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Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Briefly

April 20, 2004

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Massachusetts

City saves $2 million on Canadian drugs

Springfield has saved about $2 million over the past nine months by buying prescription drugs from Canada for city workers and retirees, the head of the program said Monday.

Chris Collins, the city's insurance director, said about 3,000 of the 20,000 city employees, retirees and their dependents are participating in the voluntary program.

Last July, the cash-strapped city became the nation's first to turn to cheaper Canadian drugs for its health plan.

Federal law forbids the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, but thousands of Americans get their prescriptions filled across the border. Brand-name medicines can cost half the price in Canada because of tighter government controls.

Los Angeles

Airport hit by 2nd outage

For the second time in eight days, a widespread power outage on Monday hit Los Angeles International Airport, leaving some buildings without electricity for nearly two hours.

The blackout didn't cause the same air traffic control problems as the April 12 power failure because backup batteries in the control tower worked properly and controllers continued landing planes without incident. Still, federal officials and air traffic controllers expressed frustration with the power problems.

Officials said they still weren't sure exactly what caused last week's problems, and acknowledged that their original theory -- that a bird sparked the blackout by touching a power line -- may never be proven conclusively.

Beijing

North Korean leader discusses nuclear standoff

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met China's president Monday and discussed his country's nuclear program, just days after Vice President Dick Cheney warned of the growing threat from Pyongyang and urged Beijing to do more to defuse it.

Kim reportedly talked with President Hu Jintao over lunch about North Korea's nuclear weapons program and asked for economic aid, South Korean media said, citing unidentified sources.

Today, Kim was to meet former President Jiang Zemin, head of the powerful Communist Party commission that runs China's military, to discuss North Korea's security concerns, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

Pittsburgh

Airport rules may ease

Pittsburgh International could become the nation's first major airport to get the OK to abandon the post-Sept. 11 rule that says only ticketed passengers are allowed past security checkpoints.

Pittsburgh is a strong candidate for the experiment for two reasons: It has a centralized security checkpoint in one terminal. And it has a full-scale shopping mall that has suffered a drop-off in business because it is reachable only by ticketed passengers.

If the change is approved, people without tickets will have to go through security just like passengers. They will be checked with metal detectors and may have to empty their pockets and handbags and take off their shoes.

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