- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

DISCRIMINATION

Civil rights agency subpoenas colleges

PHILADELPHIA | A federal civil rights agency investigating possible gender discrimination in college admissions will subpoena data from more than a dozen mid-Atlantic universities, officials said Thursday.

The probe by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is focusing on whether some colleges favor men by admitting them at higher rates than women, or by offering them more generous aid packages.

Commission members voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for 19 universities within a 100-mile radius of their meeting place - in this case, Washington - which is the geographical extent of their subpoena authority.

The schools represent a mixture of sizes and include public, private, religious, secular, historically black and moderately selective to highly selective institutions. There are six in Maryland, five in Pennsylvania, three in Washington, two each in Virginia and Delaware, and one in West Virginia.

Women outnumber men nearly 60 percent to 40 percent in higher education nationally. The probe grew out of anecdotal evidence and news accounts that admissions officials are discriminating against women to promote a more even gender mix, said commission spokeswoman Lenore Ostrowsky.

AGRICULTURE

Dairy farmers to get U.S. cash

Giving a boost to struggling dairy producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to dole out one-time payments to farmers.

The USDA announced the details of the new Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment program on Thursday. The announcement comes after Congress earlier this year approved $350 million to help the struggling dairy industry, which has been mired in a lengthy downturn.

When Congress approved the funding in October, $60 million was set aside to cover purchases of surplus cheese and other dairy products, but the USDA was given wide discretion with the remaining $290 million.

Under the plan, eligible dairy producers will receive a payment that is based on the amount of milk produced and commercially marketed by their operation between February and July 2009.

COURTS

U.S. seeks reversal of ACORN ruling

NEW YORK | The government has asked a federal judge to let it cut ACORN’s funding, saying a report commissioned by the embattled community activist organization reinforces Congress’ concern about misuse of federal funds.

In papers filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, government lawyers sought a reversal of Judge Nina Gershon’s ruling last week that the government’s cutoff of ACORN funding was unconstitutional.

Judge Gershon said ACORN was punished by Congress without “judicial, or even administrative, process adjudicating guilt.”

ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, describes itself as an advocate for low-income and minority homebuyers and residents.

Critics of the group say it has engaged in voter-registration fraud and embezzlement and has violated the tax-exempt status of some of its affiliates by engaging in partisan political activities.

In asking Judge Gershon to reconsider her ruling, the government cited the Dec. 7 report written by Scott Harshbarger, former attorney general for Massachusetts. It said the report “reinforces Congress’ purpose in preventing fraud, waste and abuse” by describing ACORN’s long-standing management problems.

The report concluded that ACORN leadership at every level was thin, the government noted.

Meanwhile, ACORN lawyers filed an amended lawsuit Thursday and said they will ask Judge Gershon to make sure the government knows that the judge’s ruling applies to a budget bill signed this week.

ENERGY

U.S. makes deal on uranium in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY | The Department of Energy said Thursday that it has struck a deal with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert that would prohibit thousands of drums of low-level radioactive waste from South Carolina from coming to Utah until stricter state guidelines are put in place.

DOE spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said the agreement was reached Thursday, two days after Mr. Herbert called on the department to stop a train loaded with depleted uranium from leaving the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

State regulators say they need more time to determine whether depleted uranium can safely be disposed of at EnergySolutions Inc.’s site, about 70 miles west of Salt Lake City. Depleted uranium is different from other waste disposed there because it becomes more radioactive over time, for up to 1 million years.

The first train, carrying more than 4,000 55-gallon drums of waste, won’t be stopped or turned around, Ms. Stutsman said. But the DOE agreed to place its waste in temporary storage once it arrives in Utah, rather than permanently disposing of it.

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