Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

In an exclusive, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Washington Bureau has reported that us' top Medicare cost analyst has confirmed that his former boss ordered him to withhold, from lawmakers, unfavourable cost estimates about the Medicare prescription-drug bill. He said the estimates exceeded what the us Congress seemed willing to accept by more than us $100 billion. This revelation caused many congressmen to demand a fresh look at the bill, that George Bush signed into law December 8, 2003.

The annual report of the Committee on Publishing Ethics details misdemeanours a group of medical journal editors grappled with in 2003. It details 29 cases, covering a wide range of unethical activity -- from attempted bribery to potential medical malpractice.

South Korea has banned mass protests in an attempt to calm political tensions. The government says any political unrest will be harshly dealt with and the police are warning that they will use force to break up rallies if necessary. There is a context to this decision: huge crowds have been demonstrating against the impeachment of President Roh Moo-Hyun. On March 12, 2004, the National Assembly stripped Roh Moo-Hyun of his powers.

European Union antitrust regulators' unanimous support of a landmark antitrust ruling against Microsoft over the sale of its Windows operating systems may mean Microsoft will be fined hundreds of millions of euros. The draft ruling takes issue with the way the Windows Media Player audiovisual software is sold as part of the Windows operating systems. It alleges that Microsoft abuses its power to dominate the software market.

The draft ruling requires Microsoft to sell two versions of Windows to computer makers for installation in computers sold in Europe. One version would include Windows Media Player, as in the current system, and the other would have it removed. The draft ruling is expected to be formally adopted March 24, 2004.

Europe accounts for about 30 per cent of Microsoft's sales.

Chinese authorities have blocked the Chinese version websites of the Wall Street Journal and Deutsche Welle newspapers, a Paris-based media rights group says.

The sites have been blocked since the opening of the annual parliament session, the National People's Congress, in Beijing on March 5, 2004, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

One of Australia's oldest union publications, Australian Worker, has gone commercial March 12, 2004 onwards. The public can now purchase copies from newsagencies. The magazine is a joint venture between the Australian Workers Union and publishers ACP.

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