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News Briefs

New Doctors Choosing Specialties That Offer Banker’s Hours


Jennifer C. Boldrick lights up when the topic turns to blisters, eczema, and skin cancer. She’s also a big fan of getting a full night of sleep. And it is the combination of these interests has led Boldrick to become part of a marked shift in the medical profession.

Boldrick, 31, a graduate of Stanford University Medical School, is training to become a dermatologist. That field is one of the most competitive for new doctors, with a 40 percent increase in the number of people pursuing the field during the last five years.

The vogue for cosmetic treatments like Botox may have helped dermatology acquire its newfound chic, but for young doctors it satisfies another longing. Today’s medical residents, half of them women, are emphasizing what experts call “controllable lifestyle” when selecting a specialty. Dermatologists typically don’t work nights or weekends, have decent control over their time and often get paid out-of-pocket, rather than having to deal with the hassles of insurance.

“The surgery lifestyle is so much worse,” said Boldrick, who rejected a career in plastic surgery. “I want to have a family. And when you work 80 or 90 hours a week, you can’t even take care of yourself.”

Other specialties also enjoying a surge in popularity are radiology, anesthesiology and even emergency-room medicine, which despite their differences all allow doctors to put work behind them when their shifts end, and make medicine less all-encompassing, more like a 9-to-5 job.

Two French Workers Shot to Death in Iraq


Two French citizens were killed Tuesday in Iraq, the first from this country to die as a result of the American-led war that France has vehemently opposed.

The two, who have not been identified, were apparently shot late Monday on a highway west of Baghdad after their vehicle broke down. Another French citizen traveling with them was reportedly wounded.

The French Foreign Ministry said those killed were working in Iraq for an American company without the knowledge of the French government. It did not identify the company but cautioned other French nationals to register with the French government if they travel to Iraq.

“These tragic facts lead us to repeat, as is stated under ‘travel warnings’ on the ministry’s Internet site, that it is absolutely imperative for all French expatriates who find themselves in Iraq to make themselves known to our consular authorities and the French Interests Section in Baghdad,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Herve Ladsous.

NY Police Shooting of Unarmed Man Settled for $3 Million


Almost five years after Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from West Africa, died in a hail of 41 police bullets in the Bronx, his family agreed Tuesday to a $3 million settlement of its civil lawsuit against New York City.

The agreement ends an infamous case that led to a hotly contested state trial, a federal investigation and ultimately the dismantling of the Police Department’s elite Street Crime Unit. In widespread protests, dozens of politicians and others were arrested on civil-disobedience charges, and the bullet-ridden entrance of Diallo’s home became a symbol of the racial tensions renewed by the shooting.

Just after midnight on Feb. 4, 1999, four police officers in the plainclothes Street Crime Unit confronted Diallo, a 22-year-old street vendor from Guinea, and fired 41 shots, hitting him 19 times as he stood in the doorway of his apartment in the Soundview section of the Bronx. The officers said later that they thought Diallo resembled a rape suspect and had drawn on a gun on them when they approached. The supposed gun turned out to be a wallet.

After the officers were acquitted of murder, Diallo’s parents sued them and the city, saying that racial profiling by the Police Department was a cause of their son’s death.

China Announces $45 Billion Bailout of Two Banks


The Chinese government announced on Tuesday a complex transfer of $45 billion from the country’s soaring foreign exchange reserves to two of the four big state-owned banks, the third such bailout in less than six years.

The transaction is intended to help shore up the banks, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank, so they can sell stock for the first time, said a statement by China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China. The central bank admonished the banks to do a better job of controlling fraud and limiting bad loans.

“When dealing with bad assets, they have to strictly investigate the responsibility of the related officials,” the central bank said. “They have to fight fiercely against those who have tried to run away from bank loans through illegal behavior.”

Provincial and municipal governments put heavy pressure on local bank branches to approve loans to politically connected individuals and to money-losing state-owned enterprises that employ large numbers of people. The big four banks are trying to resolve the problem by centralizing their decisions on large loans and by installing computer systems to monitor lending patterns.

Beijing forbids Chinese journalists from reporting on the full extent of the banks’ troubles, especially journalists for mass-media publications read by many depositors.