Minister survives assasination attempt


Gunmen opened fire yesterday on a convoy carrying Iraq’s
minister of public works, killing a driver and a bodyguard and
injuring two others, the U.S.-led coalition said. The minister,
Nisreen Berwari, was unharmed.

In another attack in the same city, Mosul, gunmen killed a
Briton and a Canadian who were working as security guards for
foreign electrical engineers at a power station. The ambush
appeared to be part of a campaign to undermine U.S.-led
reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The attacks highlighted the tenuous security situation in
Iraq’s third-largest city, once a prime recruiting ground for
the officer corps of Saddam Hussein’s military.

Berwari was returning to Mosul from a meeting in the city of
Dohuk when her convoy was attacked, said Kristi Clemens, a
coalition spokeswoman in Baghdad.

Saro Qader, an official with the Kurdistan Democratic Party,
described the attack as an “assassination attempt.”
Berwari is a member of the Kurdish party.

Iraqi police said the attack occurred around 11 a.m. in the
al-Karama neighborhood of Mosul. They said the two men who were
killed were both bodyguards, and that Berwari was in another car
that was not hit by gunfire.


Accused rapist allowed to stay in Air Force


An Air Force Academy cadet who had been accused of rape and
threatened to crash a glider into a dining hall was allowed to
remain at the school for several more months, during which he was
arrested for sodomizing a woman in a wheelchair and accused of
raping another cadet, according to files obtained by The Associated

Even after his arrest in Los Angeles for sodomy, the Air Force
got cadet Doncosta Seawell released from custody and took him back
to the academy, according to the files. He was accused of rape by a
fellow cadet three months later.

“This is outrageous that this guy fell through the cracks
of the military justice system, and went on to do such harm to
other victims,” said Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition
Against Sexual Assault.

Seawell’s alleged victims have been among the women who
have accused the academy of failing to prosecute sex offenders
— claims that helped lead to sweeping changes at the academy
and Defense Department investigations of sexual assault cases. An
investigation determined that there had been 142 reports of sexual
assault at the academy in the past decade.


France’s ruling party suffers election blow


French voters delivered a stinging defeat to President Jacques
Chirac’s government and its program of painful economic
reforms in regional elections yesterday, according to exit

The heavy losses in many regions will increase pressure on
Chirac to reshuffle his conservative government, and perhaps even
ditch his prime minister, the unpopular Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Polls of voters as they left voting stations showed the
opposition left getting nearly half of the votes, compared with
about 37 percent for the right.

One of at least eight regions that the government appeared to
have lost was Poitou-Charentes in western France, once
Raffarin’s fiefdom. The midterm bruising, Chirac’s
first national test since he and his party swept elections in 2002,
could also make it difficult for the government to pursue promised
but unpopular economic reforms.


Vitamin E may lower bladder cancer risk


Getting plenty of vitamin E by eating foods like nuts and olive
oil appears to cut in half people’s risk of bladder cancer, the
fourth leading cancer killer among men, a new study suggests.

The research, released at a cancer conference yesterday, is the
latest blip in the ups and downs of perceptions about this
nutrient’s powers to ward off disease. Experts once had high hopes
that vitamin E would prove to be an important safeguard against
heart attacks. But that idea eventually faded as repeated studies
failed to show any protective effect.

Whether vitamin E does anything to stop cancer is still far from
proven, but some think the vitamin may be helpful, perhaps by
warding off the damaging effects of oxygen.


Afghan leader delays elections until fall

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s landmark national elections will be delayed
until September to give the United Nations more time to register
voters and organize the balloting, President Hamid Karzai said

Officials had warned repeatedly that the country’s first
post-Taliban elections, originally scheduled for June, would be
delayed because of logistical problems and security fears.

“We are ready to manage both elections, for the parliament
and presidency, in September,” Karzai told reporters at his
palace in the Afghan capital.

So far, only 1.5 million of an estimated 10.5 million eligible
voters have been registered for the elections.

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