USA

Nineteen public university systems, including those in California, Florida, and New York, pledged Wednesday to cut achievement gaps between higher-income white students and minority and low-income students in half by 2015. Plans for reaching the goal will vary from state to state.

Chrysler said Thursday it plans to cut as many as 12,000 jobs as part of an effort to slash costs and match slowing demand for some vehicles.

In a letter to Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey called the interrogation technique known as waterboarding "repugnant." Stopping short of calling it illegal, however, could cost him support in the confirmation process, some committee members said Wednesday.

With Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America divided over a key issue, a strike loomed as a distinct possibility Friday. Writers, who receive pennies on the sale of videos, want a pay raise and fees from the distribution of TV shows and film over the Internet.

Farmland prices are soaring, according to the Department of Agriculture, which says the average price per acre has risen 13 percent this year to $2,700.

Hawaii state lawmakers voted for an emergency measure Wednesday to put an inter-island, 800-passenger ferry into service that has been stalled two months by concerns about its environmental impact.

In an effort to improve the treatment of wounded war veterans, the Bush administration said Wednesday that "federal recovery coordinators" will be hired to ensure that the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department work together to provide needed care.

Several hundred US diplomats expressed serious concerns at a State Department meeting Wednesday about the ethics of forcing some of them to serve in Iraq against their will under threat of dismissal.

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