At least 20 states and the US Justice Department were poised to challenge Microsoft on the day it planned to ship its Windows 98 software to computermakers. Two people close to government negotiators said antitrust actions would not try to block the shipment, but would ask federal and state courts to force Microsoft to either strip its Internet browser from the Windows operating system or order the firm to also include copies of browsers made by rival Netscape Communications and one other software developer to be selected by Microsoft.
Public broadcast stations can exclude candidates not deemed "newsworthy" from debates sponsored by those stations, the US Supreme Court ruled. On a 6-to-3 vote, the justices said public stations need not invite all ballot-qualified fringe candidates to participate in such debates. An easing of US sanctions against Pakistan was being considered in Congress. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said lawmakers are hoping this week to debate lifting a 1990 ban on military sales to Pakistan in an effort to boost the conventional military power of India's nervous neighbor. The ban is blocking delivery of 28 US F-16 fighter planes. President Clinton has been pushing since 1993 for the US to make good on the F-16 deal with Pakistan, which is worth more than $600 million. The US is in a weak position to criticize India's nuclear tests in light of Washington's refusal to reduce its own nuclear arsenal, former President Jimmy Carter said. "It's hard for us to tell India you cannot have a nuclear device," but "we'll keep ours - 8,000 or so," Carter said in a commencement speech at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. House and Senate negotiators neared an accord on a $200 billion highway and mass-transit bill. Although they refused to disclose details of their talks on remaining issues - including how much each state would get from the $168 billion set-aside for highways - they indicated agreement had been reached on major issues and the bill was likely to reach the House and Senate floors before Congress leaves at the end of the week for a one-week Memorial Day recess. Many states have complained they are running out of money and contracting authority for summer projects as the construction season nears. Viacom said it had agreed to sell a portion of the Simon & Schuster publishing firm to the British media group Pearson for $4.6 billion. The sale of Simon & Schuster's education, professional, and reference divisions will allow Viacom to focus on its entertainment businesses. Viacom will retain the Simon & Schuster name and consumer-publishing division. Pearson then agreed to sell the professional and reference divisions to Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a Texas buyout firm, for $1 billion. Mormon leaders are secretly considering a plan to disavow church doctrines once used to support claims that blacks are inferior, the Los Angeles Times reported. The teachings purport to link black skin color to curses from God recounted in Hebrew and Mormon Scriptures. The plan under review by the church's Committee on Public Affairs may result in a statement as early as next month, the Times said. A Thailand-based journalist refused to accept a prestigious Peabody award for a TV story about Cambodian leader Pol Pot. Nate Thayer said in The New Yorker magazine that ABC and Ted Koppel "stole" his story after promising it would be a one-week exclusive with North American TV rights only. Nonetheless, he said, ABC shipped photos worldwide, put the news on its Web site, and allowed it to be previewed in a publicity effort that scooped Thayer's own print account for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review. ABC said the pre-broadcast publicity is common practice for such an exclusive story. The World Indonesian President Suharto was expected to set at least four conditions in return for agreeing to step down, reports from Jakarta said. …