Editor's note: Dean Baker, an economist, is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive economic policy organization. He is author of "The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive."
By Dean Baker, Special to CNN
(CNN) - The Federal Reserve's newly released Survey of Consumer Finances confirmed what most of us already knew: The middle class has taken a really big hit.
Between 2007 to 2010, the typical family had lost nearly 40% of their wealth. And, despite that our economy was 15% larger in 2010 than in 2001, the typical family's wealth decreased by 27.1% since 2001. On top of that, income had fallen. Median family income in 2010 was down by 7.7% from its 2007 level and 6.3% from its level a decade ago.
The picture looks dismal, doesn't it? But none of these numbers are surprising really. Is the average American poorer than before? Yes.
by Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Marcie Fisher-Borne carries a power of attorney with her at all times. She has a will but has made videos of her wishes for her children just in case someone contests them.
What if she were to get in a car accident tomorrow? What would happen to her daughter, 4, and her 6-month-old son?
It's not that Fisher-Borne doesn't have a partner - she has been with Chantelle Fisher-Borne for 15 years. It's just that the state of North Carolina does not recognize same-sex marriage. Nor does it allow second-parent adoptions.
That means if Fisher-Borne were no longer capable of taking care of her children - she gave birth to her daughter, and her partner, Chantelle, carried their son - Chantelle Fisher-Borne would not be able to adopt their daughter.
The Fisher-Bornes were one of six couples listed in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks to give full parental rights to same-sex couples.
by Jason Hanna, CNN
(CNN) - North Dakota voters have – for now, at least – cleared the way for the University of North Dakota’s athletic teams to drop their controversial Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
North Dakotans voted 60.5% to 39.5% on Tuesday in favor of a referendum measure that essentially gives the school the power to drop the name, which it has sought to do to comply with an NCAA campaign targeting Native American nicknames.
“We are appreciative that voters took the time to listen and to understand the issues and the importance of allowing the university to move forward,” university President Robert O. Kelley said Wednesday.
But a years-long battle over the nickname might not be over, with supporters hoping to force another vote – this time calling for changing the state Constitution to mandate the name’s use – in November.
By Melissa Gray, CNN
(CNN) - Two advocacy groups filed a federal complaint Tuesday alleging a North Carolina school district's treatment of three Latino families was discriminatory because it did not provide important information in Spanish.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Children's Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Civil Rights.
They say that in the cases of three students and their Spanish-speaking parents, the Wake County Public School System failed to provide documents about the students' suspensions in Spanish.
That meant the parents, who speak limited English, were unable to ask questions or even appeal the suspensions, which discriminated against them on the basis of national origin and violated their civil rights, the groups say.
The school district responded by saying it has many programs in place to support and inform Latino and Spanish-speaking families. It also provided forms in Spanish,including notification of suspension, a form for parents to request information on disciplinary actions, and confirmation that a parent has made an appeal.