News In Brief

Talks between the US government and Microsoft broke down as a judge trying to mediate a settlement in the antitrust suit against the software giant said he was ending his effort. Federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner in Chicago said disagreements are "too deep-seated to be bridged." The judge hearing the case in Washington had postponed his ruling to allow for more negotiations, but agreed with almost all allegations in a finding last year. He said Microsoft's monopoly stifled innovation and hurt consumers by limiting choice in the marketplace. If the ruling goes against Microsoft, as expected, it would likely appeal.

Discussions between US immigration officials and Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives are to resume today - with the latest deadline being 9 a.m. tomorrow for an agreement that would bind the relatives to hand him over if their court battle to keep him out of Cuba is unsuccessful. A spokesman for the relatives said a request by Elian's father to be given custody of his son in the US while court proceedings continue was "harming" talks with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Elian's father, the relatives have said, should be allowed to visit his son only at their home. But a Justice Department official said Juan Miguel Gonzalez probably would be given temporary custody if he comes to the US. (Story, page 1.)

Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton cost $52 million, more than any other independent counsel inquiry involving the federal government, The Washington Post reported, citing the General Accounting Office. During the past six years, five independent counsels have spent a total $95.3 million investigating the Clinton administration. While Congress allowed the independent-counsel law to expire last July, costs have continued to accumulate.

The Clinton administration has accused 55 countries of erecting unfair trade barriers that US officials contend are costing billions of dollars in lost sales for American exporters. In an effort to lower trade deficits, the administration identified trading partners from Argentina to Zimbabwe, as well as the European Union and Japan, it says were unfairly discriminating against US businesses. Clinton will select a number of "priority" countries later this month for investigations that could lead to cases with the World Trade Organization.

Associate Justice Stephen Thayer of the New Hampshire Supreme Court resigned after prosecutors concluded he broke the law by trying to influence the assignment of judges hearing his divorce case. Attorney General Philip McLaughlin contended the court's chief justice broke the law just by listening to Thayer, who - in exchange for stepping down - will not be prosecuted. McLaughlin issued a report accusing the entire court of ethics violations, a move that could result in three of the remaining four justices being removed.

Florida earned its first berth in the NCAA men's basketball championship game tonight. The Gators will face the Michigan State Spartans, who fell in last year's semifinals but are one of the regional top seeds this year. On the women's side, the Connecticut Huskies and Tennessee Vols, nationally ranked as No. 1 and 2 respectively, were to fight for the title last night.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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