Nation digest 12/21/04

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Heart attacks, strokes end Alzheimer drug study

WASHINGTON -- A study testing whether Celebrex or naproxen would reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease was halted Monday after researchers noted an increase in heart attack and stroke among participants who were taking naproxen, an over-the-counter pain reliever on the market for nearly 30 years. Officials at the National Institutes of Health said the study was stopped after three years when it was noticed that patients taking naproxen, sold under the brand name Aleve, had a 50 percent greater incidence of cardiovascular events -- heart attack or stroke -- than patients taking placebo. Another factor, officials said, was the announcement last week that advertising for Celebrex was being halted after a study found that high doses of the drug was associated with an increase in heart attack risk. Data from the Alzheimer's study, however, did not indicate an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Granddaughter of jackpot winner found dead

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. -- The 17-year-old granddaughter of Jack Whittaker, winner of the nation's biggest undivided lottery jackpot, was found dead Monday on the property of her boyfriend's family, more than two weeks after she disappeared. The cause of death was under investigation. Authorities said there were no obvious signs of violence and the death is not considered a homicide at this point. Brandi Bragg's body was found several hundred feet from a house owned by Steve Crosier, whose son was Bragg's boyfriend, state police said. The body was found behind a junked van, wrapped in a sheet and plastic tarp. Bragg was last seen Dec. 4 and her grandfather, a contractor who on Christmas 2002 won a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot, reported her missing five days later.

Judge rejects motion for delay in pop star's trial

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A judge Monday denied a motion for a delay in the child molestation case against Michael Jackson, clearing the way for the trial's Jan. 31 start. Defense attorney Robert Sanger asked Judge Rodney S. Melville to postpone the trial for three months so attorneys could sort through 14,000 pages of evidence filed by prosecutors during the past two months. Melville said a delay would be "a huge step backward. ... If I continued the case three months, we'll have 90 more search warrants and 90 more motions." The ruling came during a pretrial hearing Monday.

Holocaust survivors, U.S. reach deal on 'Gold Train'

MIAMI -- The U.S. government has agreed to settle with Holocaust survivors who claim that U.S. Army officers during World War II plundered a trainload of family treasures that had been seized by the Nazis. The families and the Justice Department told a judge Monday that they have agreed in principle to a financial award over the "Gold Train," but the exact terms have not been worked out. The lawsuit sought up to $10,000 each for as many as 30,000 Hungarian Jews and their survivors. In 1945, the Nazis sent 24 train cars toward Germany carrying gold, silver, paintings and other goods seized from Hungarian Jews.

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