Human Rights

U.S. fast food chains, including McDonald's and KFC, broke minimum wage laws in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the state-backed labor union said on Wednesday, urging tougher enforcement of employment laws.
The U.N.'s Global Compact with international big business "at the moment is so voluntary that it really is a happy-go-lucky club," says Ramesh Singh, chief executive of ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation. The controversy has come to a boiling point because of the Global Compact Leaders' Summit being held in Geneva on Thursday and Friday, at which over 1,000 representatives of multinational companies are taking part, in addition to well-known civil society figures like Irene Khan, the secretary general of AI; Mary Robinson, president of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative; Guy Ryder, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; and Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.
Congolese authorities arrested six people in connection with the dumping of tonnes of highly radioactive minerals into a river near the southeastern town of Likasi. A report said some 17 tons of the minerals confiscated were destined for Chinese firm Magma.
Workers at Aura-Misr, a Spanish-Egyptian asbestos company in Cairo, have been laid off since Christmas, after a ban on asbestos took effect in the country. Many of the fired workers have been diagnosed with cancer and they worry that other workers may soon fall ill and die also.
China Security and Surveillance Technology, a fast-growing company that installs and sometimes operates surveillance systems for Chinese police agencies, jails and banks, has just been approved for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's listing is just a sign of ever-closer ties among Wall Street, surveillance companies and the Chinese government's security apparatus.
Confectionery giant Cadbury's has committed a gaffe of epic proportions after comparing a brand of chocolate to the disputed territory of Kashmir and describing both as "too good to share".
A feminist can take some dim comfort from the fact that the Taliban's egregious misogyny is finally considered newsworthy.
Emerald Energy, a UK company owned by Sinochem of China, is exploring for oil in the eastern Colombian Andes in the high altitude tropical mountain tundra ecosystem known as páramo. Local communities say that the company's underground explosions have caused landslides and ground collapses that have destroyed homes, crops and contaminated the local water supply.
A whistleblower who previously worked for Ernst & Young, the international auditing firm, has alleged that his bosses turned a blind eye to discoveries that Kaloti Jewellery International - one of the world's biggest gold companies - dealt in minerals from undocumented sources that may have included conflict zones.
When Chevron learned that "60 Minutes" was preparing a potentially damaging report about oil company contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, it hired a former journalist to produce a mirror image of the report, from the corporation's point of view. An Ecuadorean judge is expected to rule soon on whether Chevron owes up to $27 billion in damages.