U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Fights for Equal Pay
In March, five members of the women’s soccer team playing for the United States in the upcoming summer Olympic Games filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In it, they accused the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) of wage discrimination, for spending $31 million on the men’s team compared to $10 million on the women (This includes $9 million to the men, who went to the World Cup and lost, while the women went a year later, won, and earned just $2 million.)
In response, the USSF brought a lawsuit against the women’s team because it feared a strike. The parties went to federal court, where the judge ruled that a collective bargaining agreement (a negotiated contract between organized groups and their employers that lay out things such as pay and conditions) included a “no-strike” clause. Even though the agreement had technically expired in 2012, both parties had signed a modified deal that lasts through 2016.
What Do You Think? Do you agree with the judge’s ruling? Why or why not? Do some research and find a similar lawsuit concerning women athletes and alleged pay discrimination. What was the ruling in that case? How is it similar or different from this case?
Obama’s Speech in Japan
Over the Memorial Day weekend, President Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan, the site where the United States dropped two atomic bombs in 1945, during World War II. As the first sitting American president to visit the city since the attack, Obama visited Peace Memorial Park, a place created by an atomic bomb survivor in honor of American POW’s. The president made remarks, calling for a “world without nuclear weapons.” Then he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in laying a wreath on the museum’s cenotaph (monument).
The visit angered some, who saw his trip as another in a series critics call, “an apology tour.” This includes his historic visit to Cuba earlier this year. But his presence was seen as a balm to many Japanese, thousands of whom gathered to see the president speak, some of them the descendants of the 100,000 people (about a third of Hiroshima’s population) who were killed by the blast and resulting firestorm. The Foreign Ministry of South Korea made a statement, praising the acknowledgment of the Korean victims, who are often overlooked.
What Do You Think? In his speech, President Obama said, “technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us.” What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree? Find at least two sources to back up your stance either way.
Michelle Obama Addresses Grads
The president wasn’t the only Obama to take to the podium this month. The First Lady served as the commencement speaker for New York’s City College graduation ceremony. Addressing around 3,000 graduates and their families, Mrs. Obama said that she accepted the invitation because City College has served students from 150 countries and “represent just about every possible background—every color and culture, every faith and walk of life.” She said that some people view diversity, “as a threat to be contained rather than a resource to be tapped.” Many took this as a dig at presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The City College of New York, originally called the Free Academy of the City of New York, was founded in 1847 in Harlem. It was the first free public institution of higher education in the country. It is often referred to as “the poor man’s Harvard.” Some of its notable alumni include Great American Songbook lyricist Ira Gershwin, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell, and poet Adrienne Rich. Currently, nearly half of the college’s students are from low-income households and/or the first in their families to attention college.
Dig Deeper The First Lady was not the only commencement speaker to take the opportunity to publically criticize Trump (some more subtly than others). Find out who they were and note the similarities of their criticism.
Find Dory (But Don’t Buy Her)
It’s an all-too-common occurrence: millions of moviegoers are charmed by a cute animal character starring in a blockbuster, so they go out to buy their very own pet when the movie is over. Unfortunately, many people don’t do any research about the kind of animal they are getting or the kind of care these pet’s require. This can lead to an overwhelming neglect or abandonment (or worse) of the animal.
Animal-rights activists are worried that such a fate could happen after the opening of Pixar’s highly-anticipated movie, Finding Dory. The sequel to the wildly successful Finding Nemo cartoon features the adorably forgetful Pacific blue tang fish. Scientists are concerned that the species (which is important to the ecological health along the coral reefs) are under threat of illegal collection. Unlike the clownfish (Nemo), which were easier to breed in captivity, reproducing the blue tang has proved a challenge. Another, more general, concern is that the maintenance of marine aquariums can be very time-consuming and expensive to do right.