Equal Time with Martha Burk

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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On November 19th citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will vote on the first city-level 20 week abortion ban in the U.S. Called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance,” the proposed Albuquerque law is a test case for city abortion bans nationwide. Whether the local coalition fighting the ban can prevail over out-of-state rabble rousers, the  Catholic clergy, a biased local press, and fundamentalist churches that have taken up the battle is anybody’s guess.

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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.  Substance abuse and mental illness are leading causes of homelessness for male veterans.  But homelessness for our female ex-soldiers actually starts before they leave the military.  A huge factor is sexual trauma from rapes and other assaults during their service. Because they couldn’t report the crimes, or were punished when they did, many women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and lose their jobs, family, and homes.

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The 2013 Global Gender Gap Index from the World Economic Forum is out. It measures overall equality between women and men in 136 countries.  Is the USA number one?  We rank 23rd in the world, just behind Barundi in the Global Gender Gap Index.   Unlike the US,, governments in countries at the top of the list make it possible for parents to combine work and family. No one can argue that we’re not in the world’s top tier when it comes to standard of living -- it's just that women in the good ol’ U.S. of A don’t quite have the same standard as men. Maybe we can learn from those countries that are doing it right.

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October 26 is Make a Difference Day. With all the bad news in the world, we can create our own good news by making a difference in our communities.  Created by USA Weekend magazine and Points of Light, Make a Difference Day inspires people around the world to help others by volunteering for the cause of their choice.  Good for communities, good for those in need, and good for the planet.

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Every month nearly 50 women in the U.S. are murdered with a gun, most often by a husband or boyfriend.  Congress could protect women and save lives with a few fixes that wouldn't infringe on the rights of lawful gun owners.  All it takes is political will.

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October marks the International Day of the Girl Child. This year's emphasis is on education.  In poor countries worldwide as well as countries in conflict, girls are deprived of education more often than their brothers.  Thirty million elementary school-age girls are not in school.  There’s no disputing that girls born in the U.S. have won the lottery of life compared to girls in poor and war-torn countries. But despite our prosperity and universal education, we still have work to do.  

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The Supreme Court session starts in October, and some hot button issues are likely to be heard this term. The hottest may be corporate control of contraception. Obamacare mandates that employer health plans cover birth control without co-payments.  Corporations like Hobby Lobby and Eden Foods hate the rule so much that they’ve filed lawsuits to stop it.  They say they don’t believe in birth control, and covering it for female workers violates their religious freedom. What about a female employee's right not to be forced to conform to dictates by the boss’s faith? 

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Chicken is big business in the U.S. During National Chicken Month, the industry gives us ways to celebrate -- by eating more chicken of course. But who pays, and who profits? KFC alone rakes in over $4 billion a year -- while paying workers the minimum wage. Corporate big birds like Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride have lobbied for years to get safety inspections weakened, and they're about to succeed, thanks to the Obama administration.  So here are some different ideas to mark National Chicken Month.

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Forty seven million people in the U.S. depend on food aid, and almost half are kids. For the first time in modern history, the House has passed as farm bill without any food stamps, even though the recession has caused the rolls to swell. The House voted to cut food stamps, but keep $195 billion in subsidies for big Agriculture and farmers who don't farm.   If it's not fixed, a lot more people will go hungry. Here's a suggestion … 

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President Obama got a short reprieve when Russia put forward a plan to avoid a U.S. missile strike on Syria by sequestering Syria’s chemical weapons. In the constant administration drumbeat for military action, too many people have been saying the only other option is doing nothing. But Syrian women have a better plan. Even as the Russian-U.S. talks are looking for a solution that avoids a U.S. attack, Syrian women are campaigning to reframe the options altogether. The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace is working for a democratic Syrian state through peaceful means.

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Syria has used chemical weapons on its people, and a unified world response is in order.  But the case for the U.S. bombing Syria alone on the grounds of national security is weak, and will cost billions.  The real threat to our national security is economic.  Here are some things the money could buy.

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Labor Day was created in the 19th century by the unions, to celebrate the economic achievements of American workers. But if we look at the 21st century “economic achievements” by U.S. corporations in taking advantage of their low wage employees, we might as well rename it Labor Exploitation Day.  Big low-wage employers are now issuing ATM style "payroll cards" instead of paychecks, costing low wage employees hundreds of dollars a year just to acess their money.

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Though women worked as hard as men in the civil rights movement, they were very often made invisible.  At its core the movement was about the personhood of black men.  Indeed, "I AM A MAN" was often seen on placards, and is an enduring image of the era. Women were blocked from recognition at the March on Washington rally, not allowed to speak nor to attend a meeting at the White House. It's time these women were written back into history.

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Women have made steady gains in many areas since they got the right to vote in August of 1920, but there is still work to do.  When elected officials refuse to back pro-woman policies, today's females should borrow a page from the suffragists and use their votes to hold elected officials accountable.

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Blaming Hillary Clinton for everything from Huma Abedin's reaction to her husband's sextcapades to global unrest, the Hillary Haters are just getting started.  Expect to be inundated between now and 2016.  They just don't want a strong woman in control.

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Groups friendly to House Republlicans are mounting an anti-Obamacare ad blitz during this month's congressional recess.  The ads are aimed at moms, but may just cause a backlash.  The ads could remind women that repealing Obamacare will eliminate cost-free birth control coverage, and they know the GOP has voted to defund family planning programs and birth control clinics. 

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Most people think McDonalds and WalMart lead the pack when it comes to creating low wage jobs in the U.S. -- but they're wrong.  The biggest offender is mostly out of sight to consumers, and responsible for more poverty level wages than these two companies combined.

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The golf club hosting the British Open this year has always barred Blacks from membership.  This year they extended the policy to cover players as well.  The R&A, governing body of UK golf, has no plans to remove Muirfield from the rotation, saying the flap over discrimination is "considerably overblown."

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Texas Governor Rick Perry is good at letting conservative women speak for his anti-abortion crusade and label pro-choice women "terrorists." Perry learned from his predecessor George W. Bush how to do it.  Pro-choice women will likely take revenge at the ballot box. They are the majority of voters and can control any election. That ought to terrify anti-abortion candidates.

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The Declaration of Independence declared that "all men are created equal," and unfortunately it meant just that.  Women still do not have equal rights in the U.S. Constitution, and they're needed now more than ever.

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Republican Speaker John Boehner said the recent abortion ban passed by the House was very popular and wouldn't change how women feel about the party. He's half right. It won't their relationship with women, because women already hate the GOP.

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Only 12% of American workers get any kind of paid leave for care of family members, including newborns and adopted children.  In the few companies that grant the benefit, new dads get far less than moms. It's time we recognize dads need time off too.

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Even after 50 years women working full time and year round are still behind men.  But there's another pay gap that's getting worse every year.  CEOs are reaping millions while ordinary workers -- women and men -- are falling further behind.

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Congress cuts programs for kids, the elderly and the sick to pay for the sequester, while fat cat corporations continue to reap big bucks from unfair tax breaks.

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According to a recent Pentagon report, sexual assaults in the military are up almost 40% over the past two years.  Top brass is still resisting changing the system that allows senior officers to let offenders off the hook.

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The cost of college loans is already high, and will double on July 1st if Congress doesn't act.  While it's hard on men too, the pay gap and credit crunch especially affects women.  Loans are harder to get and harder to pay off.

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The U.S. is far behind other developed countries when it comes to support for motherhood.  Most mothers are in the paid workforce, and we need new policies that match reality.

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For years there has been a significant gender gap on the need for more gun control, with the majority of women in favor.  The gap has widened since Sandy Hook, and voters are now planning to punish lawmakers who voted against expanded background checks.

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Two and one-half minute commentary by Equal Time host Martha Burk on Michael Pollan's new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, and why we aren't going back to the kitchen any time soon.  Food guru Michael Pollan wants women (and men) to go back to the kitchen and cook real food again. But what took women out of the kitchen to begin with?  Was it feminism?

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The U.S. tax system is supposed to be fair.  But is it?  If you're an ordinary worker, you're taxed at a much higher rate than investors and corporations.  Corporations claim they have the same rights as people -- so let's tax them the same as people.

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Martha Burk led the fight to open Augusta National Golf Club to women, beginning with a protest a decade ago.  She and her organization kept the pressure on through lawsuits and big monetary settlements to finally dismantle the tree house a decade later.

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It takes until April of every year for women to catch up to what men made by the previous December 31, and that's for full-time year-round workers.  Pithy commentary on why it happens and what can be done about it.

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New York Times columnist Gail Collins talks with host Martha Burk on the legacy of Betty Friedan and the new 50th anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique, one of the most important books of the 20th century.

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Betsy West, Executive producer of the new PBS documentary Makers: the Women who make America talks with host Martha Burk on the 20th century women's movement and the advances women are making today as a result.

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In this Black History Month program, Dr. Jones DeWeever, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, discusses the history of Black women's activism and great Black women leaders from the 1930s until now, and progress for Black women going forward.

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In this Black History Month program, Texas Regional Medical Center emergency room physician and activist Myiesha Taylor talks with Martha Burk about how she is working with the Disney corporation to encourage Black girls to go into medicine, and how popular culture influences the choices kids make about careers.

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Boston Women's Health Book Collective Executive Director Judy Norsijian talks with host Martha Burk about the ground-breaking worldwide best-seller Our Bodies, Ourselves, and how its 40 years of publication has made a difference in health policy for women worldwide.

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40th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade discussion with host Martha Burk and Merle Hoffman, operator of pre-Roe abortion clinic on reproductive rights then and now, what to expect in the future.

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Martha Burk interviews top national pollster Celinda Lake on what women are thinking as we go into the 2012 presidential race.

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Sarah Weddington, who argued the Roe v. Wade case before the Supreme Court, talks with host Martha Burk about the making of Roe, and ongoing threats to reproductive rights in the U.S.

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