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web posted August 6, 2001

Klamath officer disciplined over warning

A police officer who issued a politically charged warning to environmentalists at the headgates of a Klamath Basin irrigation canal recently has been placed on administrative leave.

Lt. Jack Redfield, a 39-year veteran of the department, will continue to receive his salary and benefits until an internal investigation has been completed, City Manager Jeff Ball said.

Redfield, himself a rancher, got in trouble for making unauthorized statements about the Klamath water crisis on July 25.

That day, the headgates were opened, by order of the U.S. Interior Department, to release a limited amount water from the Upper Klamath Lake to aid dry farms and ranchers.

It was the first irrigation the area had received since the federal government decided in April to withhold water to some 1,400 landowners so it could be used to help struggling coho salmon and sucker fish.

After taking subordinate officers with him to the headgates, Redfield exchanged his officer's hat for a cowboy hat and delivered a prepared speech.

He predicted that violence would break out if the environmentalists continued to press their agenda.

Speaking for the city, Ball denounced the speech, calling it inflammatory. Redfield, who along with Lt. Mike Reynolds is the second-ranking officer behind Chief Dan Tofell, was then placed on leave.

Condit tangles with photographer at stakeout

Gary ConditPolice are reviewing a complaint lodged by an aide to Rep. Gary Condit, D-California, that physical contact took place between the congressman and a photographer the afternoon of July 30 outside Condit's apartment.

"We are reviewing the situation," according to a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, who refused to say what charges, if any, might be considered.

Television and press crews have been stationed outside Condit's apartment because of media interest in Condit and his alleged involvement with Chandra Levy, a former federal intern from his California district who has been missing for three months. Police have interviewed Condit four times but say he is not a suspect in the case.

Condit's chief of staff, Mike Dayton, told reporters he felt "the congressman deserved a little bit more respect" as he tried to get to a waiting car to depart his home that afternoon.

According to Dayton, Steve Boitano, a free-lance photographer for The Associated Press, made physical contact with Condit either with his arm or his camera.

Witnesses said the "stakeout" of media crews on the sidewalk is in a very confined area and that crews jumped up in surprise as Condit made a quick departure down the outside stairs.

Boitano acknowledged he and Condit may have tried to get to the same space between two parked cars curbside as Condit walked toward his waiting vehicle, which was double-parked.

As six police cars responded to Dayton's complaint, neighbors who gathered to watch the proceedings chimed in with their own sharp comments to the media.

One woman was heard loudly claiming she, too, had been physically blocked at that very moment by one of the sound technicians at the scene.

Kennedy Smith reportedly won't run for Congress. We're devastated

William Kennedy SmithWilliam Kennedy Smith, the nephew of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy who was found innocent of a rape charge in 1991, has decided against running for Congress in 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times reported August 1.

Smith told the newspaper that he won't seek the seat being vacated by Rep. Rod Blagojevich, although he might run for public office someday.

"I hope sometime in my life to have that honor and that experience," said Smith, a physician and international leader in opposing the use of land mines.

Smith said his decision not to run was prompted in part by a Sun-Times story that ran Juoly 29. The story said he was surveying voters on whether his rape trial, which was televised, would affect his ability to serve in the House.

Smith said he was "surprised at the level of attention" the newspaper article received.

In his 1991 trial, Smith testified that he had consensual sex with his accuser.

Blagojevich, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Chicago and its northwestern suburbs, is leaving Congress to run for Illinois governor. Four other Democrats are vying for the seat.

More violence, swearing on TV, says U.S. study

America's children are being exposed to more violence and swearing on television during the evening "Family Hour," and while there is less sexual content per hour, prime-time programs are getting raunchier, a report released August 1 found.

The Parents Television Council, a group aimed at "restoring responsibility to the entertainment industry," examined six weeks of programming during the traditional family hour from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Central and Mountain time.

The number of swear words in the 2000-01 television season rose by 78 percent since the council's last study in the 1998-99 season. The most common vulgarity was the word "ass," appearing on average more than once an hour, the study found.

"These findings demonstrate beyond any shadow of a doubt that broadcast television's family hour is more violent and vulgar than at any time in history," said Brent Bozell, president of the council.

The study found foul-language rates would have more than doubled if the tally were broadened to include mild curses such as "hell," "damn" and "crap."

Violence was shown on average 2.8 times per hour, 70 percent more than the 1998-99 review.

Although the amount of sexual material fell 17 percent during the family hour in the past two years, shows were more likely to broadcast sexually explicit material than in previous years.

"Oral sex, pornography and the like are now viewed as acceptable for the family hour, an hour during which an average of 10 million children are tuned in each night," Bozell said.

UPN television network was cited as the worst offender, with an average of 18.1 instances of offensive content per hour. NBC came second with a per-hour average rate of 9.1 instances, followed by Fox with 7.8 instances.

UPN had three times as much violence as the WB, the second-place network, the study found. NBC had the highest average for sexual material, 5.7 instances per hour, followed by ABC with an average of 4.8 instances per hour.

UPN said viewers had the right to make an informed choice about what they watched.

"At UPN we strongly believe in the viewer's right to make an informed choice about what they watch, which is why we voluntarily and clearly label every UPN program with a content rating," UPN said in a statement.

On Capitol Hill, several senators condemned television networks for doling out sex, violence and bad language during hours when millions of children were still awake.

Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who has spearheaded a campaign against violent and sexually explicit material produced by the entertainment industry, said the report showed how "sour" television's traditional family hour had become.

"The report ... reminds us that what was once a safe haven is increasingly turning into a danger zone for America's children," Lieberman said.

He appealed to television networks to reserve the first hour of prime-time television for programs suitable for people of all ages.

"As we have continually said, we are not seeking censorship, but good citizenship from an industry, America's broadcasters," he said, adding that parents should turn the television off if they find content to be inappropriate.

Study: 850,000 children home-schooled

About 850,000 of the nation's 50 million children are being taught at home rather than in schools, mostly by parents who are well-educated and live in cities, a new government study estimates.

The report, released last week by the Education Department, calculates that 1.7 percent of American children were homeschooled in 1999, resulting in a total estimate higher than in the past.

"The number of parents taking direct responsibility for teaching their children through homeschooling is approaching a million, and we expect the next report on homeschooling will reflect growth in the population and new homeschooling opportunities," said Education Secretary Rod Paige.

The new figures come from an Education Department telephone survey of 57,278 households conducted from January through May 1999.

Previous attempts to count the number of homeschoolers, both by the Education Department and the U.S. Census Bureau, have produced widely different results. In 1994, the Census Bureau estimated that 360,000 children were homeschooled, while in 1996 the Education Department put the number at 640,000 homeschoolers.

The new report says the number of homeschoolers could be as high as 992,000 or as low as 709,000. The 850,000 takes the average of the two.

It also paints a clear portrait of the average homeschooler, finding that they are more likely than other students to live with two or more siblings in a two-parent family, with only one parent working outside the home.

Parents of homeschoolers are, on average, better-educated than other parents -- a greater percentage have college degrees -- though their income is about the same. Like most parents, the vast majority of those who homeschool their children earn less than $50,000, and many earn less than $25,000.

"These are families that have one income, and have sacrificed to live on one income," said Laura Derrick, of Austin, Texas, the parent of two homeschoolers and president of the Home Education Network.

Most say they homeschool their children to give them a better education and not necessarily out of religious beliefs, although religion was second on a list of reasons.

"The primary reason is that it's a great way to raise kids," said Mark Hegener, publisher of Home Education Magazine. "Any way you slice the American Pie, you're going to find homeschoolers sticking out of it."

Based in Tonasket, Wash., Hegener's bimonthly magazine has a circulation of about 12,000. He has published it for 18 years while homeschooling his five children.

"Collectively, they spent about six weeks in a conventional school system," he said.

Hegener's grandchildren are now being taught by their parents, with grandpa's help.

The survey found that about 18 percent of homeschoolers were enrolled in schools part-time, with about 11 percent saying they used books or materials from a public school. About 8 percent said they used a public school curriculum, and about 6 percent participated in extracurricular activities.

Derrick said relationships between homeschoolers and public schools vary widely, with some states and districts opening their arms wide while others ignore them. But most, she said, have begun accepting that homeschoolers are here to stay.

"Today, it's the rule, rather than the exception that there's a good relationship between the public school students and homeschoolers," she said.

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