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By midnight tonight, the online song-sharing service of Napster Inc. was to be shut down per a preliminary federal injunction. In San Francisco Wednesday, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted the order at the request of the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Napster in December to resolve a landmark battle over Internet technology and copyright. An estimated 20 million Napster users will be affected by the injunction, which the judge said she issued because Napster hadn't policed the unauthorized trade of copyrighted music through its system. Users were flooding the online service to download as much as possible before the shutdown.

Seven Internet retailers, including Web sites for Macy's department store and Toys "R" Us, will pay a total of $1.5 million to settle charges they didn't treat customers fairly when shipping delays occurred during the past holiday season, the Federal Trade Commission announced. It alleged that the companies failed to give buyers an opportunity to cancel orders, and, in many cases, didn't even send delay notices. Online retail sales soared at the end of last year, but there were numerous reports of logistical difficulties in processing orders.

In what is being billed as a first in the nation, prosecutors in southern California plan to offer free DNA tests to some inmates, USA Today reported. It said that San Diego County prosecutors have been reviewing the cases of about 560 prisoners to determine whether DNA tests developed since their convictions - all prior to 1992 - could be used to establish innocence or guilt. The tests would cost about $5,000 each, the newspaper said, adding that similar initiatives are being considered in Illinois and Texas.

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Seven Western states that tap the Colorado River for water were set to present a compromise to federal officials in which southern California will cut back its consumption over the next decade and a half. For years, that region has exceeded its allotment, which was determined by a 1922 agreement. The overuse has become a more critical issue as Arizona and Nevada have grown closer to using their entire shares because of population growth.

An advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the nation's largest not-for-profit health maintenance organization on grounds it provides inferior care to disabled Californians. The case involving Kaiser Permanente was timed for the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. A spokesman for Disability Rights Advocates said it should be "a warning to all HMOs," because complaints also have been received about other organizations. Kaiser said it wanted to cooperate to resolve the dispute, which centered on hospitals allegedly failing to offer accessible facilities, scales, and other medical devices for wheelchair users.

Federal agents seized more than a half ton of the hallucinogen Ecstasy at Los Angeles International Airport. It was valued at $40 million - the largest haul of the substance to date, officials said. Three men were arrested in connection with the operation; authorities still were searching for a fourth. The drug is popular among dance-club patrons.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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