The House Government Committee has just released e-mails from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff which indicate that Abramoff tried to use his connections with then White House Political Director Ken Mehlman (who is currently the chair of the Republican National Committee) to have State Department employee Allen Stayman fired. Stayman was advocating for labor reforms to improve the working conditions within sweatshops in the US territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is exempt from US minimum wage requirements and most provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The emails show that Abramoff, who was working as a lobbyist for the Northern Mariana Islands and its garment factories, asked Ken Mehlman to fire Stayman, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mehlman has denied he had a role in firing Stayman, but, although the State Department fought the firing, Stayman was fired within four months of the sent emails, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Ms. magazine wrote a long investigative report showing how Abramoff worked to prevent labor law reforms to raise the minimum wage to US levels, eliminate long work hours, and stop high "recruitment fees" that workers must pay upon hiring. By maintaining these poor working conditions for a predominately female workforce, Abramoff served his clients, the Northern Mariana Islands and their sweatshops.
The emails show numerous ties between Abramoff and the White House; previously, Abramoff’s ties had been thought to be mostly with Congress. The Los Angeles Times reports that Abramoff had more than 400 contacts at the White House. The White House has denied any close relationship with Abramoff. The e-mails also indicate several other allegedly unethical dealings between Abramoff and high-level White House officials.
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. . . .