Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Associated Press reports on recent cases denying custody and/or visitation to a parent making use of medical marijuana:
More than a decade after states began approving marijuana for medical use, its role in custody disputes remains a little-known side effect.
While those laws can protect patients from criminal charges, they typically haven't prevented judges, court commissioners or guardians ad litem from considering a parent's marijuana use in custody matters — even in states such as Washington, where complying patients "shall not be penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege," according to the law.
Arbiters often side with parents who try to keep their children away from pot. Medical marijuana activists in several states, including Washington, California and Colorado, say they've been getting more inquiries from patients wrapped up in custody-divorce cases in recent years as the ranks of patients who use marijuana swell.
Lauren Payne, legal services coordinator with a California marijuana law reform group called Americans for Safe Access, said that since mid-2006 her organization has received calls about 61 such cases.
In Colorado last month, an appeals court ruled that medical marijuana use is not necessarily a reason to restrict a parent's visitation. Washington courts have held otherwise.
"The court cannot countenance a situation where a person is using marijuana, under the influence of marijuana and is caring for children," an Island County, Wash., judge ordered in one such dispute. "There's nothing in the medical marijuana law that deprives the court of its responsibility and legal authority to provide for proper care of children so that people aren't caring for children who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
In that case, the medical marijuana patient, Cameron Wieldraayer, was granted only supervised visits with his two young daughters — a decision upheld by an appeals court.
Many patients insist that using pot makes them no less fit as parents, and that they shouldn't lose custody or visitation rights if there's no evidence they're abusing the drug.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, two of the 14 states with medical marijuana laws — Michigan and Maine — specify that patients won't lose custody or visitation rights unless the patient's actions endanger the child or are contrary to the child's best interests.
Pouch, who grows marijuana in an old chicken coop, smokes a few puffs three or four times every day, and says he doesn't get high the way he did when he used marijuana recreationally in his younger days. He said he uses it to treat pain from carpal tunnel syndrome aggravated by glassblowing, as well as a shoulder that frequently pops out of its socket due to old sports injuries.
"I'm an outgoing, upstanding person. I do three different farmers markets and I'm a member of the Mason County Chamber of Commerce," said Pouch, 37. "I am not an activist at all, but I have the right to use this. It aids my pain, and it allows me to function in my everyday activities, where pills and opiates don't."
Opposing spouses often argue that they have a right to keep their children away from illegal substances, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
With some other medications, such as narcotic painkillers or bipolar medications, judges can require tests to establish how much of the drug a parent has in his or her system, said Eleanor Couto, a family law attorney in Longview, Wash.
But treatment providers can't prescribe specific amounts of marijuana without running afoul of federal law, so it isn't always clear what constitutes an appropriate level of the drug.
"How do you monitor how much someone can smoke?" Couto asked. "How do know they're able to adequately care for that child? I think it's got to be a case-by-case basis."
Seattle lawyer Sharon Blackford noted that urine tests can establish how much marijuana is in a patient's system based on current use, and that monitoring is "as easy to do for medical marijuana as it is for alcohol."
Early this year, a judge who called Washington's medical marijuana law "an absolute joke" and "an excuse to be loaded all the time" ordered that stepfather, Julian Robinson, to keep at least a quarter-mile from the teenagers because of his marijuana use, according to a transcript of the hearing.
That means Robinson can't be around the children he has raised for the past 13 years, even though they live in his home near Castle Rock, with his wife and their four younger children.
Read the full story here.
Last year, 479 children under 15 years, two of them boys, were getting ready to tie the knot. And 32 of them were below 10 years. None of them were found to be HIV-positive.
And under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, which applies to non-Muslims, marriage is allowed only for people 18 years and above. However, a girl aged 16 years and above may marry, conditional upon a licence being obtained from the chief minister or menteri besar.
This means that it is supposed to be very difficult for a Muslim girl under 16 to get married, and it is supposed to be impossible for a non-Muslim girl under 16 to get married at all.
Read more here
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
From the NY Times:
The situation has played out hundreds of times. From his office here, a doctor asks a woman on the computer screen before him one final question: Are you ready to take your pill?
Then, with a click of his mouse, a modified cash register drawer pops open in front of the woman seated next to a nurse in a clinic — perhaps 100 miles from this city — with mifepristone, the medicine formerly known as RU-486, that is meant to end her pregnancy.
Efforts to provide medical services by videoconference, a notion known as telemedicine, are expanding into all sorts of realms, but these clinics in Iowa are the first in the nation, and so far the only ones, experts say, to provide abortions this way.
Advocates say the idea offers an answer to an essential struggle that has long troubled those who favor abortion rights: How to make abortions available in far-flung, rural places and communities where abortion providers are unable or unwilling to travel. So far only Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa use this method, but around the country, abortion providers have begun asking how they might replicate the concept.
For some, however, the program tests the already complicated bounds of telemedicine. Abortion opponents say they are alarmed, fearful for the safety of women who undergo abortions after consulting with doctors who have never actually been in the same room with them. Opponents filed a complaint this spring with the Iowa Board of Medicine, arguing that a doctor’s remote clicking of a mouse hardly meets the state’s law requiring licensed physicians to perform abortions, and more objections are coming.
Before the videoconference begins, a patient in a distant clinic meets (in person) with a nurse. There, blood tests, a medical history, an exam, an ultrasound and counseling on matters like what to expect from the procedure and plans for a follow-up exam are completed. The results are shared (by computer) with a doctor miles away, and the doctor and the patient (at all times accompanied by the nurse, who sits beside her) meet by videoconference over a private network.
“I don’t feel like something is lost or missing,” Dr. Tom Ross, one of Planned Parenthood’s doctors, said.
Dr. Ross said he talked to patients — asking his questions and answering any of theirs — as if he were speaking to them in person. In most cases, he then clicks on a button that releases the drawer in front of the woman. Inside are two bottles — one for the mifepristone she will take immediately, while still sitting in the clinic, and the other for the misoprostol she will take later.
No serious complications have occurred in Iowa involving these videoconference patients. And the patients, mainly, seem fine with the procedure. They have a choice: when they call to seek an abortion, women who live far from city clinics can either take abortion medication in a distant office with the doctor on teleconference, or travel to the doctor.
It is uncertain how long it will take the State Board of Medicine to investigate Operation Rescue’s complaint that this method does not meet the state requirement that licensed physicians — not nurses or others — perform abortions.
Read the full article here.
Courtney G. Joslin has posted Travel Insurance: Protecting Lesbian and Gay Parent Families Across State Lines, 4 Harvard Law & Policy Review 31 (2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Until recently, when a lesbian couple had a child through artificial insemination, only one member of the couple was considered the legal parent of the resulting child at the moment of birth. Today, in a small but growing number of states, this is no longer the case. Instead, in this small group of states, from the moment of birth, both members of the couple are treated as legal parents of a child born to the couple through artificial insemination. While this advancement in state law is tremendously important for many children, the resulting protections are extremely tenuous. These children are assured protection only so long as they and their families remain in one place, never crossing state lines. This essay explores why this legal vulnerability exists and offers a proposal for mitigating this potentially harmful state of affairs.
Monday, June 28, 2010
From the Washington Post:
Horn was well versed in the literature that showed that -- all things being equal -- children raised in two-parent homes fare, on average, better than those who grow up in single-parent households. They have more economic stability, are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems or abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to finish high school and go on to college.
"It made sense to start to think, 'What would government do if it were interested in preventing family breakup, and how would it go about doing that?'" he says.
During his first few years in office, Horn redirected small pots of money from existing programs into marriage education initiatives. Then, in 2005, his team persuaded Congress to allot $100 million a year for the next five years to be spent on marriage education around the country. Another $50 million a year was set aside for programs about responsible fatherhood.
Horn's agency put out a request for proposals from organizations that wanted to provide marriage education services under the program, and awarded 122 Healthy Marriage grants, many of them focused on low-income communities. "Low-income couples, by definition, have less discretionary income, and what we want to do is provide free services," he explained recently, adding that all marriage education programs were offered on a voluntary basis.
So for almost five years now, the federal government has been spending tax dollars trying to teach couples how to be better at marriage.
Whether that's an appropriate use of public funds is a legitimate question -- marriage is hugely complicated, and anyone who's felt relief from exiting a bad one may think the government has no business meddling with our most personal affairs. But equally pressing is whether marriage education really works. And so far the government has published little evidence proving the effectiveness of the programs it has been funding.
A 2008 Government Accountability Office report looked at the Healthy Marriage Initiative but focused mainly on the administration and oversight of its grants. One study commissioned by ACF examined eight programs administered through the federal initiative and found that only one improved the quality of the relationship of participants. Two other multiyear studies of the initiative are underway, but results aren't expected until next year, when the funding will have run out. For fiscal 2011, the Obama administration has suggested a redirection of the initiative's funds into a one-year, $500 million investment that would focus largely on fatherhood and family self-sufficiency.
Even Sollee says that "we don't know" with certainty how successful the programs are at saving marriages.
But there's growing evidence that the workshops and seminars can improve the quality and longevity of unions. A 2009 analysis of more than 100 academic studies evaluating the effectiveness of marriage education found "modest evidence" that the programs can work preventively and as interventions, though no one suggests marriage education is the answer for couples dealing with abuse or acute dysfunction.
Read the full article here.
The lawyer who represented the
woman known as "Lola" in a high profile child support case is in
court for a similar case involving six women who feel
Anne-France Goldwater is alleging children of divorce in
Read more here.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Fascinating report of an Italian high court decision on international adoption (from jurist.org):
The Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], the country's highest appeals court, ruled Tuesday that couples seeking to adopt children of a certain ethnicity or race "are not suitable for international adoption." The judgment was prompted by the case of a Sicilian couple who declared that they only wanted to adopt a Caucasian child of European descent. The decision cites violations of the Italian Constitution [text, PDF] regarding inalienable rights, equality, and international agreements. The court stated that parents who indicate a preference should not only have their particular application denied by the juvenile court under Article 30 of Law 184/1983 [text, PDF] of the Italian Civil Code, but their capacity to apply for adoption in general should be called in to question [ANSA report, in Italian]. The court also recommended that social services provide discriminatory parents with psychological support to allow them to overcome their aversion to adopting a child "who is not in [their] own image." The decision comes more than a year after the attorney general asked the court to intervene [Apcom report, in Italian] and ban these types of discriminatory requests. Children's rights group Friends of Children [advocacy website, in Italian], which initiated the complaint, said that they have been battling these types of requests for years and welcomed [press release, in Italian] the court's decision.
Ethnic tensions and discrimination are problematic in Italy, where illegal immigration is a growing problem. In January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] dismissed a suit against Italy [JURIST report] by Palestinian immigrants alleging illegal expulsion from the country. Earlier that month, a group of African immigrants was evacuated [JURIST report] from the town of Rosarno after violence was directed towards migrant farm workers there. In August, rights groups criticized Italy [JURIST report] for returning a suspected terrorist to Tunisia, disregarding obligations imposed by the ECHR. Last July, the Italian Senate approved a law [JURIST report] that would criminalize illegal immigration with a fine of between 5,000 and 10,000 euros and up to six months detention before deportation.
Read more here.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Fordham: “Disability and Designer Babies: Rethinking the Debate Over Genetic Interventions in Favor of Disability”
Brigham A. Fordham has posted Disability and Designer Babies: Rethinking the Debate Over Genetic Interventions in Favor of Disability, Valparaiso University Law Review, Forthcoming (2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Article considers the consequences of attempting to hold parents liable in tort for making genetic decisions in favor of socially disfavored physical attributes, such as disabilities. A legal scheme that asks judges and juries to separate “good” physical attributes from “bad” ones is problematic, especially when dealing with disabilities. Parents, who have personal experience with the physical traits in question, are better equipped to decide what is best for their offspring than jurors who have less experience and less at stake. Using the “open future” framework to second-guess parental decisions about socially disfavored physical traits only disrupts the parent-child relationship and suggests that discriminatory attitudes are natural and acceptable.
Moreover, the concern over genetic interventions in favor of disability is largely misplaced. Disabled parents who want disabled children are few in number and diverse in purpose. The recent focus on these parents in the debate over genetic intervention improperly assumes that such parents are incapable of making good choices and that the physical traits they prefer are inherently damning.
Friday, June 25, 2010
More on New York's shift to no-fault divorce. This time the focus is on increased truthfulness in divorce court.
There are certain to be consequences if New York State introduces no-fault divorce, as now seems likely. The divorce rate might climb. Matrimonial battles will focus on bitter issues like support and child custody. The poor will be able to get divorced as easily as the rich. But there is something else. Those who are splitting up can just tell the truth.
For decades, New York State’s divorce system has been built on a foundation of winks and falsehoods. If you wanted to split quickly, you and your spouse had to give one of the limited number of allowable reasons — including adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment — so there was a tendency to pick one out of a hat.
Pregnant women have insisted they have not had sex in a year, one of the existing grounds; spouses claimed psychological cruelty for getting called fat; and people whose affairs have made Page Six have denied adultery. One legendary ploy involved listing the filing lawyer’s secretary as the partner in adultery (which may even have been true in a few cases).
“What the fault divorce system has done is that it has institutionalized perjury,” said Malcolm S. Taub, a veteran Manhattan matrimonial lawyer. “This play-acting goes on and everybody looks the other way and follows the script.”
Nancy Chemtob, a lawyer who has been edging into the celebrity divorce ranks, said the requirement that someone find fault has long forced lawyers to question clients closely to try to find an acceptable reason to explain the split, even when the real reason is pretty simple: The client does not like his or her spouse.
Because dislike, no matter how intense, does not fit one of the legal slots, Ms. Chemtob keeps asking until her client says the magic words, like “he bought me a gym membership,” Ms. Chemtob said.
“I have to sit there like a shrink or I’m not even sure what, but definitely not a lawyer, pulling all this verbiage on grounds out of them,” she said. Lately, it seems, purchasing a premium workout package is code for, “You are a slob.”
That would not necessarily be cruel and inhuman treatment in the outside world, but in the matrimonial courts it can be more than adequate, said Robert S. Cohen, a leading New York divorce lawyer.
“One spouse gets on the stand and says, ‘He complains about the fact that I don’t make the bed every day,’ or one of them says ‘She complains that I don’t do the dishes,’ ” Mr. Cohen said.
In cases where both sides want the marriage to end, judges often declare such infractions fault enough, Mr. Cohen said. “There’s a clear feeling among the judges that fault should have been long gone from our system,” he said.
For judges, New York’s requirement of fault when the rest of the country has abandoned that requirement creates a series of problems. One of them is the need to listen to private information some of them feel is none of their business.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine, the supervising matrimonial judge in Brooklyn, said it seemed somewhat 19th century to have people testifying about “constructive abandonment,” the legal term for rebuffing intimacy for a year or more.
“Should we really,” Justice Sunshine asked, “in the 21st century be having people get on the stand and testify that ‘my spouse refused to have sex with me’?”
Read the full story here.
Many people might marry through online dating, but this Washington Post story might support more traditional dating:
It took awhile, but the 24-year-old now knows exactly what kind of message
to send to pique a woman's interest. The
He's never needy -- always charming and a little flirtatious. He keeps his missives short and usually includes a question or a subtle challenge. He's witty, a touch aloof and not overly complimentary.
And when he gets the woman, it's not his heart that flutters. It's his bank account.
Hartshorn is a hired gun, ghostwriting correspondence on behalf of single men unwilling, too busy or too inept to do it themselves. His online dating is done on commission for Virtual Dating Assistants, one of the first full-scale Internet-dating outsourcing companies. For $600, Virtual Dating Assistants guarantees clients two dates a month; the "executive service" package promises five dates a month for $1,200.
Read more here.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Last week the New York Times posted a great series of professional perspectives on the state's shift to no-fault divorce law. From the introduction to the series:
In 1969, Gov. Ronald Reagan of California signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law. He later called it the worst mistake of his life. But other states eventually followed California’s lead, and no-fault — under which one spouse can end a marriage, with no proof required of wrongdoing by either party — more or less became law of the land. New York State was the longtime holdout, since South Dakota passed its law in 1985.
That may be about to change. On Tuesday evening, the State Senate approved legislation that would permit no-fault divorce after a marriage has “irretrievably” broken down for six months or more, without the need to identify a fault, like adultery or abandonment. The package must still pass the State Assembly, which is considering two bills that would adopt some version of no-fault divorce.
New York’s failure to permit more accessible divorce has long been denounced as archaic, but longtime opponents of “liberalization” have included the Catholic Church and the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women.
What should the New York Legislature consider as it works out the details of its no-fault measures? What do we know about the effects of no-fault laws in the rest of the country?
Betsey Stevenson, economist, University of Pennsylvania Robin Fretwell Wilson, law professor, Washington and Lee University Andrew J. Cherlin, professor of sociology, Johns Hopkins Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Institute for American Values Marcia Pappas, New York president, National Organization for Women
Read each commentator's view here.
The nurture vs. nature debate may soon be getting new contributions:
From The New York Times:
The problem is that where genes are tidy bits of DNA, the environment is huge, amorphous and hard to quantify. It includes what your mother ate for breakfast when she was pregnant with you, the colds you’ve had, and how much you were hugged when you were a baby. Vaccinations, exposure to dirt, whether you sleep in a dark room — these are all part of your environment too. Complicating matters further, in different environments, different sets of genes get switched on and off. Recent experiments looking at fat, sedentary laboratory rats showed that they use a completely different portion of their genome from their thinner, more active counterparts.
Measuring all this sounds
impossible. Yet at least two phenomics initiatives are already underway. One is
Read the rest here.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
From The New York Times:
The House of Representatives has passed what I like to think of as Larry’s Law. The official title of this legislation is “Fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering,” but nothing did more to empower its advocates than the controversy over a speech by Lawrence H. Summers when he was president of Harvard.
This proposed law, if passed by the Senate, would require the White House science adviser to oversee regular “workshops to enhance gender equity.” At the workshops, to be attended by researchers who receive federal money and by the heads of science and engineering departments at universities, participants would be given before-and-after “attitudinal surveys” and would take part in “interactive discussions or other activities that increase the awareness of the existence of gender bias.”
Read more here.
As a side note, I think a major time commitment on many female and male scientists are domestic chores. Read more about that here.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The Los Angeles Times reports on the release of new data on the cost of child-rearing:
The grand total for middle-income parents raising one child from birth to age 17 is $222,360, which doesn't include college tuition, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That's 22% higher than the 1960 cost — adjusted for inflation — of $182,857.
"Annual child-rearing expense estimates ranged between $11,650 and $13,530 for a child in a two-child, married-couple family in the middle-income group," the report says.
The study, called "Expenditures on Children by Families," examined child-rearing expenses of 11,800 husband-wife households and 3,350 single-parent households.
The report called child-care and education costs "the most striking change in child-rearing expenses over time." Those expenses grew from 2% of total child-rearing expenses to 17%.
Healthcare expenses doubled as a percentage of total costs and also climbed in real terms.
Although food was among the largest expenses in both time periods, proportionally the overall costs have fallen. Changes in agriculture over the last 50 years have resulted in food taking up a lower percentage of household income, the report said.
The cost of housing has increased in real terms but was the most expensive expenditure in both time periods.
Read the full story here.
Van Rossum: "The Clash of Legal Cultures Over the "Best Interests of the Child' Principle in Cases of International Parental Child Abduction"
Wibo Van Rossum has posted "The Clash of Legal Cultures Over the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Principle in Cases of International Parental Child Abduction" (Utrecht Law Review) on SSRN. Here is the abstract.
Because of the increase in international love traffic, transnational problems in divorce, maintenance issues, visitation rights, custody over children, and cases of child abduction are here to stay. A clash of cultures is obvious in international child abduction cases in which Islamic legal cultures are involved, because ‘the best interests of the child’ principle as mentioned in several treaties functions as a site of struggle. This paper shows, firstly, in what ways the clash manifests itself by describing abduction cases in which Dutch legal professionals become involved, and how they act in such cases. The second part of the paper takes a look underneath the surface of legal practice in order to better understand it and to trace possible future developments. I describe the developments in the Dutch legal profession, such as how legal professionals keep their ‘cultural knowledge’ up to date, and whether they develop alternative ways to deal with culture clashes in child abduction cases. Developments seem to be haphazard and piecemeal in the form of knowledge and network development, court-annexed mediation, and specialized liaison judges. These developments do lead to a broadening of horizons, but not necessarily to a consensus handshake between legal cultures. A solid ‘stalemate’ in actual abduction cases can usually be prevented because Dutch legal professionals search for pragmatic solutions in individual cases.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Nice story in the Washington Post yesterday about a single adoptive father's journey, and how is story is representative of a shift in modern thinking over the role of fathers:
Whereas our dad archetype has been a nervous man pacing in the delivery room, fumbling the newborn, clueless about the PTA and stepping forth only when it's time to harass a prom date or coach Little League, today's generation of fathers is more involved than any other.
Like Braman, they don't have fatherhood thrust upon them, they dive into their kids' lives.
It's beyond fishing, the summer cabin and sports. The New Dad is increasingly ducking out of work early, no matter how many dude points he may lose for it, to go to parent-teacher conferences, doctor's appointments, play dates and pickup duty.
Time-use surveys tell us that the gap in the amount of time men and women spend caring for children is closing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey for 2008 said that in cases in which a mom and a dad work full time, the mom spends 1.2 hours a day caring for a child and a dad spends 49 minutes.
But statistics don't tell the story of a societal sea change in the ways dads are involved, the massive shift that this generation of fathers has undergone.
In the past 10 days, my husband attended a kindergarten play, endured a three-day camping trip, went to two T-ball practices, two school picnics, a class birthday party, did the school pickup for both kids twice and washed their hair every bath night (his punishment for the latest egregious parking ticket). Last night, he collapsed in his recliner/king's throne, flipped up the foot rest and proclaimed: "This week, I did more with the kids than my father did throughout my entire childhood."
He is absolutely right.
Read the full story here.
Tritt: “Sperms and Estates: An Unadulterated Functionally Based Approach to Parent-Child Property Succession”
Lee-ford Tritt has posted Sperms and Estates: An Unadulterated Functionally Based Approach to Parent-Child Property Succession, 62 Southern Methodist University Law Review 367 (2009) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Article argues that the sanguinary nexus test, the dominant standard for determining whether an individual has a right to inherit property when another dies, has become an increasingly frustrating, and arguably arcane, legal tool in light of the diversity of family relationships extant in modern American life. The sanguinary nexus test determines child status based upon ties of “blood.” Considering the evolving notions of family structures and advances in reproductive technologies involving cloning, surrogacy and egg/sperm donation, serious questions arise about whether the existing sanguinary nexus test can produce results consistent with the fundamental principle of testamentary freedom underlying all of estates law. Surveying a variety of parental support cases involving novel family situations, this Article deploys a normative and pragmatic critique of estates law’s current reliance upon family law principles to determine relevant family relationships. From a normative standpoint, a close examination of parental support cases reveals how reliance upon family law principles and its child-centered jurisprudence undermines the integrity of testamentary freedom. Perhaps paradoxically, that potential attack on testamentary freedom has rather serious deleterious implications for effective family planning in modern society. From a pragmatic standpoint, the work demonstrates the growing impracticability of attending adequately to inheritance rights that arise from continued reliance on family law principles. To bring estates law back into step with modern family realities, this Article articulates and defends a new “unadulterated functional-based approach” to determine child status that would completely break genetic links for inheritance purposes. In the end, this Article concludes that paying greater fidelity to a functional parent-child relationship, rather than reliance upon blood relationships or family law jurisprudence, would help rehabilitate the core value of testamentary freedom in estates law.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Many working parents often have to multi-task. However, new evidence suggests that not only is multi-tasking addictive, but it is counterproductive.
From The New York Times:
Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.
These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.
The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.
While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.
Read more here.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Working parents take heed! NY to provide workplace protections for nannies:
. . .nannies, as well as other domestic workers who make possible the lives of New York’s eternally striving work force, have long gone without basic workplace guarantees that most employees take for granted.
That appears likely to change soon.
The State Senate this week passed a bill that would require paid holidays, sick days and vacation days for domestic workers, along with overtime wages. It would require 14 days’ notice, or termination pay, before firing a domestic worker.
The Assembly passed a similar measure last year, and lawmakers expect that the two versions will be reconciled and that Gov. David A. Paterson will sign what they say would be the nation’s first such protections for domestic workers. It would affect an estimated 200,000 workers in the metropolitan area: citizens, legal immigrants and those here illegally as well.
Gueisa Alvarez, 40, a nanny for two decades, said she felt exploited by families early in her career, before she attained the confidence to stand up for herself. She said she hoped a law would protect new workers.
“It will inform them of things they don’t understand as young women coming from some other country and just trying to make some money,” Ms. Alvarez said.
But among domestic workers, there are some doubts that immigrants lacking legal documentation would be willing to report violations of a new wage law to a government agency.
“If you are legal in this country, you will benefit from it, but if you are not, then I don’t think it will do much for you,” said Rhea Bolivia, who immigrated from the Philippines and works as a nanny for a family with two small children on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Once an employee is hired, state labor laws become enforceable, regardless of the employee’s immigration status. Penalties have been issued against supermarkets, restaurants and other employers for failing to pay overtime to groups of employees that included illegal immigrants. The legislation would give the State Labor Department and the attorney general the power to enforce its provisions.
The potential for additional costs to the families who hire the caretakers is not clear. Many already voluntarily provide such benefits. Domestic workers are now covered by minimum-wage laws, and the bills would set no other mandatory wage levels.
The bills would increase the risks of getting caught for employers who pay domestic workers off the books to avoid taxes. “That’s what we are trying to end,” Ms. Savino said.
But for nannies and parents alike, the legislation, if enacted, could well create a kind of baseline for negotiations over pay, hours and benefits. Now, the dealings typically leave both sides unsure of what is fair, and in the end, employers sometimes feeling guilty and employees feeling shortchanged.
"We are really looking toward healing the divide between employee and employer," said Sarah Fields, program coordinator at the advocacy group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
Read the full NY Times article here.