USA

Gov. Michael Rounds (R) of South Dakota is expected to sign an antiabortion bill passed by the legislature that would make his state the first to virtually ban the procedure. The measure, which is similar to those under consideration in a handful of other states, would penalize doctors who perform the operation with five-year prison terms and a $5,000 fine. Planned Parenthood's South Dakota chapter said it will file a lawsuit to block the bill, which defies the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Claims for unemployment benefits fell 20,000 last weeks to levels close to their lowest in six years, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Continued economic expansion could explain the trend, analysts said.

The White House is expected to announce Friday a one-year extension of the Temporary Protected Status program that will allow about 300,000 Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, and Honduran immigrants to stay in the US. The immigrants were granted temporary permits after natural disasters forced them from their homelands.

Rhode Island, the first state to sue the paint industry, won a verdict that holds three manufacturers liable for lead-based products banned in the US since 1978. A judge will decide what cleanup efforts are required and possible monetary damages for negative health impacts. The lawsuit could pave the way for similar suits in other states.

American workers feel rushed on the job and less productive than a decade ago, a new study conducted for Day-Timers Inc. reported. E-mails, cellphone calls, and voice mail make it harder to concentrate on a single task, the research found.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu declared he would join a crowded field running for mayor of New Orleans. Landrieu (D), whose father, Moon, once held the post and whose sister, Mary, is a US senator, is considered a front-runner with incumbent Ray Nagin (D). The election is April 22. A runoff, if necessary, will be held May 20. If elected, Landrieu would become the city's first white mayor since his father left office in 1978.

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