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News Briefs I

Panel of Scientists Urges Less Fishing in Oceans

Los Angeles Times
Washington

A national panel of scientists has recommended immediate and substantial reductions in ocean fishing to rebuild marine ecosystems throughout the world that are so severely depleted they are in danger of collapsing.

The volume of fish being caught has reached or exceeded the maximum amount that can be sustained by the world's oceans, the scientists reported. About 84 million metric tons of fish and other seafood are caught each year in marine waters worldwide, worth about $3.5 billion a year in the United States alone.

Some species have declined so seriously, especially along the East Coast of North America, that once-thriving commercial fisheries have been shut down. Included are cod off Newfoundland, ground fish such as haddock and yellowtail flounder off New England and some salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

"The sea was long viewed as an inexhaustible supply of protein for human use. But recently it has become increasingly clear that the ocean's resources are not inexhaustible," the 25-member committee of the National Research Council says in its report, "Sustaining Marine Fisheries."

Va. Governor Seeks Accounting of Colleges' Privately Held Funds

The Washington Post
RICHMOND, Va.

Gov. James S. Gilmore III is demanding a full accounting of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by Virginia's 15 public universities through private foundations with virtually no state oversight.

But Gilmore, a Republican who has complained that college administrative costs are too high and has questioned whether schools are spending their money wisely, is encountering resistance from college presidents and legislators protective of their alma maters. Those lawmakers see the governor's interest in the foundations as an effort to impose his political priorities on campus administrators.

"I'm trying to do a culture change on that," said Gilmore, who has two degrees from the University of Virginia. The nonprofit foundations are "a piece of the puzzle. I'm not trying to confiscate donations or discourage donors who take pride in their schools. But, after all, we're talking about public institutions."

Felony Convictions Deplete Black Voting Population

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

A total of 1.4 million African-American males nationwide - 13 percent of all black men - will not be able to vote in the election next month because they were once convicted of a felony, according to a study released Thursday. In 10 states, more than 20 percent of black males there will be kept from the ballot box.

The percentage of black men disenfranchised from the system is seven times the national average and reflects an increasing disparity in the number of African-Americans who are incarcerated, according to the study conducted jointly by the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, which are research and advocacy groups based here.

With the widespread application of mandatory minimum sentences, "three strikes" laws and other measures designed to ensure stiff prison sentences for criminal offenders, the proportion of black males under incarceration has increased 10 times faster than for white men over the past decade, the study said. If current trends continue, the study estimated, 40 percent of black males born in the 1990s will loose the right to vote at some time during their lives.