Calif. group plans class-action lawsuit against MicrosoftLawyers...


Calif. group plans class-action lawsuit against Microsoft

Lawyers say they will file a class-action suit against Microsoft today on behalf of millions of Californians, in the first of what legal experts say could become a flood of private litigation springing from the Justice Department's antitrust action against the company.

The suit, to be filed by three longtime class-action lawyers, will accuse Microsoft of using its monopoly in operating systems software to overcharge buyers of Windows 95 and Windows 98. The complaint does not estimate the financial impact to Windows users, but the lawyers are seeking triple damages if the lawsuit leads to an eventual finding of financial harm.

Financial losses threaten Calif. blood collections

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's blood banks have lost nearly $33 million in three years, and 14 of the state's 18 major blood centers face reductions in service because of dwindling funds, Blood Centers of California says.

The problems stem in part from higher operating costs and from inadequate reimbursements from the government and health management organizations to cover required screening and testing, the group said. Less money also means fewer donor drives, which could affect the state's blood supply.

Blood Centers of California, a nonprofit, represents facilities that handle more than 90 percent of the state's blood supply.

Demonstrators say U.S. plays role in rights abuses

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- More than 3,000 protesters, many wearing black robes and white death masks, marched onto Fort Benning yesterday to protest human rights abuses they say are committed by graduates of the Army's School of the Americas.

Fifty-four of the most disruptive demonstrators were briefly detained by military and civilian police, said post spokesman Rich McDowell. The rest, including actor Martin Sheen, were loaded on buses and removed from the base.

The annual demonstration commemorates the killings on Nov. 16, 1989, in El Salvador of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her young daughter.

Victims of bonfire accident at Texas A&M; mourned

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Classmates, families and friends gathered in churches yesterday, quietly sobbing and praying for the 12 people killed when a four-story pyramid of logs collapsed at Texas A&M; University.

A youth minister at A&M; United Methodist Church recited the names of the dead, and 12 white candles were lighted for the victims. Tim Kerlee Jr., who often attended the church, was one of those killed in the collapse.

Marine seeks discharge to calm his fearful mother

PITTSBURGH -- Although Pfc. James M. O'Neil has suffered no ill effects from a required anthrax vaccine, his mother fears that he will, prompting O'Neil to ask a federal judge to let him leave the Marines.

O'Neil took the series of shots in January. Since then, he says, his mother has suffered severe anxiety, panic attacks and depression -- conditions the family doctor calls life-threatening.

In his suit seeking a hardship discharge, O'Neil says he fears his mother will die if he is not released from duty. A hearing in the case is scheduled today.

Ex-governor's survivors settle corpse-photo lawsuit

SEATTLE -- Relatives of former Gov. Dixy Lee Ray have agreed to accept $70,000 to settle their claims that employees in a county medical examiner's office took photographs of corpses, including Ray's, and showed them to friends, their attorney said.

The lawsuit filed by the family against Pierce County said one of the pictures was that of Ray, who served as the Democratic governor from 1977 to 1981 and died in 1994 at age 79.

Karen Reid, Ray's niece, said she was gratified by the settlement and said she hopes it will protect other families from similar abuses.

Six-year-old fatally shoots grandfather while hunting

LOGAN, W.Va. -- A West Virginia man was accidentally shot and killed by his 6-year-old grandson while the two were hunting rabbits, authorities said.

Scott Workman, of Big Creek, and his grandson, Tyler Workman, were hunting on a steep hillside near the family's home Friday when the boy slipped. A shotgun the boy was carrying fired, hitting his grandfather, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Angry man returns to party with gun; kills 3, then self

ANGOLA, Ind. -- A man angry at being thrown out of a party at an apartment building returned with a gun early yesterday, killing three people and wounding two others before taking his own life, authorities said.

Among the injured was Steuben County Sheriff's Deputy John Araque, who was shot three times in the pelvis and hip, said Lt. Tim Troyer. Araque was in fair condition at Cameron Hospital in Angola.

Reserve deputies program suspended after arrests

LOS ANGELES -- A sheriff's unit set up to allow prominent supporters of department programs to become reserve deputies has been suspended after the arrest of a second member in as many months.

"How many more arrests do we need until we realize this wasn't a good idea?" Dennis Slocumb, president of the union representing Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeants and lieutenants, said. "They hurried the background checks, they hurried the training and now they're paying the price."

Animal rights activists suspected in lab vandalism

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Animal rights activists are suspected of vandalizing a Washington State University research center and destroying equipment used in animal research, authorities said.

The Avian Health Laboratory and parts of the Disease Diagnostic Laboratory were broken into late Friday or early Saturday, said sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.

Last month, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for break-ins at .-based weight control business will begin eliminating today all electronic registers at its centers and revert to a manual record-keeping system.

Weight Watchers to give up its reliance on computers

Weight Watchers International has an unusual recipe for timming its potential Y2K problems: Get rid if its computers.

The Woodbury, N.Y. -based weight control business will begin eliminating today all electronic registers at its centers and revert to a manual record-keeping system.

Employees at hundreds of company centers will adhere to a strict regimen of pen and paper by Dec. 19. Client attendance at meetings, merchandise sales and points earned, for instance, will be noted on company forms kept in folders.

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