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News Briefs II

Ongoing Mideast Violence Leads Clinton into New Policy Dilemma

The Washington Post

The latest flareup of violence in the Middle East has plunged the Clinton administration into a profound policy quagmire as it struggles to assuage Arab rage and salvage the Mideast peace process without getting into a public dispute with Israel during the run-up to a presidential election.

U.S. officials were privately furious at Israel's decision earlier this week to open an exit from a tourist tunnel under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - an act sure to spark Palestinian rage - without telling the United States or the Palestinians in advance. Then the Americans were upset again Thursday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed a request to seal the tunnel back up, U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said.

But U.S. officials from President Clinton down limited their public comments to appeals to both sides to restore order. The administration made a decision "not to play the blame game," State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said.

"Over the past 24 hours we have been in constant touch with the Israelis and the Palestinians," Clinton said at the White House. "Our message to them is this: It is in everyone's interest to resolve their differences peacefully, to work together on security and to avoid any actions that could make progress on the peace between Israelis and Palestinians so difficult."

At the State Department and in New York, where Secretary of State Warren Christopher is meeting foreign leaders gathered for the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. officials described frantic hours of telephone calls to Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, pleading with them to meet and to bring the violence under control.

Their immediate objective, officials said, was to persuade Netanyahu and Arafat to meet, Friday if possible, and come to an agreement to stop the cycle of violence.

New FDA, NIH Rules Promise Therapies in Emergency Medicine

The Washington Post

To Newt Gingrich, it was an outrageous example of overregulation. In a December 1994 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," the House speaker held up a medical device for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and said it could not be tested in America because of government rules: "You can't get a test on a person who has a heart attack because they're unconscious, so you can't get informed consent."

Thursday the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health moved to resolve that problem. The FDA announced final regulations for providing access to promising new therapies in emergency medicine, and the NIH issued new policies for putting the rules into action.

Emergency care research presents one of the toughest balancing acts in medicine. Many patients coming into an emergency room with heart attacks, strokes or serious head injuries are in no condition to agree to experimental procedures.

But the situation presents a dilemma for those who protect the public health. Too little innovation risks denying patients lifesaving therapies. Too much innovation - or therapies without adequate proof of effectiveness - could violate patient rights and risk their lives besides. Because of abuses in the past, "people legitimately fear being used as guinea pigs," said Marlene K. Tandy, a doctor and attorney who has worked on the issue for the Health Industry Manufacturers Association. "On the other hand, you have to balance that against the fact that we need new therapies."

Tandy said that Thursday's proposal was "a real positive step."

"FDA and NIH have produced a coherent approach to protecting patients who may be helped by an experimental procedure but who cannot give consent on their own," Donna E. Shalala, secretary of the health and human services, said in a statement.

Company Probed by FBI For Gang, Drug Leads

Los Angeles Times

The FBI is probing Death Row Records, the leading independent rap music label where rapper Tupac Shakur recorded his last songs, for links to street gangs and drug trafficking, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

Federal authorities began investigating the 4-year-old company and some of its officers months before Shakur was fatally wounded in a Sept. 7 shooting in Las Vegas, according to sources familiar with the probe. Shakur was a passenger in a car driven by Death Row's co-founder and CEO, Marion "Suge" Knight, when it was attacked.

Sources said the investigation of Death Row Records extends beyond individual members of the recording company to the activities of the company itself. One source close to the probe said federal officials are trying to determine whether the company was involved in money laundering and racketeering as well as drug trafficking. FBI officials declined to either confirm or deny the existence of a criminal investigation.

Since 1992, the FBI has actively investigated Southern California street gangs, part of its attempt to crack down on violent street crime. Those investigations have resulted in scores of arrests, mostly on drug-related charges including interstate trafficking of cocaine.

Asked if the company would cooperate with the investigation, Death Row spokesman George Pryce said: "Absolutely no comment" and hung up on a reporter.

Shakur joined Death Row label last year after Knight put up $1.4 million to bail him out of Rikers Island prison in New York City, where he was in custody while appealing a conviction for sexual abuse.

While the federal probe appears to be the first major criminal investigation of the Los Angeles-based company, Death Row's executives and marquee artists have faced a raft of legal troubles.

In 1995, Knight, a former defensive end for the University of Las Vegas football team, pleaded no-contest to assaulting two aspiring rappers in a Hollywood recording studio.