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Nation in brief

Nations say they shirked aid duties

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2003

WASHINGTON -- World financial leaders acknowledged Sunday that they are in danger of losing "the other war," conceding that their failure to follow through on past pledges is contributing to global poverty, health crises and other ills.

Members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank ended their spring meetings declaring their determination to honor past commitments to Third World development. Their track record had come under fierce attack from critics both within and outside the two institutions.

World Bank chief economist Nick Stern assailed wealthy nations such as the United States, Japan and European countries for not living up to their end of a bargain struck when a new round of global trade talks was launched in 2001. While developing countries have made progress in reforming their policies, institutions and governments, he said, rich countries have done little to reduce barriers to agricultural and apparel imports.

Other efforts have fallen short, says a World Bank analysis released Sunday. Three years ago, wealthy nations endorsed an ambitious "Millennium Challenge" that called for reducing by half the percentage of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. Other goals included reductions in child mortality and AIDS and better access to education and safe drinking water.

Although many problems contribute to the poor performance, one factor has been the failure of wealthy countries to come up with the estimated $50-billion a year in additional aid needed, economist Stern said.

President postpones Ottawa trip, cites war

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has decided to postpone a trip to Canada May 5 because of the Iraq war, U.S. and Canadian officials said Sunday.

News of the postponement came about two weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien canceled a trip to Washington after criticism from the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

The ambassador, Paul Cellucci, said the American government was upset and disappointed that Canada failed to join the U.S.-led military coalition fighting in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Chretien may meet with former President Bill Clinton during a trip to the Dominican Republic. Clinton was to arrive there today.

Chretien described the timing as a "coincidence" but indicated the two would likely meet, saying "we are good friends."

Sweeping patient privacy rules take effect today

WASHINGTON -- File cabinets with medical records are being locked. Callers to hospitals are getting little, if any, information about sick friends and relatives.

Privacy rules that take effect today for most health plans will cover every health insurance company, hospital, clinic, doctor and pharmacy.

The rules, years in the making, prohibit disclosure, without patient permission, of information for reasons unrelated to health care. Violators face civil and criminal penalties that can mean up to $250,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.

Patients will receive notices explaining their new rights, including the right to examine their medical records and to request corrections.

The smallest health plans will have an additional year to comply with the rules.

Elsewhere . . .

MAN ARRESTED IN PROSTITUTE DEATHS: Hours after a woman's decomposing body was discovered in a backyard camper Saturday, police arrested Corey Morris, 24, in the deaths of at least five prostitutes found dumped in the Phoenix neighborhood during the past nine months.

FIRE AT COLLEGE PARTY KILLS 5: A suspicious fire broke out in a three-story house near Ohio State University early Sunday as a student's 21st birthday party was breaking up, killing five people and injuring three, Columbus authorities said.

-- Information from the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

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