State Department

State Department Takes Strongest Steps Yet to Combat Human Trafficking Abroad

Human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, has existed for thousands of years and is still a serious problem in many countries throughout the world, particularly with the resurgence of extremist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS). This year’s Trafficking in Persons’ Report, released by the State Department, is arguably stronger than it has been in previous years and is providing renewed hope for non-profits that are seeking to end these heinous crimes against humanity. Kari A. Johnstone, Acting Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) at the State Department told Breitbart News, in an email, that since the report was first published in 2001, it has been the organization’s “principal diagnostic tool to assess government efforts across what we call the three Ps of prosecuting traffickers, protecting and empowering victims, and preventing future trafficking crimes.” She noted that many countries are taking steps to address the trafficking conditions in their nations and the “TIP Report offers concrete recommendations for improvements for every country in the book. The recommendations serve as a country-specific roadmap to better combat trafficking, to make real institutional change that can put more traffickers behind bars, better find and assist victims, and prevent exploitation of the vulnerable.” Approximately 40 million people in the world today are in modern slavery. And an additional 152 million children are in child slavery. One of the most troubled countries with the human trafficking issue is Iraq, which has been on TIP’s Tier 2 watchlist for the second year in a row. While trafficking had existed in Iraq before the conflict there, the presence of ISIS has only exacerbated it. The State Department noted in its report, “The Government of Iraq does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.” TIP also reported that Iran, which is listed as a Tier 3 country for trafficking, “is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor” and noted that “Iranian women, boys, and girls are vulnerable to trafficking in Iran, Afghanistan, the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Europe.” The Iraq government passed an anti-trafficking law in 2012. According to the State Department, “The government also established an anti-trafficking department in the interior ministry, which collected human trafficking law enforcement data and operated the newly established anti-trafficking hotline.” Currently, the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) is looking at passing its own anti-trafficking law, and the United States has been very supportive in the fight against human trafficking. One NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), based out of Iraqi-Kurdistan has been on the front lines of this effort and helping to rehabilitate victims of human and sex trafficking, particularly victims of the Islamic State. The SEED Foundation, which was started in 2015, began with a focus on Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh, or the Islamic State, including rehabilitating victims of the jihadist group’s sexual violence and exploitation and survivors of war, and child soldiers. SEED’s President and Executive Director Sherri Kraham Talabany praised this year’s TIP report…

For more, click on the text above.

State Dept.: North Korea Using Executions, Torture Against ‘Serious Threat’ of Christianity

The U.S. State Department affirms in its annual International Religious Freedom Report, published Tuesday, that the communist regime controlling North Korea “considered Christianity a serious threat, as it challenged the official cult of personality and provided a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the government.” The State Department – citing United Nations reports, NGOs, and media organizations specializing in North Korea coverage – found that Kim Jong-un’s regime regularly employed “arbitrary executions, political prison camps, and torture amounting to crimes against humanity” against anyone suspected of adhering to any faith, but targeted Christians in particular throughout 2017. Various reports estimated “119 killings and 87 disappearances” based on religious persecution, the report notes. It also cites multiple advocacy groups that have concluded that North Korea hosts a population of up to 400,000 Christians, though it is nearly impossible to confirm those numbers, and that between 10-45 percent of Christians are languishing in the nation’s concentration camps. A United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) found this year that “based on the government’s own figures, the proportion of religious adherents among the population dropped from close to 24 percent in 1950 to 0.016 percent in 2002,” the report notes. The report also suggested that persecution of individuals suspected of being Christians increased recently, targeting North Korean citizens for “crimes” ranging from being found in possession of religious material to simply loitering near a church too long for police to be comfortable with their presence, or driving by a church too many times. North Korea does allow a small number of legal churches in Pyongyang, the capital, but defectors and visitors report that they appear largely for show, with no proof that real Christians attend services in them, or that the sermons provided in the few known services to occur offer anything more than Kim cult propaganda. Some defectors said that they knew of the churches as “sightseeing spots for foreigners,” without knowing the true nature of a place of worship. Nonetheless, defectors have said in interviews that North Korean police are quick to arrest anyone who appears too interested in the areas. “One defector said when he lived in Pyongyang, authorities arrested individuals who they believed lingered too long outside these churches to listen to the music or consistently drove past them around each week when services were being held on suspicion of being secret Christians,” the report notes. The full International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, is available at the State Department’s website, divided by country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference Tuesday morning announcing the publication of this year’s edition. The State Department concluded, citing interviews with defectors and NGO reports published throughout 2017, that there existed in the country “an almost complete denial by the government of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and in many instances, violations of human rights committed by the government constituted crimes against humanity.” The report notes that the UN “condemned in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” against religious people in the country. Christians suffered the most systematic persecution…

Of course they did..  IF President Trump actually meets with Kim Jong ding dong, he needs to put pressure on him for more religious tolerance.  Granted, it doesn’t rise to the level of denulcearization, in terms of our national security.  But, if he can certainly use the time to put in a plug for religious freedom while they’re sitting across from one another.  Just sayin..  For more of this article, click on the text above..

Senate Confirms Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state in a bipartisan 57-42 vote. In a departure from what has historically been a rubber stamp vote, the majority of Democrats voted against Pompeo. Only a half a dozen Democrats voted to confirm Pompeo, primarily from red states that overwhelmingly went for Trump in 2018 and who are facing tough reelection fights. Those Democrats included: Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (WV), and Claire McCaskill (MO), and Bill Nelson (FL). A number of senior Democratic leaders had come out against Pompeo, threatening his confirmation early on. With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) initially in opposition and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recovering from brain cancer treatment, Republicans needed at least one Democratic vote. However, Paul reversed his opposition, after having several conversations with President Trump and Pompeo, saying his concerns over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were assuaged. After the vote, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate majority whip, blasted Democrats who voted against Pompeo and for delaying the confirmation of a number of Trump appointees. “The man has what it takes for the job. That’s why the no votes from our Democratic colleagues rang hollow,” he said after the vote. He said Democrats were attempting to “lash out at President Trump,” which he called “disappointing” and a “sad break from tradition.” “It’s a sorry continuation of the hyper-partisanship they’ve been engaging in,” he added, noting that one year ago, 14 Democrats and one Independent had voted to confirm Pompeo as CIA director. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has said he opposed Pompeo’s nomination based on his gay marriage views, despite his 2008 endorsement of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who had the same views.

Typical hypocrisy..  We’re very glad to hear that Mike Pompeo finally was confirmed by the Senate today!  The man graduated #1 in his class from West Point; NUMBER ONE!  And, that’s how his career started!  He then went on to become a cav officer in the Army, achieving the rank of Captain.  Then he went on to earn a law degree from Harvard, was a lawyer, small businessman, and then ran for Congress where he sat on an Intelligence committee, and most recently was the Director of the CIA.  That’s the kind of resume that is perfect for Secretary of State.  His views on gay marriage are entirely irrelevant to his new job.  And Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) knows it.  He was just grandstanding for his constituents in his quest to run for President.  What a tool..   Congrats to Mike Pompeo!

Extreme vetting: State Dept. to demand tourists’ social media history

The State Department will publish new rules this week that would require most visitors and immigrants to the U.S. to turn over their recent social media histories, carrying out one of President Trump’s key security enhancements from his extreme vetting executive order. Travelers would also be asked to list previous phone numbers, email addresses and international travel during the previous five years, and to detail any immigration problems they’ve had, whether with the U.S. or elsewhere. They’ll also be asked about potential family connections to terrorism. And in a striking human rights move, would-be immigrants from countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent would be directed to a website ensuring they’re aware the practice — common in some African countries — is illegal in the U.S. The proposals are laid out in two new documents slated to be published Friday, kicking off a comment period before the government finalizes the policies. “This upgrade to visa vetting is long overdue, and it’s appropriate to apply it to everyone seeking entry, because terrorism is a worldwide problem. The aim is to try to weed out people with radical or dangerous views,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies. She also called the effort to discourage female genital mutilation “innovative.” “The message needs to be sent that ‘we don’t do that here,’ ” she said. Security experts have demanded the government collect more information from visitors and immigrants for years, but civil liberties groups have been wary of the move. Homeland Security had floated plans to track social media of immigrant applicants, but the State Department’s new proposal would apply to tourists and others coming on temporary visas. Some 14 million people would be affected by the request for information, the department’s documents say. Don Crocetti, a former senior fraud investigator for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said it makes sense to collect the information — but said officers need to stay within privacy rules, too. He said in the immigration context, looking at social media can help an adjudicator assess whether the story the applicant is telling for applying for a benefit rings true — such as in the case of a marriage petition. But Mr. Crocetti said someone’s refusal to turn over the passwords or other non-public social media information can’t be used on its own to deny approval. “The use of social media is a wrench in their tool box. It’s not that you use that same wrench for everything you do, but it’s a wrench, it’s a different sized tool, and you have use that selectively,” he said. The State Department said it already collects limited information about travel history and family relations. The new information will go beyond that to include prior passport numbers, information about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment and contact information. “Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity,” the department said. Ms. Vaughan said she wished the State Department had also requested information on the visitor application asking whether female travelers are intending to enter the U.S. for the purpose of having a child. She said that could cut down on what’s known as “birth tourism,” where women in the late stages of pregnancy visit the U.S. in order to give birth on American soil, which secures citizenship for the child.

North Korea hit with new sanctions by State Department over Kim Jong Un’s brother’s death

The State Department announced Tuesday new sanctions against North Korea in response to their findings of the use of the illegal nerve agent VX in the 2017 death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged brother of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, the U.S. concluded in February “that the Government of North Korea used the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jon Nam, in the Kuala Lumpur airport,” the department said. Kim Jong Nam died on Feb. 13, 2017 after two women allegedly wiped VX on his face before fleeing the Malaysia airport. He stumbled around before eventually falling. CCTV footage also showed the two women accused of carrying out the attack walking in the airport and going into the restroom before the incident. They were both charged with murder. Four other North Korean men who fled the country on the same day were believed to be involved in the plot. The sanctions, which reportedly took effect Monday, top a mounting list already levied against the hermit kingdom. “The United States strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons to conduct an assassination,” the State Department said. “This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind.” The announcement from the State Department follows earlier comments on Tuesday from President Trump, who said “the world is watching,” in response to North Korea’s promise not to use nuclear or conventional weapons against Seoul. The country also reportedly expressed a willingness to hold talks with the U.S. on denuclearization, a South Korea official said in a statement after meeting with the neighboring country. “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”

State Department spending $592,500 to ‘explore gender identities of boys and men in Kenya’

The State Department announced a new $600,000 taxpayer-funded study that suggests “ideals of masculinity” in Kenya are contributing to terrorism. The department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism is seeking a nonprofit group to “explore gender identities of boys and men in Kenya.” The grant proposal states that men being “tough, heterosexual, aggressive, unemotional, and achieving” can make them vulnerable to joining Islamic extremist groups. “Gender is increasingly recognized as an essential aspect to understanding and countering violent extremism throughout the world,” the State Department said. “To date, research and interventions on gender in Kenya have predominantly focused on the role of women and girls in violent extremism. However, men and boys are disproportionately recruited by and join terrorist groups and carry out terrorist operations. In Kenya, there currently exists no CVE [countering violent extremism] programming dedicated to the role of gender of boys and men and vulnerability to violent extremism.” To remedy this, the State Department will spend up to $592,500 on the “Masculinity and Violent Extremism” study, which will be awarded to an American nonprofit or nongovernmental organization later this year. The study will “determine existing knowledge and gaps on male gender and violent extremism as well as explore gender identities of boys and men in Kenya.” The grant proposal blames Kenya’s “patriarchal” society of “tough, heterosexual” men for problems facing the developing country.

You really can’t make this stuff up, folks.  And, no..  You are NOT reading The Onion.  This is our federal government wasting your hard-earned tax dollars on politically correct, irrelevant bs like this.  We don’t give a rat’s rear-end why so many Kenyan boys and men are prone to joining Islamo-fascist terrorist organizations.  We just care if they target Americans.  If this bothers you as much as it bothers us, then please feel free to call or email your member of Congress and both of your U.S. Senators and tell them to NOT fund this wasteful project.  If some enterprising PRIVATE organization wants to do research on this subject, then they can have at it.  But, don’t waste MY tax dollars on it!  To read the rest of this nauseating article, click on the text above.  Unreal..

Visiting North Korea? Draft a will and make funeral plans, State Department says

Americans can travel to North Korea, if they wish — but it may just be a death wish, the U.S. State Department cautioned. The State Department last week issued a stark warning to people setting out for the Hermit Kingdom, cautioning that anyone heading to the dangerous dictatorship should prepare for the possibility of not returning. “The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department published Wednesday on its website. Those who wish to travel to North Korea must be approved for a special validation, which are handed out on “very limited circumstances.” U.S. travelers given the approval to experience Kim Jong Un’s regime should then prepare for the worst — including drafting a will and making funeral and property arrangements with family and friends. “Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney; discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.,” according to the recommendations. The agency also urged people to have a “contingency plan for emergency situations,” be updated on the State Department’s social media platform and alert systems. President Trump announced in November the U.S. designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, adding the country to a short list including Iran, Sudan and Syria. North Korea had been removed from the list by the Bush administration in 2008. Trump cited Kim’s “murderous” rogue regime and the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year and died days after he returned to the U.S. in a coma, as reasons for the return to the list. “North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” the president said. “This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons.” The State Department’s recent warning comes just weeks after Kim, while calling for improved relations with South Korea, threatened to strike the U.S. with nuclear warheads, claiming he had a button to fire nuclear weapons on his desk. “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range,” he said. “…The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”