Vermont's Sterilizations Uncovered

BOSTON -- A doctoral student has uncovered a dark secret in Vermont's past: Scientists in the 1920s and '30s had an active eugenics plan to eliminate the state's "degenerate" bloodlines and replenish "old pioneer stock."

In a book to be published later this year, Nancy Gallagher details the plan, called the "Vermont Eugenics Survey."

The 12-year survey, developed by an independent team of social scientists, studied "good" and "bad" families in the state and listed those that it determined needed to be eliminated, Gallagher told the Boston Globe. The report was circulated among policymakers at the time and led to the passage of a 1931 sterilization law.

Several hundred poor, rural Vermonters, Abenaki Indians and others deemed unfit to procreate were sterilized, the newspaper said.

Vermont was hardly alone in embracing eugenics, the science of human breeding that branched from social Darwinism and attempted to manage the misery of the poor. In 1931, Vermont became the 31st state to enact a sterilization law for the handicapped or "the feeble-minded."

Records do not show the extent to which the sterilization policy was enforced or how the option was presented to its subjects. The laws were rolled back in the 1960s and '70s.

Austin's Tower to Reopen to Public

AUSTIN -- A Texas landmark designed as a monument to higher learning only to become infamous as a deadly sniper's perch in 1966 will reopen to the public Sept. 16 amid hopes that visitors will be more enamored with its view than curious about its violent past.

On Aug. 1, 1966, Eagle Scout and ex-Marine Charles Whitman ascended the 231-foot tower and killed 14 people and wounded 31 with bullets from high-powered rifles after having killed his wife and mother. He died in the tower in a gun battle with police.

Addenda

PITTSBURGH -- The wife of the state Senate president quit her $65,539-a-year job with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission after technicians found photos of her nude in turnpike headquarters, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Deborah Eckert Jubelirer, 43, whose estranged husband is Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer, quit Thursday and a commission technician, Kenneth R. Manherz, who was accused of shooting the photos with a digital camera that belonged to the commission, was fired, the newspaper said.

NEW YORK -- Peter Florio, 75, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter Friday in the death of his wife, Ann, who was 70 and had Parkinson's disease and heart problems. Prosecutors alleged he secured a noose from a ceiling beam and left his ailing wife alone to commit suicide. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.