The Catskills’ Indian casino dreams appeared to evaporate
late last month after hardball threats from Gov. George Pataki
couldn’t get Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno to budge
from a deal benefiting a tribe that has his son on the payroll
forcing state lawmakers to end their annual legislative session
unable to pass the plan to settle a two-decade long land-claim
court battle with the St. Regis Mohawks, giving the tribe one
of three authorized casinos in the Catskills.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther of Sullivan County shepherded the
Mohawk bill through the Assembly but Bruno blocked it from ever
getting to the floor in the Senate, instead pushing for a three-tribe
deal including Wisconsin’s Stockbridge-Munsee Band of
Mohicans and the Wisconsin Oneidas, who hired Bruno’s
son as a $10,000-a-month lobbyist. Pataki went so far as to
say more lobbying law reforms might be needed because of Bruno’s
father-son connection in the deal. Then in an e-mail to lobbyists,
he threatened to cut off other tribes hoping to build casinos
in the Catskills.
“If your clients or their representatives succeed in their
current efforts to prevent passage of the Mohawk settlement
legislation, the state will engage in no further settlement
negotiations with out-of-state tribes,” Pataki’s
message said. Sen. John Bonacic slammed Pataki’s threat
to end tribal talks, calling it no way to negotiate. Sen. Bill
Larkin, chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee,
said he would have rather seen one casino for the Catskills
Bruno said his son never lobbied him directly on the issue and
that he pushed to get other tribes casinos because he wanted
three Catskills casinos, as the Legislature authorized in 2001,
instead of just one.
Both the Catskills and the Poconos were recently included on
a list of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country for holiday
weekends, along with Lake George, Cape Cod, and The Hamptons,
as far as Northeast trouble spots go. The study, called “Are
We There Yet?” by the American Highway Users Alliance,
says the Oregon Coast will see the most congestion, although
the Catskills made the top 10, with the Poconos ranked the 11th
worst. Lake George was 22nd, and The Hamptons rounded out the
list at 25.
Simultaneous to the list’s release has come news that
the Ulster County Legislature is currently reviewing a 50-page
report from the Ulster County Transportation Council showing
that that county is faced with a sharply rising use of highways
during the next 25 years while there is a dwindling pool of
funding available to provide drivers with safe commutes. There
is expected to be a 55 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled
and a 62 percent increase in vehicle hours traveled between
2000 and 2030. Under budgets planned between 2006 and 2010,
there is $66.05 million expected to be used for 53 projects
that receive state or federal aid. Included in county-wide hotspots,
besides the Kingston area, is State Route 28 from state Route
375 to the Thruway in the towns of Hurley, Kingston and Ulster
at 26 percent over capacity. Recommendations in the county study
include: Adding park-and-ride areas near the Routes 9W and 209
interchange in the town of Ulster and at Thruway exit 20 in
Saugerties while advertising an existing area at Ulster County
Community College in the town of Marbletown; Investing in traffic
detection and control equipment, traveler information, and signal
communications along the entire Ulster County stretch of Route
9W; Providing shoulders along county routes in Esopus, Woodstock,
Shawangunk, Gardiner, and Marlborough to improve bicycle and
pedestrian safety and creating a pedestrian zone along U.S.
Route 9W in the town of Ulster commercial district.
Local officials are once again worried that actions of the New
York City Department of Environmental Protection will end up
hurting the region. And as is usually the case. DEP officals
scoff at upsate claims that the agency is out to get watershed
This time around it’s about a memo from within DEP that
fell into the hands of Coalition of Watershed Towns Chair Patrick
Meehan and outlines an intent to request the reclassification
of many streams in the watershed “to discourage and limit
future development within the NYC watersheds.” The CWC
thinks that if the major streams are reclassified it would result
in the City’s development regulations and State regulations
being on the same level. Currently, the City pays to fund several
programs in the watershed because it was determined that its
water protection regulations went above and beyond the regulations
for the rest of the State. Therefore, anything required to bring
local communities into compliance with the City regulations
is paid for by the City, not the communities. Coalition officials
fear that this could result in the City no longer being required
to pay for annual operation and maintenance costs of sewer systems
installed in watershed communities as part of the watershed
agreement reached in 1997.
The City’s Department of Environmental Protection spokesman
Ian Michaels said there is nothing new about this issue. He
said the City has participated in the program since 1996. As
for the financial implications on watershed communities, Michaels
said the only objective the City has is protecting the drinking
water and added that there has not been a concern about the
past eight years of the City’s participation in the States
stream reclassification program and that the State would hold
public hearings and comment periods pertaining to any proposed
reclassification. He stopped just shy of agreement when asked
if he felt this was another matter of upstate officals over-scrutinizing
DEP actions on behalf of local developers, who appear to be
working overtime to discredit the agency.
DEP has announced that it would not issue the permits needed
for approval of the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, a large
project that would include two golf courses, as many hotels
and hundreds of residentiall units. The developers, Crossroads
Ventures LLC., immediatly followed DEP's announcment with claims
that DEP is oversteping it's authority in the watershed in several
areas and have succeeded in riling up the Coalition of Watershed
Towns, a regional advocacy group.
Olive assistant fire chief Carl Swenson has noted that a June
25 rollover accident on state Route 28A in Boiceville, at around
8:15 p.m., was such that the victim, who was not identified,
was able to extract herself from the vehicle and move by the
time his department got there. Swenson said her injuries did
not appear to be serious or life-threatening, but she was taken
for evaluation to one of the Kingston hospitals by Olive First
Aid. The woman was the only occupant of the car, and there were
no other vehicles involved in the crash.
The Supreme Court has ignited fears from both the left and right,
as well as considerable local conjecture, by ruling that local
governments may seize people’s homes and businesses —
even against their will — for private economic development.
Specifically, the 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut
residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room
for a waterfront office complex. They argued that cities have
no right to take their land except for projects with a clear
public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted
areas. But according to interpretations of the new ruling. Municipalities
and other governmental agencies could now have a wider power
to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and
hotel complexes to generate tax revenue. Local officials, not
federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development
project will benefit the community, is what justices essentially
The case’s wheels were set in motion in 1998 when pharmaceutical
giant Pfizer Inc. (PFE) agreed to build a $270 million research
facility next to the area in dispute. The New London City Council
later adopted a redevelopment plan to transform 90 acres of
the targeted neighborhood. The City Council then transferred
power of eminent domain to a private, nonprofit group of residents
and business owners called the New London Development Corp.,
which seeks to build a hotel complex, conference center, offices
and other structures.
At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows
governments to take private property through eminent domain
if the land is for “public use.” When several other
homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Connecticut,
filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their
homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices, city
officials countered that the private development plans served
a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed
the homeowners’ property rights, even if the area wasn’t
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has been a key swing
vote on many cases before the court, and announced her resignation
following the decision, issued a stinging dissent. She argued
that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families,
even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate
wealthy developers. “Any property may now be taken for
the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this
decision will not be random,” O’Connor wrote. “
Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes
is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to
encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these
losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those
communities are not only systematically less likely to put their
lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least
politically powerful... The beneficiaries are likely to be those
citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political
process, including large corporations and development firms.”
At least eight states - Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky,
Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington - forbid the use
of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate
blight. Other states either expressly allow private property
to be taken for private economic purposes or have not spoken
clearly to the question. Legislation now working its way through
Congress also would ban the use of federal funds for any project
getting the go-ahead using the Kelo v. City of New London decision.
As a caveat to its ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy added, “A
court confronted with a plausible accusation of impermissible
favoritism to private parties should treat the objection as
a serious one and review the record to see if it has merit,
though with the presumption that the government’s actions
were reasonable and intended to serve a public purpose.”
Our New Grads!
142 students guaduated Onteora High School on Saturday, June
25 despite great heat, moving on to attend a variety of colleges,
enter the military or go directly into the workforce after stirring
words from a series of fellow students. Guest Speaker Karen
Clark Adin, owner of Kingston boutique Bop to Tottom, told graduates
not to be guided by fear and to give back to the community.
“This entire community assisted in your getting where
you are today,” Adin said. “Give back to a community
... here or wherever you live.”
Congrats to all grads!
Seven years after it began, the debate over mercury-based vaccines
and autism is gathering steam, with a growing number of churches
having started a grass-roots movement to rid vaccines of mercury
and a new book on the subject suggesting that governmental knowledge
of the connections between mercury-base vaccines and a rise
in the occurrence of autism in this country has been quieted
by the Bush administration, who have been protecting against
possible lawsuits instead of looking for cures to what some
are calling a new epidemic.
According to press accounts of the controversy, discussion is
tainted from all sides with a growing number of parents filing
lawsuits. And many scientists showing ties to vaccine makers
or selling their expertise in court cases. To top things off,
government officials have stated that they don’t want
people to turn away from vaccines, which have clearly benefited
public health. Compounding the problem is that signs of autism
tend to emerge simultaneous to when children get their first
In 1997, Congress ordered the Food and Drug Administration to
review mercury in vaccines, drugs and food, then stated that
they had found no evidence of harm but that vaccine makers should
move toward eliminating thimerosal to be safe. It wasn’t
until 1999 that vaccines with only trace amounts of thimerosal
started to be introduced. Later that year the CDC suggested
thimerosal should be removed from vaccines “as quickly
Scientists are now saying the problem might be a subset of kids
who can’t handle mercury because of a genetic or other
kind of predisposition, and might be something else in the vaccines,
such as aluminum, or a hyper-reaction to the vaccine itself.
There’s a 3 percent to 8 percent recurrence rate of autism
in families and the disorder is four times more common in boys.
In June 2000, government officials, scientists and vaccine makers
held an invitation-only meeting at a Georgia retreat to review
safety data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had
from several large HMOs. They reportedly found statistics “alarming,”
as did a 2001 Institute of Medicine report which found the theory
of mercury-caused autism “biologically plausible,”
although “evidence was inadequate to accept or reject
it.” Fights over limits to damages that families could
seek in lawsuits followed. In 2002 Congress passed a measure
limiting damages people could collect from vaccine makers. The
measure was later repealed, but has since been reintroduced.
A growing number of media pundits and journalists in the know
have started acknowledging that the anonymous source whose comments
about who outed CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame to noted
Conservative columnist Robert Novak two years ago, in relation
for her husband’s authorship of a New York Times op-ed
piece pointing out how the Bush administration fudged a uranium-seeking
report used to drum up support for a war against Iraq, is none
other trhan top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
If the reports are true, Rove may face a federal perjury rap
for having told the grand jury investigating the Plame case
that he has not leaked to Cooper.
Meanwhile, Newsweek magazine is reporting that e-mails between
Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper and his editors show that
Rove spoke to Cooper in the days before a CIA operative’s
identity was revealed in the media, although it wasn’t
clear what Cooper and Rove discussed. Rove’s attorney
has since said that his client did not disclose any confidential
Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller face jail on
civil contempt charges for refusing to reveal their source to
a federal grand jury.
Federal law makes it a crime to deliberately reveal the identity
of a CIA operative.
The more time children spend watching television the poorer
they perform academically, according to three new studies, which
found that having a home computer with access to the Internet
resulted in comparatively higher test scores.
American homes with children have an average of nearly three
televisions each, the report said, and children with televisions
in their bedrooms averaged nearly 13 hours of viewing a week
compared to nearly 11 hours by children who did not have their
own sets. Children in third grade (approximately 8 years old)
who had televisions in their bedrooms — and therefore
watched more TV — scored lower on standardized tests than
those who did not have sets in their rooms.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged parents to limit
children’s television viewing to no more than one to two
hours per day — and to try to keep younger children away
from TV altogether.
It was also discovered that children who regularly watched television
before the age of 3 ended up with lower test scores later on,
and children and adolescents who watched more television were
less likely to go on to finish high school or earn a college
degree. University of Washington researchers reported that 59
percent of U.S. children younger than age 2 watch an average
of 1.3 hours of television per day, though there is no programming
of proven educational value for children that young.
TV watching appeared to help 3- to 5-year-olds with basic reading
recognition and short-term memory, but not reading comprehension
or mathematics, so the net effect of television watching is
‘’limited in its beneficial impact.”
The Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government
studies that supported Democratic opponents of the Bush administration’s
new Central American trade deal, internal documents show. The
studies, paid for by the department, concluded that several
countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade
status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers’
rights. The agency dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and
biased, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
‘’In practice, labor laws on the books in Central
America are not sufficient to deter employers from violations,
as actual sanctions for violations of the law are weak or nonexistent,’’
the contractor, the International Labor Rights Fund, wrote in
one of the reports. The studies’ conclusions contrast
with the administration’s arguments that Central American
countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant
a free-trade deal with the United States.
The administration and its congressional supporters argue that
the elimination of trade barriers for U.S. products would open
new Central American markets for U.S. farmers and manufacturers.
Critics argue the trade agreement would allow serious labor
violations to continue in Central America.
Behind the scenes, the administration began as early as spring
2004 to block the reports’ public release. The Labor Department
instructed its contractor to remove the reports from its Web
site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became
public, banned release of new information from the reports,
and even told the contractor it couldn’t discuss the studies
The Labor Department has now worked out a deal with the contractor
that will allow the labor rights group to release the country-by-country
final reports - provided there’s no mention of the agency
or federal funding. At the same time, the administration began
a pre-emptive campaign to undercut the study’s conclusions.
Simultaneously, a Republican congressman wants an investigation
of whether the Bush administration tried to suppress a survey
indicating U.S. policies spurred immigrants to illegally enter
the country. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said the U.S. Border
Patrol’s three-week survey was discontinued after initial
results showed illegal immigrants believed they would be granted
amnesty once in the United States. Tancredo cited a report by
Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, that
included copies of an internal memo barring Homeland Security
Department employees from publicly discussing the survey’s
results. The Border Patrol is a branch of the department.
‘’It is crucial that the American people know that
their government is not letting politics get in the way of national
security,’’ Tancredo said.
The Judicial Watch report cites interviews from the Border Patrol
survey with immigrants caught illegally crossing the U.S. southwest
border with Mexico between Jan. 7 and Jan 27. Sixty-one percent
of those interviewed said they had heard of the temporary worker
program, and 45 percent said they believed they would be given
amnesty by the Bush administration, according to the report.
Immigration advocates dismissed the report’s results.
A leading group of pediatricians says teenagers need access
to birth control and emergency contraception, not the abstinence-only
approach to sex education favored by religious groups and President
Bush. The recommendations are part of the American Academy of
Pediatrics’ updated teen pregnancy policy.
“Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles
for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support
abstinence-only interventions as the best way to keep young
people from unintended pregnancy,” said Dr. Jonathan Klein,
chairman of the academy committee that wrote the new recommendations.
Teaching abstinence but not birth control makes it more likely
that once teenagers initiate sexual activity they will have
unsafe sex and contract sexually transmitted diseases, says
the report, which supports a new policy which says that while
doctors should encourage adolescents to postpone sexual activity,
they also should help ensure that all teens - not just those
who are sexually active - have access to birth control, including
Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said counseling
only abstinence, preferably until marriage, is the best approach
because it sends a clear, consistent message. Teenagers who
are sexually active should have access to contraception, but
making birth control available to teens who aren’t sends
a contradictory message, he said.
The academy’s recommendations “to some extent confuse
prevention and intervention,” Horn said.
Citing 2003 government data, the academy’s report says
more than 45 percent of high school girls and 48 percent of
boys have had sexual intercourse. While teen pregnancy rates
have decreased in recent years, about 900,000 U.S. teens get
pregnant each year. Moreover, U.S. teen birth rates are higher
than in comparable industrialized countries, which may be partly
due to greater access to contraception in some countries, the
Ulster County’s Independence Party, the county’s
third largest in terms of voter enrollment, nominated a slate
of 33 candidates for the Ulster County Legislature election
in November. The process involved a screening committee of 10
party members interviewing 130 candidates for county and local
offices in early June for the 3,555 strong party.
Independence Party nominations include:
District 1 (All of Rochester and Wawarsing and part of Marbletown,
four legislators): Incumbents Susan Cummings, R-Ellenville,
and Joseph Stoeckeler, D-Ellenville, and Lenny Distel, an Ulster
Heights Democrat, and Mary Sheeley, an Ellenville Democrat.
District 2 (All of Denning, Hardenburgh, Shandaken and Woodstock
and part of West Saugerties, two legislators): Incumbents Brian
Shapiro, D-Woodstock, and Michael Stock, R-Woodstock.
District 3 (All of Olive and Hurley, most of Marbletown, three
legislators): Incumbents Peter Kraft, D-Hurley, Richard Parete,
D-Accord, and Robert Parete, D-Boiceville.
District 4 (All of the town of Kingston, most of Saugerties,
and part of the town of Ulster, four legislators): Incumbents
Robert Aiello, R-Saugerties, Joseph Roberti, R-Saugerties, and
Democrats Gary Bischoff and Gilda Riccardi, both of Saugerties.
District 5 (Most of the town of Ulster and part of the city
of Kingston, two legislators): Incumbent Michael Berardi, D-Ulster,
and Brian Cahill, a town of Ulster Democrat.
District 6 (Part of the city of Kingston, two legislators):
Incumbent Jeanette Provenzano, D-Kingston, and Kingston Republican
District 7 (All of Esopus and Rosendale, three legislators):
Incumbents Joan Every, R-Rosendale, and Brian Hathaway, R-Bloomington,
and Rosendale Democrat Phil Terpening.
District 8 (All of Gardiner, most of Shawangunk, and part of
New Paltz, three legislators): Incumbents Tracey Bartels, D-Gardiner,
Albert Meyer, R-Wallkill, and Glenn Noonan, R-Gardiner.
District 9 (All of Plattekill and Marlboro, and part of Shawangunk,
four legislators): Incumbents Frank Felicello, R-Marlboro, and
Richard Gerentine, R-Marlboro, and Democrats Stan Ackerman of
Plattekill and Billiam van Roestenberg of Clintondale.
District 10 (Most of New Paltz, two legislators): Incumbents
Hector Rodriguez, D-New Paltz, and Susan Zimet, D-New Paltz.
District 11 (All of Highland and part of New Paltz, two legislators):
Incumbent Charles Busick, R-Highland, and Democrat A. Peter
Kazolias of Highland.
District 12 (Part of the city of Kingston, two legislators):
Incumbents David Donaldson, D-Kingston, and Peter Loughran,
Candidates will need to submit petitions signed by Independence
Party members in order to secure a place on the November ballot.
Local races, such as Shandaken and Olive, were not decided in
recent meetings and will go to official caucuses, and primaries,
later this summer.
Ulster County’s Charter Commission has unanimously decided
county government should henceforth be led by an elected county
executive. The 11-member Charter Commission’s recommendations
will be codified into a written charter by the end of this year.
That charter will have to be first adopted by the county Legislature,
and then passed in a public referendum, for its recommendations
to be enacted.
Those who back a county executive form of county government
say the position creates a single source for public accountability,
and creates a top county post that is elected by all of the
people of Ulster County, giving the position a public mandate.
Under the current system, the top position of Legislature chairman
is elected by the 33 members of the county Legislature from
among its ranks, so there is not a countywide election for the
The commission has also voted that reapportionment should be
taken out of the hands of county lawmakers and handled instead
by an independent community group, decided not to impose term
limits on county lawmakers, and spoken about enacting staggered
four-year terms for county lawmakers. Earlier, they backed the
results of a 2003 public referendum that calls for shrinking
the Legislature from 33 members to 23 members who will run in
single-member districts rather than the multi-member districts
currently in place, effective in 2012.
The Charter Commission will meet next on Monday, July 18, in
the library conference room on the sixth floor of the Ulster
County Office Building on Fair Street in Kingston.
Educating local residents and municipal officials about affordable
housing and eliminating the stigma attached to the concept are
vital to the success of affordable housing efforts in Ulster
County says a new report issued by the Ulster County Housing
“The level of public understanding - including (among)
public officials at the municipal level - about the importance
of (affordable) housing ... is very low in the county,”
the report states. “As a result, NIMBY (‘not in
my back yard’) is pervasive and, to a great extent, effective
across the county when it comes to the development review process
for housing projects - particularly for those in the low to
moderate price-rental cost range.”
One issue the consortium hopes to address is the growing gap
between local housing costs and incomes, a widening disparity
that is making it “increasingly difficult for many residents
to live, work and raise their families here,” the report
For example, in the past six years, the median home price in
Ulster County has nearly doubled, from $96,000 in 1998 to $190,000
in 2004, while the median household income has risen less than
25 percent in the same period. What this means is the average
Ulster County household, which earned $49,213 last year, could
not afford the average Ulster County house, which requires an
income of about $64,000 per year to support.
Changes recommended in the report include a more proactive approach
to housing planning on the town, city and village levels, including
changing municipal zoning codes to encourage low- and moderate-income
housing development; vigorously pursuing public funding for
housing; using county-owned land and properties seized for nonpayment
of taxes for housing development; and strengthening partnerships
with state and federal agencies that support affordable housing.
For further information one can view the report in its entirety
on the county Planning Department’s Web site, www.co.ulster.ny.us/planning.
The Ulster County Youth Board is seeking requests for proposals
for state funding to support county youth programs in 2006.
Funding will be provided through the state Office of Children
and Family Services’ Youth Development and Delinquency
Prevention and Special Delinquency Prevention programs.
The Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention grants require
a dollar-for-dollar match from the agency or municipality applying
for the program funds. Programs must reach the general youth
population with quality recreation, social, and/or skill-building
programs. Eligible agencies must be nonprofit or community-based
organizations with federal identification or charities registration
The 100-percent-reimbursable Special Delinquency Prevention
Program grants are available to programs that demonstrate service
and impact on youth-at-risk target populations identified by
the Office of Children and Family Services. These populations
include youth being considered for placement outside of the
home, discharged from institutional care, currently in residential
care, on Persons-in-Need-of-Supervision (PINS) or juvenile delinquency
charge, on probation, homeless or runaway, truants or school
drop-outs, pregnant, prostitutes, victims of abuse of neglect,
or have a family member involved with juvenile justice, mental
health or social service systems. Eligible agencies must be
nonprofit or community-based organizations with federal identification
or charities registration numbers.
For funding applications, call the Ulster County Youth Bureau
at (845) 334-5264. Completed applications are due at the Youth
Bureau, 407 Development Court, Kingston, N.Y. 12401, no later
than 5 p.m. July 22.
On the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists
is arguing that people’s gut-level reaction to issues
like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced
by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series
of studies that indicate that people’s general approach
to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is
influenced by genes. Environmental influences like upbringing,
the study suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation
as a Democrat or Republican, much as they do in affiliation
with a sports team. But the report, which appears in the current
issue of The American Political Science Review, uses genetics
to help answer several open questions in political science,
including why some people defect from the party in which they
were raised and why some political campaigns, like the 2004
presidential election, turn into verbal blood sport, though
polls find little disparity in most Americans’ views on
specific issues like gun control and affirmative action.
For years, political scientists tried in vain to learn how family
dynamics like closeness between parents and children or the
importance of politics in a household influenced political ideology.
But the study suggests that an inherited social orientation
may overwhelm the more subtle effects of family dynamics. A
mismatch between an inherited social orientation and a given
party may also explain why some people defect from a party.
Many people who are genetically conservative may be brought
up as Democrats, and some who are genetically more progressive
may be raised as Republicans, the researchers say.
Although the two broad genetic types, more conservative and
more progressive, may find some common ground on specific issues,
they represent fundamental differences that go deeper than many
people assume, the new research suggests. The researchers are
not optimistic about the future of bipartisan cooperation or
national unity. Because men and women tend to seek mates with
a similar ideology, they say, the two gene pools are becoming,
if anything, more concentrated, not less. Environmental influences
like upbringing, the study suggests, play a more central role
in party affiliation as a Democrat or Republican, much as they
do in affiliation with a sports team.
In tracking attitudes over the years, geneticists have found
that social attitudes tend to stabilize in the late teens and
early 20’s, when young people begin to fend for themselves.
The Defense Department began working last month with a private
marketing firm to create a database of high school students
ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military
identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment
in some branches. The new database will include personal information
including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses,
grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students
are studying. Privacy advocates said the plan appeared to be
an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government’s
right to collect or hold citizen information by turning to private
firms to do the work. The Pentagon has said that anyone can
“opt out” of the system by providing detailed personal
information that will be kept in a separate “suppression
file.” That file will be matched with the full database
regularly to ensure that those who do not wish to be contacted
According to a Federal Register notice, the data will be open
to “those who require the records in the performance of
their official duties.” It said the data would be protected
by passwords. The system also gives the Pentagon the right,
without notifying citizens, to share the data for numerous uses
outside the military, including with law enforcement, state
tax authorities and Congress.