News In Brief

President Clinton authorized a $50 million aid package for ethnic-Albanian refugees fleeing Kosovo. Half of the money will pay for airlifting food and other needed supplies to the Balkans and half will be sent to the UN High Commission on Refugees and other aid groups. A Pentagon spokesman said the US and NATO anticipated a refugee problem and had stored enough food in the region to feed 100,000 people for several weeks. The international relief agency CARE said up to a half-million refugees were headed to or had arrived at five Kosovo border-crossing areas.

Holocaust survivors, the governor of California, and a Jewish group sued six major US and German companies - among them General Motors and Ford - claiming they profited from slave labor. The Simon Wiesenthal Center joined the survivors and Gov. Gray Davis in filing the lawsuit in San Francisco. A number of German banks and other firms have come under increasing pressure following a $1.25 billion settlement last year between Swiss banks and Jewish groups. Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Commertzbank, and Lufthansa were also named in the suit.

A Green Party candidate grabbed a surprise victory in a runoff vote for a California state assembly seat - the first time in more than 60 years a third-party candidate has won a partisan election in the most-populous US state. Audie Bock squeaked past Democrat Elihu Harris, a former Oakland mayor and state assembly member, by about 300 votes, officials said. She became the second liberal white politician elected by Oakland 's largely black, Democratic electorate. Former Gov. Jerry Brown was elected mayor in June.

The Agriculture Department said it would modernize the marketing of fresh milk by making wholesale prices more uniform nationwide. The plan would give modest price increases to the Midwest, where farmers long have complained of unfairly low prices, while holding them steady in most other regions. Congress voted last fall to delay implementation of the proposal until Oct. 1, giving lawmakers ample opportunity to review the plan.

The judge hearing the Microsoft antitrust case said he would resume the trial in mid-May. The extended recess allows more time for a negotiated settlement, although no date was set for another meeting when one round of talks ended unsuccessfully earlier this week after only two hours. The recess was expected to delay any verdict in the case until August or September.

A Cuban-born driver won a settlement against the state of Florida over a law that requires truckers to have command of the English language, the state attorney general's office said. It agreed to pay Antonio Cuba about $15,000 in attorney's fees and to stop enforcing the statute, an adaptation of a US highway regulation requiring commercial drivers to speak enough English to be able to converse with the public. Cuba's attorney argued the law was unenforceable because Florida, like some other states, offers licensing exams in Spanish.

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