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China — Labor Rights Violations Continue in the Toy Industry

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Labor Rights Violations Continue in the Toy Industry
Source: China Labor Watch

China Labor Watch (CLW) today published a 66-page investigative report on continued labor rights violations in the toy industry. The four-factory investigation includes plants that manufacture for Mattel and Fisher-Price, Disney, Hasbro, Crayola, and other major international toy brand companies. During the investigation, the factories were making toys like Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Transformers’ Optimus Prime, and Thomas the Tank Engine.

The investigation, carried out from June to November 2014, targeted labor conditions in four facilities in Guangdong, China: Mattel Electronics Dongguan (MED), Zhongshan Coronet Toys (Coronet), Dongguan Chang’an Mattel Toys 2nd Factory (MCA), and Dongguan Lung Cheong Toys (Lung Cheong).

Collecting data through undercover probes and off-site worker interviews, the investigation exposes a set of 20 legal and ethical labor violations that include hiring discrimination, detaining workers’ personal IDs, lack of physical exams despite hazardous working conditions, workers required to sign training forms despite little or no safety training, a lack of protective equipment, ill-maintained production machinery, fire safety concerns, incomplete or nonexistent labor contracts, overtime hours of up to 120 hours per month, unpaid wages, underpaid social insurance, frequent rotation between day and night shifts, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, illegal resignation procedures, abusive management, audit fraud, and a lack of effective grievance channels and union representation.

See also: Working Conditions and Factory Auditing in the Chinese Toy Industry (Congressional-Executive Commission on China)
Hat tip: IWS Documented News Service

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan

January 20, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan
Source: Energy Information Administration

Kazakhstan is a major oil producer. The country’s estimated total petroleum and other liquids production was 1.70 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014. The key to its continued growth in liquids production from this level will be the development of its giant Tengiz, Karachaganak, and Kashagan fields. Development of additional export capacity will also be necessary for production growth.

Although Kazakhstan became an oil producer in 1911, its production did not increase to a meaningful level until the 1960s and 1970s, when production plateaued at nearly 500,000 bbl/d, a pre-Soviet independence record production level. Since the mid-1990s and with the help of major international oil companies, Kazakhstan’s production first exceeded 1 million bbl/d in 2003.

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond

December 19, 2014 Comments off

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Countries’ competitiveness, productivity, and growth depend largely on their ability to acquire and use new knowledge and constantly upgrade the skills of their workforces. Many countries do not, however, have the educational systems necessary to cultivate the kind of workforces they need, and in developing countries it is common for the most highly skilled workers to emigrate for job opportunities abroad.

Over the past decade, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, began to tackle these issues directly. In 2007, ASEAN Member States agreed to fast-track the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, which is meant to transform the region into a single market and production base characterized by, among other things, a free flow of skilled labor. In response to the mounting evidence that migrants in the region lack the skills recognition required to put their knowledge and training to use in destination countries, ASEAN Member States are taking steps toward better qualifications recognition to prevent the resulting waste of human capital.

CBO — Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08
Source: Congressional Budget Office

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ended on August 31, 2010, some 3,482 hostile deaths occurred among U.S. military personnel and 31,947 people were wounded in action (WIA). More than 1,800 hostile deaths occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan and surrounding countries) through November 2014; about 20,000 more people were wounded in action.

In the Iraq conflict, a larger proportion of wounded personnel survived their wounds than was the case during the Vietnam War, but the increased survival rates are not as high as some studies have asserted. Prior to the surge in troop levels that began in early 2007, the survival rate was 90.4 percent in Iraq—compared with 86.5 percent in Vietnam.

Amputation rates are difficult to measure consistently, but I estimate that 2.6 percent of all WIA and 9.0 percent of medically-evacuated WIA from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters combined resulted in the major loss of a limb.

CRS — A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom (November 20, 2014)

December 9, 2014 Comments off

A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report presents statistics regarding U.S. military casualties in the active missions Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR, Iraq and Syria) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan), as well as operations that have ended, Operation New Dawn (OND, Iraq) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, Iraq). This report includes statistics on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputations, evacuations, and the demographics of casualties. Some of these statistics are publicly available at the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) website and others have been obtained through contact with experts at DOD.

This report will be updated as needed.

What Lessons Did We Learn (or Re-Learn) About Military Advising After 9/11?

December 1, 2014 Comments off

What Lessons Did We Learn (or Re-Learn) About Military Advising After 9/11? (PDF)
Source: Military Review

As military operations in Afghanistan continue to wind down in 2014, the U.S. military and international partner armed forces need to codify lessons learned on military advising from 9/11 to the present, with special emphasis on capturing insights from the two major counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. A compendium of lessons should include answers to certain essential questions. What major advising lessons did the U.S. military learn since 9/11? What current advising lessons parallel previously gleaned insights from historic advising missions? How should armed forces treat the advising mission after the troops withdraw from Afghanistan?

The main purpose of this article is to provide a set of the most important military advising lessons learned from past and present. These lessons have been distilled from comparing historical and contemporary advisory experiences extracted from dozens of sources including military journal articles, doctrine, book chapters, and monographs.

Reforms poised to put India on a strong, sustainable and inclusive growth path, OECD says

December 1, 2014 Comments off

Reforms poised to put India on a strong, sustainable and inclusive growth path, OECD says
Source: OECD

The Indian economy is showing signs of a turnaround. New reforms, some of which are included in the package presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, need to be implemented to put the country on a path to strong, sustainable and inclusive growth, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of India.

The Survey, presented in New Delhi by OECD Chief Economist Catherine L. Mann and Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, notes that India slowed more than many other countries since 2011, but is now recovering faster. India’s GDP should grow by more than 6.5 percent annually in the coming years.

Investment and exports are driving the rebound, but growth will be sustained at a stronger pace if further steps are taken. In the near term, stable and lower inflation and smaller deficits are needed. Structural improvements to the business climate are crucial for medium term growth, and in the longer-term, health improvements and increased female participation in the labour market will sustain strong and inclusive growth.

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