World and Nation

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Actor Heath Ledger Dies At 28 of Unknown Causes

Heath Ledger, the Australian-born actor whose breakthrough role as a gay cowboy in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” earned him a nomination for an Academy Award and comparisons to the likes of Marlon Brando, was found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan with prescription pills near his body, the police said.

The police said he was found naked on the floor by the bed in an apartment in SoHo that Ledger, 28, had been renting. The chief police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police did not suspect foul play.

“There was no indication of a disturbance,” he said, adding that there were no signs that Ledger had been drinking. Nor were any illegal drugs found in the loft, which neighbors said Ledger had occupied for several months.

Police officials said that a bottle of prescription sleeping pills were found on a nearby night table, but that they did not know whether the pills had anything to do with Ledger’s death. Officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

Browne said no obvious indication of suicide, such as a note, was found in the bedroom.

Iraq Purges Flag of Signs of Saddam

Iraqi lawmakers adopted a modified version of the national flag on Tuesday, removing three stars that symbolized the Baathist ideals of unity, freedom, and socialism, and Saddam Hussein’s handwritten calligraphy of the Quranic incantation “Allahu akbar.”

The incantation, which means God is great, will remain on the flag, though it will now be written in a different calligraphic style.

Members of parliament voted 110-50 for the flag, which was introduced in 2004 and bears the red, white, and black stripes of Iraq’s original banner. The design preserves a sense of continuous national identity while purging the flag of Baathist allusions, supporters say.

Kurdish politicians, many of whom survived the genocidal gas bombings by Saddam’s forces in the Anfal, or spoils of war, campaign of the 1980s, were among the fiercest critics of the old flag. In 2006, Massoud Barzani, president of the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, refused to fly the flag from government offices, prompting fear of Kurdish separatism.

Google and Publicis Announce Digital Advertising Cooperation

The chief executives of Publicis Groupe, the advertising conglomerate, and Google, the Internet giant, said Tuesday that they would jointly develop an approach to digital advertising that was both creative and technologically savvy, a combination they said is lacking.

Neither Maurice Levy of Publicis nor Eric E. Schmidt of Google, speaking with the press at Publicis’ headquarters here, would put a value on the partnership, which is not exclusive. But they asserted that the collaboration gave them a “first-mover advantage” in combining the programming knowledge of Google with the creativity of advertising agencies.

The resulting tools and business intelligence would not necessarily be proprietary to the two companies but could help propel the growth of digital advertising, they said.