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News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Senate Approves New FCC Chief

The Senate has confirmed William E. Kennard as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. President Clinton nominated Mr. Kennard, who has been the general counsel for the FCC since 1993, for the position last May. The exact day of his swearing-in is yet to be determined.

Mr. Kennard will be the FCC's first African-American chairman. Before joining the commission, he was a partner and a member of the board of directors of the Washington-based law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand.

The FCC assumed an important new education-related role in May with its creation of a "universal service fund" under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The fund will provide public schools and libraries discounts on telecommunications services.

The "E-rate" discounts, which will become available Jan. 1, will allow schools and libraries discounts between 20 percent and 90 percent on services, such as telephone calls, wireless services, Internet access, and the ongoing costs of internal connections within buildings.

Census Addresses Mixed-Race Issue

When Americans fill out their forms for the next U.S. Census in 2000, they'll be able to check more than one racial category, according to a policy change announced last week by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

But the Clinton administration did not add a "multiracial" category, which was one option that had been considered as a way to address the concerns of those who said the current policy didn't reflect the nation's diverse population.

Several states allow citizens to identify themselves as multiracial when registering their children for school or filling out employment forms. ("U.S. Considers Adding Statistics On 'Multiracial'," June 25, 1997.)

Many of the growing number of Americans who have parents of different races have been frustrated by census rules requiring them to classify themselves as belonging only to one race.

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