- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

Moratorium sought on death penalty

ATLANTA — Georgia should place a moratorium on seeking the death penalty because it cannot ensure fairness in defendants’ trials and appeals, according to a new report by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The report, to be published tomorrow, found seven flaws that compromise Georgia’s administration of the death penalty. In two instances, the ABA report said, Georgia makes it tougher for capital defendants to avoid execution than any other state.

Georgia stands alone in the nation in not guaranteeing lawyers to death row inmates at a critical stage of their appeals, the report noted.

The ABA report also found that Georgia has set the toughest standard in the United States for defendants to prove they are mentally retarded. Georgia and 25 other states prohibit the execution of a prisoner with mental retardation.

Asked if Gov. Sonny Perdue would consider a moratorium, his spokesman, Dan McLagan, said simply: “Nope.”

Homosexuals applaud passage of rights bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state lawmakers passed a homosexual rights bill Friday in a major victory for activists, who had watched the measure fail in the Legislature for nearly 30 years.

The bill passed the Senate 25-23, with a lone Republican joining Democrats voting for it. The House approved it 61-37, and Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire said she would sign it Tuesday.

The measure adds sexual orientation to a state law banning discrimination in housing, employment and insurance on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, religion, marital status and other factors. Sixteen states have passed similar laws.

House Republicans amended the bill to say that it would not modify or change state marriage laws. The state Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging Washington’s ban on same-sex “marriage” last year, and a ruling is expected in a few weeks.

Portland best city to have baby

The best American city in which to have a baby is Portland, Ore., according to a survey by Fit Pregnancy magazine.

A report in the February-March issue of the publication, on newsstands since Wednesday, ranked 50 cities based on benefits offered to pregnant women, new parents and infants.

Ranked after Portland were Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Denver, the survey found. Locally, the list included Baltimore (12), Virginia Beach (30) and the District (41).

The magazine examined 47 criteria, including fertility services, maternal and infant health risks, access to doctors and hospitals, availability of “stroller-friendly” public pathways and trails, and availability of child-care services.

Search called off for migrant vessel

MIAMI — Authorities called off the search for a homemade boat carrying 15 migrants that disappeared in fog and ocean swells off the Florida Keys.

The search was suspended Friday evening after two days because searchers were unable to find any sign of the boat or its occupants, thought to be Cubans, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

A Customs and Border Protection helicopter first spotted the boat during a routine flyover shortly before dusk Wednesday about 45 miles off the coast. The small wooden craft had no engine and appeared to be taking on water, officials said.

Utah House OKs parental consent bill

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House passed a bill Friday requiring girls younger than age 18 to get parental consent before they may undergo an abortion.

Current law requires doctors to notify a girl’s parents before ending her pregnancy, but the parents need not consent to the procedure. Lawmakers voted 65-8 to approve the new measure, sending it to the Senate. Only Democrats voted against it.

Exceptions would be made for the health of the mother, other medical emergencies or cases of abuse or incest. The bill also would allow courts to grant permission for the procedure.

The proposal also ensures that allegations of abuse and incest resulting in pregnancy would be substantiated by a physician, then referred to the state Division of Child and Family Services.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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