In The News

Dec 23, 2008

NATIONAL – Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, which reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also signed off on an interim final rule allowing “T” and “U” visa non-immigrants to adjust their immigration status to become lawful permanent residents. The “T” visa was created to provide immigration protection to victims of severe forms of human trafficking, and the “U” visa is for victims of crime who are willing to assist law enforcement in criminal investigations.

NATIONAL – Actress Amanda Bynes joined Mary Kay Inc. and Break the Cycle to kick-off, a national online petition that encourages states to require teen dating violence prevention programs in their schools. Only Texas and Rhode Island lawmakers have required domestic violence prevention to be part of public school curricula. Earlier this month, Bynes became the first person to sign the petition at Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School, part of Green Dot Public Schools, in Los Angeles, where she talked to students about ways to create healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence.

NATIONAL – The Family Online Safety Institute and online family safety advocates are urging President-Elect Obama to fund new measures to protect youth from crime, harassment and predators on the Internet, the Washington Post reports. The Institute released “Making Wise Choices Online,” an online safety education report, this month. It recommends that the new Administration hold an annual safety summit; create a Council for Internet Safety; fund a range of research, educational and awareness-raising projects; and create a new post that will report to the office of the Chief Technology Officer that President-Elect Obama promised to create. These steps are designed to protect children and teens from emerging dangers associated with new technologies and the Internet.

MILITARY – Enlisted soldiers in the Army and Marines divorced their spouses in 2008 at the highest rates in 16 years; about four percent of all married enlisted servicemembers in the Army and Marines obtained divorces that year, USA Today reports. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said that stress for military families is intense after long separations and multiple deployments. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems are also rising for those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

AR – Police arrested a suspect in the murder of 26-year-old Anne Pressly, a television anchorwoman in Little Rock who was killed in her home during a suspected burglary in October. Pressly’s parents report that she was sexually assaulted during the attack, and beaten so badly that her jaw was shattered and her hand broken while trying to fend off her attacker. Curtis Lavelle Vance remains in jail without bond.

NJ – Police have arrested Californian Joseph Pallipurath for invading St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton last month, where he killed his estranged wife, Reshma James, and a parishioner who came to her aid. Pallipurath left another victim comatose. Pallipurath allegedly tracked James to New Jersey and ordered her to return to California with him. She had been living with a relative after fleeing what authorities said was an abusive marriage, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Pallipurath boasted in a confession that he would have “massacred everyone” if he had a machine gun. He is being held on $5 million bond.

AFGHANISTAN – Ten Taliban militants have been arrested for an acid attack in November on a group of school girls, who were burned for attending high school. Two men on motorcycles drove up beside the girls and doused their faces with what appeared to be battery acid, the New York Times reports.

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNIFEM) will award nearly $19 million in 2008 to 23 projects and initiatives in 29 countries that are addressing gender-based violence. The $19 million is more than the UN Trust Fund has awarded in total since its inception in 1996. Despite the steep increase, resources still fall short to meet the vast demand. It has $525 million in grant requests this year for initiatives in developing countries, including in conflict-affected countries where widespread and systematic sexual violence has become a tactic of warfare.