Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. Brisbane Wakes to `Unbearable Agony' as Worst Flood Since 1974 Swamps City 2. Snowstorm Pummels Boston Region, Forcing Thousands of Flight Cancellations 3. Palin Charges `Blood Libel' by Critics Linking Her to Shootings in Arizona 4. Vietnam's Communists Set Growth Goal as Leaders Warn on Rising Inflation 5. Higher Level of `Good Cholesterol' Doesn't Always Help Heart, Study Finds

1. Brisbane Wakes to `Unbearable Agony' as Worst Flood Since 1974 Swamps City

Brisbane woke to its worst flooding since 1974 after muddy water inundated about 15,000 properties, smashed roads and shuttered the city center. The Brisbane River, which runs through the city, remained a fast-moving torrent of brown water filled with debris as the sun shone over Australia´s third-largest city today. Residents in tin boats made their way through riverside suburbs such as Yeronga and Milton in floodwaters which peaked today about a meter lower than had been forecast by authorities yesterday. An area bigger than Texas and California making up more than 75 percent of Queensland state has been declared a disaster zone. At least 12 people were killed and 78 are missing after a flash flood smashed through Toowoomba on Jan. 10, adding to the 11 lives lost since the deluge started in late November. "There is some relief, but people are waking up to unbearable agony," Queensland State Premier Anna Bligh said on Sky News today. "What I´m seeing looks more like a war zone. This is a reconstruction effort of post-war proportions. We need to have a steely determination to match the effort that´s needed."

2. Snowstorm Pummels Boston Region, Forcing Thousands of Flight Cancellations

A storm that dropped more than 9 inches of new snow on New York City pounded Boston with blizzard conditions, disrupting travel and prompting Massachusetts´ governor to declare a state of emergency. Almost 3,300 flights were canceled, mostly in the Northeast, according to airline reports compiled by Bloomberg. Amtrak suspended service between New York and Boston after a tree fell on an overhead power line near Sharon, Massachusetts, and the National Weather Service reported downed trees and power lines across the area. Heavy snow will fall in waves on Boston and eastern New England for the rest of the day, said Alan Dunham, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. The storm was off the coast of Massachusetts at midday and strengthening, Dunham said. "It will take a couple of hours for some these heavier bands to come through," Dunham said. "There will be spots that see a foot and a half to two feet of snow by the time it is all said and done."

3. Palin Charges `Blood Libel' by Critics Linking Her to Shootings in Arizona

Calling it a "blood libel," Sarah Palin condemned people who have criticized her for heated political rhetoric and the role it may have played in the shootings in Tucson, Arizona. Palin, 46, the former Republican governor of Alaska, her party´s 2008 nominee for vice president and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, made her statement in an Internet video. "Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own," she said in a posting today. "They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies." U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, was wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that killed six people and injured 14. The lawmaker is recovering in a hospital in Tucson, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak today at a memorial service for the victims.

4. Vietnam's Communists Set Growth Goal as Leaders Warn on Rising Inflation

Vietnam´s ruling party signaled it would emphasize economic growth over the next decade and address mismanagement at state-owned firms at this week´s National Congress as some leaders warned of the need to curb inflation. "We must pay attention to the quality and efficiency of growth and sustainable development," Communist Party Chief Nong Duc Manh said in opening remarks in Hanoi yesterday, where the eight days of meetings to choose top leaders are being held. "We must combine economic growth with social progress and equality." Vietnam seeks growth of 7 percent to 8 percent until the year 2020 and wants to almost triple per capita income to $3,000 in that time, Manh said. Investors are scrutinizing the remarks for clues on whether new leaders are prepared to damp a credit boom and elevate price stabilization over growth, which averaged 7.2 percent over the past decade. "The growth target is perfectly reasonable," Yougesh Khatri, a senior economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore, said by phone. "If they do enough to curb inflation expectations, they can create a virtuous cycle."

5. Higher Level of `Good Cholesterol' Doesn't Always Help Heart, Study Finds

Some good cholesterol may be less efficient at ferrying fat from arteries, says a study suggesting why drugmakers have struggled to craft treatments that prevent heart attacks and death by simply raising levels in the body. The research, released today in the New England Journal of Medicine, may help explain earlier findings that increasing good cholesterol doesn´t always reduce cardiac risk, said Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. While people with naturally high levels of good cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease, drugmakers haven´t succeeded in developing medicines that mimic its effects. Rader´s team used a laboratory test to determine how well good cholesterol, known as HDL, functioned. Patients with the most-efficient particles had a lower risk of heart disease, even after overall levels of HDL were taken into account, the study found. The results may benefit companies such as Merck & Co. in Whitehouse Station New Jersey, Roche Holding AG in Basel, Switzerland, and Eli Lilly & Co. in Indianapolis, which are developing drugs that target good cholesterol. "Raising HDL levels per se may not be the be-all and end- all in terms of developing new therapies," Rader said. "Two people with the same HDL levels may have very different degrees of function that affects their risk of developing heart disease."

-0- Jan/13/2011 00:35 GMT

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