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News Briefs II

Albright Downplays Scientologists' Claims of Persecution

Los Angeles Times
BONN, Germany

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday called the U.S.-German differences over the treatment of Scientologists "clearly a subject for bilateral discussion" but downplayed the issue in talks with German leaders and dismissed members' claims they suffer from Nazi-style persecution as "distasteful."

U.S. officials said the subject did not even arise in Albright's hourlong meeting with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and only came up in the final minutes of a longer session afterward with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel.

"I think the issue here is one that can be resolved amicably and bilaterally between the U.S. and Germany," Albright said after the meetings. "But I must say any discussion which draws comparisons between what happened under Nazism and what is happening now are historically inaccurate and totally distasteful."

The treatment of the estimated 30,000 Scientologists in Germany has surfaced as a public issue in recent months. The Church of Scientology has run ads in prominent newspapers comparing current actions against their members in Germany with the initial steps taken by Nazi Germany in the 1930s to exclude and persecute Jews - steps that led to the Holocaust.

Albright met the German leaders on the second stop of a global trip that will take her to nine countries in Europe and Asia before she returns to the United States early next week.

Her talks here and later Monday in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Alain Juppe and Foreign Minister Harve de Charette were dominated by pressing transatlantic trade and security issues, including preparations for enlarging NATO.

Researchers Suggest HIV Can Be Stopped

The Washington Post

Researchers at the University of Texas have found preliminary evidence of a way that immune system cells may resist infection with the AIDS virus, providing clues as to why a small number of people seem less susceptible to HIV.

The research, reported at the AAAS meeting in Seattle, is the first to suggest that the virus can sometimes be stopped after it has invaded white blood cells called lymphocytes.

"People can get infected, but the virus does not appear to spread well," said Miles Cloyd of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Laboratory experiments with blood samples from more than 50 healthy volunteers who were exposed to HIV found that in as many as one in six cases the virus entered the lymphocytes and began duplicating its genetic material but did not complete the process.

More research is needed to confirm that a gene is responsible for the apparent resistance and to study the mechanism in larger groups of patients.

Two other types of genetic resistance have been identified. In one, HIV can be blocked from entering vulnerable immune cells in resistant individuals who do not carry a key receptor, known as CCR5. The second involves combinations of protective immune system genes.