- - Saturday, June 28, 2008

Abortion law upheld on appeal

PIERRE, S.D. — A federal appeals court ruled that South Dakota can begin enforcing a law requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure ends a human life.

The 7-4 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sends the case back to U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier of Rapid City for proceedings on whether the 2005 law is constitutional. Judge Schreier had temporarily prevented the law from taking effect while she was deciding the case, but the full court threw out her order.

The 2005 law would make doctors tell women “that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Women also would have to be told they have a right to continue a pregnancy and that abortion may cause women psychological harm, including thoughts of suicide.

Ranch-raid agency’s chief to retire

AUSTIN, Texas — The head of the Texas agency behind the seizure of more than 400 children from a polygamist group announced Friday that he is retiring.

The prepared release announcing Carey Cockerell’s retirement as commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services offered no reason for his departure and made no mention of the April raid in which all children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado were removed.

“I’ll soon be a grandfather and I’m looking forward to a lot of quality time with my family after four decades of working in state and local programs,” said Mr. Cockerell, 61. He added that he is proud of his nearly 3½-year tenure at the agency.

Poll says schools don’t teach well

It’s not much of a report card.

Half of Americans say U.S. schools are doing only a fair-to-poor job preparing children for college and the work force. Even more feel that way about the skills children need to survive as adults, an Associated Press poll released Friday finds.

“A lot of kids, when they get out school, are kind of lost,” said Jamie Norton, a firefighter in Gridley, Calif. “When you get out of high school, what are you educated to do?”

The views of the general population echo concerns from business and college leaders, who say they have to spend a lot of time and money on remedial education for people who completed high school.

Three-fourths of those surveyed believe schools place too much emphasis on the wrong subjects. Asked what subjects should be given more time in school, more than a third said math. English was a distant second, at 21 percent.

Liability lawyer gets 5 years

OXFORD, Miss. — Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, who became one of the wealthiest civil lawsuit attorneys in the country by taking on tobacco, asbestos and insurance companies, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for conspiring to bribe a judge.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. called Scruggs’ conduct “reprehensible,” fined him $250,000, and granted the prosecution’s request for a maximum sentence. Scruggs, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, appeared to nearly faint as the federal judge scolded him for his conduct.

The judge said that after reviewing evidence in the case, including secretly recorded conversations, “it made me think perhaps this was not the first time you did this because you did it so easily.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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