Category Archives: Politics & Government

Burma gem sanctions to continue in 2016

While the US has removed most sanctions against this SE Asian nation, the ban on the importation of Burmese ruby and jade remains. This, along with a prohibition on investment with the military in addition to targeted sanctions against a few specific individuals is the core of the punitive measures kept in place my the United States. There’s […]

The Biggest Natural Resource Heist in Modern History

We were leaders in helping to expose the myriad of issues with Burma’s gem trade, both in the US and internationally. Funding military abuses against civilians, feeding into a shadow economy control by drug empires, and fueling violent conflicts that led this Southeast Asian country into a free fall, the gem trade in Burma has long been a sector […]

The Supreme Court Has Spoken

Marriage is now legal for everyone! No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may […]

…And Now He’s Not.

In a shocking reversal and despite the fact all charges against him were dropped, Angola has decided to prosecute Rafael Marques anyways. He once again faces the prospect of jail time. We will continue our calls to have his rights protected and will work through our channels to help his cause. Stay tuned.

Victory! Rafael Marques is Free!

Our friend, a human rights activist facing ten years in prison and $1.2 million in fines for speaking out on behalf of artisanal diamond miners and their families, walked out of court a free man today. Along with a coalition of NGOs including Amnesty International, two jewelers spoke out in support of Rafael while the entire diamond […]

Two Jewelers Take a Stand

A short while ago, we were approached by a coalition of NGOs hoping to get retail jewelers to speak up on behalf of investigative journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, whose book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, features detailed accounts of torture and human rights abuses in Angola’s diamond sector. We have known Rafael for many years and […]

“I believe in the power of solidarity.”

On March 18, 2015, our friend Rafael Marques de Morais accepted The Voice of Free Expression journalism award in London. Less than one week later, he faced trial in Angola for speaking the truth. Rafael has long been the voice of artisanal miners in Angola who have suffered abuses, violence, and killings at the hands […]

Illinois has been Fracked

“Fracking is not a bridge to the future. It is a plank on which we walk blindfolded at the point of a sword. There is no right way to do it. And the pirates are not our friends.”  -Sandra Steingraber  the author of Living Downstream. As with all bad or unpopular news, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources quietly […]

Mining Company Sues to Protect their Right to Despoil Nature

The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced proposed restrictions that would essentially block a potentially damaging gold and copper mine in Alaska. In what sounds like a story from The Onion, Pebble Limited Partnership, along with the state of Alaska, are now suing the EPA. According to EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran, “mining the Pebble deposit would […]

Burma Sanctions Renewed

On Thursday, President Obama renewed US sanctions against Burma, citing “ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas, particularly in Rakhine State, and the continued role of the military in the country’s political and economic activities,” in his letter to Congress. As we’ve mentioned time and time again, Burma’s military maintains an active […]