In a press conference held earlier today, Secretary of State Colin Powell unveiled the Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, mandated by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This year, the report investigated government anti-trafficking efforts in 89 countries, excluding those with insufficient information or fewer than 100 trafficking cases. As with the 2001 TIP report, countries were categorized into three tiers based on compliance with the Act and level of government commitment in combating the criminal activity, particularly in the areas of prosecution, victim protection, and public education.
The report identified 19 “Tier 3” countries, all failing to comply with the Act and demonstrating little effort to meet the standards: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus Bosnia, Cambodia, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. While the number of “Tier 3” countries declined from 23 reported last year, Powell urged continued international cooperation. “The annual Trafficking in Persons Report shines a much-needed light on this global problem. We use the information we collect to bolster the will of the international community to combat this unconscionable crime. We welcome and encourage the vital sharing of information by other countries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals,” said Powell. “The US seeks to work with all nations to document this egregious form of exploitation and to cooperate with them to end it once and for all."
Fifty-two countries were classified as “Tier 2”— not meeting full compliance with the Act’s minimum standards, but making significant efforts to do so. Eighteen countries were deemed “Tier 1,” or fully compliant. South Korea, recognized for its “extraordinary strides” in the past year, advanced from “Tier 3” into “Tier 1.”
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. . . .