In Brief


November 18, 2008|By From Sun news services

'Gulf War illness is real,' scientific panel reports

WASHINGTON: About one in four U.S. veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War suffers from a multi-symptom illness caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during the conflict, a congressionally mandated scientific panel found in a report released yesterday. For much of the past 17 years, government officials have maintained that these veterans - more than 175,000 out of about 697,000 deployed - are merely suffering the effects of wartime stress, even as more have come forward recently with severe ailments. "The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real ... and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time," the report said. Two things the military provided to troops in large quantities to protect them - pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide tablets, aimed at thwarting the effects of nerve gas - are the most likely culprits, the panel found.

Israeli crime family boss is killed in bomb attack

JERUSALEM: One of Israel's best-known outlaws, a crime family boss with a long list of enemies in the country's increasingly brazen underworld, was killed yesterday when a bomb exploded under his rental car near a busy Tel Aviv intersection. The midday killing of Yaakov Alperon was described by Israeli news media as the boldest hit yet in a string of turf wars that have killed dozens of gangsters and at least eight bystanders in the past three years. A 13-year-old boy and two other pedestrians were slightly wounded in yesterday's blast.

Bolivian leader says he won't let DEA return

UNITED NATIONS : Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed hope yesterday for improved relations with the United States under Barack Obama's presidency but said he will never allow the U.S. anti-drug agency to resume operating in his country. The socialist leader, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of "political aggression" in Bolivia, which is a major source of coca plants, the raw ingredient for cocaine. Morales said his government would set up a new intelligence operation involving the military and police to fight drug trafficking in place of the DEA.

Fertility procedures linked to birth defect risk

Infants conceived with techniques commonly used in fertility clinics are two to four times more likely to have certain birth defects than infants conceived naturally, a new study has found. The findings applied to single births only. The defects included heart problems, cleft lip, cleft palate and abnormalities in the esophagus or rectum. But those conditions are rare to begin with, generally occurring no more than once in 700 births, so the overall risk was still low, even after the fertility treatments. The procedures that increased the risk were so-called assisted reproductive techniques, which require doctors and technicians to work with eggs and sperm outside the body. "I think it is important for couples to consider the fact that there may be a risk for birth defects," said epidemiologist Jennita Reefhuis, an author of the study, which was published online Sunday by the journal Human Reproduction.

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