Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Bloomberg Businessweek: "President Barack Obama signed two executive actions today designed to shed light on the pay practices of federal contractors, which he said will help eliminate salary disparities between men and women. The first order prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees for discussing their pay. The president also directed the Labor Department to draft rules requiring contractors to provide the government with pay data by sex and race. Today’s actions mark the latest effort by Obama to highlight differences with Republicans on issues affecting women, in part to rally support for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections. He used the event to criticize Republicans for blocking Democratic [lawmakers'] initiatives to raise worker pay and for budget proposals that he said recycle discredited fiscal ideas."
A Closer Look at the Numbers: Washington Post: "While Obama described the gender pay gap as women earning 77 cents for every dollar men earn, this statistic does not fully capture the factors that contribute to the discrepancies between men's and women's salaries in the United States. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that younger women have only a 4 percent pay gap with their male counterparts, largely because they have not taken time off work to care for children. Thirty-nine percent of mothers say they have taken a significant amount of time off from work, and 42 percent have reduced their work hours to care for a family member, according to Pew Research, while 27 percent of mothers may have quit work altogether for that reason. By contrast, 24 percent of fathers say they have taken a significant amount of time off to care for a child or other family member. All of this contributes to lower earnings for women, along with the fact that women tend to be concentrated in lower-earning professions."
An Uneven Playing Field: More WaPo: "The vast majority of Americans agree that the country lacks a level playing field at work, according to a Pew Research Center survey last fall. ... [W]omen are twice as likely to say they face gender discrimination in the office: Pew Research found that 18 percent of women, compared with 10 percent of men, say they had been discriminated against at work because of their sex. And most Americans appear sympathetic to the argument the president is making on the question of pay secrecy. A recent poll by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute in [Pittsburgh] found two-thirds of respondents believe their employers hid information about their coworkers’ salaries to hide gender comparisons that favor men."
Kerry Blames Russia: Reuters: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea. Armed pro-Moscow protesters were still occupying Ukrainian government buildings in two cities in the largely Russian-speaking east on Tuesday, although police ended a third occupation in a lightning night-time operation. Ukraine's security service said separatists occupying the security headquarters in Luhansk had planted bombs in the building and were holding as many as 60 hostages. Activists in the building denied they had explosives or hostages, but said they had seized an armory full of automatic rifles. The Ukraine government says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country. Kerry said he feared Moscow might repeat its Crimean operation."
Optimism, Again, Fades: CBS/AP: "Search crews hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet have failed to relocate faint sounds heard deep below the southern Indian Ocean that officials said were consistent with a plane's black boxes, the head of the search operation said Tuesday. Angus Houston, the retired Australian air chief marshal who is heading the search far off Australia's west coast, said sound locating equipment on board the Ocean Shield has picked up no trace of the signals since they were first heard late Saturday and early Sunday. Time may have already run out to find the devices, whose locator beacons have a battery life of about a month. Tuesday marks one month since the plane vanished. Once the beacons blink off, locating the black boxes in such deep water would be an immensely difficult, if not impossible, task."
Bad Astronomy: No, That’s NOT an Artificial Light on Mars
McAllister Here to Stay: Washington Post: "Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) told his local newspaper Monday night that, despite the release of a video that shows the married congressman making out with one of his staffers, he does not intend to resign and plans to seek reelection in November. In an exclusive interview with the Monroe News Star, McAllister said he will seek reelection 'unless there is an outcry for me not to serve, and so far there has been an outpouring of support, not for my actions, but for me to continue to represent the people.' On Monday, another local news outlet released a video that depicted McAllister, who campaigned on his conservative Christian faith, kissing a paid member of his staff inside of his district office in December. Aides to McAllister confirmed to The Post that the staff member, who had recently joined the staff at the time of the romantic encounter, has been dropped from the congressman's payroll."
Shamu Show Continues (For Now): Time: "SeaWorld’s San Diego location will get to keep their 10 killer whales for the time being. At a committee hearing in Sacramento, Calif. on Tuesday, lawmakers heard impassioned arguments for and against a bill that would force SeaWorld San Diego to stop using orcas in their shows, but the issue never came to a vote. Instead, the committee recommended that the bill go through a detailed study that likely won’t conclude for another year. The bill, introduced by Los Angeles-area State Assembly Member Richard Bloom, would make it unlawful to hold any wild orca in captivity for entertainment or performance purposes, as well as breed orcas in captivity. All orcas held in captivity before the bill was enacted would be returned to the wild if possible and to 'sea pens' if not."
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