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News Briefs 1

Wu Says World Bank Funds Forced Labor in China

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Human rights activist Harry Wu accused the World Bank Monday of extending at least $90 million in loans to an irrigation project that may be benefitting several of China's forced labor camps.

Wu, a former political prisoner who was convicted of spying and expelled from China two months ago, said that the bank made the loans to support China's Tarim Basin Project but ended up servicing China's "gulag" prison system.

In a report, Wu said that seven large forced labor camps run by China's Ministry of Justice and at lest 14 smaller camps run by the People's Liberation Army are located in the area encompassed by the irrigation project in remote Xinjiang Province.

Also within the World Bank project area are at least 30 special farms operated by the quasi-military Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which is run by the army, Wu said. Wu alleged that the project, designed to bring water to impoverished peasants, also is benefiting the labor camps and quasi-military farms.

"Maybe the Chinese were cheating the World Bank," said Wu at a news conference. "Maybe the World Bank never knew it. Whatever, we have to tell about this."

Former Fan Club President Convicted of Murdering Selena

Los Angeles Times
HOUSTON

The former president of the Selena fan club was found guilty Monday of murdering the 23-year-old Tejano superstar, whose legions of fans cheered the verdict as a victory for the Latino community.

Yolanda Saldivar, 35, who also managed the singer's boutiques, slumped forward and sobbed inconsolably after learning that she will face a maximum term of life in prison for the March 31 shooting at a motel in Selena's home town of Corpus Christi, Texas. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

"Finally, justice has been served," said Joanna Salguero, 28, a Houston nurse who joined the jubilant crowd outside the county courthouse in her blue medical scrubs. "When the judgment came through, it was like Selena mattered. For once, our community has a voice."

The two-week trial which was moved to Houston because of extensive publicity, offered two starkly contrasting versions of the Grammy-winner's death. Prosecutors called it a cold-blooded killing, sparked after Selena accused Saldivar of fleecing her business accounts. Defense attorneys contended the shooting was accidental, an unfortunate mistake by a suicidal confidante.

In what some legal analysts considered a gamble, Saldivar's lawyer asked the jury to weigh only the allegation of first-degree murder, dismissing the possibility of a conviction on less charges. The jury took three hours Monday afternoon to agree on her guilt.

Agency Urges Online Security For Credit Card Data

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration on Monday proposed that communications networks obtain "explicit authorization" from consumers before they disclose credit card data but suggested a lower standard for the release of some other personal information.

The 28-page report by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Agency, or NTIA, said that reform was needed to address longstanding concerns about privacy and security that the report says has discouraged "vigorous consumer activity" over emerging electronic networks such as the Internet.

"Our concern is that people will be reluctant to participate in the `information age' if they're afraid that personal information is used for unintended purposes, or for purposes that are embarrassing, harmful or improper," Assistant Commerce Secretary Larry Irving, who heads NTIA, told gatherers at a White House ceremony Monday.

The report urged voluntary industry compliance but warned that if "industry self-regulation does not produce adequate notice and customer consent procedures, government action will be needed."