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Obama signs bill banning US from importing goods produced by slave labor

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President Barack Obama signed a bill on Wednesday barring the import of goods produced by forced labor from entering the United States, throwing the weight of the U.S. market into the fight against global slavery.

Shipments derived from slavery, from fish to electronics and cocoa, will be kept out of the country under the new law that closes a legal loophole that allowed import of goods derived from forced labor if U.S. demand exceeded domestic production, officials said.

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The measure closing the loophole from the Tariff Act of 1930 was included in a wider trade enforcement bill, which Obama signed into law at the White House in Washington.

“The mere deterrent effect of closing this loophole is a great step forward,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told reporters on a conference call. “We’re going to make sure that is heavily noted throughout the world.”

The new law could keep at bay billions of dollars worth of goods produced by forced labor, said Annick Febrey, senior associate at the advocacy group Human Rights First.

“It’s a really big deal,” she said. “While we as a country have said that we are against slavery, we’ve had this little-known rule in the Tariff Act.”

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The International Labour Organization estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally.

The illegal industry is estimated to generate $150 billion in profits per year, the agency has said.

Implementation of earlier U.S. anti-slavery measures faltered due to a need to determine if demand exceeded domestic production, Febrey said.

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Enforcement of the new law should benefit from data from the U.S. Department of Labor, which has been listing goods, classified by nation, that are likely made by forced labor, officials said.

Only a few countries have laws addressing forced labor goods, including Canada where prison-labor imports are illegal and Australia where financial benefits from forced labor are outlawed, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe. Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst via the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.)

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The DOJ is suing Omarosa over the same law Brett Kavanaugh is accused of violating: Ex-White House ethics chief

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On Monday, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub noted a massive double standard at the Justice Department, pointing out that government attorneys are suing Omarosa Manigault Newman for financial disclosure violations — while giving a free pass to Brett Kavanaugh, who is accused of even more serious financial disclosure violations.

In fact, noted Shaub, not only is the DOJ not pursuing that allegation, Attorney General Bill Barr is giving the DOJ employees who helped fast-track Kavanaugh through Supreme Court confirmation hearings a prestigious award, usually reserved for prosecutors who take down terrorists and mob bosses:

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Here’s what George Carlin taught us about media propaganda by omission

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In the old George Carlin joke, the TV sportscaster announces: “Here’s a partial score from the West Coast – Los Angeles 6.”

For a brilliant comedian like Carlin—who skewered corporate powerclass structure and political/media propaganda—that’s one of his more innocuous jokes. But it’s sharply relevant today as corporate TV news outlets serve up a series of partial scores. Call it “propaganda by omission.”

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Scientists uncover alarming levels of dangerous plastics in children’s bodies

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Plastic by-products were found in an alarming 97-100% of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a new study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.

Der Spiegel, the German weekly magazine, published the findings Saturday, which were part of a federal study focused on "human biomonitoring" of 3 to 17-year-olds. Traces from 11 out of 15 plastic ingredients were found in the test samples.

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