News In Brief

Microsoft corp. admitted its latest version of Windows generates a unique serial number that could be used to trace authorship of documents. In a disclosure with enormous privacy implications, Microsoft also said it's investigating whether it is collecting the numbers from customers even if they indicate they don't want them disclosed. A programmer noticed last week that documents created using Microsoft Word and Excel programs in tandem with Windows 98 had within a hidden software code a number unique to his computer.

The Federal Trade Commission staff and Intel Corp. reached an agreement one day before a major antitrust suit was to begin, the FTC announced. The agency offered no details of the accord, which was still subject to approval by the commission. The agreement would resolve allegations that Intel used its dominance in the computer-chips industry to compete unfairly against three rivals.

A US clampdown on illegal immigration is hurting would-be asylum seekers and refugees, an official of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Dennis McNamara, director of a commission division responsible for refugee safety, objected to policies required under a 1996 federal law that requires temporary detention of asylum seekers and refugees lacking travel documents or having improper papers while their claims are checked.

The Supreme Court left intact Timothy McVeigh's conviction and death sentence for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more - rejecting arguments that his trial was tainted by jury misconduct and reports that he confessed to his lawyers. The court also refused to shed light on the validity of efforts to speed up deportation of aliens convicted of committing crimes in the US. In separate but similar cases from Massachusetts and California, the court denied review to one and told a lower court to restudy the other. At issue are two 1996 laws that dramatically altered the treatment of aliens.

An ecclesiastical court of the US Presbyterian Church upheld the election of a gay elder to the denomination's governing board. The court rejected a challenge by two church members who said Wayne Osborne's election violates a recent amendment to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church that bans practicing homosexuals from holding church office. The two members challenging the election were reportedly considering an appeal.

Joe DiMaggio, who died in Hollywood, Fla., was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His 1941 feat of hitting in 56 consecutive major league games hasn't been equaled - even in the 1990s, a decade when many "unbeatable" records fell. The New York Yankee Hall of Famer's celebrity status was increased three years after retiring, when he married screen legend Marilyn Monroe in 1954 - a marriage that lasted nine months.

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