-> Driver Attacks Royal Parade in the Netherlands <-

Four people were killed and more than a dozen wounded on Thursday when a driver hurtled his car into a crowd at a parade in the town of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, narrowly missing an open bus carrying Queen Beatrix and members of her family.

Dutch officials said the man had “acted deliberately” but they ruled out links with a terrorist group. “The driver is suspected of trying to attack the royal family,” a spokesperson for the Dutch police said, not giving additional details as to a possible motive.

The police immediately arrested the driver, who was trapped in his car as it crashed into a monument. Authorities declined to provide the driver’s name, but said he was a 38-year-old Dutchman who apparently acted alone and carried no weapons or explosives. The investigation into the attack was proceeding.

People lay injured after a car careened into a holiday parade that included Queen Beatrix and the royal family in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn on Thursday

People lay injured after a car careened into a holiday parade that included Queen Beatrix and the royal family in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn on Thursday

Television images of the parade showed police officers rushing toward wounded onlookers lying on the ground and members of the royal household atop an open bus looking stunned and raising their hands in horror. The police said that four people were killed and 13 wounded, five of them seriously.

Queen Beatrix, looking tense and shaken, later appeared on national television. “What began as a beautiful day has ended in a terrible drama which has shocked all of us,” she said. “We are speechless that such a terrible event could have happened.”

The attack raised a host of questions on how the driver could have broken through several police barricades before he drove into the large crowd and swerved toward the bus carrying the royal family, missing it by about ten yards, witnesses said.

Security, which used to be lax in the Netherlands, has become stricter in recent years since several public figures were killed on the streets. In Apeldoorn, where the Queen has her favorite palace and where the street festivities to celebrate Queen’s Day were taking place, numerous roads had been blocked off before the parade.

The sudden appearance of the small black car seemed the work of a prankster, witnesses said, until they saw people scooped up and being hurtled into the air.

Fred de Graaf, the mayor of Apeldoorn, said that eight of the wounded were in serious condition. All further Queen’s Day festivities were being canceled, he said. Holiday programs also were called off in Rotterdam, and more were likely to be canceled around the country, The Associated Press reported.

-NYT

-> Dollar mixed before Fed call <-

un_dollar_us

The dollar fell versus the euro but rose against the yen on Wednesday as dealers awaited the conclusion of a US Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting and American economic growth data. In London morning trade, the euro advanced to 1.3221 dollars from 1.3147 dollars late on Tuesday in New York. Against the Japanese currency, the dollar climbed to 96.77 yen from 96.43 yen late Tuesday. Investors were awaiting Wednesday’s outcome of a two-day meeting at the Fed where monetary policymakers were expected to keep boosting the supply of cheap credit to the US economy since slashing the base interest rate to near zero. Citi analyst Todd Elmer said he “expects no major innovations or policy adjustments” and for market focus to concentrate on what is contained in the US central bank’s statement. Elmer said there was an “outside chance that the Fed may go beyond its general commitment to keeping rates low for an extended period of time and set a specific target date, along the lines of recent statements by the Bank of Canada.”

-AFP

-> Baghdad car bombings over 4 hours kill 48

  

baghdad

Six car bombings in four hours killed 48 people and wounded 81 in various Baghdad neighborhoods Wednesday, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

In a separate incident, five people were killed and three wounded by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, a ministry official said.

Most of the deaths came when three car bombs parked at separate but nearby marketplaces exploded in quick succession in the eastern Baghdad Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, killing at least 45 people and injuring at least 68, the ministry official said.

Three other car bombings followed. Two of those, outside a Shiite mosque in the Hurriya district of northern Baghdad, killed three people and wounded eight. The bombs exploded in close succession shortly before 9 p.m. (2 p.m. ET). A third a few hours earlier injured at least five civilians in a predominantly Shiite area of southwestern Baghdad, according to the ministry.

Wednesday’s series of bombings echoed an incident earlier this month, when seven car bombs detonated within about four hours. The U.S. military blamed al Qaeda in Iraq for what it called coordinated attacks.

Sadr City is a heavily populated Shiite area, with an estimated 2.5 million people packed into a 25-square-kilometer area. The district was a stronghold of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, but most of the fighters went underground after fierce fighting in April 2008.

In a seventh bombing Wednesday night, at least five people died and three were wounded south of Baghdad, a ministry official said. A roadside bomb struck a minibus in Hor Rajab, a predominantly Sunni area on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The casualties were all civilians, the official said.

There has been an uptick in bombings and attacks in recent weeks, mainly targeting Shiites and Shiite areas. Last Thursday and Friday, five suicide bombings, as well as other attacks in Baghdad and Diyala province, left almost 160 people dead and 275 wounded.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. and Iraqi troops were ambushed in northern Iraq, according to Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for the U.S. military’s Multi-National Division-North. The troops were on a joint mission in Riyadh, southwest of Kirkuk, where coalition forces are working with local police to provide micro-grants to small businesses, Cheng said. Several individuals attacked the troops using at least one grenade and small arms fire, he said.

Cheng said two of the attackers reportedly were killed and another two were wounded. A woman reportedly was injured by shrapnel from the grenade, but was treated and released, he said. A soldier was reported wounded but was in good condition, Cheng said.

So far this month, 15 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, compared to nine in March — most of those in non-combat-related incidents. March’s death toll was the lowest monthly toll for the U.S. military since the war began 2003.

The Riyadh incident comes at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. military and the Iraqi government, after two Iraqis were killed during a military raid south of Baghdad on Sunday. Iraqi state TV reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused U.S. troops of violating the security agreement between the two countries with the raid in Wasit province.

-BBC

-> Over-40s may benefit from aspirin

 

 

aspirin

Taking aspirin in your 40s could cut the risk of cancer later in life, a review of research suggests.

Experts said taking the drug at an age before cancer usually develops, and for ten years would maximize its potential to prevent the disease.

Aspirin has been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers, and heart disease, but also to a raised risk of ulcers and internal bleeding.

The Cancer Research UK study features in the journal Lancet Oncology.

Aspirin blocks the effects of proteins which can trigger inflammation, and which are found at unusually high levels in several types of cancer.

Previous research suggests people who take the drug are less likely to develop bowel, breast and possibly some other types of cancer.

However, regular use of aspirin specifically for cancer prevention is not currently recommended because of the risk of side effects.

Common cancers, such as prostate, breast, lung and bowel, tend to develop after the age of 60 – when the risk of aspirin causing internal bleeding is at its highest.

Lead researcher Professor Jack Cuzick, from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, said pre-cancerous lesions tended to start developing in the mid-40s.

Thus, taking aspirin around that time may be the best strategy for preventing that damage progressing to the full-blown disease.

It would also carry a much lower risk of side effects than beginning to take aspirin 15-20 years later.

 

Work needed

However, Professor Cuzick said: “Many questions need to be answered before we would advise regular use of aspirin for cancer prevention.

“Future research and more clinical trials are needed to better identify those people who are at high risk of developing cancers and at low risk of side effects, who will benefit most from aspirin treatment.”

Professor Cuzick said it was not clear a lower dose “baby aspirin” could achieve the same anti-cancer effect as the standard dose of 300mg/day.

The researchers also found that taking aspirin in combination with other drugs known as proton pump inhibitors could help to lower the risk of stomach bleeding.

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer information, said: “It’s too soon to recommend that people take aspirin to try and stop cancer developing because of the side effects.

“It’s important that any decision to take aspirin regularly is only made in consultation with a GP.”

Ellen Mason, of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also stressed it was too early for researchers to recommend taking aspirin to reduce the risk of cancer.

“Currently the risk of bleeding outweighs the benefit,” she said.

“Many thousands of people in the UK are prescribed aspirin because they have heart disease.

“This research does not prove that they will also get protection from cancer at a low dose, but as they already need to take aspirin it would be reassuring if further research eventually shows an anti-cancer benefit.” 

– BBC

->Michelle Obama joins People “most beautiful” list

michelle-obama

Breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate made the cover of People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people issue on Wednesday in a list that welcomed newcomers U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and “Twilight” heart-throb Robert Pattinson.

Pattinson’s vampire-loving co-star Kristen Stewart, teen music idols Nick and Joe Jonas and “Slumdog Millionaire” star Dev Patel also made the coveted list for the first time, in the celebrity magazine’s annual issue that hits newsstands on Friday.

Applegate, 37, the star of the U.S. TV show “Samantha Who?,” won admiration for going public last year about her breast diagnosis and later underwent a double mastectomy.

The actress, who has since undergone reconstructive breast surgery, told People in an interview it was hard to look at herself naked.

“You don’t look the same anymore and you never will. A part of you is gone. … It’s a decision that you made to save your life,” she said. It was Applegate’s third appearance on the People list.

Michelle Obama, who has achieved celebrity status and has wowed the world as a fashion icon, made the list for the first time.

“I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day,” Obama told the magazine.

“I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don’t hear it. But I was fortunate,” she added.

Also included in a “Barack’s Beauties” section were White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others.

Pattinson, 22, who has a huge teen girl following after appearing in the “Twilight” movie blockbuster, said he didn’t quite understand his heartthrob status.

“I don’t get it. It’s funny, you look the same for years and no one ever mentions it. Then suddenly it’s a big deal,” he told People.

The 100 list also included old favorites George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Halle Berry. Some of the celebrities, including actress Eva Mendes and supermodel Cindy Crawford appeared in a “Stars Without Makeup” section in which they were photographed wearing no make-up for their close-ups.

-Reuters

-WHO confirms 114 cases of swine flu worldwide

swine flu worldwide.

An official at the World Health Organization said Wednesday evening that his agency has confirmed 114 cases of swine flu worldwide.

However, that number does not include additional cases announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now 91. The WHO was still listing 64 swine flu cases for the United States.

“It’s clear that the virus is spreading, and we don’t see it slowing down at this point,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of WHO, at a news conference. He said the most severe cases are in Mexico; other countries have milder cases so far.

-CNN

Taliban kidnap dozens of Pakistani security forces

Pakistan

Pakistani airstrikes killed dozens of Taliban fighters in a fierce struggle to drive them from a district near the capital, while the militants took over police stations and kidnapped more than 50 security forces, the army said Wednesday.

One member of the security forces also died, the top military spokesman said.

Also Wednesday, a suspected U.S. missile killed at least five alleged militants in South Waziristan tribal region near Afghanistan.

Pakistan is acting under intense U.S. pressure to take a tougher line against Islamist militants expanding from the strongholds along the Afghan border, where al-Qaida leaders including Osama bin Laden may also be hiding.

Government forces have begun trying to force the Taliban back into the Swat Valley, from where they had pushed out in the direction of an increasingly nervous Islamabad under the cover of a controversial peace process.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said helicopters inserted commandos into the main town in Buner, a once-peaceful farming region in the northwest, on Wednesday morning just as ground troops fought their way in from three directions against an estimated 450-500 militants.

Militants were putting up stiff resistance and detonated three roadside bombs near the Ambela Pass, a key gateway to the mountainous region. Three more troops were injured, he said.

After warplanes struck late Tuesday, attack helicopters engaged “miscreants” and killed more than 50, Abbas told reporters in Rawalpindi, south of Islamabad.

Rather than fleeing, militants seized three police stations in the north of Buner on Tuesday and kidnapped 70 police and paramilitary troops, he said. Eighteen of the troops were “recovered” Wednesday, he said, giving few other details.

Security forces prevented some reporters from entering the area and telephone services were interrupted, making it hard to verify the army’s account of the fighting.

The Taliban advance into Buner brought them to within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the capital, Islamabad, raising concern about the stability of the nuclear-armed country. The army also says troops have killed scores of militants in recent fighting in Lower Dir, another area neighboring Swat.

Both lie within Malakand, the region covered by the government’s much-criticized peace deal. Officials agreed to impose Islamic law in return for peace in a region devastated by two years of bloody fighting.

Pakistani officials said the Islamic law concession robbed the militants of any justification for retaining their arms.

But officials in Washington, which is propping up Pakistan’s army and government with billions of dollars and worrying about the rising insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, have slammed the peace process as a surrender and welcomed the resumption of military action.

The Pakistani offensives are “exactly the appropriate response” to the Taliban advance, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.

“We are hopeful and encouraging of the Pakistani military that they are able to sustain these operations against the militants and to stem this encroachment on the more populated areas of Pakistan.”

The Obama administration has an opportunity to reiterate that demand when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari joins his Afghan counterpart in Washington for talks next week.

The subject of U.S. missile strikes may also come up. Pakistan has publicly protested the drone-fired attacks, though analysts suspect the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.

Two of the five suspected militants killed in Wednesday’s strike on a vehicle in the Kani Guram section of South Waziristan were foreigners, said two intelligence officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media. Four people were wounded, they said.

Mohammad Ayub, a tribesman living nearby, said a drone was flying in the area just before the evening prayers. Soon after the strike, Taliban militants surrounded the scene, he said.

Reflecting alarm in Western capitals at the advance of extremists into Pakistan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told lawmakers Wednesday that Britain would boost aid spending to support efforts aimed at rooting out terrorists.

“The greatest international priority is the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Brown told the country’s House of Commons, calling the frontier a “crucible of terrorism.”

Government officials said Britain would spend around 665 million pounds ($980 million) to bolster governance, education and health, half of it in the country’s Northwest Frontier Province and tribal belt.

Pakistan has waged several offensives in the border region since turning against its former Taliban allies and allying with the U.S. following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

But the operations resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the flight of hundreds of thousands of others, and were often halted by short-lived peace deals from which militants emerged stronger than before.

Amnesty International estimated Wednesday that at least 33,000 civilians have fled their homes in Lower Dir alone.

Witnesses told of bodies left lying in the fields because residents were too scared to move them, the rights groups said. At least five civilians died, it said.

– AP