Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Paternal custody struggles

In the article “Custody’s high stakes” (Family Times, Sunday), I was dismayed to see George Washington University law professor Naomi Cahn cite the misleading figure that fathers are granted sole or joint physical custody 70 percent of the time when they request it.

This figure stems from the 1989 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Gender Bias Commission. In support of its claim, the commission cited a report by the Middlesex Divorce Research Group. When I attempted to verify the data on which this claim was based, the author of the MDRG study told me that the data do not demonstrate the court’s preference for one parent over the other in custody requests and that the research was not designed to address the question of how frequently a parent’s request was honored.

The very same data the commission cited in support of its assertion that fathers win custody more than 70 percent of the time when they request it also support the statement, “Mothers’ requests for sole custody were honored 65 percent more often than fathers’ requests.”

Quite simply, the Massachusetts commission manipulated the data to yield the desired result..


Arlington, Mass.


In your article “Custody’s high stakes,” domestic abuse attorney Joan Meier claims that fathers who are batterers are twice as likely to contest a custody decision as nonbatterers.

Her comment does not accurately depict the character of custody-seeking fathers as a group but reflects a minority of cases within the group. The greatest determining factor in whether a father will try to contest a custody decision is his ability to afford the additional legal fees.


Lakewood, Calif.

Don’t back away from teaching abstinence

As a registered nurse and mother of seven, I say, “Shame on the American Academy of Pediatrics for throwing in the towel when it comes to teen abstinence.” Cheryl Wetzstein’s article “Group changes tack on teen abstinence” (Nation, yesterday) is a sad notification that the AAP has caved in to the popularmisconceptionthat teenagers are unable to control their sexual drives and should be provided with everything necessary to pursue sexual activity.

Recommending emergency contraception before it has been thoroughly tested for teenagers is evidence of how deeply the academy members have drunk of the liberal philosophy poured out by groups such as the Sexuality Information and EducationCounciloftheUnited States.

WilliamSmith,vice presidentforpublicpolicyat SIECUS, is all for the AAP move.Hisorganization’s “Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten Through 12th Grade” includes positive messages to children beginning at 5 years of age about masturbation, abortion and pornography.

Everything about these guidelines is to encourage sexual activity in our children. Doctors in the AAP surely don’t understand the goals of the groups with which they have aligned and how recklessly they toss the aside the risks associated with sex in favor of promoting a variety of sexual pleasures to the young.


Montgomery Village

Bring the Nationals to TV by eminent domain

It’s about time that all of the legal brainpower in Washington was put to good use. Bruce Fein and a team of lawyers should march down to City Hall and refuse to leave until the mayor agrees to use eminent domain to get the Nationals’ TV rights back (“Baseball broadcasting rites,” Commentary, Sunday).

They would be heroes. Our first-place Nats could be seen on TV, the District would protect its $600 million investment in a new stadium, and the Nats would be able to put millions of dollars toward a perennial winner rather than into Peter Angelos’ pocket. What could be better?




It’s going to take a greater legal mind than litigation happy Peter Angelos’ to protect the Nationals from his anti-competitive practices. Mr. Fein is the right man for the job (“Baseball broadcasting rites,” Commentary, Sunday).

It was only through threat of litigation that Mr. Angelos reached a sweetheart deal with Major League Baseball to control the Nationals’ TV rights and 90 percent of the revenue those rights will generate for years to come. In losing one of its largest sources of revenue, the team is forced to compete with one hand tied behind its back, unable to pay for expensive and talented free agents.

Unlike any other situation in American sports, the Orioles owner can decide where and when to televise his rivals’ games, blacking out the Nationals in areas such as Anne Arundel and Howard counties and the city of Baltimore.

In doing so, he has restricted the team’s ability to market itself and expand its fan base, further hurting the financial viability of the Nats — and devised a clear restraint of trade and violation of the antitrust laws applied to every sports league except baseball.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams should take Mr. Fein’s counsel and take the Nats’ TV rights from Mr. Angelos under the District’s eminent domain power the same way he is taking property from the owners of the land to be used for the new stadium.

Mr. Angelos would receive just compensation for the TV rights, the $21 million he’s paying for them right now, and the TV rights would be used for an important public purpose: securing the long-term financial health of the team, in which the city and its fans are making a huge investment.

Baseball games should be won and lost on the ball field, not in the courtroom, but in this case, it may be time to beat Mr. Angelos at his own game.



Free trade supporter

I am writing in response to the Sunday Commentary columnbyAlanReynolds, “CAFTA, China and the Carolinas.” I appreciate Mr. Reynolds’ calling attention to global trade liberalization. I was, however, surprised and disappointed that he listed Archer Daniels Midland Co. among opponents of the Central American — Dominican Republic — Free Trade Agreement.

That claim is false. In fact, we are on record in support of CAFTA and have supported similar free-trade agreements.

Liberalization of trade with Central America will give needed strength to fledgling democracies that promise to make that region a strong and stable trading partner for America and the world.

We believe our business and that of our partners on America’s farms will benefit from the opening of new markets for American crops. We also believe that liberalized trade benefits consumers here in America and around the globe, lowering prices and increasing the variety and availability of products they need and want.

Again, I appreciate Mr. Reynolds’ support for free trade at this important juncture, but I am disappointed that he gave your readers a mistaken impression regarding ADM’s stance. We, like Mr. Reynolds, hope to see this agreement ratified soon.


Senior vice president

Corporate affairs

Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Decatur, Ill.

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