Extra Extra : International

Asian slave labor producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that ...

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South Africa shortchanged on diamond trade

"A 100Reporters investigation of the diamond trade in South Africa has found that companies here pay a royalty rate far lower than that of other African states. Companies can also reduce or cancel out export taxes if they offer locally-mined diamonds to the state for purchase—even if the South African government never buys the gems, often due to formidably high prices."

Billions unaccounted for in Venezuela's communal giveaway program

The unsupervised spending in El Chaparral is symptomatic of a vast community aid effort with lax financial controls. A network of more than 70,000 community groups has received the equivalent of at least $7.9 billion since 2006 from the federal agency that provides much of the financing for the program, Reuters calculates, based on official government reports.

The money is part of a broad government effort called the "communal state" that steers funds to communities, primarily through an outfit called the Autonomous National Fund for Community Councils, or Safonacc. But exactly how much money passes through this system ...

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IRE members work to boost transparency, cooperation in Kenya

Land Quest is an experiment in cross-border investigative journalism by two European, two Kenyan and one American journalist that seeks to redefine both the focus and the audience of development reporting.

The data reveals Kenya as the battlefield between two competing financial interests: the flow of aid money from Europe to Kenya, and multinational profits from Kenya to Europe. Aid money flows into Kenya to help strengthen institutions and private companies, from agro-industrialists to oil barons.

The project, funded by a grant from the European Journalism Centre, is designed to raise awareness about the need for developed and developing countries ...

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US secretly built 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development was behind the creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” a social network designed to undermine the communist government and push Cubans toward dissent.

The project – called ZunZuneo – drew tens of thousands of subscribers in the more than two years in operated. American contractors were able to gather personal data on users.

According to the report, “The AP obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development. It independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents through publicly available databases, government sources and ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Secret settlements, data breaches and university lobbyists

Mizzou did not pursue alleged assault | ESPN
The University of Missouri did not investigate or tell law enforcement officials about an alleged rape, possibly by one or more members of its football team, despite administrators finding out about the alleged 2010 incident more than a year ago, an "Outside the Lines" investigation has found. The alleged victim, a member of the swim team, committed suicide in 2011.

Mass. spent millions on secret settlements | The Boston Globe
For years, the state has used confidential settlement and severance deals to make embarrassing problems go away, often requiring workers to promise to keep ...

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Relatives of China’s top leaders held secretive offshore companies

The International Consortium of International Journalists found that “Close relatives of China’s top leaders have held secretive offshore companies in tax havens that helped shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, a leaked cache of documents reveals.”

ICIJ has been working since 2012 to analyze about 2.5 million leaked offshore records. The latest installment digs into documents from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Here’s more from the ICIJ story:

“The data illustrates the outsized dependency of the world’s second largest economy on tiny islands thousands of miles away.  As the country has moved from an insular communist ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Hospice firms drain billions, JPMorgan hired China's elite, restaurants stay open despite violations

San Diego Has Fallen Behind on Combating Police Racial Profiling | Voice of San Diego
The San Diego Police Department has often failed to follow its own rules regarding the collection of racial data at traffic stops, saying the community isn't concerned about racial profiling. A local black officers group, the NAACP and a city councilman disagree.

Hospice firms draining billions from Medicare | The Washington Post
But over the past decade, the number of “hospice survivors” in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying, a Washington ...

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Investigation reveals role of amateurs in China's military buildup

The latest entry in Reuters' "Breakout" series focused on China's military buildup reveals that the US government has more than 350 active military-technology smuggling cases linked to China, up by more than 50 percent since 2010. The report details how China is recruiting amateurs to buy weapons and significantly complicates U.S. efforts to stop the flow of American armaments to China. The report includes an unprecedented interview with one convicted arms trafficker and details of the secret FBI recordings in his case.  

 

Tobacco companies pushing back against antismoking laws

Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in antismoking laws, using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation. The industry is warning countries that their tobacco laws violate an expanding web of trade and investment treaties, raising the prospect of costly, prolonged legal battles, health advocates and officials said.