National Briefs: Obama woos women voters

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WASHINGTON -- With support from women critical to Democrats running in the November congressional elections, President Barack Obama is showcasing his administration's efforts to improve their economic opportunities.

"There are some particular challenges women face," Mr. Obama said, citing his late grandmother who raised him in Hawaii and worked in banking. She "hit a glass ceiling. She trained men to eventually be her boss even though she knew a lot more than they did."

Mr. Obama discussed enhancing educational prospects for women and steps he's taken to promote equal pay for equal work Thursday at a college in Orlando, Fla. It is the first in a series of similar events around the country leading up to a White House summit on families on June 23.

The president met with a group of female community college students and faculty, hearing their personal stories of working and raising families.

Support from women has been crucial to Mr. Obama's presidential wins. Exit polls showed that 56 percent of women voters supported him in the 2008 election, and in his 2012 re-election the figure was 55 percent.

New carbon rules pushed

WASHINGTON -- An influential environmental group Thursday released a new analysis suggesting major climate change regulations that could lead to even steeper cuts in carbon pollution than those being considered by the Obama administration.

The group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has had a strong voice in efforts to shape President Barack Obama's climate change agenda, sent the Environmental Protection Agency a proposal that it contends will lead to cuts of 470 million to 700 million tons of carbon pollution per year in 2020, the equivalent of emissions from 95 million to 130 million automobiles. The numbers are an update of a model regulation that the group sent to the EPA in 2012, which the group contended would cut carbon pollution by 270 million tons annually.

According to people involved in the process of writing the rules, that earlier proposal has significantly shaped the EPA's approach to building the climate plan.

Report: Labor in tub OK

WASHINGTON -- Sitting in a tub of warm water can relieve a mom-to-be's pain during the early stages of labor, but actually giving birth under water has no proven benefit and may be risky, according to recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics in a report Thursday.

There's no count of how many babies in the U.S. are delivered in water, but it is increasingly common for hospitals to offer birthing pools or tubs to help pregnant women relax during labor.

In the report, a distinction is made between the two uses, saying that early-on immersion may be helpful, as long as some basic precautions are taken.

Are our schnozes super?

NEW YORK -- Breathe in deeply and feel the power of your nose. If your sense of smell is firing on all cylinders, you can distinguish among a dizzying array of 1 trillion different odors, according to a new study in the journal Science.

When it comes to the senses, smell often gets short shrift. Scientific research has shown humans can distinguish between 2.3 million and 7.5 million colors. It has also shown we can hear 340,000 different tones. But no one had taken the time to learn how many different smells we can access until now.

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