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News Briefs I

Microsoft Recruits Professors From Leading Universities


With cash, stock options and the promise of vast resources, Microsoft Corp. is luring faculty elites to its research center at a pace so fast that some campus departments say they’re being picked clean.

Last month Microsoft hired Yale University mathematician Lazlo Lovasz, recent winner of his field’s prestigious Wolf Prize. In June he will join, among others, Fields Medal-winning mathematician Michael Freedman from the University of California-San Diego and MacArthur fellow Jim Blinn, a computer graphics expert from the California Institute of Technology.

Microsoft Research, known as MSR, is aiming for 600 “faculty” by the end of next year. It already is among the world’s biggest computer science laboratories, with 350 researchers. Microsoft Research is seeking big names in computer science foremost, but also leading thinkers in graphic arts, linguistics, biology and mathematics. While they may never write a piece of software, they could hatch ideas that the company’s programmers one day might turn into big-selling products.

Wyoming Man Pleads Guilty To Killing Gay Student


On the eve of a trial in which he faced a possible death penalty, Russell Henderson Monday pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Matthew Shepard last October, and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for killing the gay University of Wyoming student.

The plea agreement by Henderson, 21, the first of two defendants scheduled for trial in a case that galvanized support nationwide for tougher hate crimes legislation, was negotiated by Albany County prosecutor Cal Rerucha and defense attorney Wyatt Skaggs late last week. Despite pleas by Henderson, his grandmother and Skaggs, District Court Judge Jeffrey Donnell rejected arguments for concurrent sentences for what he called a “vile and senseless crime” by a defendant he said does not “really feel true remorse.”

Under Wyoming law, only the governor can grant parole in first degree murder cases, and attorneys on both sides said Henderson will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.

Kosovo Expenses Likely To Impact U.S. Budget Process


The cost of the 2-week-old U.S. air campaign against Yugoslavia already has topped the $400 million mark and is likely to skyrocket if the mission continues to escalate, threatening to set off budgetary and political explosions on Capitol Hill.

Estimates by the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments suggest that if the airstrikes proceed for even a few weeks longer, the price tag quickly could grow to between $2 billion and $4 billion, particularly as the administration expands the scope of the mission.

The center’s calculations, widely accepted as the best available, mainly reflect the cost of cruise missiles fired from U.S. ships and planes. The Pentagon has not issued its own cost projections.

President Clinton promised Monday that the campaign would be “undiminished, unceasing and unrelenting” -- and warned that it might not end quickly. “We are prepared to sustain this effort for the long haul,” he said. “Our plan is to persist until we prevail.”