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U.S. argues against assisted suicide law in Oregon

At least two terminally ill patients, both strong supporters of Oregon's assisted suicide law, watched lawyers for the federal government tell a judge Friday that Oregon doctors should be barred from helping such people hasten their deaths.

Four months after Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a directive aimed at overturning the law, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones heard final arguments in the emotional legal battle over the Oregon law, which voters have approved two times. Oregon is the sole state that sanctions assisted suicide.

Jones is expected to rule next month.

Also . . .

CLINTON TO PERFORM: Former President Bill Clinton will play his saxophone at New York's Apollo Theatre next month, and Michael Jackson and Tony Bennett are expected to join him in a star-studded event to raise money for a voter registration drive, the Democratic National Committee said Friday.

MORE RASHES REPORTED: An outbreak of mysterious rashes among schoolchildren continued in Philadelphia this week, with about 60 youngsters sent home with itchy, pink blotches. Since October, 14 states have reported outbreaks of unexplained rashes affecting 10 to 600 people at a time. No common cause has been found.

KITTEN CRUSHER SENTENCED: A former guard at New York's Sing Sing prison was sentenced to a year in jail Friday for crushing five kittens to death in a trash compactor. Ronald Hunlock, 48, was convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals.

RESCUED DRIVER KILLED: Robert Arnold Jr., 37, overturned his logging truck on a Clearfield, Pa., bridge Thursday, spilling logs onto the road. The drivers of a van, an ambulance and another truck helped him to safety. But minutes later, a coal truck plowed into the vehicles stopped at the accident site, killing Arnold.

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