Ex-Rutgers student gets 30 days in webcam case

Posted May 21, 2012, at 8:48 p.m.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail — a punishment that disappointed some activists but came as a relief to others who feared he would be made a scapegoat for his fellow freshman’s suicide.

Dharun Ravi, 20, could have gotten 10 years behind bars for his part in a case that burst onto front pages when Tyler Clementi threw himself to his death off the George Washington Bridge.

Instead, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman gave Ravi a month in jail, placed him on three years’ probation and ordered him to get counseling and pay $10,000 toward a program to help victims of hate crimes.

“Our society has every right to expect zero tolerance for intolerance,” the judge said.

Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said he will appeal the sentence, calling it insufficient.

Catholic institutions sue over contraceptive rule

WASHINGTON — The battle between the Obama administration and some prominent Catholic institutions intensified Monday when 43 Catholic groups, including the archdioceses of Washington, D.C., and New York, and Notre Dame and Catholic universities, filed suit across the country challenging a federal mandate requiring them to provide contraception to their employees.

The organizations say the administration’s contraceptive requirement would compel them to violate church teaching. Some employers are exempt from the federal mandate — but many are not, including schools, hospitals and charities that offer their services widely.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said the suits reflect frustration with the administration and Congress.

“Time is running out, and our precious ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now,” he said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood criticized the suits.

“Access to birth control is a critical health and economic concern for American women,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Insurance companies should cover birth control just like any other preventive prescription, as the independent Institute of Medicine recommended.”

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Maine Catholic diocese, said the Portland Diocese is not among the plaintiffs, but supports their action.

Routine prostate cancer screening called unnecessary

Men should no longer receive a routine blood test to check for prostate cancer because the test does more harm than good, a top-level government task force has concluded in a final recommendation that immediately became controversial.

The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force runs counter to two decades of medical practice in which many primary-care physicians give the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to healthy middle-age men.

But after reviewing available scientific evidence, the task force concluded that such testing will help save the life of just one in 1,000 men. At the same time, the test steers many more men who would never die of prostate cancer toward unnecessary surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the task force concluded.

For every man whose life is saved by PSA testing, another one will develop a dangerous blood clot, two will have heart attacks, and 40 will become impotent or incontinent because of unnecessary treatment, the task force said in a statement Monday.

Top nuclear regulator resigns amid GOP criticisms

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who was championed by watchdogs for his cautious approach to nuclear power but criticized by Republicans in Congress for an overly hard-charging style has announced he will step down.

Gregory Jaczko, who led the commission’s efforts to protect Americans in Japan during the nuclear crisis at Fukushima and played a key role in fighting the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain as a former top aide to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, came under scrutiny for what critics called an overbearing management approach at the agency.

His resignation is effective upon confirmation of his successor.

Jaczko “dedicated his tenure to improving the safety of nuclear energy,” Reid said in a statement. “His work toward a safe and effective nuclear energy policy has left Nevada and the nation more secure.”

Critics, though, have targeted Jaczko for dismissal after a report from the GOP-led House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee found “his management style and aggressive behavior simultaneously eroded the collegial structure,” at the NRC.

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