency declared

at nuclear plant

Operators at an Illinois nuclear plant declared an emergency for several hours Monday, but there were no injuries or radiation released. When a control rod did not go into the reactor, it triggered the declaration of a "site area emergency" at the LaSalle Generating Station, 55 miles southwest of Chicago, but "it never really progressed into being a danger," said Patti Thompson, spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

UPDATE

Storm evacuations

The next time a major hurricane threatens Texas, the governor should be in charge of ordering evacuations to ensure that those in most danger have a better chance to get out first, a state task force said Monday. About 60 people died during September's Hurricane Rita evacuation, including 23 residents of an assisted-living facility whose bus exploded. Centralized control over evacuations would be an improvement over the system allowing local officials to order them, the task force found.

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