Winehouse autopsy fails to reveal cause of death

An autopsy Monday on singer Amy Winehouse failed to determine what killed the 27-year-old star, leaving fans and family with a weeks-long wait for the results of toxicology tests. Her funeral will be held today.

A family spokesman said the private funeral “for family and close friends” would be held at an undisclosed time and place.

Winehouse’s devastated parents visited mourners outside her north London home to thank them for their support.

The singer, who had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years, was found dead Saturday at home by a member of her security team, who called an ambulance. It arrived too late to save her.

The Metropolitan Police said Monday that a forensic post mortem “did not establish a formal cause of death and we await the results of further toxicology tests.” Those are expected to take two to four weeks.

An inquest into the singer’s death was opened and adjourned at London’s St. Pancras Coroner’s Court. During the two-minute hearing, an official read out the name, birth date and address of Winehouse, described as “a divorced lady living at Camden Square NW1.”

“She was a singer-songwriter at the time of her death and was identified by her family here at St. Pancras this morning,” said a coroner’s officer.

Duff said the scene of Winehouse’s death “was investigated by police and determined non-suspicious.”


Opposition chides Syria’s new law on party formation

Syria’s government on Monday announced details of a new law permitting the formation of opposition parties for the first time in 48 years, but the terms were so restrictive the move seems unlikely to defuse the four-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the official news agency SANA, the law requires parties to be vetted by a government committee and to pledge allegiance to the constitution, which, in its current form, guarantees the supremacy of the ruling Baath Party.

It also prohibits parties formed on a “religious, tribal, regional, denominational, or profession-related basis or on the basis of discrimination due to ethnicity, gender or race,” restrictions that would exclude Islamist parties as well as those formed by Kurds and other minority groups.

The news agency quoted Justice Minister Tayseer Qala Awwad as saying that the law contains 40 clauses in all, but only seven of them were made public. The law was approved by the cabinet on Sunday, the agency said.

Opposition groups derided the law as evidence that the Syrian government is not serious about democracy. They said they would not accept any reforms by the current government unless they are negotiated with the opposition, which rejects all talks as long as tanks remain on the streets of Syrian cities and thousands of people are detained.


Theoretical-particle debate will have an answer in 2012

Scientists will find a long-sought theoretical particle — or rule out that it exists — by the end of 2012, the director of the world’s largest atom smasher predicted Monday.

Rolf Heuer, director of the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, said his confidence was based on the latest findings from the $10 billion proton collider under the Swiss-French border.

The Higgs boson isn’t just any particle. It’s the linchpin of the Standard Model of particle physics theory that explains the Big Bang, and is believed to give mass to other objects and creatures in the Universe.

Heuer said these are “exciting times” for particle physicists because of the latest findings among two separate teams of scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, that he directs.


Police charge Dutch tourist with stealing cow’s cowbell

German police say a Dutch tourist was just a little too eager to get his hands on a real Alpine cowbell.

Police in southern Bavaria said Monday the 30-year-old stole the bell and collar — worth about $290 — off the neck of a cow in a farmer’s field southwest of Munich.

A passer-by witnessed the theft Friday and detained the tourist until police could get to the scene.