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Bush OKs panel to celebrate Brown v. Board anniversary

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush this week signed legislation forming a special panel to help mark the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The anniversary commission will advise the education secretary on activities to celebrate the 1954 decision, which declared separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites were unconstitutional.

Bush called the decision "one of the most important decisions ever issued by the U.S. Supreme Court -- the decision that recognized the constitutional right to freedom from racial discrimination in our public schools."

U.S. judge halts Ohio law banning late-term abortions

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- A federal judge Thursday blocked the state from enforcing a ban on a controversial late-term abortion procedure.

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice said the law is unconstitutional because it would not allow a doctor to perform the procedure in cases where substantial medical evidence shows that it may be safer for some patients.

He cited last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a similar ban in Nebraska.

Federal judges in other states have also recently overturned bans on what opponents call partial-birth abortions. In April, the ban in Michigan was overturned by a federal judge and the bans in Illinois and Wisconsin were overturned by a federal appeals court.

The procedure is called dilation and extraction.

The case hinged on whether the technique is safer than others and whether barring it would limit a woman's right to an abortion.

The bill had been signed by Gov. Bob Taft in May 2000. It would have made doctors who perform the procedure subject to up to eight years in prison.

Yates' mental health better, but still a concern

HOUSTON (AP) -- A male nurse testified Thursday that a woman accused of drowning her five children has improved since her arrest, but he remains worried about her mental health.

"When she came to the unit, she was what I would call catatonic," said John Bayliss, who has treated Andrea Yates since she was jailed following her June arrest. "She was in a fog." Bayliss said that Yates now smiles and that he has seen her read and play dominoes.

Bayliss, however, described her as having "a lack of luster in her eyes."

Yates, 37, is charged with capital murder.

A jury will decide whether the former nurse is fit to stand trial. She has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

The district attorney's office has said it will seek the death penalty if jurors find Yates competent.

Police say Yates admitted killing her children in her home. The four youngest children -- John, 5; Paul; 3; Luke, 2; and Mary, 6 months -- were found wet on a bed under a sheet. Noah, 7, was dead in the bathtub.

Yates' husband said she suffered from depression after the births of her two youngest children. Medical records show that Yates attempted suicide twice after the birth of her fourth child.

Jailed bigamist loses bid for new trial, will appeal

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A self-proclaimed polygamist filed an appeal Thursday of his conviction on charges of bigamy and failure to pay child support after the trial judge refused to grant him a new trial.

Tom Green, 53, was sentenced Aug. 24 to spend up to five years in prison for bigamy. He lived in Utah's west desert with five wives and 30 children.

Green had asked 4th District Judge Guy Burningham for a new trial but was turned down. He also asked the judge to release him from prison so he could prepare an appeal, but that request also was denied.

Green filed the appeal with the Utah Court of Appeals.

Green's bigamy case was the first to go to trial in the state in nearly 50 years. He had appeared on TV talk shows including Sally Jessy Raphael's to discuss his "original Mormonism."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought plural marriage to Utah but abandoned it as a requirement for statehood. But it is still an open secret in Utah and elsewhere in the West, where about 30,000 people practice it.

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