World and Nation

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Some Balk at Giuliani Role In Sept. 11 Ceremony

Each year since Sept. 11, 2001, Rudolph W. Giuliani has spoken at New York City’s commemorations of the attacks. At past ceremonies he has read off the names of some of the dead, given readings by Lincoln and Churchill, and recited poetry.

This year Giuliani is no longer just the former mayor who led New York in the wake of the attacks, but a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. So when the city announced that Giuliani would speak next month at the sixth anniversary of the attacks, some relatives of people who died on Sept. 11 said they were dismayed, some because they feared his presence might inject politics into the event and others because they had been critical of him in the past.

“I think it’s disgraceful that he’s going to be there,” said James Riches, a deputy fire chief who lost his son Jimmy in the attacks, and who said that he faulted Giuliani as not giving firefighters the proper equipment before or after the attacks. “It’s a photo-op for him.”

Anthony V. Carbonetti, a senior adviser to the Giuliani campaign, said that Giuliani was invited to attend the ceremony by the administration of current mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and that he would do so, as he has every year.

“This is something that is not unusual,” Carbonetti said. “He’s down there to pay his respects. He did, I did, we all did lose many friends, and as mayor he not only lost personal friends, he lost people who put their lives in harm’s way for his city. It’s his duty to be down there.”

NBC Buys International TV Channels

NBC Universal announced Tuesday the acquisition of a group of international cable television channels owned by Sparrowhawk Holdings of London, a deal that Jeff Zucker, the president and chief executive of NBC, said was the first sign of a strategic shift at the company.

“We want to transfer our portfolio into high-growth businesses and look to move away from businesses that are slower growth,” Zucker said in a telephone interview. “We are going to acquire and dispose and, at the end of the day, self-fund all of these moves.”

Zucker did not specify which parts of NBC Universal he intended to shed, and NBC executives emphasized that the portfolio reshuffling was viewed as a long-term project.

He also declined to name any potential acquisition targets. But NBC Universal has been among several media companies, including Viacom, at the center of speculation as potential bidders emerge for the Oxygen cable channel, which caters to an audience of women.

The Sparrowhawk deal — for a group of about 30 pay-television channels, including 18 versions of the Hallmark channel outside the United States — is the first that NBC Universal has closed since Zucker took the top post in February, and is consistent with his stated intention to expand the international holdings of NBC Universal.

After Stumbling, Mattel Cracks Down in China

The alarm bell went off for Mattel just as it was preparing to announce that it would recall 1.5 million Chinese-made toys tainted with lead paint.

Surrounded by boxes of Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels cars and other sample toys, Tom Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, was leading a tense early morning trans-Pacific telephone conference with his team in Hong Kong, where it was 9 p.m. At the time, recalled Debrowski, Mattel thought it was dealing with at most “a single failure, from a single vendor who made a big mistake.”

But in the middle of the meeting on July 30, Mattel learned otherwise.

“I’ve got bad news,” interrupted David Lewis, senior vice president for Asian operations, who had just taken a call from the company’s safety lab in Shenzhen, China, where toys made by outside companies are tested. “We’ve had another failure. It was one of the toys in the Pixar cars.”

That was the moment that threw Mattel into turmoil, forcing the company — long considered one of the more successful Western manufacturers in China — to recognize that it had more of a systemic problem than simply an isolated case of one bad paint supplier.

Shorter Wait For Botox Treatments Than Cancer Screening

Patients seeking an appointment with a dermatologist to ask about a potentially cancerous mole have to wait substantially longer than those seeking Botox for wrinkles, a study published online on Tuesday by The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology said.

Researchers reported that dermatologists in several cities offered a typical wait of eight days for a cosmetic patient wanting Botox to smooth wrinkles, compared with a typical wait of 26 days for a patient requesting evaluation of a changing mole, a possible indicator of skin cancer.

“The difference in wait times between medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology patients is clearly real,” said Dr. Jack S. Resneck Jr., the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of dermatology at the medical school of the University of California, San Francisco. “We need to look further and figure out what is leading to shorter wait times for cosmetic patients.”

In Boston, the median Botox wait was 13 days, versus 68 days for a mole examination. In Seattle, the median Botox wait was seven and a half days, compared with 35 days for a changing mole.

The study, in which a researcher posing as a patient called every board-certified dermatologist in the cities being studied, did not examine the possible causes for the varying times.