This news from Huntsville, Texas, the death penalty capital of the Western world. Last night a man was put to death for a fatal shooting he committed at the age of seventeen. Glen Alan McGinnis was executed by lethal injection. The Vatican, the European Union, the American Bar Association and death penalty opponents had pleaded for the life of the twenty-seven-year-old . They raised objections to the execution because McGinnis was a juvenile at the time of the crime. He also came from a troubled background. His mother was drug-dependent. He was raped and beaten as a child. The execution is the sixth this year in Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment. Once again, another execution carried out, as George W. Bush campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire.
After a day of lobbying lawmakers, the grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez are eager for their planned reunion with their grandson today in Miami. The women met yesterday in Washington with members of Congress who support their desire to return Elian to his father in Cuba. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, a Democrat, is among those who want to block legislation that would give the six-year-old boy US citizenship. Dodd says Congress shouldn’t be interfering in the boy’s fate, and Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Houston, Texas, says meeting with the grandmothers reinforced her view that Congress shouldn’t be involved in the case.
Editors and reporters at the Florida Times-Union have written a letter of protest about an editorial in the newspaper that said slavery had “existed briefly in America" and that "its effects are not permanent." The January 10th editorial ran under the headline, “The Lingering Issue,” and questioned the need to continue affirmative action in Florida, mentioning Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s plan to eliminate racial preferences in state university admissions and state contracting decisions. The editorial said Congress justified affirmative action thirty-five years ago to make up for past wrongs. Among the wrongs was slavery, which existed briefly in America but ended more then a century ago, the editorial said. It went on to say, however, while it’s unfortunate that people from Africa were slaves in eighteenth century America, it was not unique.
This news from Vienna, Austria. The leaders of Israel and Sweden joined today in the chorus of foreign concern about the possibility that Joerg Haider’s far-right party will participate in Austria’s next government. Late yesterday, Viktor Klima, Austria’s caretaker chancellor, announced that his social democrats were abandoning efforts to form a minority government, increasing chances that Haider’s party will be part of the next government coalition.
And despite a snowstorm, more than 1,500 people crammed inside Vermont’s State House last night to offer their opinions on whether gay marriages should be recognized in a state that has grabbed the spotlight on the issue. My brother David Goodman was there.
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