News In Brief

An investigation of how the entertainment business markets violence to children was ordered by President Clinton. The $1 million joint study by the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department is expected to take up to 18 months. According to the White House, the entertainment study will review whether and how the video-game, motion-picture, and recording industries purposefully market adult material to children and only laxly restrict sales to minors.

Severe solar storms will compound technological uncertainties early next year, scientists warned. As though computer problems associated with the year 2000 were not enough, experts attending an American Astronomical Society meeting in Chicago said big bursts of magnetic energy and radiation from the sun could cause power blackouts, block some radio communications, and trigger false commands that could send satellites spinning out of orbit. They said the sun will experience the most disruptive phase of its 11-year cycle between January and April.

The Teamsters Union and companies that haul new cars to showrooms were to resume contract talks after temporarily averting a strike that could mean long delays in delivery of some models. Union President James P. Hoffa told reporters a strike deadline originally set for 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday had been extended by 24 hours to discuss a new proposal from company officials.

The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators fell 0.1 percent in April to 107.1, the first decline since June 1998. Meanwhile, a Commerce Department report said construction spending fell by a sharp 2.4 percent in April, the biggest monthly decline in more than five years. However, in a sign of continued economic expansion, the National Association of Purchasing Management said prices paid by manufacturers rose in May for the first time in 16 months, reaching 55.2 after a 52.8 reading in April - a much stronger showing than analysts had expected.

Microsoft's antitrust trial resumed after a 13-week recess, despite secret efforts to settle the case. Among key differences that apparently could not be overcome: how Microsoft can continue adding new technology to its Windows operating system without undercutting rivals offering similar products.

Computer hackers vandalized two more federal Web sites and left a note promising to attack still others. The latest attacks defaced an Interior Department Web page and a site run by a US supercomputer laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Last week, hackers caused US Senate and FBI Web sites to shut down temporarily. Notes left at the sites suggested they were hit to retaliate against alleged FBI harassment of hacker groups, including one that boasted of breaking into a White House Web site last month.

Its staff is recommending that the Federal Trade Commission oppose Barnes & Noble's $600 million plan to merge with the largest US book wholesaler, The New York Times reported. Citing an unidentified source, the newspaper said the plan to acquire Ingram Book Group was opposed on grounds it would violate antitrust laws.

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