Equal Time with Martha Burk

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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Michael Bloomberg spent $12 million last year trying to get members of the Senate to vote for background checks, but his return on investment was lousy.  So this year Mr. Bloomberg has as a new strategy.  Instead of trying to change lawmaker’s minds, he’s going to try and change their faces.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but nearly 50 women in the U.S. are murdered with a gun, most often by a husband or boyfriend every month of the year. Congress could protect women and save lives with a few fixes that wouldn't infringe on the rights of lawful gun owners -- if they had the political will.

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Lately we've been awash in a debate over whether a Muslim should serve as President, triggered by Republican candidate Ben Carson, who said Islam is inconsistent with the constitution. As a woman in the U.S., I don't fear the possibility of a Muslim in the White House nearly as much as I fear the radical Christians now seeking the GOP nomination.

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Get ready for Pope, Pope, and more Pope 24-7 this week, as the pontiff makes his rounds in the nation’s capital.  No doubt Pope Francis is kinder and gentler than his predecessors, especially on issues that affect women, like abortion and ending a marriage. But on one issue of great importance -- priest sex abuse -- the pontiff is not as good as he looks.

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