In Brief | Nation & World 2-12-14


Holder urges states to restore voting rights to former prison inmates

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.

“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder said, targeting 11 states that he said continue to restrict voting rights for former inmates, even after they’ve finished their prison terms.

“Across this country today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans — 5.8 million of our fellow citizens — are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions,” Holder told a symposium on criminal justice at Georgetown University.

Shirley Temple dies at 85

Any kid who ever tap-danced at a talent show or put on a curly wig and auditioned for “Annie” can only dream of being as beloved — or as important — as Shirley Temple.

Temple, who died Monday night at 85, sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of dispirited Depression-era moviegoers and remains the ultimate child star decades later. Other pre-teens, from Macaulay Culkin to Miley Cyrus, have been as famous in their time. But none of them helped shape their time the way she did.

Dimpled, precocious and oh-so-adorable, she was America’s top box office draw during Hollywood’s golden age, and her image was free of the scandals that have plagued Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and so many other child stars — parental feuds, or drug and alcohol addiction.

Temple remains such a symbol of innocence that kids still know the drink named for her: a sweet, nonalcoholic cocktail of ginger ale and grenadine, topped with a maraschino cherry.

Her hit movies — which included “Bright Eyes” (1934), “Curly Top” (1935), “Dimples” (1936), “Poor Little Rich Girl” (1936) and “Heidi” (1937) — featured sentimental themes and musical subplots, with stories of resilience and optimism that a struggling American public found appealing. She kept children singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” for generations.

Belgium set to extend right-to-die law to children

BRUSSELS — Belgium, one of the very few countries where euthanasia is legal, is expected to take the unprecedented step this week of abolishing age restrictions on who can ask to be put to death — extending the right to children for the first time.

The legislation appears to have wide support in the largely liberal country. But it has also aroused intense opposition from foes — including a list of pediatricians — and everyday people who have staged noisy street protests, fearing that vulnerable children will be talked into making a final, irreversible choice.

Under current law, they must let nature take its course or wait until they turn 18 and can ask to be euthanized.

South braces for ice storm

ATLANTA — The city dodged the first punch of a dangerous winter storm Tuesday, but forecasters warned of a potentially “catastrophic” second blow in a thick layer of ice that threatened to bring hundreds of thousands of power outages and leave people in their cold, dark homes for days.

The forecast drew comparisons to an ice storm in the Atlanta area in 2000 that left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power and an epic storm in 1973 that caused an estimated 200,000 outages for several days. In 2000, damage estimates topped $35 million.

U.S. stocks rise as Yellen fuels optimism on economy

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, giving benchmark indexes the biggest four-day rally in more than a year, as comments by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen fueled bets the economy is strong enough to weather further stimulus cuts.

The Standard &Poor’s 500 index gained 1.1 percent to 1,819.75. The Dow rose 192.98 points, or 1.2 percent, to 15,994.77. The Nasdaq composite index added 1 percent, erasing a loss for the year. About 7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 11 percent higher than the 30-day average.

By wire sources