US-Taliban talks pause after ‘most productive session’ yet

WORLD NEWS US-Taliban talks pause after 'most productive session' yet

Utku Ucrak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The seventh round of U.S.-Taliban talks is on pause until Tuesday after “the most productive session to date,” according to the chief U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The pause is for two days of “intra-Afghan” talks which began Sunday in Doha, Qatar — a dialogue that finally includes the Taliban and Afghan government representatives, although they are all participating in a private capacity.

Around 60 Afghans will participate in the dialogue, organized by Qatar and Germany, with the Taliban sending a 17-member delegation. Khalilzad called it a “critical milestone,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heralded it as “a long time coming” and something “all Americans should be glad to see” in a tweet Sunday.

But there was also a fresh reminder Sunday of the difficult road ahead — another Taliban attack that killed 12 people and wounded over 150 — again, many of them students, like the attack on Tuesday.

“It is unfathomable to endanger children in this way,” tweeted Khalilzad, strongly condemning the attack. “Peace has never been more urgent and is the only path to ending terror and violence.”

Khalilzad said this latest round of U.S.-Taliban talks made “substantive progress,” and that U.S. officials have expressed optimism that a breakthrough may be on the horizon, ahead of Afghanistan’s September elections. Among the big issues still remaining are the timelines and numbers, such as, how many U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, by when and under what conditions.

The framework the two sides agreed to has four pillars — U.S. withdrawal; the Taliban agreeing to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terror safe haven; a permanent ceasefire; and intra-Afghan negotiations.

The intra-Afghan dialogue on Sunday was a step towards that last pillar, but officials distinguish between dialogue and negotiations — one is getting in the room together and the other is hammering out an agreement on what a post-U.S. withdrawal government in Afghanistan would look like.

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Posted On 07 Jul 2019

Indonesia rocked by 6.9 magnitude earthquake

WORLD NEWS Indonesia rocked by 6.9 magnitude earthquake

Hariandi Hafid/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A 6.9 earthquake hit off the coast of Indonesia on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The quake’s epicenter was in the ocean around 115 miles away from the city of Manado, at a depth of about 15.5 miles, according to the USGS.

Indonesian authorities initially announced a tsunami warning, but that warning has expired.

The Indonesian quake comes on the heels on other notable earthquakes this week.

A 6.4 quake struck Southern California on Thursday in a remote area near the Searles Valley in the Mojave Desert, and a 7.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded on Friday in the region.

Thursday’s quake was the strongest in California since 1999. Friday’s quake was only one of 13 in more than six decades to top 7.0. It was felt as far east as Arizona. The earthquakes were centered in relatively isolated areas, leading to less damage than there would have been in an urban center like Los Angeles.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has requested federal emergency assistance.

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Posted On 07 Jul 2019

After World Cup win, US women pivot to gender discrimination lawsuit

Sports News After World Cup win, US women pivot to gender discrimination lawsuit

ABC News(PARIS) — The U.S. women’s national team beat the Netherlands on Sunday to defend their status as champions in the World Cup.

When they get back home, they’ve got a whole different battle awaiting them — their legal fight for equal pay and treatment from the United States Soccer Federation.

In March, the 28 members of the 2015 World Cup-winning team — including stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, who are still competing on the national team — filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging gender discrimination in their treatment versus how the governing body treats the men’s team.

“The U.S. women’s soccer team does not need to be the best in the world in order to earn equal pay. The point of non-discrimination law is that employees doing similar work should be paid equally,” Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at the Columbia Law School, told ABC News.

The lawsuit cites not just pay, but also the denial of “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment.”

In May, U.S. Soccer fired back in a response, saying, “any alleged pay differential” is due to “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams” and other factors, including “different obligations” and being “compensated in fundamentally different ways.”

Late last month, a spokesperson from U.S. Soccer confirmed to ABC News that the women’s team and the federation tentatively agreed to mediation after the World Cup.

“The women are paid under a different structure than the men, which they preferred and specifically negotiated for, but that doesn’t mean they are compensated less by U.S. Soccer,” a U.S. Soccer spokesperson told ABC News.

The federation has said the differences come from differences in contracts. The men fall under a “pay-for-play” structure and are “only paid for individual match appearances” on tournament or tournament-qualifying rosters, the organization said.

It argues that male players’ compensation cannot be compared to the women “who earn guaranteed salaries and benefits.”

When it comes to the actual legal issues at play, the suit points to two federal laws: the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits paying employees unequally based on sex, and Title VII, which prohibits employers discriminating on the basis of sex.

“In any equal pay case, the employee must show that they are doing work that is similar to the men who are being paid more,” Goldberg said.

Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Women’s Law Center, told ABC News the equal pay law goes beyond being the best in any competitive area.

“Are you doing substantially equal work? And if you are, then you should be paid the same as your male counterparts unless there’s a justification under the law for any disparity,” she said.

Those justifications could be due to performance. Some jobs, for example, give bonuses to high-performing employees or pay out commissions based on performance.

Still, Raghu said that in gender discrimination cases, courts should look at why men seem to be higher performing — such as, for instance, if they are getting more opportunities to meet with bigger clients.

Even so, it’s sort of a moot point, Goldberg said, because of the women’s superior play.

“In this instance, where the women’s team is outplaying the men’s team, there is an argument that they should be paid more than their male counterparts,” she said.

With the U.S. team’s win on Sunday, it was their fourth World Cup title, and their second in a row. The U.S. men did not qualify for the last men’s World Cup.

The question of revenue comes up quite frequently in sports gender cases, said Neena Chaudhry, general counsel and senior adviser of education at the NWLC. In school cases, though, “revenue” is more along the lines of game attendance, she said.

Experts say courts should be looking beyond the basic numbers and instead to how organizations are promoting women’s sports and what opportunities or resources they are providing.

This, too, may be a moot point, according to recent reports. The Wall Street Journal reported women’s soccer games have been out-earning men’s games and, more broadly, sales of USWNT soccer jerseys are higher, and viewership on this World Cup has been high.

Some have argued men are paid more because of market forces, and that the male employees are simply in more demand.

But, Chaudhry said, “How much of that is just sort of pretext or justification for continuing to pay men more?”

It’s important to note the women are calling not just for equal pay, but for equal treatment, according to Raghu.

“It’s not just about the compensation. It’s about access to facilities and equipment and the surface they’re playing on and sort of their travel and all the many things that come together to make up a working environment,” she said.

Ultimately, though, all experts said the significance of this lawsuit goes beyond the individual case.

“[Women and girls] weren’t given these opportunities until Title IX passed in 1972, so men have had a very, very long head-start, and there’s a lot of work to do to bring women up to the level men have enjoyed for centuries,” Chaudhry said.

She added, “It’s fundamentally tied to the fact that many people still don’t see sports as an arena for women and girls. I know that seems shocking to say in 2019.”

This case could impact similar calls for gender equity in other sports — professionally and in schools — and beyond, Goldberg added.

“I think we will see reverberations from this case in other sports and other settings,” she said. “Just as the #MeToo movement has called attention to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace, this prominent lawsuit challenging pay inequity also brings a spotlight to this serious form of discrimination.”

“Even regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit,” Raghu said, “what they have done for elevating the issue of equal pay in our national consciousness and keeping this conversation going is almost more impactful.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Jul 2019

US wins World Cup over Netherlands on Megan Rapinoe penalty kick, Rose Lavelle goal

Sports News US wins World Cup over Netherlands on Megan Rapinoe penalty kick, Rose Lavelle goal

iStock/Pixfly(PARIS) — The United States won the 2019 Women’s World Cup in a 2-0 finish over the Netherlands, thanks to a penalty kick in the 61st minute, scored by captain Megan Rapinoe, and a breakaway goal minutes later by Rose Lavelle.

The Americans defended their title as world champions, having won their third World Cup in 2015, and faced high expectations after taking plenty of criticism — from even their own president — for their confidence.

This is the U.S. women’s fourth World Cup title.

The final was the first match this tournament that the U.S. did not score within the first 15 minutes of play, despite largely maintaining possession of the ball against the Netherlands. The penalty kick by Rapinoe was her sixth goal of the tournament.

“We know that everybody knows that they can compete with us and we can compete with them,” midfielder Lavelle told ABC News on Friday.

The Netherlands secured their spot in the final in a Wednesday match against Sweden. That match went on into extra time, with the first — and only — goal not scored until the 99th minute, by midfielder Jackie Groenen.

On the American side, Lavelle, along with Rapinoe, returned to play Sunday after suffering minor injuries. Rapinoe sat out the semifinal game against England on Tuesday with “just a little minor strain,” while Lavelle had a hamstring injury.

Both, however, said they were ready to play in the final match.

“I mean, it would take a lot for me to not be on the field,” Rapinoe told ABC News Friday.

The U.S. team headed into the match having won each of their last three by scores of 2-1. Rapinoe scored all of those goals except for the last two in the game she didn’t play; those were scored by her replacement, Christen Press, and co-captain Alex Morgan.

Morgan and Rapinoe have likely had a lot to bond over lately, on top of the general World Cup experience. Both faced criticism for the amusing poses they struck after scoring in the last two games.

Both also celebrated birthdays last week — Morgan turned 30 and Rapinoe turned 34.

The criticism over their poses goes to a theme of this World Cup for the Americans. Since their first game, when they beat Thailand 13-0, they have been called everything from “boastful” to “distasteful” for celebrating and being confident.

“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!” President Donald Trump tweeted in late June after a video was released in which Rapinoe said she wouldn’t go to the White House.

Once they do get back to the States after the tournament, they have a tentative agreement to enter mediation with the U.S. Soccer Federation over a gender discrimination lawsuit they filed this spring. They are calling for equal pay and treatment to the men’s team, which did not qualify for the last men’s World Cup.

Viewership has been a factor thrown around in the gender discrimination lawsuit, and viewership for this World Cup final has some controversial competition. After the Women’s World Cup final date was set, it was announced that the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América — men’s tournaments — will also have their finals on the same day.

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told The New York Times it was merely a “clerical error.” Rapinoe called it “ridiculous and disappointing,” according to CBS News.

All told, the American athletes’ battles extend far beyond the pitch, but for 95 minutes on Sunday, what happened on the field was all that mattered.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Jul 2019