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U.S. News Archive
November 21 - November 28, 2001



This page contains news for the period November 21, 2001 through November 28, 2001.  

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Wednesday, November 28, 2001

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Survey reveals Illinois voters believe in sex education in school

A story released today by PRNewswire reports that according to a public opinion survey conducted by Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates, an overwhelming majority, 84 percent, of Illinois voters believe that students should receive comprehensive sex education in the schools. An even larger number, 92 percent, believe that the schools should provide information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

The survey, conducted by the Washington based firm was commissioned by the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council. Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area (PP/CA) operates a pilot program of age-appropriate sex education in the Chicago Public Schools.

"Currently, one in five female Chicago Public School students gives birth prior to completing high school. Study after study show that teen pregnancies have a devastating effect on high school graduation rates, job prospects, and quality of life. Moreover, sexually transmitted infections remain a serious problem for adolescents," said Steve Trombley, President and CEO of PP/CA.

"Our program in the public schools stresses abstinence as the best option for teens, but also teaches teens about responsible sexual practices and responsible decision-making," Trombley stated.

"Interestingly, according to the survey, over half -- 53% -- of the Illinois voters believe most public schools are already teaching comprehensive sex education programs," Trombley said. "In fact, Planned Parenthood, while the only outside provider of comprehensive sex education, is only in four of Chicago's high schools and in 15 of the city's middle schools."


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Michigan county hopes new program will ease divorce process

A story published today by the Detroit Free Press reports that parents in Saginaw County, Michigan may be able to get divorced quicker, thanks to a new facilitator-based program.

The move will provide an informal setting -- and hopefully a friendly atmosphere -- for parents to sit down and discuss matters like custody, child support, time and alimony.

Authorities hope cases will move through the system faster and with less conflict in the courtroom, said Chief Circuit Judge Leopold P. Borrello.

Under the old system, a divorce case could take from six months to two years, Borrello said.

"It's possible this process might trim off a year," said Denise M. Clack, an associate Friend of the Court and the program's facilitator.

But not everyone is happy about the change.

Saginaw attorney James F. Gust -- who files about 200 divorce cases a year -- said hostility between separating parents is often most intense at the beginning of a divorce.

"What you have is a system of trying to resolve issues without a judge," Gust said. "My first reaction was that it added another step for the lawyers to participate in."


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Anthropologist says men prefer blondes for marriage

A story published today by the Daily Telegraph reports that according to German anthropologist, Professor Hans Juergens, gentlemen may prefer blondes for marriage but they choose brunets for passion.

Professor Juergens tested his theory by putting two advertisements in a newspaper personal column. Both purported to be from 26-year-old women looking for husbands, but one was blond and the other brunet.

"The men were interested in an affair with the dark-haired woman, but were thinking of sharing their lives with the blond,'' he said. "And the blond only got a third as many letters as the brunet.''

Some men wrote to both women, talking of long-term plans with the blond but suggesting to the brunet that they start affairs.


Tuesday, November 27, 2001

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Survey show U.S. tops sexual survey

A story released today by Reuters reports that according to a survey published by Durex SSL International, a leading condom manufacturer, the United States remains the sexual superpower of the world with Americans making love more often and with more partners than any other nationality.

The manufacturer said that its annual poll of 18,500 people in 28 countries showed the world was having more sex and starting earlier than ever before, and the United States was leading the field in all departments.

The survey -- carried out in May and published ahead of World Aids Day on December 1 -- showed respondents averaging sex 97 times a year, up from 96 last year.

But those Americans questioned averaged sex 124 times a year with over 14 different partners and were also starting earlier than anyone else at an average age of 16.

The Greeks made love the second most frequently - 117 times a year on average -- while the Germans were the second youngest to get started at 16.6 years.

France's reputation as a nation of lovers took something of a hit with frequency dropping from 121 times a year to 110 and slumping from top of the number of partners table to second with 13 compared to 17 a year ago.

Overall, 60 percent of respondents said they had sex at least once a week and four percent claimed to make love daily.

But single people had the least sex -- 86 times a year - and the libido of married couples (100 times) also trailed those living together (145 times).


Presidential proclamation for National Family Week briefly mentions single parents

President George W. Bush has issued a proclamation in conjunction with National Family Week. The full text of the president’s proclamation appears below:

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American families are the bedrock of our society. They are the primary source of strength and health for both individuals and communities across our Nation. As we continue our recovery from the horrific acts committed by terrorists against the United States on September 11, our families provide us with a vital source of comfort and reassurance.

Americans grieve with those who suffered the loss of a family member in the brutal and cowardly terrorist attacks. The September 11 tragedy has allowed America to see first-hand the profound bonds of love that characterize the American family. Parents, children, spouses, and siblings mourned their lost loved ones, cared for the injured, and prayed for protection and health for all Americans. In the midst of great loss, we saw great love flowing from the hearts of America's families.

My Administration is committed to strengthening the American family. Many one-parent families are also a source of comfort and reassurance, yet a family with a mom and dad who are committed to marriage and devote themselves to their children helps provide children a sound foundation for success. Government can support families by promoting policies that help strengthen the institution of marriage and help parents rear their children in positive and healthy environments.

My proposed budget includes initiatives that encourage family cohesion. It provides over $60 million for grants that encourage responsible fatherhood. Grants would be awarded to groups that promote successful parenting and strong marriages and to faith-based and community organizations that help unemployed or low-income parents and their children avoid or leave welfare. This initiative will help spur new community-level approaches to aid low-income families.

To strengthen States' ability to promote child safety, stability, and well-being, my budget also proposes a substantial increase in funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program. These additional resources will help States keep children with their biological families, when safe and appropriate, or place children with loving adoptive families. By undertaking more preventative efforts to help families in crisis, the prospects for children to live in a permanent home are enhanced.

As we observe National Family Week, we must work to strengthen families in America as individuals and through Government and community-based organizations. This week serves to remind us of the values, security, and love that we give and receive in our families.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 18 through November 24, 2001, as National Family Week. I invite the States, communities, and people of the United States to join together in observing this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor our Nation's families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-sixth.

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More single parents own homes

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that in America, more single mothers have become homeowners over the 1990s, but about two-thirds still rent instead of own.

Of the 54.1 million married couples, 44.2 million - more than 81 percent - owned their homes in 2000, up from 78 percent in 1990. The proportion of married-with-children families who owned homes increased from 73 percent to 77 percent.

In 2000, 38 percent of the 7.6 million women who lived in households without spouses but with their own children under 18 owned homes, up from 31 percent in 1990.

51 percent of the 2.2 million single fathers in the same living arrangement owned homes, up from 45 percent a decade ago.

The latest census shows that single-parent homes are becoming more prevalent in society. Such homes, especially families led by single moms, typically are worse off financially.

Monday, November 26, 2001

group-housing.gif (10834 bytes)Florida city searches for method to limit single roommates

A story published today by the News-Press reports that Florida’s Bonita Springs city officials are still trying to find ways to limit the number of unrelated people living in single-family homes.

With some landlords allowing as many as 15 single males to share a single-family house, the quality of life in some neighborhoods is declining, said City Manager Gary Price.

Numerous cars are parked on driveways and lawns. People are always coming and going, garbage piles up and septic systems have failed because they are being pushed beyond their capacity, Price said.

More than five unrelated people living in a single-family house is already against the law and those found in violation could face fines of up to $250 a day, said Lee County Code Enforcement officials.

But the law isn’t an easy one to enforce.

"I don’’t know how you can enforce that — a DNA test, maybe," said Bob Stewart, Lee County Code Enforcement deputy director. "It’s really beyond the limits of a code enforcement officer."

While the city doesn’t know how many homes in Bonita have more than five unrelated people living in them, City Councilman David Piper thinks he may have an answer.

Piper is pushing for the development of an affordable housing complex similar to a dormitory or rooming house for poor, single men.

Rent for one person in Bonita Springs is no longer affordable, said Piper, pointing out that the average cost of one bedroom apartment per month is now more than $700.

"I’m advocating very small studio apartments for just one person," Piper said.

The apartments should be set up like those in dormitories with several bedrooms connected to a main room.

Discipline and security would be maintained by a manager who also lives there, Piper said. "Very much like an RA (resident assistant) in a college dormitory."

Surveillance cameras would be placed in common areas to ensure the safety of the residents, Piper said.

Piper did not know the cost of developing his plan.

Mary Gibbs, the county’s community development director, said Piper’s plan could work because multi-family zoning districts do allow for such a use.

Others disagree.


lions-club.jpg (3584 bytes)Connecticut Lions Club launches new club for singles

A story published today by the Windsor Journal reports that with burning candles cradled in their hands, 17 men and women from across Connecticut pledged to honor the values of Lions Club International as they were inducted Nov. 11 into a new club for singles.

The ceremony officially launched the Connecticut Singles Lions Club - the first club ever not to have a community base.

"It's pretty exciting. As an international organization, we're looking to make some changes. This is one of the positive changes thus far," said Normand J. Messier, past commander of the Windsor Locks Lions Club, the singles club's sponsor.

Alan Daninhirsch, Governor of Lions Club District 23B in Bristol, said the singles club represents a clear departure from tradition.

"This club that we're forming tonight is unique in that it crosses all boundaries. It will be made up of single people," he said.

Though it's not a revolutionary concept, Daninhirsch said the singles club signifies evolution in Lions Club International, which has seen many changes since Melvin Jones founded the first club in Chicago in 1917.

As the world's largest service organization, Lions Club International today has 1.4 million members in 44,000 clubs based in 187 foreign countries. In Connecticut, there are 6,300 members and 150 clubs divided into three separate districts. Nearly all are based in a single community, Daninhirsh said.

He said the Connecticut Singles Lions Club's lack of a geographic base means it will be free to lend support to clubs across the state.

"It is a service organization first. It is a social organization second. We hope it will interact with other clubs in the state and augment their efforts," he said.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

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Unmarried status has good, bad financial implications

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that according to Census Bureau figures, America's singles -- people who never married, who divorced or who lost spouses -- total nearly 82 million. Baby boomers, with their higher divorce rates and longevity, which tends to produce more widows, are projected to push the ranks of singles to about 106 million, or 47 percent, by 2010.

Singles of any age often face discrimination in employment, housing, credit, child custody and taxes, says Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People in Glendale, Calif.

That can result in disproportionately higher costs than married couples face: A couple with two incomes generally has an easier time qualifying for a mortgage. The cost of a single hotel room or cruise ship reservation is often little different from a double.

Special trusts that couples use to shelter their money from estate taxes won't work for singles.

"If you're single, the burden is on you," Coleman said."You've really got to make plans. No one else is going to do that for you."

One thing singles can do to compensate -- especially if they're boomers -- is to save more.

"A single person in his or her 40s should be putting away 20 percent of gross income," said Ben Baldwin, an insurance specialist in Arlington Heights, Ill. "If someone is doing that, I'll feel good about his future security."

Alan Peters, a chartered financial consultant in Wilmington, Del.says that singles need to consider the same financial steps that couples take, but for different reasons.

"Take life insurance," he said. "A single doesn't need it for the traditional reason of protecting a family. But it can be structured to cover medical expenses and your funeral, or be used as a way to leave money to a charity or university."

Long-term care insurance? "It's probably something everyone should consider, especially a single person who can't count on family support," he said.

Bob Green, a financial adviser in Santa Cruz, Calif., recommends that singles make sure they have wills.

"Maybe you want money to go to your best friend -- the one who visited every Thanksgiving. Or to your university or temple or church. Just because you're single doesn't mean you don't care."

Virginia Morris, author of "A Woman's Guide to Personal Finance," said that boomer women increasingly are finding themselves without partners: about half of marriages end in divorce, and three-quarters of women who marry are widowed.

"It used to be that as an elderly single woman, you went to live with your sister's family," Morris said. "We don't do that anymore."

As a result, women who are single or widowed often end up living alone and paying for services, from home repair to nursing care.

While the rule of thumb has been that people should aim for retiring with 70 percent to 80 percent of their preretirement income, Morris thinks women should aim for 100 percent.

"Women likely are earning less (than men), which means they have less in Social Security entitlements and in retirement accounts -- but they're living longer than men,"she said.

Some singles bridle that they're sometimes penalized for their marital status.

Lon Fenchel, 62, an insurance broker in Los Gatos, Calif., who has been divorced for 10 years, wants to spend more time on the golf course after he retires. But he knows it's going to cost him.

"When you join a club, the couples get a special rate," he said. "As a single, I pay the same dues as a guy with a wife-- and I can't bring my `significant other' without paying," he complained.

He plans to retire in California, possibly relocating to Palm Springs where "there's good golf -- and more singles."

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Out of wedlock births are rising despite welfare act

A story released today by the Gannett News Service reports that a central goal of the sweeping 1996 welfare reform act was to reduce out-of-wedlock births and promote marriage, but that goal has faded amid the fanfare of moving mothers from welfare to work. With the program up for review and renewal next year, it will likely be one of the most heated debates on Capitol Hill

"This is one of the huge failures of welfare reform," said Robert Rector, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and one of the law's authors.

Today, about a third of the 4.1 million babies born annually in the United States are born to unwed mothers. Teen-agers account for about a third of the births, down from half in the 1970s. The rest of the babies are born to women 20 or older -- more than half who became first-time mothers as a teen, according to Jodie Levin-Epstein of the liberal-leaning Center for Law and Social Policy.

"Maybe the concerns aren't as large if older women are having the kids," said Stephanie Ventura, a demographer at the National Center for Health Statistics. "But it still means a lot of children are starting their lives with a single-parent family situation."

Few policymakers dispute that children fare better when raised by parents in a healthy, stable marriage, but women's advocates say marriage is not a sure ticket out of poverty. Research shows unwed mothers are 30 percent less likely to marry than similarly situated women without children.

And if an unwed mom does marry, she is more likely to marry a man with poor education and low earning potential, and she is more likely to get divorced.


Saturday, November 24, 2001

ring1.jpg (16802 bytes)Diamond rings marketed for single women

A story published today by the Washington Post reports that a new ring is being marketed as the single woman's diamond. It is worn on the pinkie, and inside is inscribed "Ah", which stands for available and happy, and sounds like a New Age chant for feminists: "Ah don't need a man.''

"Don't wait around for a guy to buy you a diamond ring," said its creator, Ruta Fox.

"Married women have a band, and engaged women have an engagement ring," said Fox, who believes single women should have a ring, too.

Fox, a former freelance writer in New York, went into the jewelry business when her bad back made it hard to sit at her computer. Single and with many single friends, she easily settled on the "hook" for her first piece.

"I was thinking, women have money, women like to spend money."

She envisions her creation as the national symbol for singledom. "What I wanted to do was create this huge trend coast to coast, and have it sort of be a signal to men.''

But if they are so happy being single, why would they need a ring that helps them pick up men?

Generations of single men did not need a pinkie ring to tell them whether women were single. They looked for the absence of the telltale glint on her left hand before they traversed that perilous territory between pool table and bar stool. Being single was not the sort of thing a woman needed to declare, the way you declare marriage, or good intentions, or expensive purchases after an international flight.

But that is just tradition, and it is now 2001. Chalk up another victory for niche marketing. Single women get their own ring now, at least those willing to pay $US295, plus $15 shipping and handling, to take advantage of this "exclusive" telephone offer.

Some Ah ring buyers are even married. In an attempt to widen the appeal, Fox has expanded what the Ah can stand for; it can also mean attached and happy.

But more than anything else, women buy the ring because Oprah Winfrey recommended it.

Attentive fans noticed that Winfrey sometimes wears a pinkie ring, and concluded, wrongly, that the Ah ring might be the very same ring that Oprah wears. Then they really had to have it.


Friday, November 23, 2001

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Missouri’s single population continues to soar

A story published today by the Springfield News-Leader reports that as the decades-long national trend of living single continues, more and more unmarried people will likely want to participate in some kind of nontraditional celebration around the holidays.

The 2000 census shows that more than 27 million Americans live by themselves, about one-fourth of all households.

In Springfield, Missouri the rate is even higher, said Tom Coleman, executive director for the American Association for Single People. Coleman started the group 2 1/2 years ago to advocate the rights of singles on issues such as taxes, Social Security benefits, workplace benefits and insurance policies.

"In terms of people living alone, (Springfield is) way above the national average or even the state average," Coleman said.

According to the census, 35.3 percent of households in Springfield consist of a person living alone, although some of those could include married people who are separated and living by themselves, said Ryan Burson, Missouri state demographer.

Burson said the state average is a little more than 27 percent. As the roles of men and women continue to change both at home and in the workplace, the median age at which people first enter marriage has risen to almost 27 and more Americans than ever are choosing the single lifestyle.

"By 2005, the nation will be an unmarried majority nation and so will (Missouri)," Coleman said.

But for many singles, being alone — especially around the holidays — can cause feelings of loneliness and depression.

According to clinical psychologist Sharol McGehee, changing one’s viewpoint and getting away from the traditional celebrations are the best cures for the singles blues.

McGehee recommends changing the location, day or even routine of the usual holiday celebrations. Give to others by either volunteering or adopting a needy family, she said. Sometimes it’s just as simple as pampering yourself.


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One-third of American workers develop office romances

A story released today by the Scripps Howard News Service reports that a third of Americans admit to having had an office romance at some point in their working lives.

Keith Vaughn and Jennifer Paige did, too. What set this Tennessee couple apart is that both lost their jobs when they wed under their company's "no-nepotism" policy.

A district judge ruled for the company, but a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a trial.

Office romances that lead to marriage are fairly common, encouraged by longer workweeks and the fact that women now own 9 million businesses and make up 46 percent of the work force.

Dennis Powers, a Southern Oregon University business law professor and author of "The Office Romance," says long hours of shared tasks with colleagues are a big force behind the 8 million workers who enter into an office romance each year, with half those relationships leading to marriage.

Since then, employer policing of employees' consensual love lives has taken a different tack: An American Management Association survey found that a third of workers have had at least one office romance and that 72 percent of workers approve of co-workers dating. But only 6 percent of employers have a dating policy.

The upshot is a patchwork of policies, mostly in reaction to lawsuits:

Wal-Mart, with more than 600,000 workers, backed off its no-extramarital-affairs policy after New York sued on behalf of two co-workers fired for getting involved before her divorce was final. The state attorney general invoked a New York statute that protects employees who pursue "legal recreational activities" outside work.

The IBM handbook, which once warned managers that they risked their jobs if they got involved with an underling, was changed to require that people who date one another not be in a supervisory-subordinate role. The change wound up costing IBM a $375,000 jury award to a 23-year veteran who claimed he was demoted for dating a subordinate.

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office adopted a "date and tell" policy in which a couple is expected to tell the boss if they're dating. The policy was approved a day after a deputy attorney general won a $350,000 sexual-harassment judgment.

Chicago employment lawyer Michael Karpeles says such "love contracts" requiring employees who date to notify a superior are one way employers can protect themselves should the romance sour. Another is to have written policies that provide uniform treatment of all employees at all levels.

As for policies that prohibit a couple from continuing to work for the same employer should they marry, Philadelphia employment attorney Jonathan Segal said, "Anti-nepotism policies are perfectly legal in most states so long as the employer forewarns you and the policy is consistently applied."

But Segal is quick to add that "employers who adopt no-nepotism rules to avoid sexual-harassment claims are avoiding the real issue: The bride isn't likely to walk back up the aisle, claiming, 'He harassed me.' Unmarried dating is the big risk."

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

globe.gif (8627 bytes)World experiencing rise of single parent families

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that across the globe, single-parent homes are on the rise.

The number of single parent families increased from England to Australia during the 1990s, mirroring demographic shifts reported in the U.S. census.

And just as was the case in America, those shifts are raising questions about how much help government should provide single-parent families, which often are less well-off financially than families headed by a married couple.

Around the world, most children younger than 18 still are raised in homes headed by married parents. In the United States, the 2000 census showed that 24.8 million, or nearly 24 percent of the nation's 105.5 million households, were the traditional ``Ozzie and Harriet'' home with married parents and children.

By comparison, 9.8 million households, or 9 percent of all U.S. households, were headed by a man or woman raising a child alone or without a spouse living at home.

In the 1990 census, 26 percent of homes were headed by a married mother and father, and 8 percent by a single parent.

Similar increases in single-parent homes occurred in other countries, though data from those countries are not directly comparable to U.S. census figures because of differences in methodology.

In the United Kingdom, single parent family homes increased from 3.3 percent of all households in 1990 to 5.5 percent in 1999, according to data compiled by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It did not specify whether children in those homes where younger than 18.

Single parent households in Australia rose from 5.8 percent in 1990 to 7.6 percent in 1999.

Other countries that experience sharp increases include:

-Belgium, 1.8 percent of households in 1990 to 2.7 percent in 1999;

-Ireland, 1.8 percent to 2.8 percent;

-Luxembourg, 1.3 percent to 2.2 percent.

Single-parent homes increase most often in countries where the nuclear family -- just Mom, Dad and the kids -- is more common than an extended, multigenerational family living under one roof, said demographer Martha Farnsworth Riche, a former head of the Census Bureau.

Those countries tend to have greater acceptance of single parenting since there are fewer nearby family members to disapprove, Riche said.

However, single parent family households in Japan increased from 5.1 percent in 1990 to just 5.2 percent in 1999. Rates were relatively unchanged during the same period in Greece, Italy and Portugal.

These countries tend to think more conservatively about family makeup, Riche said, and there is more pressure to avoid divorce or unmarried parenthood.

Worldwide, most single parent homes are headed by women. In the United States, estimates this week from the Census 2000 Supplementary Survey show that six of 10 families living in poverty were headed by a woman living with a child and no husband.


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