News Articles

CULTURE DIGEST: Schwarzenegger pushes casino gambling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–With the state’s budget still in trouble, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a deal with a group of Pomo Indians to plant a casino larger than any in Las Vegas or Atlantic City in an economically struggling town near San Francisco.

Some critics of Schwarzenegger’s move say the governor is attempting to fix the state’s budget by taking advantage of the poor, and others say the area where the casino will be built already is one of the state’s most congested urban corridors.

The deal with the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, announced Aug. 19, authorizes construction of the largest urban casino in America along a major commuter freeway in San Pablo, about 15 miles north of Oakland, according to The New York Times.

If the agreement is approved by the state legislature and the department of the interior, the casino could house up to 5,000 slot machines, making it third in the United States only to two rural casinos in Connecticut, The Times said.

Schwarzenegger also announced four other gambling agreements which, along with the San Pablo casino, are expected to provide about $200 million in state revenue each year.

“I am very pleased with the financial contribution these tribes have agreed to make to our state and with the many protections for patrons, workers, the environment and local communities we were able to include in the agreements,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement, according to The Times.

But Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, a Democrat whose district includes San Pablo, told The Times the governor will not have an easy time passing his deal through the legislature.

“It is no accident that these proposals come in communities with very low-income people living in them,” she said. “I see this as an attempt to balance the state budget on the back and expense of these desperately poor communities who see themselves as having few other options.”

Even if Schwarzenegger’s proposals pass the legislature, they may be stopped by the voting public if gambling-related ballot measures are approved in November, The Times noted.

FAMILY MEALS MAKE KIDS HEALTHIER — A study by the University of Minnesota has validated what some parents have known all along: Sharing regular family meals may enhance the health and well-being of adolescents.

The study, published in the August edition of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, surveyed nearly 5,000 Minnesota teens about how often they had eaten with their family in the previous week, whether they thought their parents loved them and whether they could talk to their parents about problems, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reported. Researchers also asked teens about grade-point averages and behavior such as drinking, smoking and thoughts of suicide.

“Each additional family meal per week had some benefit to kids,” especially girls, Marla Eisenberg, lead author of the study and a research associate at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Center for Adolescent Health and Development, said in the Star Tribune.

Results showed that about half of the girls who had not eaten with their families in the previous week reported smoking cigarettes, compared to only 17 percent of girls who had eaten with their families each day. The spread was less for boys, at 36 and 22 percent respectively, the Star Tribune reported.

About one-fourth of teens surveyed said they ate seven or more meals with their families during the previous week, and nearly one-third said they had family meals only once or twice a week or never, according to the study. The more times teens reported eating with their families, the less likely they were to report substance abuse, mood disorders or poor academic performance.

According to researchers, some reasons for the correlation could be that family meals provide informal check-in times for parents to monitor their children’s emotional well-being; they reflect a greater portion of supervised time to reduce time spent in risky situations; and they’re a marker for spending less time with negative peer influences.

MPAA RATINGS GROWING LESS STRICT — A movie rated PG-13 today contains comparable content to an R-rated movie a decade ago, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

“The findings demonstrate that a ratings creep has occurred over the last decade and that today’s movies contain significantly more violence, sex and profanity on average than movies of the same rating a decade ago,” Kimberly Thompson, associate professor at HSPH and director of the Kids Risk Project, said in a mid-July news release.

Researchers compiled a database including movie ratings and ratings reasons obtained from the Motion Picture Association of America and information about movie content from two independent sources, Kids-in-Mind and Screen It! They then assessed the relationship between movie ratings and content for films released between 1992 and 2003, the release said.

The significant increase in violence, sex and profanity the study found in films over the 11-year period suggests the MPAA has become increasingly lenient in assigning its age-based movie ratings. Even in G-rated movies, researchers found a significantly higher amount of violence in animated movies than in non-animated films, the Harvard release said.

THIRD DAY TO APPEAR AT RNC — The schedule for entertainers at the Republican National Convention in New York City Aug. 30-Sept. 2 has been announced, and several Christian music artists are on the list.

Grammy Award-winning rock group Third Day is set to appear as is longtime friend of President Bush and Christian music legend Michael W. Smith. Jaci Velasquez, a 23-year-old Latin gospel singer who has performed numerous times for the president, also is included. Among the other artists are country music acts Brooks & Dunn, Lee Ann Womack, Darryl Worley, Sara Evans and the Gatlin Brothers.

Actor Stephen Baldwin, brother of anti-Bush activist and actor Alec Baldwin, has been tapped to attend as well. A born-again Christian, Baldwin has produced a DVD using the extreme sports of BMX riding and skateboarding to promote a Christian message.

    About the Author

  • Erin Curry