World and Nation

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South African Official in AIDS Controversy Is Hospitalized

Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the South African minister of health whose promotion of garlic and beetroot as protection against AIDS came to symbolize her nation's slow response to the HIV epidemic, is in a Johannesburg hospital with severe anemia and a lung infection, the government said Thursday.

Tshabalala-Msimang, 66, was hospitalized for three weeks in October for an unspecified lung infection and had returned to her post full-time only last month. Her readmission, on Tuesday evening, followed an appearance at a press briefing last week in which she appeared weak and sometimes disoriented.

A spokesman for the Health Ministry, Sibani Mngadi, said in a telephone interview that Tshabalala-Msimang was suffering from anemia and residual pleural effusion, a condition in which fluid accumulates in the lining of the lungs and inhibits breathing. He said it was not clear how long she would be hospitalized.

The government has released no further information on her condition, but Mngadi said her physicians would issue a written statement on Friday.

Bush Makes His Pitch For A Land of Home-Grown Energy

President Bush put on a white coat and visited a laboratory here Thursday to promote his goals for making alternative fuels from switch grass, woodchips and other plant waste.

After touring the laboratory, which is developing enzymes to make cellulosic ethanol — fuel distilled from plant byproducts — Bush spoke buoyantly about new technologies that may reduce the nation's thirst for foreign oil.

"It's an exciting time to think about" agriculturally produced fuels, he said. "Farmers not only are going to grow what we need to eat" but will also "grow what we need to run our automobiles," the president told an audience at Novozymes North America, the subsidiary of a Danish technology company.

After listening to company executives describe the role of enzymes in reducing the cost of ethanol, Bush jumped in to ask a layman's question: "So is this like a distillery?"

Cleaning Executives Indicted In $18 Million Fraud

Three executives of a national cleaning and maintenance company were indicted Thursday on charges of defrauding the federal government of more than $18 million in employment taxes owed on behalf of hundreds of illegal immigrant workers.

The company, Rosenbaum-Cunningham International, performed janitorial services for theme-restaurant chains like the House of Blues, Hard Rock Cafe and Dave & Busters, as well as for the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Mich.

Nearly 200 immigrant workers at some of the restaurants were arrested early Thursday in 17 states and the District of Columbia as part of the investigation of the company, which is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service.

The indictment says the executives hired illegal immigrants, primarily from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and then constructed an elaborate scheme of shell companies, bank accounts and cash-only payroll procedures to avoid paying millions of dollars in federal taxes on the workers' wages from 1999 until today.