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News Briefs

Peace Plan Still Faces Dissention

THE WASHINGTON POST -- SKOPJE, MACEDONIA

Phase one of NATO’s effort to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels ended Wednesday at an army base in a small Macedonian town. But in the capital, opponents of the country’s peace plan signaled they will try to vote it down when it is put before parliament in coming days.

Western and moderate Macedonian officials, fearful this effort might succeed, are examining the possibility of stalling the parliamentary consideration and taking the agreement directly to the people in a referendum.

That could force NATO to prolong its operation, which is supposed to be limited to the collection of arms over a strict 30-day period. A referendum could take at least 60 days to organize after a parliamentary vote approving one or the collection of 150,000 signatures from among the population.

Forecasters See Even Scant Growth as Positive Sign

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

U.S. economic growth completely stalled this spring as battered, money-losing businesses unloaded unwanted inventories and slashed new investments, but many forecasters believe a modest pickup in economic activity has already begun.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the economy grew at a meager 0.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter, not the 0.7 percent pace originally estimated.

The spring growth rate represented the economy’s weakest performance in eight years, and was essentially no better than zero. But many analysts had braced for worse, expecting the numbers would show the economy had contracted slightly in the April-June period. A negative number would have spurred talk that the United States had entered a recession and perhaps dampened consumer optimism that the economy will improve soon.

AMA Campaign on Ethics Funded by Drug Companies

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The American Medical Association is mounting a new educational campaign costing $1 million to educate doctors about its ethical guidelines against accepting gifts from drug companies -- but most of the funding for the effort is coming from drug companies.

Nine large pharmaceutical companies are contributing a total of about $675,000 to help pay for the campaign, which is aimed at medical students, physicians-in-training and drug company sales representatives as well as practicing doctors, said Alan Nelson, a former AMA president and a special adviser to the American College of Physicians.

Nelson defended the AMA’s decision to accept grants from the drug industry to publicize the ethical guidelines, which allow company funding of educational conferences but advise doctors against accepting gifts of more than minimal value from drug companies.