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Drugs to Deter Some Cancers Are Largely Ignored, Experts Say

Many Americans do not think twice about taking medicines to prevent heart disease and stroke. But cancer is different. Much of what Americans do in the name of warding off cancer has not been shown to matter, and some things are actually harmful. Yet the few medicines proved to deter cancer are widely ignored.

Take prostate cancer, the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, surpassed only by easily treated skin cancers. More than 192,000 cases of it will be diagnosed this year, and more than 27,000 men will die from it.

And, it turns out, there is a way to prevent many cases of prostate cancer. A large and rigorous study found that a generic drug, finasteride, costing about $2 a day, could prevent as many as 50,000 cases each year. Another study found that finasteride’s close cousin, dutasteride, about $3.50 a day, has the same effect.

China Is Accused of Abuses in Secret Jails

China’s national government tolerates an extensive network of secret jails in Beijing operated by provincial and municipal governments to prevent citizens from complaining to national officials, according to a report released here Thursday by Human Rights Watch.

The report was based on interviews with 38 former detainees who had gone to Beijing to complain about what they described as corruption or other abuses of power at lower levels of government. It said that guards at the “black jails” beat, sexually abused, intimidated and robbed men, women and teenagers.

Provincial and municipal officials in China are subject to a national civil service system that penalizes them based on the number of complaints received in Beijing about their management. Thus, local and provincial officials have a strong incentive to prevent petitioners from reaching the central government.

Sophie Richardson, the advocacy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, said that abuses were widespread in China’s prison system, which has some judicial supervision, but that they were worse in unofficial jails.

In Replacing Dobbs, CNN Makes
A Straightforward Bet

Replacing an anchor known for his outspoken political beliefs with a traditional Washington reporter, CNN on Thursday said a political news program led by John King would fill Lou Dobbs’s time slot early next year.

King is currently the anchor of “State of the Union,” CNN’s Sunday political talk show.

Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN/U.S., told employees on a conference call Thursday morning that King’s move was “a statement about the importance of real nonpartisan news to CNN.” The channel’s middle-of-the-road newscasts, however, have lost market share to the more cacophonous programs on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.

In interviews Thursday, Klein denied that CNN had acquiesced to pressure by Hispanic advocacy groups to drop Dobbs, a fervent opponent of illegal immigration. Rather, he said, it was Dobbs’s decision: while the anchor had adapted in recent months to CNN’s mostly opinion-free format, “he came to me a few weeks ago and said he’d decided it wasn’t for him,” Klein said.