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Microsoft has a monopoly in operating-system software and has used its power to punish competitors and harm consumers, a federal judge said. Although a final decision in the case is months away, the finding of fact by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson puts great pressure on the company to reach a settlement with government prosecutors. Between Dec. 6 and Jan. 31, the parties are to file written arguments, which Jackson will use to decide whether Microsoft broke antitrust laws.

New York is going to adopt California's stringent auto-emission standards, a spokesman for Gov. George Pataki said. Michael McKeon told reporters the new guidelines would be required of car models beginning in 2004. He said Massachusetts officials have said they're also likely to shift to the stricter rules, which were adopted in California a year ago. Such action by all three states would be a powerful incentive for the auto industry to develop lower-pollution cars, trucks, and vans. According to The New York Times, the three states account for about one-quarter of the nation's vehicle market.

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US diplomatic missions abroad are overstaffed, poorly organized, woefully equipped, and living in a bygone technical age, an independent panel said. An Overseas Presence Advisory Panel of 25 senior or formerly senior officials in government and private industry was named last year by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The report was especially caustic in describing working conditions at embassies and consulates.

The Senate unanimously ratified a treaty banning the worst child-labor abuses. The convention, adopted by the International Labor Organization in June, is designed to protect those under 18 from such dangers as childhood slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, prostitution, and exploitative work involving dangerous machinery or substances.

The Supreme Court said Ohio could pay for more private education with public money while lawyers argue over whether doing so violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. The justices voted 5 to 4 to stay a lower-court judge's order that temporarily barred new students from taking part in the program, which mostly involves religiously affiliated schools.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain detailed $13 billion in federal budget items - from aircraft carriers to conservation programs - that he said should be eliminated. Rejecting a proposed 1 percent across-the-board budget cut proposed by the GOP leadership in Congress, the Arizona senator characterized such trimming as random and ineffective.

Lincoln Chafee (R) was sworn in to fill out the 14 months left in his father's term as a US senator from Rhode Island. The younger Chafee, mayor of Warwick, was chosen by GOP Gov. Lincoln Almond.

In a rare display of nonpartisan cooperation, President Clinton and House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to seek mutually agreeable legislation to encourage investment in urban and rural areas with unusually high unemployment rates. They made the commitment in Chicago, where Clinton was winding up a trip to call attention to such pockets of poverty.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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