For the Global Thinker

Thursday, May 26, 2011

China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work


Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money...

Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.
But it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.
"If I couldn't complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things," he said.

Read full article here:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Durango's Killing Fields: The Grave in the Garden

Like the other grisly fosas, or narco-graves, uncovered in this northern desert city since last month — many of which were in middle-class backyards or near schools — the latest raised an unsettling question: How could residents and authorities not know something was terribly amiss at the house on Calle Petunias? "That's the incredible part," says Jorge Santiago, spokesman for Durango State Human Rights Commission.
Just as staggering is the number of bodies recovered so far in the Durango fosas: 218, a figure sure to rise with the newest discovery, and which surpasses the 183 exhumed since last month in the border state of Tamaulipas. Like the Tamaulipas corpses, many of those found in Durango are believed to be innocents as well as mafiosos. Either way, the sheer volume has human rights advocates looking at Mexico's bloody drug war, which in four years has produced almost 40,000 gangland murders, through a...
Read more here:


Also here are two other remarkable stories that I read recently...

A Dangerous Journey For Mexican Bus Drivers
Carlos, a bus driver with 10 years of experience, said that in his travels through Tamaulipas, he has been witness to armed confrontations between police and traffickers, and in more than one occasion has seen bodies strewn or mutilated on the highways.
One time, he had to maneuver his bus to avoid running over two groups who were firing on each other right on the highway.
"I accelerated and dodged the bullets," Carlos said. "The passengers were scared. Some cried, others prayed."

Read more here:

And one story from my own neighborhood...

An American Gun in Mexico

Late on the night of March 8, 2008, a Mexican military patrol in the northern city of Chihuahua responded to neighbors' complaints about armed men. The soldiers, part of Mexico's ongoing effort to curb narco-trafficking violence, were met with a fusillade of grenades and gunfire. In the end, six men whom officials described as members of a drug gang lay dead.
On the government side, five soldiers were injured and one, Capt. David Mendoza Gómez, was killed. Mexican authorities found a cache of ammunition, grenades and high-powered firearms—including a .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle. An imposing weapon, nearly 60 inches long, the long-range semiautomatic rifle is popular among the world's militaries.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it traced the rifle to John Shipley, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in El Paso, Texas.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Best Kultura Photos

With over 10,000 hits to Kultura, one of the most frequent requests are for the photos...So here are 20 of the most captivating images. (Click to Enlarge)

Kultura Photos 2009-2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Coming Storm

A fascinating look into the future of our world...

The people of Bangladesh have much to teach us about how a crowded planet can best adapt to rising sea levels. For them, that future is now.

We may be seven billion specks on the surface of Earth, but when you're in Bangladesh, it sometimes feels as if half the human race were crammed into a space the size of Louisiana. Dhaka, its capital, is so crowded that every park and footpath has been colonized by the homeless. To stroll here in the mists of early morning is to navigate an obstacle course of makeshift beds and sleeping children.

Later the city's steamy roads and alleyways clog with the chaos of some 15 million people, most of them stuck in traffic. Amid this clatter and hubbub moves a small army of Bengali beggars, vegetable sellers, popcorn vendors, rickshaw drivers, and trinket salesmen, all surging through the city like particles in a flash flood. The countryside beyond is a vast watery floodplain with intermittent stretches of land that are lush, green, flat as a parking lot—and wall-to-wall with human beings. In places you might expect to find solitude, there is none. There are no lonesome highways in Bangladesh...

 Read full article here:


Photo Gallery of Bangladesh...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Global Economy’s Corporate Crime Wave

By Jeffrey D. Sachs.


" Two years after the biggest financial crisis in history, which was fueled by unscrupulous behavior by the biggest banks on Wall Street, not a single financial leader has faced jail. When companies are fined for malfeasance, their shareholders, not their CEOs and managers, pay the price. The fines are always a tiny fraction of the ill-gotten gains, implying to Wall Street that corrupt practices have a solid rate of return. Even today, the banking lobby runs roughshod over regulators and politicians. 

Corruption pays in American politics as well. The current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, was CEO of a major health-care company known as Columbia/HCA. The company was charged with defrauding the United States government by overbilling for reimbursement, and eventually pled guilty to 14 felonies, paying a fine of $1.7 billion.
The FBI’s investigation forced Scott out of his job. But, a decade after the company’s guilty pleas, Scott is back, this time as a “free-market” Republican politician."

Read more here: