Friday, December 24, 2004

"No Woman In Spokane County Is Permitted to Get Divorced If She's Pregnant, Not Even an Abused Woman" (weekly alternative spotlights)

A 27-year-old mother of two, Hughes made up her mind in April of 2004 to divorce her husband, Carlos Hughes, 27. Since Washington is a no-fault divorce state, she thought it would be easy. That Carlos was serving the last weeks of a yearlong prison sentence on a domestic violence conviction should have made it easier still. Shawnna wanted to divorce Carlos before he was released from prison, and her attorney had assured her that obtaining a divorce wouldn't be a problem. It would be easy, even routine--and at first it was. The judge signed the order, and for four days around Halloween, Shawnna Hughes was a divorced woman and a single mother.
Things began to unravel the day after the divorce came through. The county prosecutor called Hughes' lawyer and told her that Shawnna's divorce was going to be revoked. The state was seeking to force Hughes back into her marriage with an abusive husband. The reason was shocking: Shawnna was pregnant and the Spokane prosecutor, according to Shawnna Hughes' lawyer, said that no woman in Spokane County is permitted to get divorced if she's pregnant. Not even an abused woman.

That's from A.J. Glusman's "A Difficult Pregnancy" ( in this week's The Stranger.

Also check out Dan Frosch's "Solider's Heart" which is running in various weeklies (we're linking to Boise Weekly

The first time Kristin Peterson’s husband hit her, she was asleep in their bed. She awoke that night a split second after Joshua’s fist smashed into her face and ran, terrified and crying, to the bathroom to wipe the blood spurting from her nose. When she stuck her head back into the bedroom, there he was—punching at the air, muttering how she was coming after him and how he was going to kill her. Kristin started yelling but Joshua’s eyes were closed. He was still asleep.
The next morning Joshua saw the dried blood on his wife. “Oh God,” she recalls him saying. “I did that.” Peterson doesn’t remember the night or the nightmares. He also can’t remember punching his wife again in his sleep a few weeks later, this time driving her front tooth through her lip, all the while murmuring how he’d never go back. For six months last year, Peterson helped build an oil pipeline across Iraq as a specialist in the Army’s 110th Quartermaster Company. On the same highway where Private Jessica Lynch was ambushed, he saw Iraqi soldiers, dead and rotting, dangling out of their tanks. One time Peterson’s truck broke down and he was surrounded by a group of Iraqi children, some throwing rocks, others toting AK-47s. “I kept thinking, ‘God, I can’t handle this,’” the 24-year-old says with a hollow laugh. Since Peterson came back to Richmond Hill, Georgia in August 2003, these memories have turned him into a man Kristin often doesn’t recognize—a man who lashes out in anger at her and their 21-month-old son, whose awful dreams tell him to beat his wife because, in his sleep, she’s an Iraqi.

Homeless in Bush's America? Joshua Greene writes about Cleveland's local situation in "Homeless for the Holidays" ( in the Cleveland Free Times:

It's just one more fact: minimum wage doesn't support minimum living conditions.
“You have to work 88 hours a week at minimum wage to afford fair market housing in Cleveland,” Davis says, citing the Federal Housing and Urban Development's definition of fair market housing.
And, at least according to Davis, the situation is going downhill fast.
“We've gotten poorer. Our health care system sucks. Fifty percent of the people that live in the city of Cleveland are paying more than 30 percent of their salary on rent,” he says. “That's a burden you can't sustain for very long. One crisis and you're at 2100, or what most likely happens is you double up or triple up. While at the same time you have a 10 percent vacancy rate in the city. The Census says that.”
On the other side of town, Lyle Draper, director of residential services for the local Volunteers of America, says he struggles with the concept of turning people out in the cold, especially when the cold is as deadly as it's been recently. But more people are requesting shelter than his agency has funds for. So Draper's decided, for the second year in a row, to let those in need sleep on the floor, but he can't feed them.
“I think what I'm gonna have to do is let them go without breakfast or dinner,” says the Fort Worth native. “If it gets like it did last year — I had 28 people sleeping in the dining room on the floor.”
The VOA runs an emergency shelter along with a long-term, two-year program offering counseling and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Those who've been through the programs swear by them. But the increasing number of people in need outweighs how many they can send through the program.
“I don't know of any programs that don't have a waiting list,” Draper says. “A lot of people are catching hell right now; they've been phased out.”

Interesting column in Seattle Weekly. It's by Knute Berger, "Rummy, Romanism, and Rebellion Maybe a military coup isn't such a bad idea" (

Bush seems to have renewed his own martial posturing as Rummy struggles. Did you notice that during his recent speech before the Marines at Camp Pendleton a couple of weeks ago, Bush sported a military-style Ike jacket? Usually, presidents go out of their way to remind people the commander in chief is a civilian, but Bush was garbed like a tin-pot dictator. He also plans a military extravaganza at his inauguration to celebrate the "peaceful transfer" of power.

In the Texas Observer, Lou Dubose documents the motley collection of people and interests impacting Native American gambling (

A rich Washington lobbyist reaches out to an impoverished Indian tribe on the Texas-Mexico border and offers to buy insurance for all the tribe’s elders. The insurance will be free to American Indians over 75 years old, even those who are not enrolled members of the tribe. The lobbyist offers to pay all premiums for the Elder Legacy Program. “It means the world to me,” he says.There’s a catch. It’s term life. And death benefits will not be paid to family members, but to a private school in Washington, D.C. The school, founded, funded and directed by the lobbyist, will then pay the tribe’s lobbying fees at his law firm, Greenberg Traurig. It was a bold, innovative plan. Public policy advocacy secured by deferred income based on cold actuarial calculation. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was both benefactor and beneficiary, speculating on the lives of the elder members of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe of El Paso and collecting death benefits in Washington. “I’m glad he didn’t send an undertaker to take measurements,” said Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado), at the hearing.

Ralph Reed, John Cornyn and others surface in "No Picnic at Speaking Rock."

For the soul check out the seven poems offered by Ithaca Times ( For the funny bone, check out "14 Hairstyles of the Pundits" ( by Nora Zelevansky in LA Weekly.