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U.S. Soccer Defends Pay Gap by Saying Male Players Have a “Higher Lever of Skill”

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  • In recently released court documents, the U.S Soccer Federation argued that male athletes for the national soccer team have a “higher level of skill” than their female counterparts.
  • The filing is a result of the women’s team suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, asking for equal pay and $67 million in back pay.
  • U.S. Soccer also justified the pay difference by citing biological sex differences, arguing that male players carry “more responsibility” and suggesting men face working conditions that include “unmatched” hostility from opposing fans.
  • The women’s team, which has consistently been ranked either number 1 or 2 by the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, said the job of an elite soccer player is the same.

U.S. Soccer Says Men Have a “Higher Level of Skill”

In court documents filed on Monday, the U.S. Soccer Federation says male soccer athletes are paid more because playing as a man “requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength” in comparison to a Women’s National Soccer player.

The document comes amid a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. All 28 players on the Women’s National Team are accusing it of violating the Equal Pay Act. Specifically, they’re asking for equal pay with the men’s team and $67 million in back pay.

The two sides held talks in August to try to reach an agreement, but those talks quickly fell through. Now, this new court filing may shed light as to why. 

In the document, U.S. Soccer goes on to call differences in speed and strength between men and women “indisputable ‘science.’” It also cites a law publication that describes the scientific basis for “the average 10-12% performance gap between elite male and elite female athletes.”

“No matter how great the great Katie Ledecky gets… she will never beat Michael Phelps or his endurance counterparts in the pool,” U.S. Soccer lawyers also cite from Law and Contemporary Problems publication from Doriane Coleman. 

U.S. Soccer also argues that it did not violate the Equal Pay Act because the jobs that their male soccer players and female soccer players perform are substantially different, even though both are soccer players.

U.S. Soccer said in the documents, “facts demonstrate that the job of a [men’s national team] player carries more responsibility within U.S. Soccer than the job of a [women’s national team] player.”

It also justified that assertion by saying that the men’s team competes in multiple tournaments and can potentially bring in more than $40 million in prize money. By contrast, it said the women’s team only competes in one tournament that has the potential to bring in money—The FIFA Women’s World Cup, which only happens once every four years. As a result, it said the women’s team only generates one-tenth of the amount of money that the men’s team generates.

On top of that, U.S. soccer argued that men’s matches have higher ratings. That then means U.S Soccer can charge more for TV broadcast rights for those games.

It argues the job for the men’s team is different than the women’s because of “working conditions” and “‘surroundings’ of the job. Under that argument, it says the men’s team often travels to games in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, and in those games specifically, the men’s team faces “unmatched” hostility from opposing fans.

U.S. Women’s Team Says They Deserve Equal Pay

Still, the women’s team argues they should be paid the same because they hold the same position as that of their male counterparts: elite soccer player.

In other court documents, that insistence has come to head as lawyers for U.S. Soccer speak to players from the women’s team.

“Do you think it requires more skill to play for the US Men’s National Team than the US Women’s National Team?” a U.S. Soccer lawyer asked co-captain Alex Morgan.

“No,” Morgan told the lawyer. “It’s a different skill.”

“Do you think that the team could be competitive against the senior men’s national team?” a U.S. Soccer lawyer asked in a different exchange with co-captain Carli Lloyd.

“I’m not sure,” Lloyd said. “Shall we fight it out to see who wins and then we get paid more?”

In response to the court filing, on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the women’s team condemned U.S. Soccer’s reasoning as “ridiculous,” saying it “belongs in the Paleolithic Era.”

“It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman,” spokesperson Molly Levinson said. “Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players ‘have more responsibility’ is just plain, simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with.”

Since 2003, the women’s team has consistently been ranked either number 1 or 2 by the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. The women’s team also won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and won again last year. 

By comparison, the men’s team ranks 22nd in the world right now. It also failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has not placed in the top ten countries, except for once in 2002 when it placed eighth. 

At the women’s final in France last year,  after they won, the stadium erupted into chants of “Equal pay!” 

Regarding viewership, in 2015, their FIFA Women’s World Cup finals match became the most-watched soccer match in American TV history.

With those achievements, the team has argued its success has translated into substantial revenue generation and profits for U.S. Soccer.

On the note of working conditions, a major argument from the women’s team is that they have to play on turf much more often than the men’s team. According to their lawsuit, playing on turf can lead to serious and even career-threatening injuries.

“The job skills and effort and responsibilities are the same,” lawyers for the women’s team said on Monday. “It is all equal work requiring equal pay under the [Equal Pay Act]. Arguing that the WNT did not win its two World Cups ‘against the most elite male soccer players in the world’ is not a defense under the EPA; it is a tone deaf admission of blatant gender-based discrimination.”

A jury will decide the outcome of this lawsuit at a trial scheduled to begin later this year in May.

See what others are saying: (CBS Sports) (ESPN) (The Wall Street Journal)

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CDC Data Shows Booster Shots Provide Effective Protection Against Omicron

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Public health experts have encouraged Americans to get boosted to protect themselves against the omicron variant, but less than 40% of fully vaccinated people who are eligible for their third shot have received it.


A First Glimpse of Official Data on Boosters and Omicron

COVID-19 booster shots are effective at preventing Americans from contracting omicron and protecting those who do become infected from severe illness, according to three reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.

The reports mark the first real-world data regarding the highly infectious variant and how it has impacted the U.S.

One of the CDC reports, which studied data from 25 state and local health departments, found that there were 149 cases per 100,000 people among those had been boosted on average each week. 

In comparison, the figure was 255 cases per 100,000 people in Americans who had only received two shots.

Another study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that the third doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization. 

By contrast, those who received just two shots were only 57% protected against hospitalization by the time they were eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.

Additionally, the same report also found that the boosters were 82% effective at preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers, a marked increase from the 38% efficacy for those who were six months out from their two-shot regime and had not yet received a third.

Low Booster Shot Vaccination Rates

Public health officials hope that the new data will urge more Americans to get their booster shots.

Since the emergence of omicron, experts and leading political figures have renewed their efforts to encourage people to get their third shots, arguing they are the best form of protection. 

The CDC currently recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot five months after their second shot of Pfizer and Moderna or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, in the U.S., less than 40% of fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a third shot have gotten one.

While COVID cases in the country have begun to drop over the past several days from their peak of over 800,000 average daily infections, the figures are still nearly triple those seen in the largest previous surges.

Hospitalizations have also slowly begun to level out over the last week in places that were hit first, such as New York City and Boston, but medical resources still remain strained in many parts of the country that experienced later surges and have not yet seen cases slow.

Some experts predict that the U.S. will see a sharp decline in omicron cases, as experienced in South Africa and Britain. Still, they urge American’s to get boosted to ensure their continued protection from the variant, as well as other strains that will emerge.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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California Bill Would Allow Kids 12 and Up to Get Vaccinated Without Parental Consent

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Nearly one million California teens and preteens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not vaccinated against COVID-19. 


State Senator Proposes Legislation

Legislation proposed in California on Thursday would allow children age 12 and up to get vaccinated without parental consent. 

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Bill 866 in the hope it could boost vaccination rates among teenagers. According to Wiener, nearly one million kids aged 12- to 17-years old remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 in the state of California. 

“Unvaccinated teens are at risk, put others at risk & make schools less safe,” Wiener tweeted. “They often can’t work, participate in sports, or go to friends’ homes.”

“Many want to get vaccinated but parents won’t let them or aren’t making the time to take them. Teens shouldn’t have to rely on parents’ views & availability to protect themselves from a deadly virus.”

Currently, teens in California can receive vaccines for human papillomavirus and hepatitis B without parental consent. They can also make other reproductive or mental healthcare choices without a guardian signing off. Wiener argues that their medical autonomy should expand to all vaccines, especially during a pandemic that has already killed roughly 78,000 Californians. 

Vaccine Consent Across the U.S.

“Teens shouldn’t have to plot, scheme or fight with their parents to get a vaccine,” he said. “They should simply be able to walk in & get vaccinated like anyone else.”

Bill 866 would allow any kids ages 12 and up to receive any vaccine approved or granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for those 16 and older. It has received emergency authorization for ages five through 15. 

Across the United States, vaccine consent ages vary. While the vast majority of states require parental approval for minors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, kids as young as 11 can get the jab on their own in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, kids can receive it without parental consent at 14, in Oregon at 15, and in Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, providers can waive consent in certain cases in Arkansas, Idaho, Washington, and Tennesee.

In October, California became the first state to announce plans to require that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend class. The mandate has yet to take effect, but under the guidelines, students will be “required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span.” 

In other words, once the FDA gives a vaccine full approval for those aged 12 and up, it will be required the following session for kids in grades 7-12. Once it does so for kids as young as five, the same process will happen for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. There will also be room for exemptions from the mandate. 

The Fight to Vaccinate California

This week, a group of California state legislators formed a Vaccine Work Group in order to boost public health policies in the state. Wiener is among the several members who are “examining data, hearing from experts, and engaging stakeholders to determine the best approaches to promote vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”

“Vaccines protect not only individuals but also whole communities when almost everyone is vaccinated at schools, workplaces and businesses, and safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have already prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said in a press release. “Public safety is a paramount duty of government, and I am proud to join a talented group of legislators in the pro-science Vaccine Work Group who want to end this disastrous pandemic and protect Californians from death and disability by preventable diseases.”

While vaccine policies have been a divisive subject nationwide, including in California, state politicians and leaders are hopeful public health initiatives will prevail. 

“If we allow disinformation to drive our state policy making we will not only see more Americans needlessly suffer and die, but we will sacrifice the long term stability of our society having effectively abandoned the idea that we all must work together to protect each other in times of crisis.” Catherine Flores Martin, the Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, added. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (Sacramento Bee)

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Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent

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Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”


Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit

Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.

According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.

The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”

The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”

Use on Other Inmates

The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.

According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.

In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.

In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.

He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments. 

The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.

“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (NBC News)

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