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U.S. News Archive
January 07 - January 13, 2002



This page contains news for the period January 07, 2002 through January 13, 2002.  

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Sunday, January 13, 2002


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Military institute forms new policy banning married and expecting cadets

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the Virginia Military Institute has issued a new policy that would require cadets who are married or expecting newborns to leave the state-supported institute.

Cadets would be allowed to finish the semester in which the marriage or parenthood was discovered, and the policy will not be enforced retroactively, school officials said.

The issue arose when VMI learned last winter that a junior cadet was pregnant. The school's lawyers advised that federal law says pregnancy cannot be used to exclude a woman from any academic program.

The woman finished the semester at VMI and has not returned.

A short time later, the VMI Board of Visitors passed a resolution ordering Superintendent Josiah Bunting III to write a policy "whereby a VMI cadet who chooses to marry or to undertake the duties of a parent, by that choice, chooses to forego his or her commitment to the Corps of Cadets and his or her VMI education.''

Cadets have long been forbidden from being married, but the policy was enforced on a "don't ask, don't tell'' basis.

The policy applies to pregnant women and any man who impregnates a woman. But critics said the ban was unconstitutional and a clear violation of federal law, which forbids discrimination against pregnant women in academic programs.

"We have grave concerns about it as a legal matter, as a policy matter, as a matter of common sense,'' said Jocelyn Samuels, vice president and director of education at the National Women's Law Center in Washington.

Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said the policy could face a legal challenge.

"Despite the fact that the words of the policy make it appear to apply equally to men and women, in reality women are far more likely to be affected than men,'' Willis said.


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New community service group formed for singles in Pennsylvania

A story published today by the Lancaster Sunday News reports that when Susan E. Grubb, of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania organized Single in Service, she knew of other singles' support groups; she knew of singles' Bible study groups. She even knew about singles' dating groups that match Christians with Christians. But what was missing, she realized, was a place where Christian singles could offer service to their community while getting to know one another.

"I'd hear friends talk about their calling," she said, "but I always thought my cell phone was off because I never got the call ... until now." The idea of an interdenominational singles' ministry bowled her over last October, she said, and she put the wheels in motion.

"Sometimes people get the feeling that they want to do something to help, but it overwhelms them," she said. "One person might not be able to do it but a group can do it."

Grubb has the support of Joyce Stoltzfus who, with her husband Ralph Detrick, co-pastors Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren.

"Ever since we came to this church in 1997 we thought we needed a singles' group," Stoltzfus said. "The church tends to neglect singles, concentrating instead on family groups. ...But," she added, "there was no one person with a burning desire to get it going."

When Grubb offered to organize the group, Stoltzfus jumped at the chance to help out, by giving church space for the meetings and some money for materials.

"It's wonderful when a layperson has a dream of a certain ministry and follows their calling," Stoltzfus said. Plus, combining singles and service fit well within the church's mission. "Church of the Brethren is well-known for their service. We are glad she connected the two.

Grubb, 41, who is manager of communications for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Harrisburg, and is a free-lance writer, hopes adults (age 18 and older) of varied backgrounds will attend the initial meeting of Singles in Service with ideas for how to help the community. "The possibilities are wide open," she said. "This can become whatever people want."

"It's important to connect to other Christians," she said. "I hope to form a strong network of Christian singles who provide support, friendship to each other and help out with our community."

Friday, January 11, 2002

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Childhood family disruptions can reverberate later in life

A story published today by the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that according to a study by Elaine Wethington, a Cornell University sociologist, the effects of childhood family disruptions, such as parental divorce, long-term separation from biological parents, parental abandonment and foster care, can reverberate into later life.

Women, in particular, who experienced childhood family turmoil are more likely to report interpersonal conflict in later life than are other women or men.

Wethington found that men and women who reported a strong social network were more likely to report good physical health, feelings of cheerfulness and satisfaction most of the time, and suffered few, if any, periods of depression.

On the other hand, recently divorced men were more likely to report poor health than were married men, while recently divorced women who felt they had no close friends were more likely to report negative feelings than other women.

The study also found a person's perception of a strong social support network surpassed even marriage in having positive effects on health and mental health.

"In general, we found that parental death had less of an effect in later life than parental divorce, long-term separation from parents, parental abandonment and foster care," Dr. Wethington says. "These family disruptions are much more strongly related to feelings of fewer social supports and more negative moods and feelings in adulthood than parental death is."

Comparing childhood family disruptions to adult family conflict, the study found that having divorced parents in childhood is related to more family conflict for both men and women later in life, regardless of current marital or parenting status. Married women with and without children, however, reported less conflict than unmarried women.

"Our findings suggest that family history matters for perceptions of social support and conflict in adulthood," Dr. Wethington says. "These findings indicate that childhood family disruptions could have long-lasting effects on the quality and formation of interpersonal relationships critical to well-being far into adulthood." The study was presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

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Solo travelers can get good deals this year

A story published today by the USA Today reports that according to the Travel Industry Association of America, nearly one in four American adults have taken a vacation by themselves in the past three years. But despite the popularity of solo travel, the travel industry has been slow to cater to the needs of this increasing group.

But the tide may now be changing. Since September 11th, every traveler has become an important commodity to struggling travel companies trying to fill spaces. This has prompted them to cater to singles with more deals and special trips.

If you are planning to travel alone this year, follow these helpful hints to find the best deal:

1. Sidestep the supplements.

If you're over 50, traveling solo and want to go on an organized tour, you're in luck. Tour companies for mature travelers have taken the lead in catering to those traveling alone. 

For the younger crowd, Club Med runs one of the best bets for a solo, all-inclusive vacation. Don't worry about going alone, Club Med will match you with a same-sex roommate at no extra cost.

2. Consider taking a cruise.

Cruises provide an ideal vacation for singles, as the days and nights are so jam-packed with activities and social events, you will hardly remember that you came on board alone.

Post Sept. 11, many cruise lines waived their single supplements through the end of 2001. While most of the deals are no longer available, exceptions remain.

3. Keep yourself in the know.

You don't have to do the research on deals for singles on your own. A number of resources exist that locate the best ones for you.

Canadian-based Connecting: Solo Travel Network publishes a bi-monthly newsletter covering issues and deals of interest to single travelers. The group also serves as a clearinghouse for finding a travel companion. 

Flight attendant and solo travel expert Sharon Wingler's Web site, www.Travelaloneandloveit.com, also provides practical information for the solo traveler. 

4. Find a travel companion.

The free Web site www.Travelchums.com matches traveling companions based on interests. It allows you to search by age, gender, marital status and what kind of "chum" you are seeking (just a friend or the potential for a romantic connection). Travelchums.com uses an internal messaging system, so your personal information remains private until you choose to reveal it.

5. Don't despair if you are a single parent who wants to travel.

Single parents can employ many of the same tactics as single travelers; keep informed on what's out there and consider networking and traveling with other single parents. Frommer's recommends the following Web sites:







Wednesday, January 9, 2002

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Ranks of 'never-marrieds' growing in America

A story released today by ABCNews.com reports that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the so-called "never-marrieds" are one of the fastest-growing groups in America. Singles constitute more than 40 percent of the adult population, and 10 percent of all adults will never marry, according to 2000 census statistics.

In less than 30 years, the number of people who have never walked down the aisle has more than doubled, as the median age of marriage has reached a historic high: 25 years for women, and 27 years for men.

"People are being more demanding. It's a soulmate or nothing, when a generation ago, less than half the people said something similar to that," relationship therapist Laura Berman told Good Morning America.

In a 1965 survey, three out of four college women said they would marry a man they didn't love if he fit their criteria in every other way.

A recent Rutgers University study found 94 percent of people between the ages of 20 and 29 agreed to the statement: "When you marry, you want your spouse to be your soulmate, first and foremost."

In addition to that, modern women are able to support themselves, and do not need men for their money, Berman said. Some are buying homes for themselves.

"They need a man for enhancing their lives, but not for creating them," she said.

Despite the fun, these statistics on singles give rise to the question of bearing children. Are biological clocks still ticking, despite the longer wait to marry?

"The urge to have children persists with or without a mate," sex therapist Dr. Jennifer Berman said. "The reason that people are getting married has shifted between this generation and our parents. More women are focused on careers and they want to get those in order before they think of children."

It is not just women who are hearing the tick-tock either. After decades in which men had the statistics in their favor, the dating pool demographics have reversed. For those between the ages of 30 to 44, the number of men and women are even, and in some cases, slightly tipped in the women's favor.

Men who are looking for younger mates may be headed for trouble. Men in their late 30s and early 40s will outnumber women five to 10 years younger by two to one, by 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


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Getting married not a priority for young people

A story published today by the Sun Herald reports that across the nation, the ranks of never-married adults of legal marriage age grew by 10.3 percent from 1990 to 2000. The Mississippi coast saw a 29 percent increase.

The Rev. Bruce Little of Leggett United Methodist Church in Biloxi attributes the growing number of never-married people to a sense of caution among young adults brought on by the nation's soaring divorce rates.

"So many of our young people have experienced the wrenching trauma that divorce brings," he said. "It has made a lot of them a little gun-shy."

However, Little said, the census data could also be a healthy sign.

"It may say something about how young people understand that marriage is sacred," he said. "They're saying, 'When we do it, we want to do it right.'"

Wedding planner Salina Domino-Sullivan of Domino House bridal consultants in Gulfport said she thinks young people are concerned with establishing solid careers before plunging into matrimony.

"They're getting comfortable with themselves," she said. "They're looking for their soulmates and they're putting their careers first."

She said that the brides-to-be she assists are normally between the ages of 27 and 40.

"I don't get 18-year-old brides," she said. "I haven't seen any brides that young for a couple of years."


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Proposed New Hampshire bill plans to change state’s no-fault divorce law

A story published today by the Concord Monitor reports that staying together for the children's sake could become more than just a noble-minded resolution in the months to come. It could become law. Under a New Hampshire bill being discussed before the House Child and Family Law Committee, no-fault divorces would no longer be permissible for couples with minor children.

"When our little children are born to us, we as parents are God," said Rep. Gary Hopper, the bill's sponsor. "And if we bust that up . . . it's wreaking havoc on our kids."

Children from divorced homes are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than children from intact homes notes Michael McManus, a conservative religious newspaper columnist who came from Maryland to testify for the bill. They are 14 times more likely to be physically abused by the custodial parent. Female children often grow up to make bad choices in relationships, he said, citing the landmark book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein. And males often shy away from relationships altogether.

McManus, founder of a nationwide program called Marriage Savers, was invited to speak at the hearing by Graham Chynoweth, a well-known Concord divorce attorney.

Chynoweth said his interest in the issue is not just professional but personal. He was divorced himself several years ago. "I see the effects it had on my children," he said. "When parents get divorced, the children's perspective is radically different from that of adults."

Since no-fault divorces were introduced in 1971, the national divorce rate has skyrocketed, Chynoweth said. New Hampshire's divorce rate continues to increase, even while national rates have begun to decline.

Opponents of the bill say it's not the right way to foster happy, stable homes.

"I don't see this bill as a step in the right direction," said Jonathan Baird, a lawyer with New Hampshire Legal Assistance. "What will happen is we'll be creating more mudslinging. . . . I think irreconcilable differences is a legitimate grounds for divorce, and I don't think we should take away that grounds."

Certainly, the proposed measure is not the holy grail for happy families, McManus said. It is just one way to start stemming the flood of divorces. He believes most unhappy couples, if persuaded to work at their marriages, can transform their outlook. "Any problem can be worked out," he said.

McManus is also active in advocating laws and programs aimed at more extensive premarital counseling and more support for troubled marriages.

"We need to put a whole network together," he said.


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Local Wisconsin program established to help divorcees

A story published today by the Portage Daily Register reports that when Julie Warnecke, 26, of Baraboo, was going through a divorce, she unsuccessfully tried to go through it alone.

"I tried to get over it on my own but I could not get over it," Warnecke said. "I was really overwhelmed. I felt nervous."

Finally, Warnecke's friend in Oklahoma -- who had gone through a divorce -- told her about DivorceCare, a nondenominational program designed to equip churches to conduct ongoing ministry to separated and divorced people.

Now, to save people who are going through divorce or separation the trouble of traveling long distances for support groups, Warnecke and a group of local residents who have benefited from DivorceCare, have decided to start a local program to serve Columbia, Sauk and Juneau counties in Wisconsin.

"There is not any supporting system for people going through divorce or separation," Warnecke said, while giving the reasons for the need for the local organization. "Their (divorcees) grieving process is just like going through death."

DivorceCare program runs for 13 weeks. Each week is dedicated to a different topic -- ranging from an examination of the typical emotional, physical and spiritual reactions felt by someone experiencing divorce or separation to moving on.

Individuals, however, can join the program at any time.

"The biggest emphasis is it does not matter what time you start, you'll still get something out of the meeting," Warnaco said.

Those interested in attending the meeting will have a place "to be able to discuss issues and find a healing," she added.

The meeting will be held in a support group setting. No registration fee is required, however, a workbook that costs about $10 is necessary, Warnecke said.

The first meeting for the program is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at New Life Assembly of God Church, 1229 Eighth St., Reedsburg, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

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Rules established to begin federal funds disbursement for victims of Sept. 11

A story published today by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the federal fund established to compensate families of those killed or injured in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has now established rules, which would provide a rational approach for doling out the estimated $4.8 billion to $6 billion to families deeply affected by the recent terrorist tragedy. In return, the survivors agree to not sue the airlines.

While not everyone is happy with Kenneth R. Feinberg's rules, tilted as they are more toward compensation for actual lifetime salary losses than to the pain and suffering associated with the breadwinner's death, he has produced a balanced plan.

The pain and suffering payment of an unmarried victim with no children would be $250,000, with $50,000 more for each surviving spouse and child. This sum is roughly commensurate with the payments federal programs compensate families of police or military killed in the line of duty.

The actual awards could range from $300,000 for an unmarried 65-year-old earning $10,000 a year to $4.35 million for a 30-year-old, married with two children, and earning $175,000 annually. And provision has been made for those who are dissatisfied to make their case.

The awards, to be paid within four months to those who accept them, would also be reduced by life insurance, pension payments, death benefits, or other government subsidies but not by charitable donations.

The advantage of accepting these awards instead of suing the airlines lies in the fact that they provide cash quickly. There are no attorney fees and costs of litigation to subtract. These could run higher than 30 percent. There's also no having to relive the misery of Sept. 11, in depositions and trials.



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