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Sleep drug killed Smith, but who gave it to her?

LOS ANGELES: The American model and TV personality Anna Nicole Smith consumed increasing amounts of a rare sleep medication in the months after her son’s death, eventually drinking the powerful liquid sedative straight from the bottle, her former bodyguard has testified.The drug, chloral hydrate, was cited as the primary cause of Smith’s fatal overdose the following year, and her bodyguard said the model often carried a bottle of it as she grieved her son.”I saw her use a spoon maybe twice, and after that it was bottle to mouth – gulp,” said Maurice Brighthaupt, a Miami firefighter who moonlighted as Smith’s security guard.Mr Brighthaupt took the stand on the second day of a hearing that will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Smith’s long-time companion, Howard Stern, and two Los Angeles doctors on charges of conspiring to furnish her with illegal prescription medications. All three have pleaded not guilty.One of the doctors, Khristine Eroshevich, a psychiatrist, prescribed the chloral hydrate to Smith after her son, Daniel, died in 2005. Mr Brighthaupt testified that on one occasion, when he drove the doctor from the airport to Smith’s house in the Bahamas, Dr Eroshevich said she was reluctant to give the medication.But ”Anna was begging for it and she really needed it”, he quoted her as saying.Mr Brighthaupt said he saw Mr Stern, a lawyer who became Smith’s adviser and then her lover, pass her a bottle containing chloral hydrate, inject Smith with other medication ”more than seven times” and recounted one occasion he encountered Mr Stern in a bathroom using a cigarette lighter and a spoon to melt Valium into an injectable form. ”They felt it would get in her system faster,” he said.Mr Brighthaupt said he was uncomfortable testifying against Dr Eroshevich. ”I consider her a very kind … person who wouldn’t do anything to anybody,” he said.When a prosecutor asked a toxicologist to testify about the hypothetical effect of hundreds of pills prescribed to Smith 10 days before her death, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry interrupted, asking: ”Whose fault is it that somebody takes too many pills?”The deputy district attorney, Renee Rose, replied that the defendants were ”fully aware” that Smith was an addict. ”It’s like putting a gun in the hand of someone who is suicidal and saying, ‘Don’t pull the trigger,’ ” Ms Rose said.Los Angeles Times
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Is this the kiss of death for Blair as grand pooh-bah of Europe?

LONDON: Silvio Berlusconi, seemingly oblivious to the possibility that his support might be counterproductive, has enthusiastically backed Tony Blair for first president of Europe.In a crisp, six-line letter to the right-leaning newspaper Il Foglio, the Italian Prime Minister has delivered what could be deemed the political kiss of death, saying the former British prime minister has ”all the right credentials in his hands” to take on the position.This should occur, he wrote, as soon as it is legally and politically possible to ensure that a ”great political legacy made with courage, balance and prudence without uncertainty” is not lost and is used to help the renewal of the governance of the European Union.Il Foglio, based in Milan and part-owned by Mr Berlusconi’s estranged wife, Veronica Lario, also reported that he had phoned Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, to make clear his support for his old friend and ally.While jockeying for the new position of President of the European Council has primarily occurred behind closed doors – and Mr Blair has yet to declare his hand formally – he now appears to have emerged as the favoured candidate after Ireland’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.Only the former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez, a socialist, is seen as a real rival to Mr Blair though Jean-Claude Juncker, the veteran centre-right Luxembourg prime minister, has also been mentioned.But British newspapers, already generally hostile – and in the case of The Times openly scathing about Mr Berlusconi – have responded with derision about his support for Mr Blair. All returned to Mr Berlusconi’s support for Mr Blair over the decision to deploy troops in the Iraq war during the Bush administration.The British media also recounted with some relish the 2004 summer holiday spent by the Blair family at Mr Berlusconi’s villa in Sardinia. The Italian PM, apparently recuperating from a hair transplant, was photographed in various coloured bandanna-style head coverings. He treated his guests to his now famous musical evenings and a fireworks display which spelt out ”Viva Tony”.Earlier this year, Cherie Blair said that her husband had asked her to stand between him and Mr Berlusconi’s kerchief-adorned head suggesting otherwise the British media ”would kill us”.She told an Italian TV host in May that the scarf was a ”real surprise”: ”When we arrived we were a little surprised to see Silvio with this sort of scarf on his head, that famous bandanna. It was supposed to be a private visit and he told us he’d had some problems with his head but it was obvious to us that he’d had a hair transplant,” she said.
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Serb leader wants right to break up Bosnia

BRUSSELS: The leader of the Serbian half of Bosnia has demanded the right to break up the country as part of a constitutional reform package that is being pushed by the European Union and the US.Milorad Dodik’s demand to be allowed the right to secede collided with an ultimatum from Brussels for Bosnia’s feuding leaders to agree on reforms to streamline the dysfunctional state or forget about their prospects of union membership. European and American officials had emergency talks in Sarajevo last week with Bosnia’s estranged political leaders and will return next Monday.The US and Europe have suddenly become active in the Balkans, amid growing international fears Bosnia could drift back into conflict if the Bosnian Serbs were to mobilise.”We need certain constitutional changes in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, who issued yesterday’s ultimatum to the country’s leaders.But officials in Brussels and Sarajevo were gloomy about the chances of success. In the 14 years since the Bosnian war ended with the country divided into a Serbian half and a Muslim-Croat federation, the country has become entrenched as a partitioned international protectorate headed by a European viceroy and dominated by nationalist politicians who refuse to deal with one another.Mr Dodik told Western officials preparing next week’s talks that any constitutional reforms would need to include a new article giving the two halves of Bosnia the right to hold a referendum.”It’s an extremist position,” said an EU diplomat in Sarajevo. ”Dodik has already got everything he wants. Now he wants the right of secession.”Mr Rehn, James Steinberg, the US Deputy Secretary of State, and Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, were in Sarajevo last week in the highest-level bout of diplomacy for years. They are to return on Monday, but Mr Dodik delivered a snub by saying he would be in Serbia then to meet Russian leaders.The Europeans are signalling that 14 years of international supervision of Bosnia has failed to establish a viable country. They are keen to close down by the end of the year the Office of High Representative, the international official running Bosnia.”The country needs to stand on its own feet,” said Mr Rehn. ”It needs to be able to govern itself. No quasi-protectorate can join the EU.”But the Europeans and the Americans are at odds. Brussels is pushing for a quick closure of the international role, but the Americans are less keen.At the weekend Mr Dodik declared his contempt for the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was ”unsustainable”, he said, had no ”legitimacy” as a country, and ruled out constitutional reform.The Government of the Muslim-Croat half, by contrast, is seeking more centralised powers, arguing that the ”Serbian Republic” part of Bosnia is an entity created by wartime ”ethnic cleansing”, genocide, and deportation of non-Serbs.Guardian News & Media
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North Pole to be ice-free in summer: scientists

LONDON: The North Pole will turn into an open sea during summer within a decade, according to data released by explorers who trekked through the Arctic for three months.The Catlin Arctic Survey team, led by British adventurer Pen Hadow, measured the thickness of the ice as they hiked through the northern part of the Beaufort Sea in the North Pole during a research project earlier this year.Their findings, released on Wednesday, show most of the ice in the region is first-year ice that is only about 1.8 metres deep and will melt next summer. It traditionally contained thicker multi-year ice that melted slowly.”With a larger part of the region now first-year ice, it is clearly more vulnerable,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, part of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, which analysed the data. ”The area is now more likely to become open water each summer, bringing forward the potential date when the summer sea ice will be completely gone.”Professor Wadhams said the survey data supports the new consensus that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within 20 years, and that much of it will happen within 10 years.Martin Sommerkorn of the World Wildlife Fund said the Arctic sea holds a central position in earth’s climate system.”Such a loss of Arctic sea ice cover has recently been assessed to set in motion powerful climate feedbacks which will have an impact far beyond the Arctic,” he said. ”This could lead to flooding affecting one-quarter of the world’s population, substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions from massive carbon pools and extreme … weather changes.”Global warming has raised the stakes over sovereignty in the Arctic because shrinking polar ice could open resource development and new shipping lanes. The rapid melting of ice has raised speculation that the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans could one day become a regular shipping lane.The results come as negotiators prepare to meet in December to draft a global climate pact.Associated Press
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Rwandan spy chief denies genocide

ARUSHA, Tanzania: A suspect accused of forming secret death squads and orchestrating the killings of thousands during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide has pleaded not guilty to war crimes.Idelphonse Nizeyimana, former deputy intelligence chief of Rwanda, entered his plea at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda after being captured in Uganda earlier this month.”I am not guilty,” Mr Nizeyimana, 46, said each time the four counts of war crimes charges were read out to him. A trial date will be set later.Mr Nizeyimana is accused of ordering the killing of children, hospital patients, priests and a revered African queen.More than 500,000 members of the Tutsi minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered during the 100-day Rwandan genocide in 1994.Until his capture, Mr Nizeyimana had been on the run, with a $US5 million bounty on his head. He was believed to have hidden in the jungles of eastern Congo, where he belonged to a Rwandan Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which continues to commit atrocities.In recent weeks, he had sent emissaries to a UN base in Kimua, Congo, to negotiate turning himself in. The discussions collapsed when Mr Nizeyimana suggested the reward be given to his family if he surrendered.During the genocide, Mr Nizeyimana was alleged to have formed secret units of soldiers that executed leading Tutsis, including Queen Rosalie Gicanda, who was in her 80s, according to his indictment.The Rwandan monarchy had ended decades before the genocide but the queen remained a revered and symbolic figure for Tutsis. Soldiers hauled her and others from her house in Butare and shot them behind the National Museum.Mr Nizeyimana is the second high-profile genocide suspect to be arrested in two months. A former mayor, Gregoire Ndahimana, appeared at the tribunal in Tanzania in September.The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has delivered judgments on 39 people, including six acquittals.The genocide was sparked when a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached Kigali in April 1994. The slaughter ended when Paul Kagame led a group of Tutsi rebels to overthrow the Hutu government. Mr Kagame is now Rwanda’s president.Associated Press
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