Online Battle Continues

America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp. continued their electronic battle yesterday over instant messaging on the Internet.

Microsoft released a revised version of its MSN Messenger software -- the fourth revision in three days -- that allows users to communicate with people who have AOL's instant messaging program. AOL, which has said the Microsoft software makes an "unauthorized intrusion" into its data network, blocked the three earlier versions and was working yesterday on jamming the latest one.

Birth Control for Drug Addicts

CHICAGO -- Drug-addicted women are being offered $200 to be sterilized or to use long-term birth control under a controversial program that is gaining momentum in several cities across the country.

"IF YOU ARE ADDICTED TO DRUGS get birth control -- get $200 cash. Stop the cycle of addicted newborns now!" read two billboards in Chicago, where social worker Lyle Keller is trying to establish CRACK, Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity.

Critics have called the Anaheim, Calif.-based program shortsighted, racist and a source of drug money for users. But founder Barbara Harris calls it a response to a system that often fails to punish women who give birth to drug-addicted babies.

To get the cash, women must have a doctor-signed form detailing the type of birth control they use. CRACK does not pay for the procedures -- insertion of Norplant capsules or an intrauterine device, or tube-tying, which is more controversial because it is not always reversible -- but Harris said state-funded health care programs often cover them.

Since 1994, CRACK has paid 57 California women who had given birth a total of 262 times. The program is catching on in Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas and Fort Pierce, Fla.


VIEQUES, Puerto Rico -- Waving white flags and handing bags of soil to a Pentagon delegation, hundreds of protesters demanded that the Navy stop bombing exercises on an inhabited island where civilian security guard David Sanes Rodriquez was killed in an accident April 19. The Navy insists its bombing range is the only place where its Atlantic fleet's air, land and sea forces can train simultaneously with live munitions. The Pentagon panel is trying to determine whether alternatives exist.

RENSSELAER, N.Y. -- An Amtrak passenger train partially derailed as it approached a train station, injuring 16 people on board, officials said. Three cars of the Lakeshore Limited slipped off the tracks when the train slammed into another train it was attempting to hook up with, witnesses said.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A Roman Catholic bishop who resigned last week after one of his priests filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse has admitted that at one time he had a "personal consensual relationship" with the priest. Lawyers for Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa issued a statement admitting to the affair but denying charges brought by the Rev. Jorge Salas that the sex was forced.