Archive for June 4th, 2008


WASHINGTON (CNN) — Slave labor in developing countries such as Brazil, China and India is fueling part of their huge economic growth, according to a State Department report released Wednesday.

Amnesty International activists protest human trafficking during an event in Greece in March.

The department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” found increased allegations of forced labor made in connection with a variety of agricultural products and manufactured goods in developing countries.

In Brazil, the report found a “trafficking phenomenon.” It said thousands of trafficked and forced laborers had been found on plantations growing sugar cane for Brazil’s booming production and export of the biofuel ethanol.

The report cites shrimp processed in Thailand and Bangladesh; clothing from Bangladesh, India, Jordan and Malaysia; and bricks made in India, China and Pakistan as being among the products of booming industries in which workers are subjected to forced labor, debt bondage and hazardous working conditions. Laws are not adequate to punish those responsible, it adds.

China was found to have a “significant” problem with forced labor, including forced child labor. Children as young as 12 are reportedly subject to forced labor under the guise of “work and study programs” and subject to excessively long hours, dangerous conditions, low pay and physical abuse. The report found China’s growing brick industry is fraught with cover-ups of the problem.

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brigitte bardot


PARIS - Brigitte Bardot was convicted Tuesday of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France.

A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against the former screen siren and animal rights campaigner. The court also ordered Bardot to pay $1,555 in damages to MRAP.

Bardot’s lawyer, Francois-Xavier Kelidjian, said he would talk to her about the possibility of an appeal.

A leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP filed a lawsuit last year over a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. The remarks were published in her foundation’s quarterly journal.

In the December 2006 letter to Sarkozy, now the president, Bardot said France is “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”

Bardot, 73, was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep.

French anti-racism laws prevent inciting hatred and discrimination on racial or religious or racial grounds. Bardot had been convicted four times previously for inciting racial hatred.

“She is tired of this type of proceedings,” he said. “She has the impression that people want to silence her. She will not be silenced in her defense of animal rights.”


Here Come the Internet Police…

The Washington Post

Cable service operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable said yesterday that they would begin testing new approaches that would slow Internet access for heavy users and charge more to those who want additional speed.

The tests come as the Federal Communications Commission wraps up an investigation on complaints that Comcast blocked certain users from sharing video, music and other files. The complaints fueled a larger debate, with hearings in Congress and by the FCC, on how much control Internet service providers should have over the flow of data.

“The cable companies see a hammer hovering above their heads and are scrambling to find ways to reduce the appearance of wrongdoing,” said Ben Scott, head of policy for the public interest group Free Press, which advocates for better oversight of cable operators. He called the plans “Band-Aids” on the bigger problem of network capacity, which he said can be solved only by larger investments in the cable companies’ networks.

Comcast said that on Friday it would begin tests in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va., that would delay traffic for the heaviest users of Internet data without targeting specific software applications. Public interest groups complained in November that Comcast targeted users of BitTorrent, a file-sharing application, by blocking or delaying video and other files exchanged with the technology. Free Press said the practice discriminated against certain content and impeded users from having full access to the Web.

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Three headless bodies were found in the Valley of Juárez on Sunday and Monday while worries grew over a new Internet message demanding that prominent Juárez families and business leaders pay a ?quota? to a drug cartel for protection.

The validity of the message was unknown. It was posted last week supposedly by ?La Linea,? as the Juárez drug cartel is also known, on the popular video-sharing site, and shows scrolling text in Spanish set to a narco-corrido (folk song).

?You saw what happened to Wily Moya,? stated the message referring to the fatal shooting of a prominent nightclub owner May 18 as he left a bar he owned.

The video, posted on May 27, claims that entrepreneurs will pay protection or they will be kidnapped. ? ? With us, you do not play (or) you?ll be found without a head. From La Linea,? the video read.

If the menace is true, it would mirror a ?war tax? extorted from businesses leaders in Nuevo Laredo by the drug cartels to finance their war in recent years for that border city.

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The White House has joined the Justice Department and State Department in stating that it has no information on arrests, prosecutions or convictions related to the murder or execution cases of 128 American citizens in Mexico from 2005 to 2007.

At a press briefing at the White House on Friday, Press Secretary Dana Perino told Cybercast News Service that President Bush may or may not know about the travel alert issued in April by the State Department, which warned travelers that violence ?equivalent to military small-unit combat? was taking place along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

?I?m not sure if he does (know about the alert) or not,? Perino said. ?Obviously, State Department travel alerts come out quite often and I don?t think he?s alerted to every single one of them.?

The alert, issued Apr. 15 and still listed as valid as of today, also says, ?Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007? and that ?in some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles.? (Read the travel alert.)

Cybercast News Service e-mailed a follow-up question to the White House press office on Friday asking if the president had assigned anyone in his administration to the task of making sure that justice is being served in the cases of Americans murdered in Mexico and, if so, what specifically had that person done to that end.

As of press time Monday, the White House had not responded to several requests for an answer. But the White House did join the Department of Justice (DOJ) in referring Cybercast News Service to the attorney general of Mexico for information on the status of the 128 murder and execution cases.

A call to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico also resulted in a referral to the Mexico Attorney General?s office.

An e-mail and several phone calls to Fernando Castillo, public affairs officer for the Mexican attorney general, have not been returned. An embassy employee who identified herself as someone who works with the international press, told Cybercast News Service that the attorney general?s office would only deal with federal crimes and that other criminal cases would come under the jurisdiction of the city or state where the alleged crime took place.

Cybercast New Service?s question at a State Department press briefing on May 20 was answered with a link posted on its website of its report on non-natural deaths in Mexico from January 2005 to December 2007. An analysis of the report revealed that128 American citizens had been murdered or executed in Mexico over that time period. (Read the report.)

The report indicated that 667 Americans had been killed in Mexico by non-natural causes during the three years covered. An analysis showed that 128 of those deaths were listed as either ?homicides? (126) or ?executions? (2) and that a majority of those murders (68) had taken place in Mexican cities immediately on the U.S.-Mexico border. Another 12 Americans, the report indicated, were murdered in other locations in Mexican states bordering the United States.

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The Washington Post

Everyone arrested in Prince William County will have his or her name run through a federal database to determine citizenship status, even if the person is not suspected of being in the country illegally, according to a draft of the county’s revised illegal-immigration policy.

Everyone arrested in Prince William County will have his or her name run through a federal database to determine citizenship status, even if the person is not suspected of being in the country illegally, according to a draft of the county’s revised illegal-immigration policy.

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By limiting visas for skilled foreign professionals, the United States only harms itself…

The Washington Post

THANKS TO the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system and the dysfunctional Congress that keeps it that way, tens of thousands of promising, intelligent, ambitious and highly skilled foreign professionals, including thousands receiving advanced degrees from American universities this month, will be denied a chance to contribute their expertise and energy to the American economy. Few policies match this one is terms of sheer irrationality, and few will do as much damage to this country’s long-term prospects and competitiveness. Yet Congress, mired in a political swamp of its own making when it comes to immigration, seems incapable of extracting itself.

Although the United States welcomes unlimited numbers of foreign students and subsidizes their education in engineering, physics, computer science, medicine and other disciplines, those students face increasingly steep obstacles to employment here. So do educated foreign workers whose skills are needed in the American workforce.

This year, some 163,000 applicants from both categories vied for 85,000 H-1B work visas — 65,000 for foreign workers with bachelor’s degrees and another 20,000 for foreign alumni of U.S. graduate schools. In April, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was so swamped it stopped accepting applicants after just five days; recipients were selected at random by computer lottery. The number of applications was a third higher than last year and shows no sign of abating.

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