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March 24, 2012

News briefs: March 24, 2012

News briefs: March 24, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

News briefs: March 24, 2012

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

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Saturday, March 24, 2012
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Today on Wikinews: We briefly recap some of the stories appearing on Wikinews this week and from around the world.

Today is Saturday, March 24, 2012. I am Chad Tew and this is Wikinews.

Briefs

Magnitude 7.4 earthquake strikes Mexico; no fatalities reported / Mexico gunmen kill twelve police (0:30)

A magnitude seven-point-four earthquake struck Mexico this week. The epicenter was in the state of Guerrero. But the quake also caused injuries to the north in Mexico City. Police have reported eleven injuries in Mexico. Also in Guerrero — twelve police were ambushed and killed while searching for the bodies matching ten severed heads — apparent victims of the Mexican drug war.

Imminent danger of famine in the Sahel (1:00)

The United Nations is appealing to the international community for more aid for the Sa-hel region in Africa. The U-N estimates that sixteen million people may soon suffer from a food shortage there. The organization has only received about a quarter of the one billion dollars required for the food crisis. And UNI-CEF is preparing to provide one-point-five-million children with food. The U-N is trying to act quickly, so that the situation doesn’t get out of control.

Funeral for Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria held in Cairo (1:34)

The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christian church has died. Services were held on Tuesday — with Pope Shenouda the Third of Alexandria in full regalia, including a gold crown. The eighty-eight-year-old Pope spent forty years leading Egypt’s ten million Copts. In nineteen eighty one, Shenouda was exiled to his cathedral by then-President Anwar Sadat for sectarian troublemaking. President Hosni Mubarak freed him four years later.

King George Tupou V of Tonga dies in Hong Kong hospital (2:10)

King George Tupou (Pronounced Too-pow) the Fifth of Tonga has also died. The King introduced democracy to Tonga. The sixty-three-year-old came to power in two thousand and six, and, two years later, he ended feudal rule after one hundred and sixty five years. Tupou’s younger brother is next in line to the throne.

North Korea plans to launch long-range rocket (2:35)

North Korea plans to launch a long-range rocket around mid-April to celebrate founder Kim Il Sung’s one hundredth birthday. North Korea and the United States had reached an agreement just sixteen days before the announcement; North Korea had agreed to stop its nuclear program while the United States had promised a quarter of a million metric tons of food. If the launch takes place, U-S officials said the food deal may be compromised.

US Air Force upgrades F-22 oxygen system after deadly crash (3:09)

The U-S Air Force is upgrading their Eff-Twenty-Two Raptor jet fighter planes after an accident that killed a pilot. Captain Jeffrey Hanley crashed in Alaska in late twenty ten. His wife is pursuing legal action against the plane’s manufacturer Lockhead Martin. The plane has had problems with a ring handle that activates emergency oxygen on the aircraft. The Air Force is replacing all of those handles with new ones.

Large Texas hospital dismisses 75 employees (3:39)

Parkland Hospital, in Dallas, Texas, has dismissed seventy five employees over the past three months. These dismissals came after the hospital failed both state and federal inspections. The hospital hired a new chief nursing officer to help re-organize the nursing system. The hospital has until April of Twenty Thirteen to reach compliance with regulations.

FA Cup game abandoned after Fabrice Muamba collapses on pitch (4:05)

Last Saturday, Fabrice Muamba, the Football Association’s Bolton player, collapsed during a game with the Tottenham Hotspurs. After ten minutes, Muamba was taken down the tunnel, and E-S-P-N reported he was not breathing at that time. Tributes soon flooded in. Muamba joined the Bolton Wanderers in two thousand and eight.

Wendy’s surpasses the King (4:31)

And in the United States, Wendy’s surpassed Burger King to become the number two hamburger-chain. McDonald’s held on to number one in sales with thirty four billion dollars in twenty eleven. Wendy’s followed with eight point five billion dollars and Burger King came close — one hundred million short of Wendy’s.

Outro (4:56)

And those are the headlines for this week.

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This has been the Audio Wikinews brief. To receive the latest news, please visit wikinews.org, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias.

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This recording has been released under the Creative Commons 2.5 License.

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January 13, 2012

Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

Observing the 2012 Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US, and wider world

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Friday, January 13, 2012

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This week US citizens observed National Human Trafficking Awareness Day through acts of education, legislation, and enforcement; whilst, around the world, other people highlighted or tackled this global problem in their own countries.

According to an annual report on human trafficking released by the US State Department in June last year, 27 million men, women and children are exploited through human trafficking. Worldwide, at least two million children are estimated to be trafficked victims of the sex trade; and, in military conflicts, it is not uncommon for children to be forced to bear arms. In releasing the report last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing trafficking, and cultural issues associated with it.

Brown, orange and red are source countries, while light blue and dark blue countries are destinations for victims of human trafficking.
Image: KVDP.

Under the United Nations’ Palermo Protocols, human trafficking encompasses cases where victims are born into slavery, forcibly transported for exploitation, consented to work with a trafficker, and/or were forced to participate in criminal activities. The Protocols also recognize the unique status and rights of children.

US-based action

Reports from across the United States show a number of communities taking local action to solve, or otherwise highlight, this global problem.

In Southern California, Sister Caritas Foster is an advocate for the area’s victims of human trafficking. Commenting on the area’s involvement, she stated: “We in the San Francisco Bay Area are one of the largest receiving areas with our borders and coasts”. For over four years, Foster has worked on educating the public on human trafficking, speaking to civic and religious groups and describing the power traffickers hold over their victims through vivid accounts of situations trafficked individuals find themselves in. Many have no idea where they are located, suffer under the constant threat of deportation, and most often lack the language abilities to seek help.

Los Angeles politician Don Knabe said human trafficking was not a distant problem but one that hits close to home. As the county supervisor overseeing the fourth district in Los Angeles County, Knabe cited figures from the Probation Department showing 84 percent of arrests of children on prostitution charges in 2010 were in his district; he believes the overall problem for the county is much larger, and wants the Probation Department to establish a special unit dedicated to sexually exploited minors.

Northward in Seattle, Washington, members of the King County Sheriff’s department realized that law enforcement had to deal supportively with the symptoms of human trafficking — rather than putting victims in jail. This gave birth to the “Genesis Project” where sheriff’s deputies offer potential victims of trafficking a comfortable safe haven with amenities for 24 hours, and put them in touch with social services for counselling, job training, and education advice.

Politicians from several states have sought to address the connection between tourism and human trafficking; Indiana’s state Senate unanimously passed a human trafficking bill on Tuesday morning. Current legislation only considered forced marriage and prostitution as human trafficking; loopholes in the existing laws allowed some forms of human trafficking to escape prosecution. Lawmakers in the state hope to toughen their human trafficking laws, and have new legislation on the statute books in time for the Super Bowl, due to be held in Indianapolis on February 5. The just-passed bill now goes to the House for approval.

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Also on Tuesday, lawmakers from Hawaii held a special hearing on human trafficking. Kathryn Xian, of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says traffickers capitalize on the state’s tourist-based economy. She introduced a package of seven bills she says will help prevent human trafficking in the state.

At a national level, the US government continues to work abroad on the issue of trafficking; Luis CdeBaca, a special ambassador for human trafficking, is working with Myanmar, commonly known as Burma, as the country seeks to improve diplomatic relations with the United States. Myanmar was identified by the US State Department as having one of the worst records of forced labor, and as a country that lacks necessary laws to curb human trafficking.

Trafficking, the global picture

File image of a Nepali mother who travelled to Mumbai, India, hoping to rescue her teenage daughter from an Indian brothel.
Image: Kay Chernush, US State Dept..

Although National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is a US-based effort to recognise, and highlight, this issue — as a topic of global concern being highlighted through the United Nations, others around the world continue efforts to increase public awareness and tackle trafficking.

Forty-six women from the international group Operation Mobilization sought to raise awareness by climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The summit is called “Uhuru Peak”, with Uhuru meaning “freedom” in Swahili. Each of the non-professional climbers raised US$10,000 to help those affected by human trafficking.

In the Middle East, several countries are reported to have problems with human traffickers recruiting unemployed gay Kenyan men to become sex slaves. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supposedly the more-common destination countries into which Kenyans are lured with offers of high-paying jobs. However, in the United Arab Emirates — where no law prohibits trafficking, but homosexuality is illegal — the problem is compounded.

Enforcement of existing laws, and acting against trafficking, are seen as key steps in reducing the activity. Showing that no country is unaffected, Northern Ireland police are currently investigating five sex trafficking cases; and, on Monday, Filipino police rescued fifteen women following a tip-off regarding women recruited, and being held, prior to being sent to work abroad.

In the Northern Ireland situation, Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall stated that fifteen men are to be contacted, suspected of having paid for sex with trafficked women. Identifying victims within the UK, or victims seeking help, is becoming more challenging with the sex industry having switched to using hotel rooms as-opposed to street corners. Many victims of trafficking are found to be unaware of where within the country they are.

In the Philippines situation, Zamboanga City police are still seeking the recruiter of the fifteen women rescued in Rio Hondo.

A range of complexities are involved in the sentencing of both those convicted of human trafficking, and their victims. In one Canadian case, 43-year-old Hungarian Lajos Domotor pled guilty to trafficking men and women into forced labor. Following being charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking, he developed terminal stomach cancer and has been given a 10 to 15 percent chance of living five years.

In the UK, officials are seeking to detect exploitation prior to sentencing — as a counter to the high number of foreign women in jails, frequently having been victims of trafficking. One in seven women prisoners across England and Wales are foreign, with the primary offenses being drug or immigration-related. A report into the issue recommends sentencing decisions should consider the role of women, and of coercion, in such cases.

Artists also have a special role to play in the education and awareness of the public. The first opera about sex trafficking will premiere in Liverpool, England, on March 7. Anya17 was composed by Adam Gorb with a libretto written by Ben Kaye. Performers will come from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic contemporary music ensemble 10/10. Funding for the production was provided in part by the United Nations.

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