News In Brief

Teamsters Union President James Hoffa attacked the World Trade Organization for putting "corporate greed" ahead of human rights and the environment, but the Clinton administration defended its decision to invite trade ministers from around the world to Seattle today to discuss a further loosening of barriers to commerce. If the delegates reach an accord, it will launch the ninth round of trade-liberalization talks since World War II. Above, a man burns a pair of Gap pants in downtown Seattle during a protest of the meeting.

Microsoft and government lawyers were scheduled to resume talks today with an appeals-court judge in Chicago to try to reach an out-of-court settlement in the antitrust trial of the software giant. Richard Posner, chief judge of the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals, is serving as mediator in the dispute. Since the trial began, there have been three unsuccessful settlement attempts.

More than half the world's major rivers are going dry or becoming polluted, a panel studying global water problems said. The World Commission on Water for the 21st Century issued the report yesterday at the beginning of a two-day meeting in The Hague, Netherlands. The Colorado River in the US was among waterways highlighted in the study, which blames heavy agricultural use for the deterioration of the river's downstream ecosystem.

The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago asked Southern Baptists to reconsider sending thousands of missionaries to Chicago next summer. The city will be the first stop in a Southern Baptist Strategic Cities Initiative designed to expand the Nashville-based church outside its Southern base. Other cities on the tour include Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Boston. The council sent a letter to the Southern Baptist Convention, saying the plan could spark violence against Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, whom the Southern Baptists have said they want to convert to Christianity.

The average price of a 30-second Super Bowl TV commercial is $2 million this year - up 25 percent from last year's record $1.6 million, industry sources said. Some Internet companies are paying more to advertise on January's Super Bowl telecast than they've so far generated in revenue.

The Supreme Court said it will decide the constitutionality of a New Jersey hate-crime law that allows judges to increase sentences when defendants have acted out of bias. The high court will consider arguments by a plaintiff that the provision - increasing the maximum possible punishment by 10 years - violated his constitutional right to due process and should be decided by a jury at trial, not by a judge during sentencing.

Ninety-one percent of Americans feel the holiday season is too commercialized, a poll by the Center for a New American Dream indicated. The group said its survey this month of 1,015 people found 58 percent saying they've taken steps in recent years to buy fewer gifts and to simplify in other ways.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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