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In brief: Tycoon fears for wealth in spy plot

RUSSIAN oligarch Alexander Lebedev has accused a group of spies and policemen of plotting to steal his multi-billion-pound business empire in an open letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The 51-year-old owner of The 'Independent' newspaper titles and the 'London Evening Standard' said a gang of corrupt secret service agents and policemen were trying to take his £1.9bn (€2.25bn) fortune in an elaborate criminal conspiracy tied to a small bank he used to control.

New language can delay Alzheimer's

SCIENTISTS say mastering a second language can pump up your brain in ways that seem to delay getting Alzheimer's disease later on.

While the new research focuses mostly on the truly long-term bilingual, scientists say even people who tackle a new language later in life stand to gain.

Abbas rejects US bid to halt UN vote

PALESTINIAN Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday rejected a last-minute US appeal to drop a planned UN Security Council vote condemning Israel's policy on settlements.

The Americans could provoke further strains with Israel by abstaining on the vote, or they could use their veto in the Security Council to stop it. This could be seen to be siding with the settlements while the US administration has condemned their expansion.

Electric therapy helps with OCD

AN electrical treatment which zaps away symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder can help extreme sufferers unable to cope with everyday life, a ground-breaking study has shown.

The pacemaker-like therapy, known as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), involves passing a weak current through thin wire electrodes inserted deep into the brain. Some of the worst affected have managed to keep their symptoms under control for more than eight years.

Legislators flee to scupper votes

POLICE are hunting for Wisconsin legislators who fled across the state border to boycott a vote on public sector cuts. Fourteen Democratic state senators scuppered a vote that would have forced an effective pay cut of 7pc on public workers in the Midwestern state.

The stand-off is regarded as the opening battle over expenditure that is likely to be repeated in other states facing budget shortfalls.

Irish Independent