Short Takes: News From All Over: October 28, 2004

Candidates Vehemently Disagree on Women’s Wage Issues
By Robin Hindary, Women’s eNews
While critics can, and have lamented that President George Bush’s and Sen. John Kerry’s stance on foreign policy issues such as Iraq seem disturbingly similar, their take on a number of key domestic topics, including the issue of women’s wages, are decidedly different. In late 2001, Bush eliminated the Equal Pay Matters Initiative, designed to expand federal enforcement of anti-discriminatory legislation affecting the pay of women and minorities. In addition, the administration reclassified a number of workers as ‘managers,’ thus eliminating their ability to earn overtime pay. Some 6 million people were affected, including those performing jobs predominantly filled by females, such as nursing and retail supervision. Kerry and 42 other senators opposed the policy change. If elected, Kerry says he will lobby to raise the national minimum wage from $5.15 to $7 an hour — a measure that would disproportionately effect women, since they make up 61% of the minimum wage workforce. Bush supports a $1 increase, but only if individual states are allowed to opt out. — Elizabeth Dwoskin

Survival of Genetic Homosexual Traits Explained
By Andy Coghlan, New Scientist
Scientists have long been puzzled as to why Mother Nature would allow genes engineered for homosexuality to survive. Gay men seldom have children, after all, which could be interpreted as a genetic dead-end. A scientific study conducted at the University of Padua in Italy, however, has provided an answer that would make Darwin proud. Research shows that heterosexual women who share genetic factors linked to homosexuality in men tend to have more children than those who do not have the ‘gay gene.’ This fertility boost more than compensates for the lack of offspring fathered by gay men, and keeps the ‘gay’ genetic factors in circulation. — Elizabeth Dwoskin

Don’t Hate the Soldja, Hate the Game
By Nicole Makris, Alternet
Today’s peaceniks know better than to greet soldiers coming home from Iraq with contemptuous taunts such as ‘Baby Killer!’ Politically savvy bumper stickers with phrases like ‘Support our Troops! Bring Them Home!’ demonstrate that activists finally understand you can stand against the war without taking rhetorical swipes at ‘the soldja.’ Most young activists are also aware that recruiters from the ‘all voluntary army’ often exploit the promise of health benefits, a free education to seduce their often less-privileged peers — immigrants are even promised a speedy naturalization process if they’ll just sign on Uncle Sam’s dotted line.– Elizabeth Dwoskin

Britain’s Worst Building to be Demolished on TV
By Matt Weaver, The Guardian
Taking a cue from the popularity of reality ‘makeover’ shows, both physical and structural, Britain’s Channel Four will roll out Demolition in 2005, a show in which city residents are asked to find London’s ugliest building and destroy it. Surprisingly, the show is supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), who will provide a panel of experts that ultimately decide whether the chosen building is ugly enough. The show’s producer hopes the shenanigans will kick off a nationwide debate on the value of architecture, empowering people to improve the quality of their environment one bulldozed brick at a time. — Elizabeth Dwoskin,11200,1327397,00.html

Israel Lays Claim to Palestine’s Water
By Fred Pearce, New Scientist
Israel, in an effort to relieve international pressure to allow greater access to the region’s scarce fresh water supply, has drawn up a secret plan for a desalination plant to supply drinking water to Palestinians living on the West Bank. Since Israel controls four-fifths of the West Bank’s water, the plan could be perceived as generous, if the water didn’t cost $1 per cubic meter, a price that is unaffordable for the average Palestinian family. Israel also wants the United States to finance the project. — Elizabeth Dwoskin

LaserMonks Offer Low Prices, Prayer
By Renee LaReau, National Catholic Reporter
After learning that most ink-cartridges are sold at ten to twenty times their production cost, a group of Cistercian monks began selling cheaper cartridges from their rural Wisconsin Abbey. LaserMonks, which donates its profits (after abbey operating costs) to charitable causes, is expected to gross $2.5 million this year. — Martin Brown

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