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World Briefs II

Boom in Foreign Travel Poses Risks, Colleges Say

The Washington Post

A series of deaths and near-misses involving American students around the world has aroused concern about the safety of horizon-broadening travel to foreign lands. As more young people venture overseas, and more doors open to them in less-developed and rapidly changing nations, educators say it is harder to predict what dangers may await them.

Last week's rape of five St. Mary's College of Maryland students in Guatemala sent a wave of distress through area colleges and high schools. Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert said the incident gave educators "shudders" and makes them "even more cautious and take even more precautions," but he added that his school "wouldn't think of canceling our trips."

In India, the death of four U.S. college students in a March 1996 bus accident prompted their parents to sue the American program operators and the sponsoring university, who they said erred by sending their children out on a dangerous road with an unknown driver. Other students have caught rare diseases or barely escaped outbreaks of political fighting.

"Sometimes, you're taken by the myth that if you're an American or a foreigner you're safer," said Glenn R. Bucher, president of the Graduate Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., who spent three weeks in rural Guatemala with seminary students in 1991. "But you never know what will happen."

Although most students still flock to the United Kingdom or Western Europe, they also are traveling in greater numbers to former communist countries or developing Latin American and Asian nations.

Government Withholds Payments To Deadbeat' Doctors

Los Angeles Times

Hoping to recover more than $107 million in outstanding federal student loans, government officials are withholding Medicare and Medicaid payments to so-called "dead-beat" doctors.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala released the list of 1,402 names on Tuesday, putting on notice health care professionals who have not begun repaying their federally guaranteed Health Education Assistance Loans. Nearly all of the debtors are doctors, with some of their loans dating back to 1979, when the loan program for students in the health care field was established.

"If they're making any attempt at repayment, they would not be on this list," said Claude Earl Fox, acting administrator of HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration. The full list of names will appear in the Federal Register this week, and was posted Tuesday on the Department's website at

Under the announcement, the defaulters are barred Tuesday from serving the 74 million elderly, disabled and low-income Americans covered by the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs.

The list was also forwarded to the Department of Justice, which could pursue litigation and enforce collection by garnishing wages, attaching property and seizing bank accounts.