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News Briefs II

New PC Virus Hits E-Mail

THE WASHINGTON POST -- A new virus swept across email networks all over the country Monday, forcing the emergency shutdown of many message systems.

The virus affects personal computers running Microsoft Word 97 or Microsoft Word 2000 and Microsoft’s Outlook email package. It exploits macros, the files that automate tasks in such programs as Microsoft Word.

Victims receive email messages with the subject line “Important message from .” The body of the message says: “Here is that document you asked for ... don’t show anyone else ;-)”

If the user opens the attachment, the program infects the word processor and the email program, sending the “Here is that document” message and infected copies of randomly selected Microsoft Word files to the first 50 names on the user’s email address book. Information on countering the virus is available on the World Wide Web at Macro-Virus.html.

Justices to Look at Use of Campus Fees for Political Groups

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether students at state universities can be forced to pay fees that are used to fund campus groups with a political agenda, ranging from environmentalists to gay-rights advocates and socialists.

Though the amounts of money at stake are small, the issue of who receives mandatory student fees has become an ideological battleground on many campuses.

Young conservatives have attacked these fees as a violation of their First Amendment rights. They say they should not be forced to subsidize groups whose message they oppose.

Supporting the mandatory fees, university officials and liberal advocates say the First Amendment is strengthened, not violated, when a broad array of groups can publish magazines and bring speakers to campus.

These groups have a free-speech right to espouse their views on campus, the appeals court said, but forcing all students to subsidize their message is another matter.

“The regents (of the university) cannot use objecting students’ mandatory activity fees to fund organizations which engaged in political or ideological activities, advocacy or speech,” wrote Judge Daniel A. Manion.

Manion’s opinion for the three-judge panel relied on earlier Supreme Court rulings that said teachers and members of the state bar could not be forced to pay fees that in turn paid for political contributions or lobbying. The appeals court did not finally decide, however, whether the University of Wisconsin must stop funding these campus groups entirely, or instead, whether it must merely give dissenters a right to a refund.