An official with the US Department of the Interior has been charged with a misdemeanor account of falsely claiming that he did not receive any prohibited gifts in 2003 in a financial filing. Roger G. Stillwell told the Washington Post that he had accepted gifts from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including free dinners at Abramoff’s restaurant and free tickets to Redskins’ games, though Stillwell claims the Post misquoted him, according to the Legal Times.
Stillwell is the desk officer for the Mariana Islands in the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs, and the Post reports that before Stillwell took a position with the Interior Department, his communications firm did work on behalf of the Marianas government. Abramoff worked on behalf of the Marianas government and its garment industry to ensure that Congress would not pass laws to upgrade wages and working conditions for immigrant laborers, according to an investigative report in Ms. magazine.
The Marianas are subject to US laws, but are exempt from US minimum wage requirements and most provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Currently, some 30,000 temporary “guestworkers” — predominately women — from China, the Philippines, and Thailand sew clothing for top-name American brands, which are then allowed to label the clothes Made in Saipan (USA), Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA) or Made in the USA. Reduced to little more than indentured servants due to the high recruitment fees and the low minimum wage, many of these women have been subjected to long working hours (some up to 20 hours a day or even off the clock), and poor living conditions, according to Ms..
Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), and John Spratt (D-SC) introduced a bill earlier this month gradually increase its minimum wage (currently $3.15) until it reaches the federal minimum wage of the US and to follow the US Immigration and Nationality Act as if it were a state. The bill also prohibits the use of the “Made in the USA” label on any products leaving the Marianas unless “the minimum wage was paid to the workers, all labor laws were obeyed, and no indentured servitude was allowed.”
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. The court's decision denied their request to temporarily block the legislation pending a final ruling on its constitutionality, rubber stamping the efforts of Oklahoma politicians to force doctors to use an outdated protocol for administering a medication abortion using the drug mifepristone - one that the medical community and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have rejected in favor of a new standard of care that calls for a significantly lower dosage. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .