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News Briefs

Albright Says Aid to Russia Is Best Defense Against Nuclear Weapons


Responding to attacks on the Clinton administration’s Russia policy, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright urged continued aid for Moscow Thursday as the best defense against nuclear proliferation but warned Russia to crack down on corruption.

“We have made clear that we will not support further multilateral assistance to Russia unless fully adequate safeguards are in place,” Albright said. “Our message to Russian leaders has been to get tough on corruption and to cooperate in full with investigations into it.”

Albright’s speech, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, came as Congress debates new assistance for Russia and investigates allegations that billions in Western aid got siphoned into private Russian pockets.

Republicans in Washington have grasped the growing Russian banking scandal as a weapon against Democrats in the 2000 elections.

Reports that a huge amount of aid to Russia has been laundered through Western financial institutions “marks the effective end of the Clinton-Gore administration’s approach to Russian reform,” House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) said this week. “Russia has become a looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy.”

Gates Gives $1 Billion College Aid


Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates Thursday pledged to spend $1 billion over the next 20 years giving college scholarships to thousands of academically talented but financially needy minority students across the country. The gift would be the largest philanthropic gesture ever in education.

Gates, the world’s wealthiest person, has never made a bigger contribution to any single cause and this one is almost without rival in national history. It equals the amount that media mogul Ted Turner committed to United Nations’ humanitarian programs two years ago.

In an announcement Thursday morning from Seattle, Gates said that he is creating the scholarships because he believes too many minority students are not reaching or finishing college -- and in particular pursuing degrees in medicine, science and technology -- strictly because the expense of doing so is often too great.

“This country is in an incredible time period. The advances in technology are really quite breathtaking,” Gates said. “Is everybody getting a chance to benefit? The answer is really no.”

FDA Approves Breast Cancer Drug


The Food and Drug Administration Thursday approved a new breast cancer drug for cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes.

The drug, when used after surgery with two other standard drugs, appears to improve survival over another common regimen significantly. But it also carries the risk of more side effects than the other treatments, a factor that raises the inevitable difficult choices women and their physicians face in making breast cancer treatment decisions.

The drug, epirubicin, sold under the brand name Ellence and made by Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc., of Kalamazoo, Mich., showed a “significant” difference in the length of time women survived without a recurrence of breast cancer and an increased five-year overall survival rate in two long-term studies of 1,200 patients, the FDA said.

These women, however, suffered more nausea, vomiting and hair loss, as well as a higher rate of serious infections, some resulting in hospitalization. Also, the drug poses a small risk of irreversible heart damage, as well as leukemia, a long-term consequence of some chemotherapy agents.