Right about now, gardeners are aching to get out and plant. Usually, in the February dregs of winter, that desire is dashed by cold, wet, maybe even frozen soil. But this year is different.
Here in Washington, D.C., snowdrops came up almost a month ago, and the daffodils have been blooming for two weeks. It's tempting to think that if these harbingers of spring showed up three weeks ahead of schedule, it's safe to plant early, too.
South Carolina is one state that requires special clearance from the Justice Department to change its election laws. Here Charles Monnich casts his vote in the GOP primary at Martin Luther King Memorial Park in Columbia, S.C. on Jan. 21.
The roiling legal battles over election laws passed in various states have potentially far-reaching consequences: the fate of a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The landmark legislation requires the Justice Department to "pre-clear" any changes to election laws in some or all parts of 16 states, mostly in the South, because of their histories of racially discriminatory voting practices. The Justice Department recently used the mandate to block a voter identification law in South Carolina on grounds that it would harm minority voter turnout.
In a report released by the Pentagon today, the government admits that a contractor dumped some of the remains of Sept. 11 victims in a landfill.
According to the report, the remains "that could neither be tested nor identified" from victims of the attack on the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pa. crash were first taken to Dover Air Force Base, cremated by a contractor, returned to the base, where they were handed over to a "biomedical waste disposal contractor," which incinerated the remains.