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International News Archive
September 07 - September 13, 2001


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This page contains news for the period September  07 through September 13, 2001.



<<   September 2001  >>

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Thursday, September 13, 2001

Prime Minister's wife praises single parents in Britain

A story published today by The Times (London) reports that the Prime minister's wife Cherie Blair paid tribute to single parents yesterday and recalled her own childhood growing up in a one-parent family.

She spoke to an audience at London's Savoy Hotel where she presented the One Parent Family Awards to women who have managed to combine bringing up children with a successful career.

"It's true that I am a working parent and therefore care passionately about the work-life balance. I am particularly pleased to be here today because I am myself the child of a one-parent family and therefore can particularly identify with the difficulties and joys that that can bring."

Mrs. Blair presented one award to Kate Fawkes, a single mother of two who brought the hit children's television show Bob The Builder to our screens, as managing director and executive producer of HIP Entertainment.

Another award went to Katharine Dore, who directed the acclaimed all-male version of Swan Lake. She also created the Treehouse Foundation, a school for autistic children. The ceremony was organized by the National Council for One Parent Families.

Sunday, September 9, 2001

"Parasite singles": a new breed of Japanese singles

A story published today by the London Sunday Times report that Japan's estimated 10 million "parasite singles" are a growing band of young people in their twenties and thirties who still live with their parents. They pay no rent or bills and all their meals are provided free, allowing them to spend almost all their entire pay on designer clothes and gears.

In a country struggling with a severe downturn and the highest unemployment since records began in 1953, a boom fueled by the large disposable incomes of women in sales of foreign luxury brands has confounded retailers and economists alike. Although the Nikkei index has fallen to a 17-year low, top fashion houses are building flagship stores to meet the demand.

"The effects of the bursting bubble economy have been minimal for us. We have seen sales grow annually by more than 10%," said Louis Vuitton, which sells more than 500 million of goods a year in Japan - almost 100 times more than 20 years ago. While upmarket retailers are enjoying unprecedented levels of growth, traditional stores have issued profit warnings and plan to cut staff.

Hidehiko Sekizawa, executive director of the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living, in Tokyo, said there was no doubt that the "parasite singles" were the driving force behind luxury goods sales - even though their average income is a modest 18,500 a year. "Such a high percentage of the monthly income of these women is disposable that 400 or 500 for a handbag is not expensive," Sekizawa said. "Japanese women have an intense commitment to luxury labels, especially European ones. Even schoolgirls will have a Gucci belt or a Vuitton purse."

Government figures show that nearly half of all Japanese women are still single at the age of 29 and growing numbers are postponing marriage until 35 or beyond. Nine out of 10 single women still live with their parents. Noriko Suzuki, 33, a self-confessed "parasite single", said she did not aspire to marriage or a family.

Michiko Miyamoto, a professor of sociology at Chiba University, attributed the phenomenon to the unwillingness of many young people to take responsibility for their lives.

"Japanese women in their twenties and thirties are childish and dependent. They are not willing to become proper adults," she said. "Parents are partly to blame. They want to keep their daughters with them for as long as possible in the hope that they will look after them when they are older."

Friday, September 7, 2001

Local Canadian community pitches in to help single mom

A story published today by the Toronto Sun reports that Naomi Spooner was down on her luck after thieves stole her purse, but she's thanking her lucky stars for Sun readers' generosity yesterday.

The plight of the seven-month pregnant mother of one, whose purse was scooped late Tuesday after shopping at Scarborough Town Centre, tugged at the heartstrings of many readers, who called The Sun offering help.

"It strikes me as so funny that people care. I didn't think any of this would happen," said the grateful Spooner, who has been living in a Scarborough shelter for abused women after separating from her husband three months ago. "I didn't expect or anticipate any of this." 

Jerry Novitsky, 57, a single-parent himself hopes to raise funds for Spooner through a dance this weekend at the Brampton Over-40 Solo association.

"Especially with a kid coming, she'll be a little worse off and will need a lot of help."


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