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"I'll have coffee in the morning watching you and the next bimbo." -- Kathie Lee Gifford to Regis Philbin, at her farewell broadcast of Live! With RegisEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

For Sale: Amoco Signs, Cheap

When British Petroleum's merger with Amoco was still fresh, the joke around Amoco's Chicago headquarters was: How do you pronounce the new entity's compound name? The punch line: Just call it "BP." The "Amoco" is silent.

Soon, Amoco will be virtually invisible, too. Starting late this year, BP Amoco will begin rebranding Amoco gas stations in Cleveland and Indianapolis, doing the same in Chicago next year, and finally erasing the Amoco name from all 9,000 U.S. stations. Gone will be the 74-year-old Amoco torch and its red, white, and blue signage. In its place: a new, lower-case BP logo and an 18-point green-and-yellow sun. The remodeling of all 19,000 BP stations worldwide--except its 1,725 recently acquired Arco outlets--could cost up to $4.5 billion over four years.

Yahoo!'s BP Amoco chat room is brimming with slaps at Chief Executive Sir John Browne over the name change. "Can Austin Powers' ads for BP be far behind?" one writer sputters. "Picture it. `Sir John Browne. The guy who shagged me."' More reason to be angry? At the Apr. 18 annual meeting next year, shareholders will formally rechristen the London-based company just plain BP.By Michael Arndt; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Big Tobacco Blows Some Smoke

The tobacco industry is spending millions on an ad campaign to paint itself as a good corporate citizen, promoting its contributions to public health and youth antismoking efforts. But behind the scenes, Big Tobacco is fighting harder than ever to block measures that would actually make a difference, say antismoking advocates.

Earlier this year in Casper, Wyo., for instance, Philip Morris and other companies helped fund an ostensibly local group that overturned a ban on smoking in public places. The industry is also taking aim at similar policies in Anchorage and Philadelphia, among other cities. The tobacco companies argue that new, improved ventilation systems can keep air clean enough to allow indoor smoking. Big Tobacco also wants to make it illegal for minors to buy or possess tobacco--which takes the heat off retailers who sell to kids. Congress will vote later on such a measure, attached to the appropriations bill for the District of Columbia.

A Philip Morris spokesman says that his company is indeed against youth smoking and only for adults' freedom of choice. That line carries little weight with anti-smoking activists, who point to a new U.N. report showing how Big Tobacco has tried to derail international tobacco control efforts.By John Carey; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Now Your Arteries Can Accept Plastic

Plastic, it turns out, may be the best thing for your heart next to exercise and a healthy diet--especially if your arteries are clogged.

How so? Well, narrowed blood vessels around the heart are the kiss of death. The 1986 invention of stents, small wire tubes that restore blood flow, were a breakthrough. But up to 30% of patients with wire stents suffer inflammation, which recloses the artery. So researchers led by Dr. Hideo Tamai of Shiga Medical Center for Adults in Shiga, Japan, have developed a plastic stent that may solve that problem. The biodegradable plastic used is absorbed into the body after two years--by which time the vessel has reopened. A recent study found inflammation in only 10% of those using plastic stents.

Plastic stents, say the researchers, may do less damage because they expand slowly after inplantation. A larger U.S. study is now planned. Igaki Medical Planning in Kyoto, meanwhile, hopes to market the new stent within a few years.By Ellen Licking; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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