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News Briefs II

Boston Latin Doesn't Appeal Case

The Baltimore Sun

For the second time in just over a year, civil rights groups that feared losing a major affirmative action case in the Supreme Court have succeeded in stopping a lawsuit this time, a dispute over admissions to the nation's oldest public school, Boston Latin.

The Boston School Committee, the city's school board, changed its mind at a closed meeting Wednesday night and voted unanimously not to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of a race-based admissions policy at the prestigious 364-year-old high school.

The U.S. Department of Education and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People confirmed that they and other civil rights groups urged the school committee to forgo the appeal.

The school committee had planned to appeal this month a decision by a federal appeals court in Boston striking down that policy because of its racial preference. No appeal will now be filed, and the case will end.

The student who won that case, Sarah P. Wessmann, 15, a white 10th-grader, began attending Boston Latin in January under the appeals court order. Her grades and test scores were high enough to gain entry when she applied in 1997, but she did not get in because half the places available were set aside for minorities, even if their scores were lower than some who would otherwise qualify.

Snake Venom May Treat Strokes


A large trial of a medicine culled from snake venom has proven effective as a potent stroke treatment, according to a new study.

Dr. David Sherman, professor and chief of neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, says that the venom from pit vipers is an effective clot-dissolving substance that helps patients improve significantly when given within the first three hours of the first symptoms of stroke. The study was conducted on 500 patients throughout the United States, and the results were reported Thursday at the American Heart Association annual stroke meeting in Nashville.

Each year, 700,000 Americans suffer strokes, and only a small number seek immediate help. There are two types of stroke, a brain bleed or hemorrhage, and the more common ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked artery. The sooner a stroke is identified, the better a person's chance of recovery. Symptoms include numbness on one side, loss of speech, loss of vision in one eye and balance problems.

A Malaysian physician first reported in the 1960s that some of his patients bitten by poisonous snakes shared an intriguing phenomenon: their blood was temporarily unable to clot. Knoll Pharmaceutical Co., with offices in Germany and the United States, began studying it.