Today is Equal Pay Day, the day when women's annual wages finally catch up with what men made through December 31 of the last year. Currently, women make 77 cents to a man's dollar, so it takes them an extra 114 days (that's nearly 4 months) to catch up to men's wages.

It's important to note that the 77 cents figure is not, as Carrie "I'm too rich to work" Lukas' insidious Washington Post editorial suggests, due to Ivy League-educated, rich women "choosing" to stay home with their children. The 77 cents figure is only for women working full-time, year-round and is partially due to women making trade-offs—e.g. flexible work hours—at the expense of higher salaries.

Fully 1/4 of the wage gap, maybe more, is due solely to workers being female. The recent Walmart sex-discrimination lawsuit is a great example of how women are being paid less for doing the same work as men, or alternately, are not being promoted at the same rate as men despite being equally qualified.

So why are women paid less? Well, it's certainly not because they're less educated. Women now make up 58% of undergraduates, and do better scholastically than men. Female college students dominate honor rolls, hold more leadership posts, study more, are more involved in student clubs, and logically, are distributed more awards and honors.

But even with superior education, women's wages slip further and further from men's after graduation. One year after graduation, women working full-time earn 80% of men's wages, in part because they choose lower-paying, traditionally "female" fields like healthcare and education. Ten years after graduation, women are only making 69% of men's wages. Even after accounting for hours worked, parenthood, and job choice, the gap remained.

Sadly, even the most elite of workplaces are not immune to sex discrimination and harassment that often prompts women to leave or file lawsuits. From Smith Barney to Walmart, women are paid less for doing the same job. And despite the fact, says AlterNet, that the wage gap "consistently polls number 1 with female voters in election years," it's only been addressed significantly by one 2008 contender: Hillary Clinton. Her Paycheck Fairness Act aims to make employers responsible for promoting and paying employees equally, regardless of sex, by increasing penalties, teaching women negotiation skills, and allowing employees to share salary information.

Speaking of sharing salaries, just for fun, ladies, you can see how much you would make if you were a man here.

—Jen Phillips

A while back, we blogged about the proposed postage rate hike that will imperil small magazines. To summarize:

The founding fathers decided that an active public debate was vital for America, so they intentionally created affordable postal rates for small political journals. Today, the USPS's Board of Governors is set to adopt a new set of rates, devised not by a staff of experts, but by media giant TimeWarner. The new rates may fatally wound the small magazines like Mother Jones, The Nation, and others.

You can learn more by reading this open letter from the president of The Nation to the chairman of the Postal Board of Governors. You can sign a petition and help save the small journals you love at www.stoppostalratehikes.com.

The U.N. is reporting that the Sudanese government and rebel forces have agreed that there is no military solution to the crisis in Darfur and are hoping for a negotiated settlement. They are in talks to bring about just that. Who knows if this will lead to anything productive. We can only hope.

Mother Jones has run two photo essays illustrating the horror and chaos of Darfur. One is called "Scorched Earth." The other is "Rebels and Refugees." Examples:

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We've also spoken with a special adviser to the International Crisis Group in Darfur about the lack of an effective international response, blogged about the difficulty aid workers in Sudan have, and discussed the possibility that oil is driving the genocide. Get educated!

The little-known Office of Special Counsel is preparing to investigate the various nefarious dealings of Karl Rove. Liberals rejoice.

The investigation, which will be bolstered in clout and credibility because it is coming from within the administration and not from Congressional Democrats, will look into "the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities."

The 106-person Office of Special Counsel has never conducted such a broad and high-profile inquiry in its history. One of its primary missions has been to enforce the Hatch Act, a law enacted in 1939 to preserve the integrity of the civil service....
"We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. "We will not leave any stone unturned."

Wow. How long until that guy gets fired? Godspeed, sir.

And I know I shouldn't be greedy, but Rove also had a major role in selling the war to the American public and using it for political gain. Can we investigate him for that, too?

Update: Commenter dmh has a very astute point that I want to draw everyone's attention to: "Rove can now say that he is unable to answer any questions about any of these matters because they are now the subject of a criminal investigation. Is that a good result?"

I'm not sure this investigation is criminal, but no doubt the actions of the Office of Special Counsel will be used as cover by Rove and embattled PR flacks across the Bush Administration. If this investigation drags on and on, allowing Rove to not answer questions about his conduct, while never producing any results, I'm going to wonder if it was orchestrated by the White House to dupe us all. How Rovian would that be?

[Editor's Note: Hey Jonathan, you should also direct people to Dan's great story on the OSC, which is about the dark side of Scott Bloch and his obsession on rooting out "the homosexual agenda" while ignoring tips about murderers, spies, and terrorists. Read that here.]

That's what I wondered when I saw a Reuters story that "Afghan and NATO troops have surrounded more than 200 Taliban insurgents and their feared military commander"...Mullah Dadullah.

Sure, they may be closing in on Dadullah, a one-legged leader of the Taliban. But what of Omar, the one-eyed supreme leader of the Taliban, now, like Bin Laden, on the lam for more than four years?

Btw: there's evidently more than one Mullah Omar.

Man, if only the Pentagon put as much effort into winning the war as it does into rebranding its losing efforts.

Remember when
GWOT (Global War On Terrorism) became GSAVE (Global War on Violent Extremism). Well, at least that's what Donald Rumsfeld proposed back in 2005. Evidently, even Bush thought this was stupid.

As for the "long war"—this one was coined by Gen. John P. Abizaid before he retired as head of the Central Command. According to the NYT, "it was intended to signal to the American public that the country was involved in a lengthy struggle that went well beyond the war in Iraq and was political as well as military."

Except, whoops, folks in the Middle East took it to mean that they'd be occupied for a long time. The Times also notes that U.S. officials seem to be using the phrases "Islamic fascism" and "jihadist" less regularly, as they seem to have offended Muslims worldwide, and even helped recruit folks to fight us. (D'oh!) The Pentagon has also dropped "Salafist Extremist Network," presumably because only Juan Cole knew what it meant.

"We continue to look for other options to characterize the scope of current operations," said a Pentagon spokesperson.

SNAFU? Vietnam II? Hundred Years War?

Thanks AP! (Via WaPo) But you forgot a few. Like Rumsfeld.

• Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in a grand jury investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. His trial also implicated top political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney in a campaign to discredit her husband, Iraq war critic and retired ambassador Joe Wilson. Libby, who plans an appeal, is awaiting a June 5 sentencing.
• Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fighting to hold onto his job in the face of congressional investigations into his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Two top aides have resigned in the investigation into whether the firings were politically motivated. Emails and other evidence released by the Justice Deparment suggest that Rove played a part in the process. Other e-mails, sent on Republican party accounts, either have disappeared or were erased.
• Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank and a former deputy defense secretary, acknowledged he helped arrange a large pay raise for his female companion when she was transferred to the State Department but remained on the bank payroll. The incident intensified calls at the bank for his resignation.
• J. Steven Griles, an oil and gas lobbyist who became deputy Interior Secretary J., last month became the highest-ranking Bush administration official convicted in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, pleading guilty to obstructing justice by lying to a Senate committee about his relationship with the convicted lobbyist. Abramoff repeatedly sought Griles' intervention at Interior on behalf of Indian tribal clients.
• Former White House aide, David H. Safavian, was convicted last year of lying to government investigators about his ties to Abramoff and faces a 180-month prison sentence.
• Roger Stillwell, a former Interior Department official, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for not reporting tickets he received from Abramoff.
• Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the top Justice Department prosecutor in the environmental division until January, bought a $980,000 beach house in South Carolina with ConocoPhillips lobbyist Donald R. Duncan and oil and gas lobbyist Griles. Soon thereafter, she signed an agreement giving the oil company more time to clean up air pollution at some of its refineries. Congressional Democrats have denounced the arrangement.
• Matteo Fontana, a Department of Education official who oversaw the student loan industry, was put on leave last week after disclosure that he owned at least $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company.
• Claude Allen, who had been Bush's domestic policy adviser, pleaded guilty to theft in making phony returns at discount department stores while working at the White house. He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and fined $500.
• Philip Cooney, a former American Petroleum Institute lobbyist who became chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acknowledged in congressional testimony earlier this year that he changed three government reports to eliminate or downplay links between greenhouse gases and global warming. He left in 2005 to work for Exxon Mobil Corp.
• Darleen Druyun, a former Air Force procurement officer, served nine months in prison in 2005 for violating federal conflict-of-interest rules in a deal to lease Boeing refueling tankers for $23 billion, despite Pentagon studies showing the tankers were unnecessary. After making the deal, she quit the government and joined Boeing.
• Eric Keroack, Bush's choice to oversee the federal family planning program, resigned from the post suddenly last month after the Massachusetts Medicaid office launched an investigation into his private practice. He had been medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex and contraception.
• Lurita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, attended a luncheon at the agency earlier this year with other top GSA political appointees at which Scott Jennings, a top Rove aide, gave a PowerPoint demonstration on how to help Republican candidates in 2008. A congressional committee is investigating whether the remarks violated a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes.
• Robert W. Cobb, NASA's inspector general is under investigation on charges of ignoring safety violations in the space program. An internal administration review said he routinely tipped off department officials to internal investigations and quashed a report related to the Columbia shuttle explosion to avoid embarrassing the agency. He remains on the job. Only Bush can fire him.
• Julie MacDonald, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service but has no academic background in biology, overrode recommendations of agency scientists about how to protect endangered species and improperly leaked internal information to private groups, the Interior Department inspector general said.

Who else should AP have included on this list?

The last time I checked, singer Sheryl Crow and environmental activist Laurie David were Americans, just like me. But according to Karl Rove, he does not have to answer to them because he "works for the American people." Rove was approached on Saturday night by the stars and asked to discuss the president's environmental policy (or lack thereof).

Citizenship issues aside, Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino scolded Crow and David for not showing respect to George W. Bush.

(Here is where I take a break so I can recover from Perino's statement. Why on Earth would anyone who has been paying attention for the last six years want to show respect for Bush? And, as Think Progress says, "...the last time we checked, Karl Rove is not the president.")

But I digress. Perino's next zinger was even better: "The president's record on climate change is very strong."

Right. It is so strong that he has all but demolished the Environmental Protection Agency, encouraged falsification of scientific reports on global warming, removed reports that indicate the seriousness of global warming and the harm being done by pollutors, backed out of the Kyoto agreement, and lied about reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Perino decribes herself as "a strong environmentalist."

Mother Jones had a little fun with cocaine in March. Or, what I meant to say was, Mother Jones had a little fun reporting on cocaine in our March/April issue. Jokes aside, we contended that the ambitious and expensive plan enacted in 2000 to eradicate Colombian coca by aerially spraying crops has not significantly reduced cocaine production or the availability of the drug in the United States. In fact, we indicated that as much as 40 percent of the sprayed crops are not coca at all, but rather rainforest or food crops.

Today's American Prospect online augments MoJo's admittedly jaunty foray into the white stuff. Based on the personal stories of peasants in Colombia's cocafied southern districts (well worth a read) and a report released—albeit belatedly—by the State Department itself, the article reveals that even the government's own numbers demonstrate that Plan Colombia hasn't made a dent in the drug trade. And that peasants will continue growing coca—planes be damned—until they are provided with another way to earn money. And they need more, rather than less, money every time their food crops are destroyed.

Let's hear an Amen for Sandro Calvani, director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Bogotá, who observes, "You cannot change a dysfunctional social-economic situation by force alone … The only way to make elimination sustainable is to convince people to make a new life plan. The people must be at the center of the change."

But Calvani's common sense is Bush's anathema. In fact, the Bush administration is increasingly spending its massive Colombian aid package on attempts to corral the cocaine-funded FARC guerrillas, rather than on aid to poor coca farmers or more effective eradication efforts. TAP reports that, while FARC has indeed retreated, the conservative Colombian government is forming ever-tighter alliances with the paramilitary death squads originally formed to fight the guerillas:

Also funded by cocaine and considered terrorists by the State Department, paramilitary forces have fast become some of the country's largest drug traffickers. In other words, U.S. taxpayer money meant to fight the drug trade is funding allies who are, in part, fueling it.

But because the rest of Latin America can't stand Bush, he's stuck with Colombia's corrupt, right-wing, human-rights abusing government. Wow, it feels like déjà-vu all over again! Get ready: We may have to attack Colombia 20 years from now.