A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published March 2005

Did You Hear About...?

Death Penalty Voided for 13 on Alabama’s Death Row
On March 1 the US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that executing juveniles was unconstitutionally cruel and that the death penalty must be reserved for the worst offenders, a category that cannot include people who have not reached adulthood. The ruling established the age of 18 as the point where society draws the line between childhood and adulthood. Thirteen inmates on Alabama’s Death Row who committed crimes when they were under 18 will have their death sentence commuted to life without parole.

Poll Finds Americans Ready for Woman President
The White House Project by Roper ASW found that 76% of Americans surveyed were comfortable with the idea of a woman as president and 82% comfortable with the idea of a woman vice president. At least 38 women have run for president. The first female candidate was Victoria Chaflin Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 and 1892, decades before women received the right to vote.

Birmingham Council Supports Voting Rights Restoration
On March 1 the Birmingham City Council voted to support the proposed Alabama Restoration of Voting Rights Act, which would automatically restore voting rights to people who have been convicted of felonies when they are released from prison. The bill was introduced to the State Legislature by Representative Alvin Holmes and is currently pending committee action.

Latrines Bring Equality to Ethiopia
A Carter Center program to fight disease by promoting latrines was unexpectedly successful in Ethiopia. The center hoped for 10,000 new latrines, but villagers built more than 90,000 last year. Use of latrines helps fight trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. Latrines reduce the amount of human waste in the open, taking away breeding grounds for flies that transmit the disease. Women recognized another, more immediate, advantage to building latrines. Ethiopian tradition allows men to defecate in the open during the day. Women, however, are expected to wait until dark so that no one will see. One woman told a center representative, “With the latrine, we are equal with the men.” Having a latrine has become a status symbol in many villages.

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