- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

CANADA

Minister pessimistic on health care fix

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Paul Martin pinned his summer re-election campaign on fixing health care for a generation, but Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said yesterday this won’t happen soon.

Success or failure of three days of talks that opened yesterday between Mr. Martin and Canada’s provincial premiers, who administer the overloaded public health system, could affect the future of the Liberal prime minister’s minority government.

Before the meeting began, Mr. Dosanjh announced that a long-term fix would not be possible, and provincial ministers would have to content themselves with deciding how long patients would have to wait for services. Current waiting lists average four months from seeing a family doctor to having surgery.

BRAZIL

Sao Paulo sweep nets cocaine, guns

SAO PAULO — Brazilian authorities seized 8,000 rocks of crack cocaine in a Sao Paulo slum as well as other assorted drugs and firearms, O Globo reported, and three suspected ringleaders were arrested.

Investigators said the gang took in $84,000 a month in sales, mostly in small towns and cities in the interior of Sao Paulo state. Police said they would investigate connections to the gang and its drug ring in other locales to see how far it reaches.

Criminal gangs in huge Brazilian cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are often organized operations that deal in drugs and illegal arms.

LATIN AMERICA

Japan ends emigrant homecomings

TOKYO — The Japanese Foreign Ministry yesterday welcomed the last batch of Japanese emigrants to South America in the past half-century who are visiting Japan for the first time under government-financed visits.

The ministry provided first-generation Japanese emigrants with round-trip tickets and paid part of their travel expenses if they had never returned to Japan, but it has decided to end the 37-year-old program as those eligible grow too old to travel. To date, 781 postwar Japanese emigrants have returned to visit their native land.

Weekly notes

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi embarked yesterday on an 11-day tour of the United States, Mexico and Brazil to win backing for Tokyo’s bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat and to firm economic and trade ties with Latin America. Mr. Koizumi will make Tokyo’s pitch in a Sept. 21 speech to the U.N. General Assembly. … Venezuela’s information minister over the weekend criticized a U.S. plan to withdraw support of $250 million in loan requests by Caracas over its reputed role in the trafficking of women and children for sex. Information Minister Andres Izarra said Venezuela is not concerned about lack of U.S. support because the loans could be approved with sufficient support from other governments.

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