Nation digest 11/21/01

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Judge blocks feds on assisted-suicide law

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A federal judge extended a court order Tuesday that blocks an attempt by Attorney General John Ashcroft to dismantle Oregon's one-of-a-kind law allowing physician-assisted suicides.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones extended his Nov. 8 temporary restraining order and gave the state and the Justice Department up to five months to prepare their arguments.

The state has asked Jones to permanently block Ashcroft's Nov. 6 order that prohibited doctors from prescribing lethal doses of federally controlled drugs to terminally ill patients. The order effectively dismantled the voter-approved law.

At least 70 people have used the law since it took effect, state health officials said.

Teen gets life for beating adoptive mom to death

CLOVIS, N.M. -- A 16-year-old boy was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for beating his adoptive mother to death with a baseball bat while six young children watched.

Arnell VanDuyne had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the July 5 slaying of Norma Young, 41.

Young and her husband, Paul, had taken in VanDuyne as a foster child more than three years ago and later adopted him.

Defense attorney James Wilson had argued the judge should show mercy in sentencing the teen-ager because of his difficult early life. Wilson said VanDuyne's natural mother locked him in a closet in a crack house for several days when he was a toddler.

Watercraft operator dies in collision with duck

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- A man dashing across a lake on a customized personal watercraft at about 55 mph was killed in an apparent collision with a flying duck.

Leon Resnick, an employee of Riva Yamaha, was testing the water jet-propelled craft Thursday on a lake about 20 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, investigators said.

Resnick, 31, of Hollywood, drowned after suffering a blow to his head, the Broward County medical examiner's office said.

"Our theory is that the bird was airborne and clocked him in the head," said David Bamdas, an owner of the dealership.

At the speed Resnick was traveling, the 10- to 15-pound duck "might as well have been a cinder block," Bamdas said.

The bird's carcass was found nearby and feathers were on the water bike's handlebars.

One in five seniors has solid grasp of science

WASHINGTON -- Only one in five high school seniors has a solid grasp of science and only half know the basics.

The 12th-graders who took the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress scored, on average, three points lower than those taking the test in 1996.

Only 18 percent correctly answered challenging science questions, down from 21 percent in 1996. Those who knew just the basics dropped slightly to 53 percent.

Education Secretary Rod Paige called the decline "morally significant," adding, "If our graduates know less about science than their predecessors four years ago, then our hopes for a strong 21st century work force are dimming just when we need them most."

-- From wire reports

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