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U.S. News Archive
July 07 - July 13, 2000





This page contains news for the period July 07, 2000 through July 13, 2000.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2000

New study on The Single Female Consumer

A press release issued today by the Intelligence Factory over PR Newswire announced the publication of a new report showing that single women in America are emerging as a powerful economic force that can no longer be ignored.

To read the full press release, click here.


Tuesday, July 11, 2000

'Marriage penalty" and "death tax" up for a Congressional vote

A story published today by Reuters reports that Congressional Republicans vowed Tuesday to press ahead with bills abolishing estate taxes and reducing taxes for married couples despite opposition from President Clinton to big tax cuts.

A Republican-backed bill that would phase out estate taxes passed one procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, setting the stage for another key vote on the issue later in the week when Senators will also be voting on a bill that would cut taxes for married couples by $248 billion over 10 years.

The Senate agreed on Tuesday to take up the bill to cut estate taxes, but it faced other hurdles as Democrats insisted on offering amendments that highlighted their priorities, including tax breaks for education and child care and a prescription drug benefit for elderly Medicare recipients.

The story explains that small business owners and farmers have urged elimination of the estate tax, saying it often forces the sale of a family business. Republicans say the issue has broad support among Americans, putting election-year pressure on Democrats who plan to offer an alternative to ease estate taxes on individuals, small businesses and farmers.

The White House says only 2 percent of estates are subjected to the tax in any given year adds that the Republican-backed bill would benefit only the wealthiest.

"We'll propose a reasonable alternative that costs a lot less," Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota told reporters. "Unlike the Republican plan, our plan really will help family farmers and small-business owners. And we'll do it sooner than the Republican plan and we'll use the money left over to help working families with real needs."

Democratic leaders did not address the "singles penalty" in the current death tax law which allows the transfer of an unlimited amount of wealth to a spouse but takes up to 60 percent of an estate when a single person dies.

A different death-tax repeal bill passed the House in June with 65 Democrats joining the Republican majority. Lott said he believes many Senate Democrats would join the Republican majority and back the estate tax cut if they can cut through the procedural hurdles and bring it to a vote.

"The House deserves a lot of credit for the overwhelming bipartisan vote that they had," the Mississippi Republican told reporters. "And I believe if we can ever get to a vote on the substance, there will be 70 or more senators that will vote for this."

The story says that Clinton told the nation's governors on Monday that it would be a "huge mistake" for Congress to repeal estate taxes before tackling other priorities such as raising the minimum wage, offering a tax deduction for college tuition or boosting tax credits for child care expenses and reducing the nation's debt. Eliminating estate taxes would cost the federal treasury an estimated $50 billion a year.

The President has also threatened to veto a Republican-backed tax cut for married couples that would cost the treasury nearly $250 billion over 10 years. The White House has argued the bill does more than eliminate the so-called marriage penalty and would provide tax breaks for couples that do not suffer a penalty.

Under the existing tax code, working couples often end up paying more in federal taxes than they would if they were single. But many couples, mostly those with a single income earner, pay less in taxes than they would if they were single.

The Senate is due to take up the marriage penalty bill later this week under a special budget procedure that will limit debate and the number of amendments that can be offered, ensuring passage in the Republican-controlled Senate.

A related story published today by MSNBC reports predicts that even though providing tax-code fairness may make sense, it may not be as easy as it looks. For every couple penalized by the "marriage penalty" in the income tax code, there is another couple that benefits from it.

About 21 million U.S. taxpayers get an average annual tax break of about $1,000 under the tax rule. The beneficiaries of this "marriage bonus" tend to be low-income, with only one spouse earning an income.

That’s why many Democrats are asking that the legislation, which could cost as much as $55 billion over five years, be reworked to neither penalize nor benefit married couples. They want a marriage-neutral tax code.

"I’m willing to address the inequity, the people who are being impacted negatively," said U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Mich. "But I don’t think we should create a bonus for some married couples over others or over single people."

Single women's conference set for Texas in October

A news release received today reports that Regena English, the 34 year old Editor-In-Charge of St.Mary

Publishing Company of Houston will host The Single Women's Conference in Austin, Texas, October 7, 2000 at Barton Creek Resort.

This much anticipated event will be a boisterously exciting celebration of female singlehood.


*  Delores Williams of Smash Out Suicide (Oklahoma City)- - Recognizing The Gifts We Offer

*  Kathleen Spikes of Kathleen Spikes Coaching Works -- The Transformation of the Single Woman.

*  Dr.Judy (pending)- - Joy In Being Us

*  Mickey Michael--Raising Emotionally Sound Children Alone

*  Elder Allen- - The Single Woman From The Christian Perspective

The sponsors hope that single women from across the world will flock to Austin to be apart of this liberating tribute to single living.

For more information please email Regena English at REnglis1@aol.com or call (877)890-9226.

Women take the lead in asking for a divorce

A story published today in the New York Times reports that as a national average at least two-thirds of divorce suits are filed by women.

Researchers who have interviewed divorcing couples have consistently found that, in cases where the divorce is not mutually desired, women are more than twice as likely to be the ones who want out. After the split, women are typically happier than their exes.

This trend has prompted what is probably the first paper in the American Journal of Law and Economics ever to be named after a Nancy Sinatra song. In "These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women," Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas Allen, both economists, analyze all 46,000 divorces filed in one year, 1995, in four different states: Connecticut, Virginia, Montana and Oregon.

The story says that they looked for different reasons that would prompt a woman to file for divorce. One would be to escape an abusive husband -- like a man who is adulterous or violent. But in the state with the best records of grievances, Virginia, only 6 percent of divorces were granted on grounds of violence, and husbands were cited for adultery only slightly more often than wives.

"Some women file for divorce because they're exploited in really bad marriages," said Dr. Brinig, a professor of law at the University of Iowa. "But it seems to be a relatively small number, probably less than 20 percent of the cases."

Another impetus to divorce is the belief that one spouse believes that his or her partner is no longer good enough for them. Researchers found that the better-educated partner, male or female, was more likely to file for divorce. But again these types of divorces seemed to represent less than 20 percent of the cases.

The solution to the mystery, the factor that determined most cases, turned out to be the question of child custody. Women are much more willing to split up because -- unlike men -- they typically do not fear losing custody of the children. Instead, a divorce often enables them to gain control over the kids.

"The question of custody absolutely swamps all the other variables," Dr. Brinig said. "Children are the most important asset in a marriage, and the partner who expects to get sole custody is by far the most likely to file for divorce."

The correlation with custody is so strong, Dr. Brinig said, that she has changed her view about the best way to preserve marriages and to protect children. She previously advocated an end to quick no-fault divorces, but she now believes that the key is to rewrite custody laws.

In most states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, women can fight for and usually win sole custody. But some states have begun making joint custody the presumptive norm.

That change in the law seems to be keeping more couples together, according to this study and other work by Dr. Brinig. She and colleagues have noted a decline in divorce in states with joint-custody laws. And when couples do divorce, fathers who share custody are less likely to renege on their child-support payments.

Brinig favors a law like the one recently enacted in West Virginia, which typically awards each parent a share of custody according to how much time that parent spent with the child during the marriage. Besides eliminating some of the vicious court fights that now take place over custody, she said, such a law could lead to fewer divorces.

"Custody is now a way -- in some marriages the only way -- for women to achieve a real show of force over men," Dr. Brinig said. "If you remove that distortion, it's apt to change the way men and women relate to each other and to their kids. Fathers are likely to spend more time with kids if they can expect to still see them if the marriage doesn't work out. Women will be more likely to see men as parenting partners, and less likely to use divorce as a power play.


Monday, July 10, 2000

More young newlyweds are signing prenuptial agreements first

A story published today in the Akron Beacon Journal reports that of the nearly 230,000 marriages that began last month in the United States, more than half will end in divorce, and of those, about 60,000 will involve heated legal battles.

Young adults, of course, account for the bulk of those marriage statistics. In 1998, the average bride was 25 years old, the average groom 26.7.

With the divorce data in mind, many young newlyweds are heading to a lawyer's office to sign a prenuptial agreement before they marry.

"I see lots of kids,'' said Raoul Felder, a divorce lawyer, who writes 150 to 200 prenuptial contracts a year, 70 percent of them for people under 35 -- up from 20 percent just four years ago. In the past, he said, most of the clients were on their second or third marriages -- jaded, older and presumably wiser. Not these days.

Prenuptial agreements have grown in specificity. Once they mainly protected an inheritance, ``but now you can protect everything -- business, homes, how much child support there will be,'' said Seymour Reisman, a divorce lawyer with Reisman, Peirez & Reisman in Garden City, N.Y., who also sees many young clients.

"There are a lot of different choices for people to make.'' And waltzing down an aisle need not be one of them: many lawyers write these agreements for unmarried people who live together.

There is still a stigma attached to the little document, which typically costs from $500 to $1,000. Plenty of people hesitate to acknowledge marrying for any reason other than romantic love -- or that their assets might mean more than their mates.

"Usually the moneyed spouse wants to sign and the other doesn't,'' said Reisman, who has seen couples split up over the terms.

Some folks attribute the rise in prenuptial agreements among the dot-com set to youthful anxiety in an uncertain economy.

"The prenup is just another way of young kids' pumping up their ego or being underconfident about what their real abilities are,'' said Avi Moskowitz, 36, chief executive of Virtual Communities, which builds online portals. No one's seen these Internet companies exist for more than three or four years, so no one knows what's going to happen.''

"A prenup essentially says we may stay together, but we may also carve out some things that are yours and some that are mine, which overemphasizes the material aspects of the relationship,'' Moskovitz said.

Felder suggests that society needs to rethink the matrimonial institution. "There never was an instrument people would buy if it only worked half the time,'' he said. "Yet people are getting married knowing there's a failure rate of 50 percent. It's truly amazing.''


Sunday, July 9, 2000

Single parents find cost of living high in New Hampshire

A story published today in Foster's Online reports that making ends meet in southern New Hampshire is harder than anywhere else in Northern New England, according to a new study that’s prompting officials to rethink economic development strategies for the region.

The results of the study make one wonder how an average single-parent family can afford to live in that region.

"Probably the biggest surprise was how much it cost to live and be self-sufficient for certain households in the southern part of the state," said Daphne Kenyon, research director for the New Hampshire Basic Needs and Livable Wage report.

The report, which estimated the cost of living for seven household types — from a single person to a two-parent family with two young children — was prepared by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. The report looked at the cost for rent and utilities, child care, transportation, food, health care, clothing and household and personal expenses in each of the state’s 10 counties, drawing comparisons between the North Country and the rest of the state.

To pay for these basic needs in Rockingham County, a single parent with two children would need to make $19.56 an hour for a 40-hour work week, or $40,687 a year, according to the study.

The annual income needed for the same family in Strafford, Belknap and Carroll counties was not far behind, at $38,057, $37,787 and $37,770 respectively. But Hillsborough County was the second most expensive at $40,536.

The federal poverty level, used to determine eligibility for government aid, is $14,150 for a three-person family.

Similar studies in other states found the average annual cost of living was $30,389 for a single-parent family with two children in Portland, Maine, $34,278 in Kittery, Maine, and $33,328 in Burlington, Vt. These studies, however, did not include a 5 percent allowance for savings as the New Hampshire study did.

A second report examining the availability of livable-wage jobs in the state is due to be released in September.

"To the extent that jobs do not pay a livable wage, there are many possible implications," states the report, noting that one survey found that twice as many workers held more than one job in the North Country than in New Hampshire as a whole. "This may be one reaction to a lack of livable-wage jobs."

With about 25 percent of New Hampshire’s families headed by a single parent, the study raises some important questions, according to Janice Kitchen, director of the University of New Hampshire Office of Economic Initiatives, one of several economic development agencies which funded the study.

While single parents often cut child care costs by leaving their children with friends or family, she said many still fail to earn enough to cover all their basic expenses.

"We need to look into who these people are and where they are located," said Kitchen, whose agency helped fund the study. "What’s preventing them from making a livable wage?"

The livable wage for other family types was much less. The state average for a single person was $9.01 an hour. In southern New Hampshire the figure is $9.09 and in the North Country it falls to $8.04.

A two-parent family with one parent working requires an annual income of $35,997 in Rockingham County, according to the report. In Strafford, Belknap and Carroll counties, that figure is $33,282, $33,670 and $33,569 respectively.

While she said some lawmakers might feel the report supports arguments for raising the minimum wage, that may not be the best solution, according to Kenyon.


Saturday, July 8

Same-sex marriage ban qualifies for Nevada ballot

A story published today in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages in Nevada has qualified for the ballot in November, the secretary of state's office said yesterday.

The office said the petition qualified in 16 of the state's 17 counties. Although results were not in from one county, the petition needed to qualify in only 13 of the 17 counties.

Richard Ziser, head of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, said he has not seen any organized strong opposition. But he said the foes were probably waiting to see if the petition qualified.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, a non-profit organization, has announced its opposition.

"Clearly, we're not expecting any miracles for November, but we do plan on mounting a strong campaign against it," Bob Fulkerson, state director of the alliance, said.


Friday, July 7, 2000

Louisiana Upholds Sodomy Law

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the state's 195-year-old sodomy law, under which consenting adults could receive up to five years in prison for engaging in oral or anal sex.

"Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society itself,'' Justice Chet Traylor wrote in Thursday's 5-2 decision.

In a dissenting option, Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr. and Justice Harry Lemmon said the law represents an intrusion of government into citizens' homes.

"The only apparent purpose of the prohibition is to dictate the type of sex that is acceptable to legislators,'' Lemmon wrote. "Two married persons should be able to choose how they conduct their nonpublic, voluntary sexual relations in the security of their own home; a law that takes that choice away from them is an intrusion by the legislative branch that is constitutionally intolerable.''

In February, the state's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the conviction of a man who had oral sex with a woman. The appeals court said the law violated privacy rights.

The Supreme Court reinstated the man's conviction for a crime against nature and his suspended three-year jail sentence.

The Supreme Court's decision runs contrary to a trend set by the high courts in other state.  In recent years, similar laws have been declared unconstitutional by appellate courts in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Montana.


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