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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.

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

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.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Jody Danielle Fisher / Facebook

Breast milk is an incredibly magical food. The wonderful thing is that it's produced by a collaboration between mother and baby.

British mother Jody Danielle Fisher shared the miracle of this collaboration on Facebook recently after having her 13-month-old child vaccinated.

In the post, she compared the color of her breast milk before and after the vaccination, to show how a baby's reaction to the vaccine has a direct effect on her mother's milk production.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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