Equal Time with Martha Burk

Well we did it.  Made it through another year. Women have had some good news, and some bad news. What with wars, floods, police shootings, terrorist attacks and all the rest, we’ve probably missed a few things. So let’s review some items that didn’t make the front pages in 2015.

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Starting last month with Starbucks’ plain red holiday cup, and culminating in actions like the banning of a teddy bear tree to benefit needy kids at an Albuquerque school when a Rabbi complained, the annual hysteria over the so-called “War on Christmas” is in full swing. Christians say the well-known evergreen is a Christian symbol and others say it leaves out different faiths. Both sides are wrong.

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Consumers are snapping up mountains of plastic soon-to-be-junk from toy stores, and the latest gee-whiz gadgets and cheesy clothing from big boxes. Is it stuff we need?  Will we love it in January?  And what's the message we're sending to our kids? Call a halt -- and start a new tradition.

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December is for celebrating, but it's also about remembering one of the darkest days in decades, December 14, 2012  – when 20 first graders and 6 educators at Sandy Hook elementary school were gunned down by an ex-student wielding a shotgun.

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Thanksgiving’s over and Black Friday’s behind us.  But the shopping frenzy will continue right up ‘till midnight on the 24th. Love or hate it, shopping is now a national pastime.  But for many, especially the 16% of American workers making the minimum wage, holidays are a time of worry.

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Thanksgiving will be just like any other day for millions of U.S. citizens who rely on food stamps. No turkey, just trimmings to the already meager food stamp program. House Republicans want a $40 billion dollar cut.  Senate Democrats want $4 billion. Whatever they choose, it’ll be on top of the loss these families suffered when a 2009 temporary increase ran out November 1st.

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The gender pay gap reared its ugly head again this month, with a massive study released by the website PayScale.  Almost one and half million workers logged on over a 2 year period and spilled the beans about how much they’re paid.  The highest earning group? Men with kids. They way out earn the lowest group – you guessed it – single women with kids.

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When it comes to how we treat our veterans, we do pretty well in some areas, but fall down in others. Homelessness is one of the worst. It’s way too high for both male and female vets – and this is one area where women are catching up to men.

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Halloween is behind us, but I’ve still got some scary news.  We’ve started the one-year countdown to election day.  We’ve already been bombarded for months with red-hot anti-tax, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, and anti-poor rhetoric from a fool’s dozen Republican candidates.  Can we really take another year?

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Afghanistan President Asraf Ghani is scheduled to visit the U.S. this month.  He said in February that peace talks with the Taliban would start soon, and reports say the talks could also start in March.  Let's hope so. For the past year it's been hard to see progress through the bombs and bullets.  Afghanistan is a place where peace just won't stick, and women are all but shut out of negotiations.

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