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U.S. News Archive
September 01 - September 06, 2000

 

 

 
 

 

This page contains news for the period September 01, 2000 through September 06, 2000.

 

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Wednesday, September 6, 2000


Kansas community may crack down on unmarried adults loving together

A story published today in Journal-World of Kansas reports that Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners will  consider a proposal that would limit the number of unrelated people allowed to live in Lawrence's single-family residentially owned neighborhoods.

Two proposed ordinances were referred to the Planning Commission by Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday.

One of the ordinances was written by city staff and another by neighborhood advocates who are pushing the change from the current limit of four unrelated people.

Arly Allen, who has helped organize the effort to change the ordinance, said some older neighborhoods are losing ground to rental properties. He offered the draft ordinance and suggested exemptions be allowed for unmarried couples with children.

Holly Krebs, a Kansas University student, said students are being unfairly targeted by the ordinance change.

Planners will meet Oct. 25 to consider the alternatives and make a recommendation.

 

Tuesday, September 5, 2000


Effect of divorce on kids may last years

A story published today by Reuters reports that a new study released yesterday suggests that the traumatic effect of divorce hits many children decades after their parents separate, hobbling them as they seek to form close family relationships of their own.

"Our findings challenge the myth that divorce is a transient crisis,'' Judith Wallerstein, a senior lecturer emerita at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the study, said.

"We now see that the major hurt is in adulthood, when internalized images of the mother, father and their relationship come to center stage and shape the choices their grown children make,'' she said.

Wallerstein's findings are being published in a book, "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: a 25 Year Landmark Study'' published by Hyperion of New York and coauthored by Julia Lewis, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, and Sandra Blakeslee, a science writer for the New York Times.

Her work is based on a study of about 100 San Francisco Bay-area children that began in 1971, and is believed to be the first research of its kind to follow the children of divorce into adulthood.

For the 25-year follow-up, Wallerstein also interviewed a group of 44 children from married-couple families who grew up alongside the children of divorce and attended the same schools.

By comparing the life experiences of the two groups, the study concludes that parental divorce has a profound and lasting impact on the emotional lives of children, which is felt most acutely in their own adult relationships.

The children of divorce experienced lives fraught with pitfalls ranging from fear of loss and disaster to greater use of drugs and alcohol during youth. They also had fewer marriages, fewer children, and more divorces than the children from married-couple families whose parents did not divorce.

While most children of divorce do eventually conquer their difficulties and lead normal lives, they make more mistakes along the way, Wallerstein said.

The study revealed that, when interviewed as adults, just 60 percent of the children of divorce were married compared to 80 percent of children who grew up in married-couple families which did not experience a divorce.

About 38 percent of the divorce survivors had children, and 17 percent of them were out of wedlock. By contrast, 61 percent of the individuals in the always-married families group had their own children, and all of them were in the context of marriage.

The children of divorce were much more likely to marry before the age of 25 -- half compared with just 11 percent of the comparison group -- and were also much more likely to get divorced themselves. A full 57 percent of their early marriages ended in collapse, compared with 25 percent of the early marriages in the comparison group.

Divorce was also seen having an impact in other areas of life. Only 29 percent of the children of divorced parents were helped financially by their fathers in pursuing a higher education, compared to 88 percent of the children from always-married families.

And 25 percent of the children of divorce reported using drugs and alcohol before age 14, compared with just nine percent of the comparison group.

 

Monday, September 4, 2000

More resources for schools on diverse family arrangements

A story published today in the Detroit News reports that varipous organizations are developing new materials to help teachers educate students about the diversity of family life in the United States.

The story explains that when Susan Saidman took her then 4-year-old daughter to preschool three years ago, Saidman told the teacher her child had been adopted.  The teacher's response was, "Well, we will be looking for those abandonment issues to show up," Saidman says. It was a reference to a stereotype: The adopted child may be a problem and will suffer lifelong from having been relinquished by her birth mother.

"That really struck a chord with me," Saidman says. "Who was this teacher to psychoanalyze my child? And if she did act out, why would that be attributed to her having been adopted?"

The incident bothered Saidman enough to help found the nonprofit group Celebrate Adoption and put together a reader-friendly booklet called An Educator's Guide to Adoption.

The story notes that Saidman is just one of many parents and experts concerned about how teachers relate to the children of all types of nontraditional families, including single parents and stepfamilies.

"The days of the traditional Ozzie and Harriet family are pretty much done," says Melanie Fox, principal of an elementary school in Coral Gables, Fla.

"We have 750 children in this school, and the majority come from homes with at least one divorce." Her school is one of many trying to smooth the way for school kids from families once seen as different.

The Stepfamily Association of America estimates more than half of Americans today have been, are or will be in one or more step-situations.

AARP, formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons, says 1.3 million children are being raised solely by grandparents.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse says there are about 1 million adopted children in the USA. Placements of children from other countries have soared from about 6,500 in 1992 to 14,000 in 1997.

For the children in these diversified families, being asked to write a short autobiography, bring baby photos to class or draw a family tree can be daunting. 

If the youngsters are being raised by single parents, in stepfamilies, by grandparents or other relatives, by foster or adoptive or gay parents, some family background might be missing, complex or kept totally secret.

The Stepfamily Association has two projects in the works: 

* A stepfamily curriculum developed with Cornell University is expected by February. "We still live with the concept that DNA determines a family, rather than who does the nurturing," association president Margorie Engel says.

* An update of a decade-old course originated by social worker Wendy Geis-Rockwood. After interviewing 2,000 children and teens, she wrote Shapes: Families of Today, a Curriculum Guide on Today's Changing Families for Children Ages Eight to Eighteen.  The course has been used in scattered schools around the country. The new version of Shapes is due next month.

Schools are struggling with the needs of single parents and stepfamilies, but there is "still a lot of stigma," she says. Some schools don't want to seem to be "supporting divorce or the breakdown of the family."

She also knows schools are asked to carry a heavy load, reacting to problems that have little to do with teaching math and English.


Gore campaign redefines "working families" to include the unemployed and the unmarried

A story published today in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that, under media questioning, the presidential campaign of Al Gore is redefining the phrase "working families."  The story points out that Gore has been invoking that phrase over and over in his attempt to gain votes.

The author of the article starts out his story by saying: "It's hard to feel left out of Al Gore's crusade for "working families.'' Especially because his campaign says it extends to those who don't work. And even to those who don't have families. "

Gore used the phrase seven times during his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. It often headlines news releases dispatched by his campaign. And it is certain to be the theme of the vice president's address to union members at a Labor Day picnic today in Pittsburgh.

The story asks: "And what of the 5.7 million people who the Labor Department says are unemployed, or the 37 million people the Census Bureau figures do not live with family? Are they a part of Gore's "day-by- day fight'' for working families?"

"Of course,'' said Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway. ``Working families'' includes the unemployed and the unmarried. It includes gays and lesbians who are prohibited by law from marrying.

The story suggests there is a reason that Gore uses the words ``working families'' rather than a more precise term like ``people.''

By repeating the populist phrase, Gore is able to make simultaneous appeals to members of two potent voting blocs -- the working class and traditional families.

Though Gore aides play it down, the phrase has an unmistakable union ring.

Type ``working families'' into an Internet search engine and an AFL-CIO site pops up, advocating its own brand of family-friendly policies like limits on steel imports and trade with China.

To some Republicans, the pitch is nothing more than a coded plea for union votes.

GOP strategist Rich Galen called it Gore's ``1930s-style owners versus workers'' pitch.

``I think it is truly and solely a sop to the ears of labor movement people,'' Galen said.

 

Sunday, September 3, 2000


Politicians' bashing of pop culture turns off young single voters

A commentary by Danny Goldberg published today in the Los Angeles Times warns politicians that if they keep demonizing pop culture they run the risk of further alienating young (and mostly single) voters who have already turned out at the polls in relatively low numbers.  And since Democrats will be the biggest losers if these young adults stay home on election day, Goldberg questions why vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman keeps bashing the entertainment industry anyway.

Goldberg says that when Lieberman said of prime-time TV, "You can put a label on garbage, but it's still garbage," Washington insiders of every ideology voiced approval. Pundits and the pols seem to be telling tens of millions of fans of edgy entertainment that if they don't agree, they are morally inferior to the political class.

His commentary adds: "This condescension toward pop culture knows no ideological boundaries. Ralph Nader and Harvard professor Cornel West have been as outspoken as Lieberman, William Bennett and Pat Buchanan in condemning youth-oriented entertainment."

Goldberg recalls how Bill Clinton first stimulated and then turned off young adults, stating:

"In 1992, for the first time since 18-year-olds got the right to vote, young people's participation rose significantly among both the 18- to 20-year-old and 21- to 24-year-old cohorts. Bill Clinton, a youth-friendly candidate who not only appeared on MTV and "The Arsenio Hall Show" but looked comfortable there, is widely credited with attracting this vote. Organizations that targeted younger voters, especially Rock the Vote, helped, too.

"But then, in 1996, Clinton ran for reelection with a campaign designed to "triangulate" GOP appeal to married suburban voters. He targeted and won those soccer moms. But largely unnoticed in his victory was the dramatic withdrawal of young people. Turnout among 18- to 21-year-olds dropped from 38% to 31%; there was an even larger decline among 21- to 24-year-olds, from 45% to 33%. These declines were far higher on a percentage basis than any other age group. In the 1998 congressional election, 18- to 24-year-old turnout was roughly half other age groups--less than 17%.

"Why are young people so turned off by the political process? Is the answer really that the younger generation has less civic concern, that it is less moral than the baby boomers or the "greatest generation."?  It could be that lower participation by young voters is the result of political leaders refusing to reach out to them by communicating the moral and pragmatic relevance of government in their own cultural language. On those rare occasions when a candidate speaks their language--for example, as Jesse Ventura does--participation among young people skyrockets."

Goldberg warns the Democrats that by participating in this bashing of Hollywood, they are the ones most likely to suffer the political consequences.

"The establishment--the same people uncomfortable with youth culture--is fine with this. Lower and older turnout is good for conservative ideologues of both major parties. For it is the left that is most hurt by the marginalization of young people from the political process. And no progressive change has ever taken place without the young. As Abbie Hoffman, in one of his last speeches, said, 'It is always the young that make change happen. You just don't get these ideas when you're middle aged. Young people have daring, creativity, energy and impatience.' 

"In the electoral context, the Republicans benefit from low youth turnout, but Democratic consultants seem not to care either. About half of young Americans are single, and polls have shown that singles tend to favor Democrats by a margin of 10 points, while married voters favor Republicans by the same amount. Nonetheless, the speeches at the Democratic convention monomaniacally focused on married people with
children."

Goldberg concludes his commentary by saying:

"America would be far more politically healthy if politicians and Beltway insiders treated young people and singles--the people who laugh at Farrelly brothers movies and listen to hip-hop and rap music--as if their ideas and concerns were as important as everyone else's. Of course, that would mean actually talking to and listening to some of them."

 

Friday, September 1, 2000

Maryland state employees credit union allows membership to unmarried household members of state workers

A story published today in the Washington Blade reports that the first special meeting in at least seven years of the Maryland State Employees Credit Union turned out a positive vote for unmarried workers.

SECU passed a vote with a 97 percent margin to allow household members of state employees to become members of the credit union.

By Maryland state law, a favorable vote of only 75 percent was needed in order for the proposed bylaw to be approved. Teresa Halleck, president and CEO of SECU, said 73 members turned out and the final outcome of the vote was 71-2. According to Halleck, SECU has 200,000 members.

With this bylaws change, a person who shares a home with his or her state employee partner can become a member of the credit union. Up until this point, only family members of the SECU have been eligible to become members.

Clinton vetoes 'death tax' repeal bill

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that House Republican leaders are vowing a prompt attempt to override President Clinton's veto of a bill repealing inheritance taxes, but if that fails the so-called death tax debate will play out in the fall election campaigns.

Democrats content that the GOP refused to consider less-costly compromise provisions to help the family farmers and small businesses sometimes hit hard by estate taxes, such as raising exemptions for them without giving a windfall to the wealthiest taxpayers.

The bill, like the marriage penalty tax cut Clinton vetoed a few weeks ago, was part of last year's vetoed $792 billion tax cut that congressional Republicans are now trying to pass bit by bit.

Only about 2 percent of estates in a given year pay the tax that reaches 55 percent, but sponsors of the repeal won broad support on Capitol Hill by arguing that it inhibits business expansion, threatens breakups of farms and forces millions of taxpayers to pay lawyers, accountants and insurance companies so they can avoid the tax.

``Working men and women across the country recognize that it is simply wrong that after paying taxes your whole life, the government can collect up to 55 percent of these same assets when the head of the family dies,'' said Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash.

In the House, 65 Democrats joined all Republicans in passing the bill this summer, just over the two-thirds threshold necessary to override the veto. House GOP leaders tentatively plan next Thursday to put those Democrats on the spot -- particularly those in difficult re-election fights -- and some say
they'll vote against Clinton.

``The president is wrong, and to his veto I say no,'' said Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss.

The bill is H.R. 8.

For more information about the estate tax, and how unlimited wealth can be left to a surviving spouse without any tax being imposed, click here.

 

 

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