03/5/20

Update On My Husband’s Cancer Treatment – Surgery

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

The good news is they still think Garry is in remission. But the doctors have continued chemo because they say they don’t have an adequate baseline of comparison with the cancer clinic in Oklahoma. Garry will be requesting his records again to go to the surgeon and cancer doc here so they have a better handle on what has gone on previously with his case.

The cancer doc has reduced the chemo a further 20% but it is still occurring every two weeks. They have also stopped Avastin as part of chemo because it stops the healing process. Garry has to be off it for at least six weeks prior to surgery. We took him off his blood pressure medications because we thought that was what was making him so tired all the time and his bp was too low. His bp is now normal but he is still exhausted. It is probably a result of cumulative chemo.

We met with the surgeon last week but he does not want to do anything until he gets Garry’s records. Garry will see him next Thursday. At that time, they will do an MRI, as well as a physical and camera examination of the tumor. He does have a large hernia around his ostomy now and it is not a normal one. The doc says he wants to see if he can reverse the ostomy but when he gets in there, I’m sure he will find it is permanent.

Garry will definitely have the hernia surgery. It is also likely he will have to have the rectal tumor removed because of discharge, bleeding, and pain. That is a harsh surgery that will have him down for almost three months. It’s also a dangerous surgery so prayers are appreciated if we have to go that route.

If you want to help Garry out, you can give at GoFundMe. You can donate here. You can also donate on PayPal. My email there is [email protected] or you can use the PayPal link on the upper right side of NoisyRoom.net to get there. If you would like to donate some other way, email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you instructions.

To give you some insight into what gives on the financial end, we paid over 22k in medical bills last year out of our own pocket. We paid almost 11k in additional insurance charges and another 8k to move back to Reno. Without your donations, we would not have made it and frankly, it was a miracle that we did make it. God was looking out for us. We are still 10k in debt and are trying to handle that before we do the surgeries. If you can give, we would really appreciate it as this is a major struggle for us now.

Garry will get through this and I still have faith that the cancer will be eradicated and he will live many more years. We always rely on our faith and take it one step at a time. It’s just that the next step is a doozy.

Thank you to all of you. You give us the strength we need to keep fighting this every day. And you are helping us win this fight.

03/5/20

Armed Guard of Concentration Camp from Tennessee Ordered Deported

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

WASHINGTON – A U.S. Immigration Judge in Memphis, Tennessee has issued a removal order against a German citizen and Tennessee resident, based on his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

After a two-day trial, U.S. Immigration Judge Rebecca L. Holt issued her opinion finding Friedrich Karl Berger removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act because his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution. The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, and that the prisoners there included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis.

Judge Holt found that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working “to the point of exhaustion and death.” The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to and from the worksites. At the end of March 1945, with the advance of British and Canadian forces, the Nazis abandoned Meppen. The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners.

***

Built in December 1938 by one hundred inmates transferred from Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Neuengamme concentration camp was established around an empty brickworks in Hamburg-Neuengamme. The bricks produced there were to be used for the “Fuehrer buildings”, part of the National Socialists’ redevelopment plans for the river Elbe in Hamburg.

 1943

Until June 4th, 1940, Neuengamme was a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen. At this date Neuengamme became an independent concentration camp, under the direct control of the overseer of concentration camps. The prisoners worked on the construction of the camp and the brickworks, regulating the flow of the Dove-Elbe river and the building of a branch canal, as well as on the mining of clay. The number of inmates increased dramatically in only a few months: in 1940, the population of the camp was 2,000 prisoners (with a proportion of 80% German inmates among them), Between 1940 and 1945, more than 95,000 prisoners were incarcerated in Neuengamme. On April 10th, 1945, the number of prisoners in the camp itself was 13,500. More than 2,000 men and 10,300 women were working in the different sub-camps depending on Neuengamme SS administration.

***

“Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. “This ruling shows the Department’s continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi persecution.”

The investigation was initiated by DOJ’s Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section (HRSP) and was conducted in partnership with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and HSI’s Nashville Special Agent in Charge office.

“The investigation of human rights violations and those who engage in these heinous acts, continues to be a focus for Homeland Security Investigations and this successful outcome is an example of those efforts” stated Jerry C. Templet Jr, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Nashville.

The removal case was jointly tried by attorneys in ICE New Orleans Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis), and attorneys from DOJ’s HRSP, with the assistance of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.

Established in 2009, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center furthers ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 450 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1034 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 160 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,640 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, The HRVWCC has issued more than 76,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 315 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

03/5/20

Gadgets for Tech Giants Made with Coerced Uighur Labor

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

NANCHANG, China (AP) — In a lively Muslim quarter of Nanchang city, a sprawling Chinese factory turns out computer screens, cameras and fingerprint scanners for a supplier to international tech giants such as Apple and Lenovo. Throughout the neighborhood, women in headscarves stroll through the streets, and Arabic signs advertise halal supermarkets and noodle shops.

In this June 5, 2019, photo, residents of the Hui Muslim ethnic minority walk in a neighborhood near an OFILM factory in Nanchang in eastern China’s Jiangxi province. The Associated Press has found that OFILM, a supplier of major multinational companies, employs Uighurs, an ethnic Turkic minority, under highly restrictive conditions, including not letting them leave the factory compound without a chaperone, worship, or wear headscarves. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Yet the mostly Muslim ethnic Uighurs who labor in the factory are isolated within a walled compound that is fortified with security cameras and guards at the entrance. Their forays out are limited to rare chaperoned trips, they are not allowed to worship or cover their heads, and they must attend special classes in the evenings, according to former and current workers and shopkeepers in the area.

The connection between OFILM, the supplier that owns the Nanchang factory, and the tech giants is the latest sign that companies outside China are benefiting from coercive labor practices imposed on the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, and other minorities.

Over the past four years, the Chinese government has detained more than a million people from the far west Xinjiang region, most of them Uighurs, in internment camps and prisons where they go through forced ideological and behavioral re-education. China has long suspected the Uighurs of harboring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion.

When detainees “graduate” from the camps, documents show, many are sent to work in factories. A dozen Uighurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people who were sent by the state to work in factories in China’s east, known as inner China — some from the camps, some plucked from their families, some from vocational schools. Most were sent by force, although in a few cases it wasn’t clear if they consented.

Workers are often enrolled in classes where state-sponsored teachers give lessons in Mandarin, China’s dominant language, or politics and “ethnic unity.” Conditions in the jobs vary in terms of pay and restrictions.

At the OFILM factory, Uighurs are paid the same as other workers but otherwise treated differently, according to residents of the neighborhood. They are not allowed to leave or pray – unlike the Hui Muslim migrants also working there, who are considered less of a threat by the Chinese government.

“They don’t let them worship inside,” said a Hui Muslim woman who worked in the factory for several weeks alongside the Uighurs. “They don’t let them come out.”

“If you’re Uighur, you’re only allowed outside twice a month,” a small business owner who spoke with the workers confirmed. The AP is not disclosing the names of those interviewed near the factory out of concern for possible retribution. “The government chose them to come to OFILM, they didn’t choose it.”

The Chinese government says the labor program is a way to train Uighurs and other minorities and give them jobs. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday called concern over possible coerced labor under the program “groundless” and “slander.”

However, experts say that like the internment camps, the program is part of a broader assault on the Uighur culture, breaking up social and family links by sending people far from their homes to be assimilated into the dominant Han Chinese culture.

“They think these people are poorly educated, isolated, backwards, can’t speak Mandarin,” said James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “So what do you do? You ‘educate’ them, you find ways to transform them in your own image. Bringing them into the Han Chinese heartland is a way to turbocharge this transformation.”

OFILM’s website indicates the Xinjiang workers make screens, camera cover lenses and fingerprint scanners. It touts customers including Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, HP, LG and Huawei, although there was no way for the AP to track specific products to specific companies.

Apple’s most recent list of suppliers, published January last year, includes three OFILM factories in Nanchang. It’s unclear whether the specific OFILM factory the AP visited twice in Nanchang supplies Apple, but it has the same address as one listed. Another OFILM factory is located about half a mile away on a different street. Apple did not answer repeated requests for clarification on which factory it uses.

In an email, Apple said its code of conduct requires suppliers to “provide channels that encourage employees to voice concerns.” It said it interviews the employees of suppliers during annual assessments in their local language without their managers present, and had done 44,000 interviews in 2018.

Lenovo confirmed that it sources screens, cameras, and fingerprint scanners from OFILM but said it was not aware of the allegations and would investigate. Lenovo also pointed to a 2018 audit by the Reliable Business Alliance in which OFILM scored very well.

All the companies that responded said they required suppliers to follow strict labor standards. LG and Dell said they had “no evidence” of forced labor in their supply chains but would investigate, as did Huawei. HP did not respond.

OFILM also lists as customers dozens of companies within China, as well as international companies it calls “partners” without specifying what product it offers. And it supplies PAR Technology, an American sales systems vendor to which it most recently shipped 48 cartons of touch screens in February, according to U.S. customs data obtained through ImportGenius and Panjiva, which track shipping data.

PAR Technology in turn says it supplies terminals to major chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Subway. However, the AP was unable to confirm that products from OFILM end up with the fast food companies.

McDonald’s said it has asked PAR Technology to discontinue purchases from OFILM while it launches an immediate investigation. PAR Technology also said it would investigate immediately. Subway and Taco Bell did not respond.

A report Sunday from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, researched separately from the AP, estimated that more than 80,000 Uighurs were transferred from Xinjiang to factories across China between 2017 and 2019. The report said it found “conditions that strongly suggest forced labor” consistent with International Labor Organization definitions.

The AP also reported a year ago that Uighur forced labor was being used within Xinjiang to make sportswear that ended up in the U.S.

___

FROM FARMERS TO FACTORY WORKERS

Beijing first sent Uighurs to work in inland China in the early 2000s, as part of a broad effort to push minorities to adopt urban lifestyles and integrate with the Han Chinese majority to tighten political control.

At first the program targeted young, single women, because the state worried that Uighur women raised in pious Muslim families didn’t work, had children early and refused to marry Han men. But as stories of poor pay and tight restrictions trickled back, police began threatening some parents with jail time if they didn’t send their children, six Uighurs told the AP.

The program was halted in 2009, when at least two Uighurs died in a brawl with Han workers at a toy factory in coastal Guangdong province. After peaceful protests in Xinjiang were met with police fire, ethnic riots broke out that killed an estimated 200 people, mostly Han Chinese civilians.

An AP review of Chinese academic papers and state media reports shows that officials blamed the failure of the labor program on the Uighurs’ language and culture. So when the government ramped up the program again after the ascent of hardline Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2012, it emphasized ideological transformation.

A paper drafted by the head of the Xinjiang statistics bureau in 2014 said the Uighurs’ poor Mandarin made it hard for them to integrate in inner China. It concluded that Xinjiang’s rural minorities needed to be broken away from traditional lifestyles and systematically “disciplined”, “trained” and “instilled with modern values.”

“The local saturated religious atmosphere and the long-time living habits of ethnic minorities are incompatible with the requirements of modern industrial production,” the paper said. It outlined a need to “slowly correct misunderstandings about going out to choose jobs.”

Before Uighurs were transferred for jobs, the paper continued, they needed to be trained and assessed on their living habits and adoption of corporate culture.

“Those who fail will not be exported,” it said.

The paper also described government incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies for Chinese companies to take Uighurs. A 2014 draft contract for Xinjiang laborers in Guangdong province obtained by the AP shows the government there offered companies 3000 RMB ($428.52) per worker, with an additional 1000 RMB ($142.84) for “training” each person for no less than 60 class hours. In exchange, companies had to offer “concentrated accommodation areas,” halal canteens and “ethnic unity education and training.”

But it was a tough sell at a time when Chinese officials were grappling with knifings, bombings and car attacks by Uighurs, fueled by explosive anger at the government’s harsh security measures and religious restrictions. Hundreds died in race-related violence in Xinjiang, both Uighur and Han Chinese.

A labor agent who only gave his surname, Zhang, said he tried brokering deals to send Xinjiang workers to factories in the eastern city of Hangzhou, but finding companies willing to take Uighurs was a challenge, especially in a slowing economy.

“Their work efficiency is not high,” he said.

The size of the program is considerable. A November 2017 state media report said Hotan prefecture alone planned to send 20,000 people over two years to work in inner China.

There, the report said, they would “realize the dreams of their lives.”

___

ANSWERING THE GOVERNMENT’S CALL

The Uighurs at OFLIM were sent there as part of the government’s labor program, in an arrangement the company’s website calls a “school-enterprise cooperative.” OFILM describes the workers as migrants organized by the government or vocational school students on “internships”.

OFILM confirmed it received AP requests for comment but did not reply.

The AP was unable to get inside the facility, and on one visit to Nanchang, plainclothes police tailed AP journalists by car and on foot. But posts on the company website extoll OFILM’s efforts to accommodate their Uighur workers with Mandarin and politics classes six days a week, along with halal food.

OFILM first hired Uighurs in 2017, recruiting over 3,000 young men and women in Xinjiang. They bring the Uighurs on one- or two-year contracts to Nanchang, a southeastern metropolis nearly two thousand miles from Xinjiang that local officials hope to turn into a tech hub.

OFILM is one of Nanchang’s biggest employers, with half a dozen factory complexes sprinkled across the city and close ties with the state. Investment funds backed by the Nanchang city government own large stakes in OFILM, corporate filings show. The Nanchang government told the AP that OFILM recruits minorities according to “voluntary selection by both parties” and provides equal pay along with personal and religious freedom.

OFILM’s website says the company “answered the government’s call” and went to Xinjiang to recruit minorities. The Uighurs need training, OFILM says, to pull them from poverty and help them “study and improve.”

Mandarin is heavily emphasized, the site says, as well as lessons in history and “ethnic unity” to “comprehensively improve their overall quality.” The site features pictures of Uighurs playing basketball on factory grounds, dancing in a canteen and vying in a Mandarin speech competition.

In August, when OFILM organized celebrations for Eid Qurban, a major Islamic festival, Uighur employees did not pray at a mosque. Instead, they dressed in orange uniforms and gathered in a basketball court for a show with Communist officials called “Love the Motherland – Thank the Party.” An OFILM post said a “Uighur beauty” dazzled with her “beautiful exotic style.”

State media reports portray the Nanchang factory workers as rural and backwards before the Communist Party trained them, a common perception of the Uighurs among the Han Chinese.

“The workers’ concept of time was hazy, they would sleep in till whenever they wanted,” a Party official is quoted as saying in one. Now, he said, their “concept of time has undergone a total reversal.”

In the reports and OFILM posts, the Uighurs are portrayed as grateful to the Communist Party for sending them to inner China.

Despite the wan expressions of three OFILM workers from Lop County, a December 2017 report said they gave an “enthusiastic” presentation about how they lived in clean new dormitories “much better than home” and were visited by Communist Party cadres.

“We were overjoyed that leaders from the Lop County government still come to see us on holidays,” one of the workers, Estullah Ali, was quoted as saying. “Many of us were moved to tears.”

___

THEY TOOK MY CHILD TO INNER CHINA

Minorities fleeing China describe a far grimmer situation. H., a wealthy jade merchant from Lop County, where OFILM now gets Uighur workers, began noticing the labor transfer program in 2014. That’s when state propaganda blaring through television and loudspeakers urged young Uighurs to work in inner China. Officials hustled families to a labor transfer office where they were forced to sign contracts, under threat of land confiscations and prison sentences.

H., identified only by the initial of his last name out of fear of retribution, was worried. The government was not only reviving the labor program but also clamping down on religion. Acquaintances vanished: Devout Muslims and language teachers, men with beards, women with headscarves.

Toward the end of 2015, when H. greeted his 72-year-old neighbor on the street, the man burst into tears.

“They took my child to inner China to work,” he said.

Months later, H. and his family fled China.

Zharqynbek Otan, a Chinese-born ethnic Kazakh, said that after he was released from an internment camp in 2018, neighbors in his home village also told him their sons and daughters were forced to sign contracts for 6 months to five years to work at factories near Shanghai. If they ran from the factories, they were warned, they’d be taken straight back to internment camps.

Nurlan Kokteubai, an ethnic Kazakh, said during his time in an internment camp, a cadre told him they selected young, strong people to work in inner Chinese factories in need of labor.

“He told us that those young people would acquire vocational skills,” Kokteubai said.

Not all workers are subject to the restrictions at OFILM. One ethnic Kazakh said her brother made power banks in central China for $571.36 a month and didn’t take classes.

But another said two of his cousins were forced to go and work in cold, harsh conditions. They were promised $428.52 a month but paid only $42.85. Though they wanted to quit, four Uighurs who complained were detained in camps after returning to Xinjiang, scaring others.

Uighurs and Kazakhs in exile say it’s likely those working in inner China are still better off than those in camps or factories in Xinjiang, and that in the past, some had gone voluntarily to earn money. A former worker at Jiangxi Lianchuang Electronics, a lens maker in Nanchang, told The Associated Press the 300 or so Uighurs there were free to enter or leave their compound, although most live in dormitories inside factory grounds. He and a current worker said they were happy with their working conditions, their salary of about 5,000 RMB ($714.20) a month, and their teachers and Mandarin classes in the evenings.

But when presented a list of questions in Uighur about the labor transfers, the former Jiangxi Lianchuang worker started to look very nervous. He asked for the list, then set it on fire with a lighter and dropped it in an ashtray.

“If the Communist Party hears this, then” – he knocked his wrists together, mimicking a suspect being handcuffed. “It’s very bad.”

03/5/20

DOD Contractor at Pentagon Charged with Espionage

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

(WASHINGTON) — A linguist working for the U.S. military who kept a list of secret informants hidden under her mattress was charged with sharing the names with a romantic interest linked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, appeared in Washington’s federal court on Wednesday to face charges in an espionage case that investigators said put at risk the lives of American military members and confidential sources and represented a significant breach of classified information.

Traductora del Departamento de Defensa de EE. UU. es ...

The criminal case accuses Thompson, a contract translator, of giving to the unidentified Lebanese man the names of U.S. government sources and the information they provided. That effort, according to the government, accelerated during a six-week period from the end of December, when U.S. airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and exacerbated relations between the two countries, through the middle of last month.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, called the alleged conduct “a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military. This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”

Thompson’s court appearance, on charges that could carry life in prison, was brief and ended with her being detained until a hearing next Wednesday. Her attorney did not return a phone message afterward.

Thompson was arrested last week at the military facility in Erbil, Iraq, where prosecutors say she worked as a contract linguist. The Defense Department said it was aware of the arrest and was cooperating with the investigation.

After the arrest, prosecutors say, Thompson acknowledged that she passed secret information to a man she was romantically interested in, but said she did not know that he had any affiliation with Hezbollah. She instead said she thought he might have been tied to the Amal political party in Lebanon, though she later said she considered the groups to be the same.

“No, I don’t know about Hizbollah. I hate Hizbollah,” Thompson told an agent, according to an affidavit unsealed Wednesday. She described members of the group, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization, as “terrorists” and “like the octopus. They can reach anybody.”

Thompson also told the agent that she passed along classified information by memorizing it, writing it down and transmitting it via the video feature of a secure messaging application on her cellphone. One screenshot of a video chat the FBI says it obtained showed Thompson displaying to the Lebanese man an Arabic note describing the technique an informant had used to collect information, according to the affidavit.


The 12-page affidavit is found here.