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Microsoft practices fined in S. Korea

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Gwacheon, South Korea South Korea’s antitrust watchdog fined Microsoft Corp. 33 billion won ($32 million) for alleged unfair business practices and ordered it to take corrective measures such as either unbundling certain software from Windows or sell the software of competitors along with it.

The ruling by the Fair Trade Commission comes after the U.S. software giant reached separate settlements with companies that then withdrew the complaints that led to the investigation.

The companies had complained that Microsoft violated trade rules by tying its instant messenger software to Windows.

British Conservatives choose new leader

London David Cameron, whose boyish good looks and media savvy remind many of the youthful Tony Blair, was chosen leader of the Conservative Party on Tuesday, bringing new optimism to a party plagued by three straight election losses.

Cameron, 39, derided the prime minister and his government as “yesterday’s men” and pledged to sweep them aside.

“We have a vast mountain to climb,” he said, joined by his wife, Samantha, who is pregnant with their third child. “But if we are united, if we have a clear view about what needs to change … we can be a constructive opposition and we can be that good government that this country clearly needs.”

His appointment as leader marks a pivotal moment for the party, which was knocked from office in 1997 after 18 years in power.

The center-right party has grappled for a sense of direction – unsure whether to stick with its traditional low tax, free-market agenda or boost investment in public services and build a strong welfare state.

Like Blair, leader of the Labor Party, Cameron wants to combine both approaches, lead from the center and blend social conscience with the ethos of the free market.

Tests show Beethoven died of lead poisoning

Chicago Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory near Darien, Ill., have verified what some had suspected about Ludwig van Beethoven, the great composer who was plagued for three decades by digestion problems, chronic abdominal pain, irritability and depression: He died from lead poisoning.

So confounded and distressed by his plight, which also included extremely foul body odor and halitosis, Beethoven left written requests that a physician examine his body after his death to help determine the cause of his demise to save others from the same fate.

Using advanced X-ray technology at Argonne, scientists helped confirm that Beethoven, who died in 1827 at the age of 56, had 60 times more lead in his system than what is considered average today.

“Now, 178 years later, we’re finally fulfilling the request of Ludwig van Beethoven,” William Walsh, chief scientist of Health Research Institute in Naperville, Ill., and a key researcher in the project, said Tuesday. “There were a few bureaucratic obstacles to leap over.”

Researchers also found other interesting insights into Beethoven, including the absence of mercury in his body. Mercury was a treatment at the time for syphilis. Its absence casts doubt on rumors that Beethoven had the disease, Walsh said.

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