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A series of apparently synchronized explosions tore through four towns in the troubled state of Assam in northeastern India on Thursday, killing at least 67 people and leaving more than 210 wounded, according to witnesses and police. The bombs targeted crowded markets and government buildings like courts and police stations, witnesses said. According to witnesses and the police, at least nine blasts rocked the four towns, including three in the state capital.


Melamine common in feed, paper says

The industrial chemical melamine is commonly added to animal feed in China to fake higher protein levels, state media reported Thursday, offering what appeared to be a tacit admission by the government that the food supply could be rife with contamination. The Nanfang Daily said it was an "open secret" in the industry that melamine scrap is being repackaged into an inexpensive product called "protein powder" that is sold to food suppliers.


Fungus may be clue to bat demise

Researchers have found a clue in the mysterious die-off of bats that has struck the northeastern United States - a new fungus that so far seems to be present only in afflicted bats and in caves where the die-off has occurred. "The fungus is in some way involved in causing the bats to starve to death," said biologist Thomas Tomasi of Missouri State University in Springfield. "They are burning up too many calories, at a rate faster than they can sustain." Bat experts are not yet sure, however, if the fungus is the cause of the widespread deaths or is simply an opportunistic microorganism infecting animals that have already been weakened by some other threat.


Vatican: The Vatican issued new psychological screening guidelines for seminarians to help church leaders weed out candidates with "psychopathic disturbances," the latest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to be more selective about its priesthood candidates following sex abuse scandals.

Congo: With a cease-fire appearing to halt most fighting, a rebel leader said he wanted direct talks with the Congo government. U.S. and U.N. envoys were sent in to help set up negotiations. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard Thursday night in Goma, the provincial capital of eastern Congo, but the city was calm for much of the day.

Nebraska: As the governor announced Wednesday that he would call a special legislative session to fix the state's much-criticized safe-haven law, a 17-year-old boy was left by his grandmother at an Omaha hospital that night, making him the 24th child abandoned.