Sony pulls Playstation manufacturing out of Rancho Bernardo, sends to Tijuana.

Tijuana cancer clinic recruiting patients in New Zealand

Last October, Japanese newspapers broke the story that Sony would no longer manufacture its PlayStation video game machine at its San Diego plant in Rancho Bernardo. Instead, the reports went, all of the games would henceforth be made in a factory near Tokyo. Supposedly, according to the story, the move was made to take advantage of the yen's depreciation against the dollar. But now, Sony says the Playstation manufacturing operation is on the move again, not back to San Diego, but to Tijuana. And with the switch comes a new version of why San Diego lost out. Teruhisa Tokunaga, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, told Daily Variety last week that the work was shifted from San Diego to Tokyo because the company needed to quickly increase the production of the PlayStation machines and that Japanese workers were more experienced at producing the machines quickly and efficiently. Besides, added Variety, "Tokunaga said production at San Diego, which he said was in small volume, had always been intended to pave the way for production at the Mexican factory."

Issue surfing in Guam

A South Pacific junket with fellow Republican Brian Bilbray has landed Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in hot water with the denizens of Guam and other U.S. Pacific territories. It seems Rohrabacher, Bilbray, and Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) set off on a five-day trip over the New Year's holidays to the Northern Mariana Islands -- courtesy of the commonwealth. But all was not warm water surfing and fine dining. According to a local newspaper, the Pacific Daily News, Rohrabacher told the natives that Guam and the other territories were "economic basket cases, backward and economically depressed" and that having representatives in Congress hadn't done the area any good. "I look at it as more of an ego thing for people than it is a benefit," Rohrabacher was quoted as saying. Rohrabacher and his fellow congressional travelers were guests of Northern Marina Islands Governor Froilan C. Tenorio, who opposes congressional representation for the islands. Guam's Governor Carl Gutierrez quickly struck back, saying Rohrabacher's comments were based on "ignorance and insensitivity."

Awkward in Auckland

A Tijuana cancer clinic is recruiting patients in New Zealand, reports from that country say, but sales resistance is high. American Biologics Hospital, said to charge about $3200 a week for its alternative therapies, set off a storm of controversy when advertisements in an Auckland newspaper claimed that it could cure cancer. "I think it is misleading, encouraging New Zealanders to spend money in clinics which have no evidence to show they can help people. I wish it were true," said New Zealand cancer society spokesman John Gaiser. Other critics claimed patients were going broke and mortgaging their houses to raise cash for the trip to Mexico. But fellow Aucklander Malcolm Fiddell, who took out the ads on behalf of the clinic, called American Biologics a "medical oasis" that had treated 20,000 people since opening 21 years ago. The clinic reportedly uses "detoxification, diet, and live embryonic cells" to "reduce and dissolve cancer tumors."

Expensive docs

The federal government is investigating the teaching hospitals of the University of California, including the one run by UCSD, trying to find out whether faculty physicians have been delegating patient work to residents but charging Medicare as if they had done it themselves. If a federal audit finds out they did, the university may owe big money. "The exposure is extremely high" in terms of the money that UC may owe the government, John Lundberg, deputy general counsel for UC, told regents last week. The federal Department of Health and Human Services has been auditing teaching hospitals nationwide; last year, two Pennsylvania hospitals had to give back a record $44 million in overpayments and penalties. Threats of an audit of the UC hospitals has some regents indignant. "It sounds very heavy-handed," huffed Regent Clair Burgener, the ex--San Diego congressman and Republican party honcho.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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