Court to Decide if Suits Can Stop Base Closings

THE future of hundreds of United States military installations is at stake as the Supreme Court considers whether citizens can go to court to overturn the government's base-closing decisions.

The Clinton administration is asking the high court to throw out a suit from Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania that challenges the closing of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The administration contends the federal base-closing law was intended to shut off such lawsuits. A decision in Senator Specter's favor could lead to a flood of lawsuits over the government's decision to shut 250 military bases and realign another 152. Another round of base-closing decisions is scheduled next year. One-in-10 Americans on food stamps

A record 27.46 million people - more than 1 out of every 10 Americans - received food stamps at latest count, breaking a record set one month earlier, the US Food and Nutrition Service said.

Food stamps are the major US anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy more food. Maximum benefit is $375 a month for a family of four. Enrollment totaled 27.46 million in December, the latest month for which figures were available, up nearly 76,000 from the preceding month. Participation in the program is highest during cold weather and times of high unemployment.

California leads the nation with 3.07 million recipients, up by 36,000. The effect of emergency food stamp aid to earthquake victims will not appear until next month's report. While California, Texas, and New York lead the nation, five states - Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio - have more than 1 million participants each. Are parents teaching kids fraud?

THE Social Security Administration is counting the number of families who collect federal disability benefits for more than one child with an eye to capping, for the first time, cash assistance to children with disabilities.

The agency's investigation is the latest twist in an emotional controversy over Supplemental Security Income since the Supreme Court made it easier for children to qualify for disability benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services is looking into allegations from educators that some parents coach their children to misbehave or fall behind in school so they can qualify for such funds. Sen. David Pryor (D) joined Rep. Blanche Lambert (D), both of Arkansas, in requesting a probe by the General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog agency.

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