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I'LL DIE IF I WANT TO

Led by Senator Ron Wyden, last week five Oregon congressional members asked a federal appeals court to uphold Oregon's assisted suicide law. The representatives sent a 30-page letter asserting that Attorney General John Ashcroft is "impermissibly interfering with the states' traditional power to regulate medicine." A former senator, Ashcroft has tried to undermine the nation's only death-with-dignity law since its 1997 inception. He counter-pointed that as Attorney General he has the authority to decide whether prescribing a lethal overdose is a "legitimate medical practice."

The Oregon law currently permits the terminally ill to ask a doctor for a prescribed lethal dose of drugs. Although the State of Oregon fended off one of Ashcroft's attempts to crush the assisted suicide law (they won an injunction last year which is currently being appealed), Wyden says he sees serious trouble brewing for the law now that the Republicans are slotted to take control of the Senate. Ashcroft is gaining allies in his crusade. Senate GOP leader Trent Lott and Republican Senator Jesse Helms have recently joined him. But apparently they'll have to do it over Wyden's dead body--the senator said he'd sooner stage a filibuster than have the assisted suicide law weakened. ANNA SIMON

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

On Sunday, a massive march through downtown Portland expressed a collective unease with the Bush Administration's dealings with Iraq. The group appeared to reach consensus on an anti-war stance, but reports providing more specific details about the demonstration varied wildly.

A brief press release from the police bureau provided the following: "The crowd estimate is 'more than 2,000.' We have made one arrest, at SW 1st Avenue and Main St, when a person jumped onto a police car and spit on two officers when they tried to get him down. He is being booked into jail as a 'John Doe' because he refuses to give his name. His charges are one count trespass on a vehicle, two counts harassment."

Local activists took a different perspective, estimating the crowd at 10,000 and readily identifying "John Doe" as a local high school student. One plea posted on IndyMedia gave a wholly different account from the police report about the arrest: "The cops riped (sic) his fucking sholder (sic) out of it's sockit (sic)." PHIL BUSSE

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