Friday, 24 March 2017

The stories from inside North Korea's prison camps are horrifying

vice north korea labor camps

The prison camps of Nazi Germany only existed for 12 years before their remaining survivors were freed following World War II. In the years that followed, many learned of horrifying conditions, torture, and millions murdered by Hitler's regime and people swore never to let it happen again.

But less than a decade later, North Korea established its own system of prison camps where an untold number have died amidst "unspeakable atrocities" comparable to the Nazis, according to a preliminary report from the UN.

"I believe you will be very disturbed and distressed by it and that you will have reaction similar to those of (U.S.) General Eisenhower and the others who came upon the camps in post-war Europe," head investigator Michael Kirby told Reuters.

On Friday, the UN's human rights body agreed to strengthen its ongoing investigation of abuses inside the Hermit Kingdom. That investigation will be used in a "future accountability process" if, someday, the country's leaders are ever held to account.

Around 200,000 people are currently imprisoned in these camps, while some 400,000 people have died there, according to reports from Amnesty International and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

North Korea has repeatedly denied such reports, and it boycotted the debate on Friday.

But Kim Jong-un cannot hide from satellite imagery and the growing number of escapees who have testified about the regime's abuse.

We have gathered some details from inside along with satellite images, and a set of unconfirmed illustrations supposedly done by a defector that give a hint of the terror inside. Be warned: The following content is disturbing.

SEE ALSO: Here's how a preemptive strike on North Korea would go down

In a country of 25 million people, up to 200,000 have reportedly "disappeared" into brutal concentration camps found throughout the country.

Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Former prisoners say conditions are so bad that 20 to 25 percent of the prison population dies every year. [NOTE: This is the first of multiple disturbing illustrations supposedly made by a defector who spent time in the prisons.]

Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

The North uses "guilt by association" to lock up entire families just for knowing someone convicted of "wrong thought."

Source: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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Trump's immigration crackdown is hurting US farms with its unintended consequences

Donald Trump Jr Eric

In the roughly two months since President Donald Trump took office, immigration officers have become more active around the US, detaining hundreds of people in the country without authorization, many of whom are slated for deportation.

Trump himself has referred to the immigration crackdown as "a military operation."

In a number of cases, those arrested form the backbone of the labor force for the US's agriculture industry.

This week, immigration officers arrested five apple pickers in far western New York. The men arrested had no criminal records and were not targeted by the officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Crain's New York.

Rather, the men were carpooling to work on an apple farm when stopped and found to not have legal status. They were charged with immigration violations and held "pending removal proceedings."

In Vermont last week, three undocumented immigrant dairy workers were arrested in two incidents. The three men detained were advocates for immigrants and members of civil-society groups working on their behalf.

Immigrants, many unauthorized, make up the bulk of Vermont's dairy-sector labor force.

The detentions prompted Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, a Democrat and an Independent, respectively, and Democratic Rep. Peter Welch to ask ICE for clarification about the arrests, saying in a statement that, "the Trump Administration is targeting all undocumented persons, including the people that help keep our dairy farms and rural economy afloat."

ice deportation

Earlier this month, on the other side of the country, ICE agents stopped two buses of Latino farm workers who were on their way to their job harvesting flowers. ICE, which called the stop "a targeted enforcement operation," said officers were looking for two men. They found one and arrested 10 others.

Three of the men detained in Oregon had criminal convictions, but four of them had no criminal past except for entering the country without authorization.

Most of the men arrested "come from regions in Guatemala where the violence is very high,” Pedro Sosa, an advocate with the American Friends Service Committee, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. "That’s why they left their country."

Trump's promises to crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally and ICE's stepped-up enforcement efforts since his election have sent chills through the US agriculture industry. Industry-wide, 16% of workers are undocumented, while undocumented immigrants make up 70% of all fieldworkers — the vast majority of them Mexican.


In New York state, 1,080 farms are at risk of shrinking significantly or failing because of enhanced immigration enforcement in the state.

Intensified enforcement has also exacerbated a labor shortage already plaguing the industry in the state.

"If we don't have the ability to have workers on our farms, farms can't survive," Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman told Crain's.

Farmers are "having such a difficult time" finding workers, he said, "because people are scared, they're nervous to be out in the open seeking employment."

"If we were to engage in massive deportations, our agricultural system would collapse," said Bruce Goldstein, president of the nonprofit Farmworker Justice, which works to improve living and working conditions on farms.

Trump's aggressive stance on immigration is but one issue that has frayed US relations with Mexico.

Mexican politicians and activists seeking to rebuke Trump's actions toward the US's southern neighbor have targeted US corn exports to Mexico — worth $2.5 billion in 2015 — as an avenue through which to pressure the US president, raising the prospect that an industry dealing with labor shortages may soon have to grapple with declining sales as well.

SEE ALSO: Some Mexicans want to retaliate against Trump by boycotting a $2.5 billion export

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A new Pew survey finds that the closer Republicans live to the border, the less they support Trump’s wall

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The trailer for Netflix's new JonBenet Ramsey documentary is extremely creepy

Casting JonBenet Netflix

To say the new Netflix documentary "Casting JonBenet" is different would be an understatement.

After seeing it at this year's Sundance Film Festival, we can tell you that it's a powerful movie that focuses on the 20-year mystery of who killed 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, but through a different means of storytelling.

Director Kitty Green uses real neighbors and actors who live in the area of Colorado where the Ramseys lived to reenact events that happened leading up to, during, and after JonBenet's death. 

At times funny or creepy, but always powerful and striking, it's a movie-watching experience you don't often get.

Here's the trailer for "Casting JonBenet." The movie will be available on Netflix April 28.


SEE ALSO: A fascinating new movie about JonBenet Ramsey explains our obsession with the case

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: INSIDE 'JEOPARDY!' — We spent a day on the set with Alex Trebek

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Everything we know about Scientology's alleged 'prison camp' known as 'The Hole'

the hole leah remini scientology ae

Tales of "The Hole" have formed one of the most frightening narratives about Scientology to see the light of day.

Between the "Going Clear" book and movie, Leah Remini's hit A&E docuseries, articles, and memoirs from former members, we've learned a lot about what ex-members say is Scientology's alleged prison for executives who have fallen out of favor with the organization's leader, David Miscavige.

"It was a poisonous environment," "Going Clear" author Lawrence Wright said of "The Hole" on the HBO documentary. "People were really frightened. And this went on for years. This wasn't a couple of days."

"He literally created this prison camp," Marty Rathbun, a former executice who left Scientology in 2004, said in "Going Clear" of his time in the Hole. "It was inevitable that I wasn't going to last there."

Here's everything we know about Scientology's alleged "prison" known as the Hole:

SEE ALSO: All the most shocking things about Scientology, according to Leah Remini's revealing show

DON'T MISS: How Scientology leader David Miscavige rose to power, according to insiders

The Hole started as a power grab by David Miscavige, according to former Scientology members.

Former Scientologists say David Miscavige sent dozens of senior executives to the organization's Gold Base near Hemet, California. Leading up to the order, former members said they noticed Miscavige was extremely agitated and paranoid that there was a plot to overthrow him.

"[Miscavige] very definitely wiped out that organizational pattern in order to be able to have ultimate power," former Scientology executive Tom DeVocht said in "Going Clear."


The Hole previously served as the office for the International wing of Scientology, the team David Miscavige allegedly wanted gone.

The executives were reportedly corralled into two double-wide trailers, which then served as the office space for the International wing of Scientology. International President Heber Jentzsch was among them. Many ended up spending months to years living in those trailers, according to accounts. Several people who were held there say the Hole's numbers swelled to as many as 100 people.

The trailer space morphed from being known as the International office to the "A to E Room," named after the church's confessional process, the A to E steps. It was then the "SP Hole." "SP" refers to "suppressive persons," members who are believed to have broken church rules and to be bad influences on other members. Ultimately "SP Hole" was shortened to "the Hole."

It didn't take much to anger Miscavige and find oneself in the Hole, according to insiders.

The Hole quickly grew into a detention center for high-ranking members who displeased David Miscavige, former members have said.

"Honestly, the reasons for that could be anything from answering a question wrongly, not answering a question, a facial expression that was inappropriate, falling asleep after being up for a couple of days — I mean anything, you're in the Hole," ex-Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder said on A&E's "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath."


See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Trend is law firms moving blogs off websites : ABA publication

While some law firm website developers are advising law firms to bury law blogs inside a law firm website, a just released ABA book on strategic online publishing for law firms advises just the opposite. Law blogs should be located off websites on a separate domain to build influence, achieve better seach engine performance (SEO) and generate business.

In fact, the authors, Steve Mathews (@stevematthews) and Jordan Furlong (@jordan_law21), both veteran and widely respected legal publishers and business development professionals, are seeing a growing trend by law firms to move blog publications off their websites.

Their new book, “Creating an Online Publishing Strategy for Law Firms,” provides lawyers and law firms with all they need to know about turning their firm’s content marketing (e.g. writing, newsletter, and blogging) into a coherent, effective and strategic online publishing campaign.

Key for Matthews And Fuhrlong was to provide a step-by-step guide offering advice and ideas for building and maintaining an effective online publishing strategy that can communicate a lawyer’s and law firm’s expertise and enhance their profile with target clientele. In addition to large law firms, their book is useful for small and midsize law firms, from at least 10 lawyers up to as many as 100.

Topics include:

  • Designing a strategy to guide publishing efforts and integrate them with business development and branding plans
  • Choosing the best platforms for content, including blogs, newsletters and more
  • Distributing content through a variety of channels, from magazines and other old media to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other new media
  • Creating a publishing culture within a firm that motivates participation and contributions to the publishing strategy
  • Measuring the effectiveness of a firm’s publishing efforts, including the best metrics and tools to gauge the return on your investments

Blogs are the easiest, most effective, and most accessible form of legal publishing, per the authors.  But publishing content is not enough, “distributed publishing” is needed for a lawyer or law firm industry group to create a dominate market presence and generate business.

Realizing business development goals is why law firms are moving their publishing away from their websites.

Firms that originally tended to keep all their public content within the strict boundaries of their website gradually became more willing to locate that content beyond the website, isolating content for each target market on a web platform affiliated with the firm in some way (e.g., blogs, microsites, etc.).

Over the past several years, social media have been offering firms the opportunity to share that content even farther, outside of their own website and related platforms altogether. From our perspective, these two trends — locating content beyond the website, and circulating content throughout the internet — form the backbone of a strategic approach to both content creation and circulation that we call “distributed publishing.”

The authors do a nice job of explaining the logic of this strategy.

Distributed publishing involves a “hub-and-spokes” model of content delivery. Think of your law firm website as the central hub, the headquarters of your firm’s internet presence and its most valuable assets (home page, lawyer biographies, and practice descriptions). Now move out from that hub to an “inner ring” of spokes representing the firm’s complementary content platforms (blogs, microsites, etc.). This hub and this inner ring constitute most… of your firm’s content production.

Now move out farther again, and you’ll encounter a huge “outer ring” of spokes of third-party content production and distribution engines: a diverse assortment of trade periodicals, online news services, and most importantly, social media networks. These entities will distribute your content to a much wider audience than your own firm-affiliated web products could manage.

The three component parts of this “distributed publishing” ecosystem — your website home base (hub), your satellite firm-owned content destinations (first ring of spokes), and the vast array of content production and distribution networks (second ring of spokes) — all work together to establish the powerful, diverse, interlinked network of your firm’s online presence.

As well as why publications seperate from Website are more influential to clients and prospective clients than content published in a website.

Firms need this diverse presence in order to impress an increasingly sophisticated client market. When people need the services of a lawyer and conduct an online search, among the most important factors they consider is information about the lawyer located elsewhere than the lawyer’s website. Potential clients are likelier to be impressed by a lawyer with a website biography, a LinkedIn profile, blog contributions, a Twitter feed, shared presentation slides, third-party publications, and relevant legal industry tweets, than with a lawyer who has just a website biography alone. Law firms with farther-reaching and higher-quality online “footprints” generated by these multiple presences also tend to score more highly in search engine results.

The authors provide a diagram of the spoke-and-hub to strategic law firm publishing where you’ll see blogs at the first ring out from a firm’s website.


Matthews and Fuhrlong know their stuff. I have know each of them for a long time and find them not only on top of their game, but also very giving of their time to the industry through their own publishing, speaking and social media activity.

Mathews, president and founder of Stem Legal Web Enterprises, a web development, publishing and strategy company for the legal profession has been working within the online legal environment for almost 20 years (including 12 years inside law firms). He’s conceived, managed, coded and marketed law firm websites, blogs, intranets, portals and extranets. Of partcular note here, Mathews is recognized as one of the leading authorities on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for lawyers and law firms.

Furlong is a lawyer, consultant and legal industry, who previously served as the editor of National, the publication of record for the Canadian Bar Association (equivalent of ABA Journal). As a senior consultant with legal web development company Stem Legal Web Enterprises, he advises lawyers and law firms on content marketing and consults regarding the establishment and execution of publishing strategies.

I don’t say this to impress you with Fuhrlong and Matthews, but to impress upon you that these guys have been publishing online and blogging for a long time. They are not website developers who have come to content marketing and blogging later on — out of necessity, not because they personally blogged to build a name and relationships for business development.

Pick up the book, it’s short and easy read. If you’re in doubt of the merits of blogging strategically and think the book costs too much, let me know. I’ll buy you a copy.

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The father of an autistic child whom Trump's Supreme Court nominee ruled against urged senators not to confirm him

neil gorsuch confirmation hearing

The father of an autistic student whom Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch ruled against urged senators on Thursday to oppose the judge's nomination.

Jeffrey Perkins, whose son Luke was the subject of a unanimous 10th Circuit court decision in 2008, was among several individuals called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify for or against Gorsuch.

Perkins said Gorsuch's views "threatened" Luke's access to an appropriate education and "a meaningful and dignified life," when the judge sided with Colorado's Thompson school district over the family in the case.

The Supreme Court unanimously overruled Gorsuch's decision and sided with the Perkins family on Wednesday in the middle of the confirmation hearing.

The district argued it had complied with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when it refused to reimburse the Perkins family for Luke's tuition at a private school in Boston. The Perkins family had argued that the Boston school produced "astounding progress" for his son, whereas remaining in the Thompson district would have caused him to regress.

But in his opinion, Gorsuch ruled that the district only needed to show it had produced gains for students that were "merely more than de minimis" in order to comply with IDEA.

"Judge Gorsuch felt that an education for my son that was even one small step above insignificant was acceptable," Perkins said.

"On behalf of all children, disabled, typical, and gifted, I urge you to deny confirmation to Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States."

To demonstrate the progress Luke had made following the education he received in Boston, Perkins showed the committee a small Lego model of the Capitol building that Luke had built, which drew audible gasps from the audience in the chamber.

jeffrey perkins gorsuch confirmation hearing

The Supreme Court ruled on the case on Wednesday in the middle of Gorsuch's confirmation hearing, unanimously overruling Gorsuch's 2008 decision and siding with the Perkins family.

The justices' ruling declared that the "more than de minimis" threshold for educating students with disabilities was inadequate.

"When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing merely more than de minimis progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion.

"For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to sitting idly awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out."

Gorsuch, who learned of the ruling while he was on a five-minute bathroom break, was instantly put on the hot seat by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.

"Why, why in your early decision, did you want to lower the bar so low to merely more than de minimis as a standard for public education to meet this federal requirement under the law?" Durbin asked.

Gorsuch replied that he was bound by the precedent the 10th Circuit court had set more than a decade earlier.

"If anyone is suggesting that I like a result where an autistic child happens to lose — that's a heartbreaking accusation to me," Gorsuch said.

"If I was wrong, Senator, I was wrong because I was bound by circuit precedent. And I'm sorry."

SEE ALSO: Schumer says he'll vote 'no' on Trump's Supreme Court nominee, signaling Democratic filibuster

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NOW WATCH: 'These jobs are not coming back': Watch Mitch McConnell get confronted by an upset constituent

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SUPREME COURT SHOWDOWN: Schumer signals the Gorsuch confirmation will go 'nuclear'

Chuck Schumer

The battle over the vacant Supreme Court seat took a turn on Thursday when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave the green light for Democrats to filibuster the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch — signaling the fight could now go "nuclear."

In comments from the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer not only said he could not support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but that the judge "will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation."

"My vote will be 'no,' and I urge my colleagues to do the same," Schumer said. "To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes we ought to change the rules I say: if this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President [Barack] Obama’s nominees, and President [George W.] Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules – it’s to change the nominee."

Republicans were hoping to be able to confirm Gorsuch on a simple majority, as they hold 52 seats in the Senate. But with Schumer essentially assuring the GOP that his party will enact a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to break, that now seems to be a pipe dream.

Of course, there is one option Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has at his disposal. It's known as the "nuclear option," rewriting the Senate rules by simple majority to kill the option of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee. Most recently, the Democrats had employed that tactic elsewhere, as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked it to assist in the confirmation of Obama's judicial and executive nominees.

McConnell, however, is known to be against changing the Senate rules. He told Politico in January the "practice was that you didn't do it even though the tool is in the toolbox."

"There are a lot of tools in there," he said. "Until Bush 43, the filibuster tool was always there. But it wasn't done."  

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has expressed to McConnell publicly that he should go "nuclear" if he has to.

"If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear," Trump told reporters in February. "Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. ... So I would say it's up to Mitch, but I would say go for it."

Neil Gorsuch

Schumer's Thursday announcement came after Gorsuch completed more than 20 hours of grilling at the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The comments also followed a Wednesday Politico story, in which it was reported that several Democratic senators were considering making a deal with Republicans to confirm Gorsuch. The extractions the Democrats wanted, Politico reported, included a promise not to kill the filibuster for future nominees. 

But that seemed like a far-fetched idea, especially considering how many Democrats had already voiced stiff opposition to Gorsuch, a 10th Circuit Court judge. Democrats view the strong opposition as an appropriate response to the thwarting of Obama's choice to fill the vacant seat, Judge Merrick Garland, who's nomination was halted by bstructionist tactics from Republican senators last year.

Also on Thursday, Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a state carried by Trump, also announced he would oppose Gorsuch and join filibustering Democrats.

Justice Samuel Alito was the last Justice forced to clear the 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. But Alito was the only justice in the past 47 years to face such a hurdle, as The Washington Post reported.

SEE ALSO: The House Intelligence chief just tossed a huge wrench into Trump-related investigations

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