Roe v. Wade decision recalled on anniversary

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Activists on both sides of the abortion issue marched in demonstrations across the country Saturday to mark the 32nd anniversary of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal. The anniversary came amid speculation that retirements on the Supreme Court could alter its makeup and its long-standing defense of the Roe v. Wade decision during President Bush's second term. Chief Justice William Rehnquist is 80 and suffering from thyroid cancer. In San Francisco, thousands of pro-life supporters marched on the city's waterfront, chanting slogans like "Women deserve better," while pro-choice supporters tried to drown them out with their own rallying cries. Pro-life backers carrying American flags and signs reading "Parental Rights" and "Choose Life" also marched on the state capitol in Austin, Texas, where Republican Gov. Rick Perry pledged support for a bill requiring a minor to get her parents' consent for an abortion. Sarah Wheat, spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said her group opposes a parental consent law because it would not have a huge impact on the abortion rate.

Beach memorial held for victims of mudslide

VENTURA, Calif. -- Friends and family gathered Saturday on a windy beach to bid farewell to 10 people who were killed when a mudslide damaged more than two dozen homes in the free-spirited oceanfront village of La Conchita. Hundreds of people wearing shorts, sandals and Hawaiian shirts converged for the ceremony in which about 50 surfers paddled 300 yards from shore, the names of the victims were read, and family and friends scattered orchid leis in the waves. The mudslide on Jan. 10 was triggered by days of heavy rain that turned Southern California into a flood zone. The torrential rain was responsible for 28 deaths in the state.

Fla. boy rejoins family; police hunt for kidnapper

OCALA, Fla. -- An 11-year-old boy who had been taken from his school by a convicted child molester was reunited with his family Saturday while dozens of police searched for the kidnapping suspect in Georgia. The boy was hugged by his mother as he emerged from a police car outside the Marion County sheriff's office. Meanwhile, police continued searching for Frederick Fretz, 42, who was believed to be hiding in woods near where the boy was found in northwest Georgia on Friday, said a police spokesman in Emerson, Ga. Police said there was no indication the boy had been molested.

Early-warning centers for U.S. security at risk

WASHINGTON -- The government has ended grant programs that has provided more than $1.2 million a year since 2002 for two homeland security organizations that distribute information about potential threats to oil and gas and public transit companies. The information sharing and analysis centers were set up to protect energy and bus, rail and ferry systems. Collectively, more than a dozen such centers help protect banks, chemical plants, water utilities and other sectors. The centers, many of which are privately financed, are part of the Bush administration's effort to encourage corporations to ensure the safety of vital parts of the country's infrastructure.

Nevada Democrats bet on state lottery success

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Democrats are betting the time is right for the nation's No. 1 gambling state to create a lottery, despite a prohibition in the state constitution dating back to 1864. Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins said Friday that the money is needed to fund education. But lottery proposals have died 26 times in the legislature since 1970 in the face of opposition from Nevada's powerful gambling interests, which have maintained that the state should not compete with its top industry. Legislators would have to approve a lottery and voters would have to support the idea twice to change the constitution.

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