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News Briefs, part 2

Hopes Run High in West Bank Village

The Washington Post

BEITA, Occupied West Bank

In the center of this remote village, the scent of fresh-baked bread rises from clay ovens. Roosters strut about, then scramble under the hooves of donkeys. Schoolchildren race down narrow alleys.

It seems a perfect Palestinian rural tableau, with freshly turned red earth in the valley, boxy concrete houses clinging to the hillside, women in black shuttling amid the shadows, men crammed into taxis returning from their day's labor.

But Beita is a village of scars -- of lives lost, homes blown up, worlds turned upside down.

After a violent clash with Jewish settlers in 1988, Beita was transformed into a hotbed of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada. Eight youths have been killed in violent confrontations with the Israeli army since then; the last death was only four and a half months ago.

Now, in the wake of the accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Beita is a village waiting for deliverance.

In a series of recent interviews, the villagers seemed to be looking forward to the creation of a Palestinian government, rather than back toward the years of the uprising.

One view remains constant: All said they want Israeli troops to leave, and that they remain suspicious of Jewish settlements and settlers. Most said they would like as little contact with Israelis as possible.

Germany Investigates Agency Involved In Blood Scandal

The Washington Post

BERLIN

Facing a growing AIDS scandal, the German government has launched a criminal investigation into a federal agency that admitted it kept quiet for years about suspicions that blood supplies used for transfusions in 1985 and earlier were contaminated with HIV-blood supplies that infected more than 2,300 people.

Described as the worst medical disaster in Germany's postwar history, the situation here is being compared to the AIDS scandal in France, which involved the deaths of an estimated 1,200 hemophiliacs and the convictions last year of three top health officials who allowed blood they knew was tainted to be used in transfusions in 1985. They were convicted of fraud and criminal negligence.

German authorities say blood supplies are now safe, but hundreds of deaths are being attributed to transfusions of contaminated blood in past years. And several government officials have been fired.

More than 2,300 people in Germany were infected with HIV through blood transfusions, mostly in 1985 or earlier, the Federal Health Office reported Friday. About 400 have died, and the number is growing at the rate of about one a week, according to one report.

"This is really the biggest medical scandal in the history of the federal republic," Klaus Kirschner, a member of the German Parliament and health expert for the opposition Social Democrats, said in an interview. "I fear its full dimensions are still not known."

The scandal erupted earlier this month when Health Minister Horst Seehofer disclosed that the semiautonomous Federal Health Office in Berlin had kept quiet for nine years about 373 cases, most dating to 1985 or earlier, in which people were suspected to have contracted the AIDS virus through donated blood.