More

Obama just quietly signed a major anti-slavery bill. It's a game changer.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 has been signed into law.

I've got some news that might be, er, tough to swallow for you shrimp lovers out there.

Some of that succulent seafood you're used to seeing on a plate like this...


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

...or — if you're more about that deep-fried life — all crispy like this...

Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr./AFP/Getty Images.

...it may have been plucked from the sea in a port that looks something like this:


Photo by Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images.

The photo above was taken in Thailand, a country where slave labor has become all too common within the fishing industry.

Fishing is a huge industry in Thailand — worth roughly $7 billion in exports every year — with people in markets like Europe and North America gobbling up whatever fishermen are catching.

The bad news? At least some of the profits these Thai companies rake in are being made on the backs of slaves, an Associated Press exposé revealed last year.

So, yep ... if you've snagged seafood from stores like Walmart or Kroger, you may have bought crustaceans caught by slaves.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Through empty promises of (paid) work, many slaves are lured into human trafficking circles across South Asia, where they're abused, drugged, and caged, with no pay for their labor. Some Thai officials, by the way, had been well aware of (and even helped facilitate) this atrocity.

"I cried," Lang Long, a former slave who'd been rescued, told The New York Times last year about being resold between fishing boats multiple times.

But thanks to the AP's original exposé and many follow-up reports, about 2,000 former slaves have been rescued by authorities, and several of their traffickers have been arrested.

And now we can mark another tally in the "win" column for justice on the issue.

President Barack Obama signed a bill on Feb. 24, 2016, that effectively banned all imports of seafood caught by slaves in Southeast Asia into the U.S.

If you're like me, your first reaction to this news might have been, "Yay!" quickly followed by, "But wait ... why wasn't this already the law of the land?"

To get to the answer, you have to travel back more than a few decades.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Until Obama signed the bill into law, an 85-year-old tariff law in place had a major loophole that allowed products processed through slave labor to make it onto U.S. soil legally. The loophole allowed imports, regardless of how a given product was made or processed, if there was not enough supply to meet demand domestically.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 kicks that loophole to the curb.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) led the charge to include the ban within the larger bill.

"It's embarrassing that for 85 years, the United States let products made with forced labor into this country," Brown said, according to the AP. "Closing this loophole gives the U.S. an important tool to fight global slavery."

This is big news because the import ban stops products other than seafood that have been created or processed by slave laborers, too.

Like gold mined by kids in poor countries.

Thousands of children, such as the boy pictured above in Africa's Burkina Faso, are subjected to hazardous gold mining operations throughout the developing world. Photo by Ahmed Ouoba/Getty Images.

And garments sewn in Bangladesh by women who've been subjected to abuse.

Remember the 400 people who'd been killed in 2013 while working in a Bangladesh factory? They were making products bought by many consumers in the West — while getting paid less than $50 a month. Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images.

Yes, this ban only applies to U.S. imports, and certainly falls short of solving the global crisis of child and slave labor. But it's a big step.

And now you can help push progress forward, too. The more people who know about modern slave labor — and use their purchasing power to fight it — the better equipped we are to end the injustice.

True

From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.

Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.

Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Driven by passion and the encouragement of her parents, Recker attended nursing school, graduating just one year before the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic. One year into her career as an emergency and labor and delivery nurse, everything she thought she knew about the medical field got turned upside down. That period of time was tough on everyone, and Nurse Recker was no exception.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less
True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

We're dancing along too.

Art can be a powerful unifier. With just the right lyric, image or word, great art can soften those hard lines that divide us, helping us to remember the immense value of human connection and compassion.

This is certainly the case with “Pasoori,” a Pakistani pop song that has not only become an international hit, it’s managed to bring the long divided peoples of India and Pakistan together in the name of love. Or at least in the name of good music.
Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less