tip 2015Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State has released a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report examines trafficking country-by-country, ranks each country and gives suggestions to each country’s government to improve the fight against modern slavery.

The 2015 report begins with, among others items, a list of all situations that are now considered forms of human trafficking.

  • Sex trafficking
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Forced labor
  • Bonded labor or debt bondage
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced child labor
  • Unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers

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Blog author: bwalker
Monday, July 27, 2015
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Apocalyptic and Utopian: On Pope Francis’ Bolivian Manifesto
James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic World Reporter

The Holy Father is certainly against abortion, euthanasia, and population control. What seems unclear to many is how advisers who hold these practices necessary in view of theories of ecology are at all helpful to what the Pope is really after. We all should be on the side of growth and virtue, not death and control.

Pope Francis’s Plan to Impoverish New York . . .and the Gotham mayor who embraces it
Oren Cass, City Journal

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s performance Tuesday at a Vatican climate-change conference called to mind the college sophomore who arrives late to a seminar, clearly hasn’t done the reading, but monopolizes the discussion nonetheless.

Pope Francis is not a feminist: Why Catholicism’s liberal icon falls far short on women’s issues
Kathleen Geier, Salon

Wait—what? Pope Francis, feminist? In what sense is Francis—a man who presides over one of the most deeply patriarchal institutions in human history, which bans women from positions of authority and restricts them to subservient roles; who preaches a doctrine of “separate spheres” for women that reads like a musty Victorian-era relic; and whose unwavering support of Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control is responsible for the death and suffering of countless women across the globe—a feminist? To label Francis a “feminist” is downright Orwellian. It twists the meaning of the word beyond all recognition.

Cupich says Chicago archdiocese will act on climate change
Crux

Archbishop Blase Cupich joined US Environmental Protection Agency officials Friday to mark the Church’s stewardship initiative, an answer to Pope Francis’ entreaty to preserve the earth. Archdiocese officials plan to benchmark each of the 2,700 buildings — churches, schools, offices and multiple-family housing. They will track energy consumption and consider each building’s structure using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to rank them from 1 to 100.

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tattoo-momIf you’re on welfare in New Hampshire you might want to rush out and get that new tattoo and tongue piercing, and load up on cigars and weed. In 60 days you’ll no longer be able to use your welfare payment cards on marijuana, cigars, piercings, or tattoos:

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a law that bans welfare “electronic benefit transfer” cards from being used on marijuana, among other vices.

More than 12,000 New Hampshire households receive benefits on EBT cards that essentially work as debit cards. The new law prohibits them from being used at marijuana dispensaries, cigar and smoke shops and tattoo and body piercing shops.

“We must always work to protect taxpayer dollars against public assistance fraud or abuse while also ensuring that those who need and qualify for financial support can purchase basic essential items,” Hassan said in a news release.

The cards have previously been banned by state and federal law from being used at liquor stores, gambling establishments and “adult entertainment venues.”

If you think that sounds harsh, in Illinois they are even prohibiting dead people from collecting welfare. As Mary Katharine Ham notes, “Even food stamps will no longer flow to those who until recently needed daily sustenance.”

Austin Berg of the Illinois Policy Institute explains the new, must-be-living policy:
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city lightsWhat’s the purpose of lighting in a large city? That may seem like the a fine example of a stupid question, but it’s not. While we could answer that question with suggestions like safety, allowing for extended commercial hours and ease of travel, lighting may now be used as a way to collect data on private citizens.

Using a combination of LEDs and big data technology, public lighting is the potential backbone of a system that could use billions of fixtures to collect data about traffic congestion at an intersection or a consumer walking down the cereal aisle, to name just a couple of applications.

What’s being called “intelligent environment” means lighting won’t simply be hardware but software, collecting data on everything from traffic congestion to gunshots to tracking a particular shopper in a grocery store. (more…)

Your writer has taken quite a bit of heat from some readers of a local newspaper column he writes for not “getting in-line” with the Pope on his identification of imminent climate catastrophe wrought by human activity. Even so, I cling to my Rosary on all matters actually Catholic. Aside from the brilliant minds at Acton and its scholars and supporters comprised of highly educated, amazingly spiritual individuals, I was beginning to feel as if I was an orphan in a universe of ideological zealots of the Gaia variety.

However, my days of orphandom were short-lived. Immediately prior to the release of Laudato Si there was delivered much succor from within the Church.

To wit: James V. Schall, SJ, wrote a brilliant piece this past April as the Gaia zealots were beginning to attain fever pitch. Titled “On Sustainability,” the essay questions the current wisdom of saving and preserving certain resources for future generations. To this, Schall responds:

 This thinking assumes that the present limited intellectual and technical base is thrust on future generations. Contemporary men evidently think that they know enough to decide what future generations will want, need, or be able to do. They must be content with what we have now. What if the only way that we can guarantee the well-being of future generations is for us not to impose our limited ideas of sustainability on them?

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 27, 2015
By

The Minimum-Wage Muddle
David Brooks, New York Times

Once upon a time there was a near consensus among economists that raising the minimum wage was a bad idea. The market is really good at setting prices on things, whether it is apples or labor. If you raise the price on a worker, employers will hire fewer and you’ll end up hurting the people you meant to help.

How So-Called ‘Equality Act’ Threatens Religious Freedom
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Politico is reporting that the so-called “Equality Act” will be introduced today in Congress. The bill is the brainchild of the Human Rights Campaign—an influential, sophisticated and lavishly funded LGBT activist organization.

Pope Francis’ Favorable Rating Drops in U.S.
Art Swift, Gallup

Pope Francis’ favorability rating in the U.S. has returned to where it was when he was elected pope. It is now at 59%, down from 76% in early 2014. The pontiff’s rating is similar to the 58% he received from Americans in April 2013, soon after he was elected pope.

A Bangladeshi Town in Human Trafficking’s Grip
Ellen Barry, New York Times

Fishermen, shopkeepers and policemen were all drawn in, as participants or observers, to a multimillion-dollar people smuggling business.

Many problems that require public policy solutions are complex and difficult to implement. But when it comes to improving the way we get food to hungry people in developing countries the fix can be summed up in four words: Send money, not food.

As AEI’s Vincent H. Smith shows in this helpful infographic, by locally and regionally sourcing food aid the us would save $400 million a year that could help feed at least four million more people in dire need.
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AOTActon offers a wide range of events and educational opportunities suited to a variety of different tastes and learning styles (and if you haven’t done so already, you should check out DiscoverActon.org, which helps you navigate all the different ways Acton can help you learn). But one of the coolest events we put on has to be Acton On Tap, which is an informal (and FREE) gathering of friends and supporters of the Institute, plus anyone else who wants to drop by for a cold drink and some good conversation.

We kicked off our summer Acton On Tap series for 2015 back on June 2 with a presentation by our institute Librarian, Dan Hugger, on the life and overarching ideas of Acton’s namesake, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, First Baron Acton of Aldenham. Acton was a defender of liberty, of free inquiry, freedom of religion, and the broad liberal tradition, and in his address Hugger suggests that Acton, both in his life and writings, serves as a model for thoughtful and passionate engagement with the modern world.

We’re pleased to present the audio of Dan’s remarks below, and invite you to join us at our next Acton On Tap with Jared Meyer, who will be speaking on July 29th on his latest book, Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young. Information and registration for that event are available at this link. We hope to see you there!

British-American-FlagBritish journalist Tim Montgomerie notes that Barack Obama gave some unsolicited advice to the U.K. recently (suggesting that they spend more on defense.) Montgomerie thought it only fair to return the favor.

1. Montgomerie says America should not invade other countries unless we plan to follow through.

George W Bush did at least stick with Iraq and his so-called “surge policy” delivered a reasonably stable nation by 2008. Obama than walked away and we know what happened soon afterwards: ISIS and Iran walked in.

2. Don’t be weak; it’s far too provocative to the Putins on the world. (more…)

chartFueled, in part, by the Pope’s passionate appeals, the campaign to reduce income inequality is growing rapidly around the globe.

The income equality movement argues that there is a growing gap between the incomes of top earners and everyone else. This claim is supported by a recent study conducted by the International Monetary Fund. In the United States, the income growth rate for the highest income earners has significantly surpassed the national average over the past 30 years.

Many politicians, including President Obama, have called for policy changes in order to slow the growing divide. However, this concern results from a distorted understanding of the word “income” and disregards the importance of aggregate income growth.

The term “income inequality” is deceptive. It is used to imply that income equality is the norm and anything else is abnormal and harmful to society. Income is payment for services provided. If all income was equal that would mean that all services were equal. Proponents of income equality ignore the definition of income and instead emphasize the word equality. They make the erroneous assumption that equality is always good for society. Inequality has come to imply injustice, but while justice is always good for society, the benefits from equality depend on the circumstances. (more…)