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
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .