U.S. News | LGBT

U.S. federal judge rules Mississippi ban on same-sex adoption unconstitutional
  • Judge Daniel P. Jordan III found that the law interfered with gay and lesbian citizens’ equal protection under the law in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision overturning same-sex marriage bans.
  • Judge Jordan argued that Mississippi’s Department of Human Services couldn’t interfere with the “rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.”
  • The ruling came as the Mississippi Senate passed an extensive religious freedom bill, sending one of the most expansive anti-LGBT bills introduced after the establishment of the nationwide right to marry to the governor’s desk.

Read more:
Mississippi Same-Sex Adoption Ban Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules” (BuzzFeed News)
Federal judge overturns Mississippi’s adoption ban on same-sex couples” (The Guardian)
Mississippi Senate Passes Sweeping Anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Bill” (BuzzFeed News)

(Image Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA, via The Guardian)

China News | Tibetan Activist

Tibetan education activist charged with inciting separatism
  • Tashi Wangchuk has been detained in Yushu, Qinghai Province, for months in secret and faces up to 15 years in prison.
  • While Tashi’s writings promote widely accepted Tibetan autonomy, the Tibetan entrepreneur has publicly opposed Tibetan independence.
  • Tashi has been a vocal advocate for Tibetan-language education in line with constitutional guarantees to ethnic autonomy.

Read more:
China Charges Tibetan Education Advocate With Inciting Separatism” (The New York Times)
Inciting Separatism Charge for Tibetan Education Advocate” (China Digital Times)
Tibetans Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China” (The New York Times, November 2015)

(Image Credit: Gilles Sabrie/The New York Times)

Cameroon Feature | Women & Children

The Weaponized Girls of Boko Haram

As Boko Haram’s successes in northeastern Nigeria have been rolled back, the extremist group’s attentions have turned elsewhere in the region, including neighboring Cameroon. Rare in other global terrorist activity, female suicide bombers between 14 and 24 years of age have formed the lion’s share of suicide attacks in Cameroon, comprising some 80% of incidents. Female suicide bombers have also been deployed in Nigeria, most recently in Maiduguri. Reuters investigates the pipeline from abduction to sexual slavery to suicide attacks that women captured by Boko Haram have found themselves caught up in.

Weakened Boko Haram sends girl bombers against Cameroon civilians” (Reuters)

Video: The war against Boko Haram’s suicide bombers in Cameroon” (France24)
Nigeria mosque hit by Maiduguri suicide bombers” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Joe Penney/Reuters)

South Korea News | Sex Workers

South Korean sex workers protest court ruling upholding criminalization of sex work
  • Pro-sex work activists protested the Constitutional Court’s decision to uphold a 2004 law that set punishments for both sex workers and customers, arguing it unfairly limits women’s economic opportunity and punishes poor clientele while paid relationships among the wealthy persist.
  • Sex workers and consumers face up to a year in jail or a fine of 3 million won ($2,600).
  • Activists say the ruling violates their right to work and announced intentions to petition the United Nations.

Read more:
South Korean Court Upholds Ban on Prostitution” (The New York Times)
South Korea prostitutes decry court ruling, demand right to work” (Reuters)
South Korea Upholds Tough Anti-Prostitution Laws” (AP via ABC News)

(Image Credit: Jean Chung/The New York Times)

U.S. News | Women

FDA eases restrictions around abortion pill, increasing access for rural and low-income women
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now allows for mifepristone (Mifeprex) to be legally prescribed and taken further into pregnancy (10 vs. 7 weeks), with reduced dosage (200 vs. 600 mg), and requiring only two rather than three doctor’s visits.
  • Medical professionals and researchers have held that the restrictions, based on science from the 1990s, were out of step with advanced medical and pharmacological understanding.
  • Conservative states have long restricted access to mifepristone, requiring the drug to be administered by licensed physicians and at times in the presence of the prescribing doctor.

Read more:
New F.D.A. Guidelines Ease Access to Abortion Pill” (The New York Times)
FDA backs expanded use of medical abortion pill” (Reuters)
FDA Extends Abortion Pill Recommendations To Later In Pregnancy” (BuzzFeed News)

(Image Credit: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times)

Vietnam News | Women

Vietnam parliament elects first woman chair
  • Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan became the country’s first parliament chairwoman, the fourth-highest government office.
  • Legislators lauded the historic moment and noted the ongoing push for 30% of the parliament’s seats to be occupied by women.
  • Her election was expected after she was re-elected to the 19-member Politburo within the Communist Party, the lead decision-making body in the country.

Read more:
Vietnam has first chairwoman of parliament” (Thanh Nien News)
Vietnam elects first woman to lead parliament” (Deutsche Welle)
Vietnam Elects First Chairwoman of Parliament” (AP via ABC News)

(Image Credit: Ngoc Thang/Thanh Nien)

U.S. Research | Black

The Ongoing Arrest Disparity in Marijuana-Legal States

A recent study conducted by YouthFacts analyzing FBI Criminal Justice Information Services data has found that although arrests in states that have legalized marijuana possession have dropped dramatically, a disproportionate number of black people continue to be arrested relative to non-black peers. While arrests for marijuana in both marijuana-legal and marijuana-illegal states have been trending downward, the ongoing post-reform disparity continues to point to enforcement- rather than law-based problems in the U.S. criminal justice system.

877.8 (2008) vs. 57.2 (2014)

Black arrest rate in Washington (per 100,000)

390.5 (2008) vs. 27.3 (2014)

Non-black arrest rate in Washington (per 100,000)

601.3 (2008) vs. 242.2 (2014)

Black arrest rate in Colorado (per 100,000)

293.3 (2008) vs. 103.8 (2014)

Non-black arrest rate in Colorado (per 100,000)

2.7 (marijuana-legal) vs. 3.0 (marijuana-legal)

Disparity in arrest rates across states

-76% (marijuana-legal) vs. -15% (marijuana-illegal)

Decrease in arrest rates across states from 2008 to 2014

Marijuana-legal states included: Colorado, Washington
Marijuana-illegal states included
: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts

Read more:
Are Young People and African Americans Better Off under Marijuana Reform? (YouthFacts)
Pot legalization hasn’t done anything to shrink the racial gap in drug arrests” (The Washington Post)
Black People Twice As Likely To Be Arrested For Pot In Colorado And Washington — Where It’s Legal” (ThinkProgress)

Japan News | Korean Immigrants

Japanese study finds anti-Korean demonstrations subsiding but still ongoing
  • The government study found that Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean nationalist organization, and other ultraconservative groups held 347 rallies in 2013, 378 in 2014, and 190 through September 2015.
  • Anti-Korean sentiment has been fueled by territorial disputes, North Korea, and ongoing disagreements over the Korean woman enslaved as “comfort women” for the Japanese in WWII .
  • In 2014, the Osaka High Court ordered Zaitukukai to pay ¥12 million following hate rallies in front of a Korean school in Kyoto.

Read more:
Japan’s first-ever hate speech probe finds rallies are fewer but still a problem” (The Japan Times)
Abe eager to tackle hate speech” (The Japan News)
Osaka assembly passes nation’s first ordinance against hate speech” (The Japan Times, January 2016)

(Image Credit: Satoko Kawasaki/The Japan Times)