The U.S. House of Representatives voted 408-6 in favor of the Clean Diamond Trade Act, which would give the President the power to impose sanctions on countries that sell diamonds illegally to fund regional conflict and terrorist activities. The Act also prohibits countries from exporting diamonds to the United States unless they have implemented a system of controls to ensure that the diamonds are from a legitimate source. The diamonds at issue are so-called “blood diamonds” which have been traded to raise funds for rebel groups in Sierra Leone and Angola. The United States had been opposed to large-scale international efforts to curb the sale of blood diamonds until the Washington Post reported that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda may have made millions in profits from the illicit diamond trade to conduct its terrorist activities in Afghanistan and throughout the world.
The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone is perhaps the most well-known rebel group to use money from blood diamonds to fund its activities, which included massive human rights abuses and intimidation techniques such as the amputation of arms, legs, and fingers of children and others. The RUF denies that it has ever had links to bin Laden or al Qaeda. According to the Washington Post, the diamond trade produces an estimated $6 billion annually.
Media Resources: New York Times, 11/29/01; Thomas; Washington Post, 11/28/01; Agence-France Press, 11/3/01
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .