Southeast Asia Bureau Chief
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Aug 3, 2015

Special Report: State Department watered down human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.

Aug 3, 2015

Special Report – U.S. State Department watered down human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.

Jul 27, 2015

U.S. upgrades Malaysia, Cuba in human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States upgraded Malaysia in an annual report on human trafficking on Monday, despite calls by human rights groups and nearly 180 U.S. lawmakers to keep the Southeast Asian country on a list of worst offenders for failing to suppress trafficking.

The U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report also upgraded Cuba from its lowest rank for the first time since it was included in the annual report in 2003.

Jul 27, 2015

U.S. upgrades Malaysia, Cuba in trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States upgraded Malaysia in an annual report on human trafficking on Monday despite calls by human rights groups and nearly 180 U.S. lawmakers to keep the Southeast Asian country on a list of worst offenders in failing to suppress trafficking.

The U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report also upgraded Cuba from its lowest rank for the first time since it was included in the annual report in 2003.

Jul 16, 2015

Exclusive: U.S. poised to upgrade Cuba in annual human trafficking report – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is set to remove Cuba from the bottom tier on its list of worst human trafficking centers, U.S. sources said, in what will be another step in the historic rapprochement between the former Cold War foes.

    The upgrade would lift Cuba to the so-called “Tier 2 Watch List” from Tier 3, where it has languished for 12 years due to allegations of sex trafficking and what U.S. authorities have previously described as “coerced labor with Cuban government work missions abroad.”  

Jul 9, 2015

Rights groups urge U.S. to reconsider Malaysia human-trafficking rating

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Human rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers urged the U.S. government on Thursday to reconsider plans to upgrade Malaysia from the lowest tier on its list of worst human trafficking hubs, citing a lack of evidence that Malaysia had made advances against trafficking.

The comments come a day after Reuters revealed that the U.S. State Department plans to reverse last year’s downgrade of Malaysia in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report, a move that could smooth the way for a major U.S.-led free-trade deal with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries.

Jul 9, 2015

Exclusive: U.S. upgrades Malaysia in annual human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is upgrading Malaysia from the lowest tier on its list of worst human trafficking centers, U.S. sources said on Wednesday, a move that could smooth the way for an ambitious U.S.-led free-trade deal with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries.

The upgrade to so-called “Tier 2 Watch List” status removes a potential barrier to President Barack Obama’s signature global trade deal.

Jul 1, 2015

In America’s South, black church fires fan racial fears

By Jason Szep, Lindsay Dunsmuir and Letitia Stein

(Reuters) – Some were deliberately lit. Others were caused by an electrical fault or lightning. But regardless of the origins, a spike in fires at black churches is fraying nerves at a time of heightened racial tensions across the United States.

As federal investigators search for clues, the fires highlight what appears to be a little-known feature of American religion: Hundreds of churches go up in flames every year for varied reasons, often having nothing to do with race or violence.

Mar 2, 2015

Insight – How Jeb Bush’s big bet on Florida economy may come back to haunt him

JUPITER, Florida (Reuters) – In October 2003, Jeb Bush unveiled one of the largest economic projects in Florida history: a $500 million plan to bring Scripps Research Institute to the state and build a biomedical hub he said would generate nearly 50,000 jobs in 15 years.

As governor, he described it as a “seminal moment,” comparable to Walt Disney World’s arrival in Florida in 1971, which brought billions of dollars in tourism, spawned tens of thousands of jobs, transformed the economy and created the world’s most-visited vacation resort.

Mar 2, 2015

How Jeb Bush’s big bet on Florida economy may come back to haunt him

JUPITER, Florida (Reuters) – In October 2003, Jeb Bush unveiled one of the largest economic projects in Florida history: a $500 million plan to bring Scripps Research Institute to the state and build a biomedical hub he said would generate nearly 50,000 jobs in 15 years.

As governor, he described it as a “seminal moment,” comparable to Walt Disney World’s arrival in Florida in 1971, which brought billions of dollars in tourism, spawned tens of thousands of jobs, transformed the economy and created the world’s most-visited vacation resort.

    • About Jason

      "As Southeast Asia Bureau Chief, Jason Szep manages text, pictures and television news operations across 10 countries for Reuters. He has been a Reuters correspondent, bureau chief and editor since 1990 and won the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award in 2007. He is a Boston native and has had postings with Reuters in Toronto, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Boston and Bangkok. His assignments have ranged from Kabul and Islamabad to the U.S. presidential campaign trail during the 2008 election."
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