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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

Jimmy Carter says Bible no justification for discriminating against women

The former US president spoke about his efforts on gender equality at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
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Former US president Jimmy Carter (L) talks with a Liberian woman in October 2005 in Monrovia, Liberia. The Carter Center, founded by Carter to promote peace initiatives and health issues worldwide, is in Liberia to monitor the elections along with the National Democratic Institute. (Chris Hondros/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON, Mass. — Former US president Jimmy Carter said there is no doubt in his mind that the Bible, if correctly interpreted, advocates gender equality.

Unfortunately, as he told a crowd of about 700 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on Thursday evening, very often the Bible is used as the basis for discrimination against women.

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Uber privacy fiasco suggests we are 'extortable'

As the world grows increasingly reliant on data, safeguarding the right to privacy becomes a tougher task.
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Medea Benjamin of CodePink holds a sign while in the audience as Richard Salgado, director of law enforcement and information security matters for Google, Inc, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Privacy , Technology, and the Law Subcommittee Nov. 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee /Getty Images)

When a top executive threatens to dig into the private lives of journalists who criticize his company, it’s sure to cause a ruckus.

At a New York City dinner party on Monday, the senior vice president of ride-sharing service Uber, Emil Michael, floated an idea to hire opposition researchers and journalists to dig up dirt on critics. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith heard the statement and published Michael’s comments on the site, not the first time Uber has been accused of abusing its power. 

The result is #ubergate, a deluge of opinions at the intersection of privacy rights, cybersecurity and ethics at a time when journalists are just part of a larger group that is vulnerable.

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Trafficking survivors work toward laws that end violence and exploitation

Policy makers are decriminalizing the sale of sex and focusing on pimps and brothel owners.
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Indian sex workers hold placards as they participate in a rally at the Sonagachi area of Kolkata on Nov. 8, 2014. Hundreds of sex workers with their children and family members participated in the rally to demand better legal protection of sex workers, claiming that better laws will reduce human trafficking and exploitation. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR /AFP/Getty Images)

TURIN, Italy — Over the last few weeks, two territories thousands of miles apart made a similar commitment to gender equality. Northern Ireland became the first part of the United Kingdom, and Canada the first country outside of Europe, to vote in favor of a bill that recognizes the gender dimension of the commercial sex trade.

In both cases, the selling of sex will be decriminalized. Exiting services and support will be provided to those in prostitution, and the focus will move to pimps, brothel-keepers and buyers – those who create the demand that fuels sex trafficking. The approach is known as the “Nordic Model,” initially established by Sweden in 1999 and later adopted by Norway and Iceland.

Today, Ireland and France are considering similar approaches, while the European Union and the Council of Europe both recommended that other countries follow suit.

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Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi: From optimists to realists

Together in Myanmar, the two leaders are chastened and strong — but no longer adored by those who once cheered them.
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US President Barack Obama and Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speak during a press conference at her residence in Yangon on Nov.14, 2014. Obama began talks with Suu Kyi in a show of support for the opposition leader as the nation turns towards elections next year with uncertainty over the direction of reforms. (MANDEL NGAN /AFP/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Two world figures whose political destinies were launched in hope took center stage in Myanmar last week.

As fledgling leaders, President Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi both expressed confidence they would “get things done” by reaching out to those who wished them ill. The very titles of their respective memoirs — Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” and Suu Kyi’s “Voice of Hope” — suggested a heady confidence rooted in a belief in the essential goodness of human beings and a limitless possibility when people work together.

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How the Department of Defense is using big data to combat sex trafficking

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) shows its humanitarian side.
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A girl (R) is taken away by an Attorney General's office staffer after having been rescued from a house where she was held captive by a network of human traffickers and labour exploitation, in Guatemala City, on Sept. 10, 2014. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on technology that could help stop millions of men, women and children from being abused, exploited and sold into slavery. (JOHAN ORDONEZ /AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — It’s estimated that somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 people are trafficked annually in the United States, and millions of people around the world are victims of the global exchange of humans for money.

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Women’s safety a key issue at this year’s Trust Women conference

The conversation around keeping women safe in public needs to focus on changing perspectives, panelists say.
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Indian protesters belonging to the Bangalore Bus Passengers Forum hold placards against the sexual harassment of women passengers,at a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus stand on Oct. 7, 2013. According to a survey by the forum conducted from 2012-13, two out of three women who travel in BMTC buses face regular violence from co-passengers, drivers and conductors with 1803 cases booked against them. (MANJUNATH KIRAN /AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — After the brutal rape and murder of a woman on a bus in Delhi two years ago, the debate about safety in public places has continued to rage unabated. In Detroit, a man shot a woman to death on the street for rejecting his advances and refusing to give him her number. Another man in Queens, New York slashed a woman’s throat when she refused to engage with him. And more recently, a viral video showed the world what it was like to simply be a woman and walk the streets of New York.

Women’s safety in public transit — an under-researched area — is becoming a rallying point for women, and was the subject of two panels at the Trust Women conference in London this week. Just a quick look at the hashtag #EverydaySexism, a repository that documents the near-constant verbal and physical assault of women in public places, shows that the issue is a huge and systemic global problem.

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How land rights for women could help fight climate change

Opinion: Evidence suggests that women’s economic empowerment is critical to mitigating climate change. But we have yet to integrate this thinking into our climate change efforts.
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Editor's note: The GroundTruth Project is an editorial partner for the Trust Women Conference, which takes place Nov. 18-19 in London. The annual conference, organized by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women's rights to take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women.

Climate change is not gender-neutral.

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Even with social media boost, big challenges ahead for Rohingya advocates

Other pressing issues threaten to overtake the fight to return citizenship to the beleaguered Muslim minority.
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US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Myanmar president Thein Sein at the end of their bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on Nov. 13, 2014. The United States called for Myanmar to allow stateless Rohingya Muslims to become citizens, after President Barack Obama said he was 'deeply concerned' about the marginalized group. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A social media campaign to bring awareness to a heavily persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma, has borne some fruit: In his official visit to the country last week, President Obama took a cue from the hashtag #JustSayTheirName and did exactly that.

“Discrimination toward the Rohingya or any other religious minority does not express the kind of country, over the long term, that Burma wants to be,” Obama said at a Thursday news conference in Yangon, where he met with Myanmar opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Slavery in the supply chain: 'Who is behind the clothes we wear?'

Opinion: Over the past decade, along with cheap clothes we have also been sold a myth: that buying a t-shirt at two dollars is a democratic right of our times.
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(Courtesy)

Editor's note: The GroundTruth Project is an editorial partner for the upcoming Trust Women Conference, which takes place Nov. 18-19 in London. The annual conference, organized by the Thompson Reuters Foundation, brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women's rights to take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women.

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Why the US-China agreement is a big deal for climate change

Q&A: Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund explains what the countries’ pledges mean for the climate fight.
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US President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama paid a state visit to China after attending the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. (Feng Li /Getty Images)

It’s the deal that has everybody talking: The United States and China have agreed on a climate change strategy that aims to significantly lower each country’s carbon emissions.

The agreement was announced in Beijing Wednesday at a press conference that closed this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. The deal involves China pledging to cap its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and increasing its use of renewable energy to 20 percent. At the same time, the US would cut its emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

We spoke with Nathaniel Keohane, vice president for international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit collaboration of scientists, attorneys, economists and other professionals, to find out what this deal means to the fight for global sustainability and to economic progress. 

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