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World Briefs I

Army of God' Claims Responsibility For Alabama Clinic Bombing

Los Angeles Times

The same shadowy group that took responsibility for two bombings in Atlanta last year now claims to have planted the bomb that ripped through a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic last week, killing one off-duty police officer and critically injuring a nurse.

Letters sent Monday to the Reuters news agency and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the crude, homemade bomb that ripped through the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic on Thursday was the work of the Army of God, a militant religious group that has surfaced repeatedly in investigations of abortion violence over the last 15 years.

Monday's letters describe how the Birmingham bombing was carried out; last year's letters contained specific information about ingredients used in the Atlanta bombs.

At a news conference here last June, officials released excerpts from the Army of God letters, hoping someone would recognize the strange writing or the angry anti-abortion, anti-government language.

Blair Supportive of Clinton

The Washington Post

British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised President Clinton Monday for keeping his focus on "the big picture, the issues that really concern people" despite the uproar over his relationship with a White House intern.

"I just think we need a sense of perspective and balance," Blair said, speaking to American journalists as he prepared to leave Wednesday for a three-day state visit to Washington. "Politics shouldn't be run at the level of a sort of gossip column."

Blair said that Iraq will rank high on the agenda in meetings with Clinton this week. Britain has emerged as the United States' closest partner in the current confrontation, sending one of its three aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf to add political and military muscle to demands that U.N. weapons inspectors be granted full access to suspected weapons sites.

Blair also said he and Clinton will discuss the Northern Ireland peace talks and the world economy, as well as such domestic issues as education, health care, crime and living standards.

Number of AIDS Deaths in U.S. Drops 44 Percent

Los Angeles Times

The number of AIDS deaths in the United States dropped 44 percent in the first half of 1997 compared to the same period in 1996, with Los Angeles and New York City showing even greater declines.

According to the newest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released here Monday, the number of new AIDS cases dropped 12 percent during the same period, although the number of people living with AIDS rose 12 percent to 259,000.

The improvements in statistics for both deaths and severe illness are due to new forms of therapy, particularly the advent of protease inhibitors about 3 years ago. When a protease inhibitor is combined with two other drugs that block a viral enzyme called reverse transcriptase, concentrations of the virus in the blood are dropped to undetectable levels in most patients who can tolerate the drugs.

This marks the second straight year of decline in AIDS deaths, but the latest drop is much steeper. The CDC reported 21,460 AIDS deaths in the first six months of 1996, a 14 percent decline from the previous year and the first decrease since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. In the first six months of 1997, there were only 12,040 deaths.