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Human trafficking worsens in conflict zones as militants deploy slaves – UN

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Human trafficking is becoming more “horrific” in conflict zones, where armed groups keep women as sex slaves and use child soldiers to spread fear, the United Nations said on Monday, warning of widespread impunity.

From girls forced to wed to boys made to cook and clean, militants are using trafficking as a tool to boost their control in areas where the rule of law is weak, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

The use of children as soldiers and suicide bombers in nations such as Colombia and Nigeria, and the sexual enslavement of Yazidi women by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, have grabbed headlines and sparked global anger in recent years.

Yet police and prosecutors are often not equipped to deal with the recruitment and exploitation of children by extremist groups – while global convictions of traffickers remain very low – according to the UNODC’s annual report on human trafficking.

“Trafficking is found in connection with most armed conflicts,” said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UNODC. “In situations characterized by violence, brutality and coercion, traffickers can operate with even greater impunity.”

“Child soldiers, forced labor, sexual slavery – human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters,” he said in a statement.

Fedotov said the award of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad – a former Islamic State sex slave turned Yazidi activist and U.N. ambassador – was an “important recognition” and urged the world to stop the use of rape as a weapon of war.

The UNODC’s report said that while countries are finding more victims – mostly women trafficked for sex – and convicting more traffickers, the total number of convictions remained very low in many nations – especially in Africa and the Middle East.

“In some countries … there appears to be hardly any risk for traffickers to face justice,” the report said.

About 40 million people worldwide are living as slaves – trapped in forced labor or forced marriages – according to a landmark estimate by Australian rights group the Walk Free Foundation and the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO).

Yet campaigners say more and better data is needed to track progress in pursuit of a U.N. target of ending modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030 as many victims around the world – including child soldiers – are going uncounted.

Saudi woman fleeing family to remain in Thailand

“Sound information and a solid base of evidence for our policies are two of the most important things to fight this disgusting crime in the most efficient way possible,” Karin Kneissl, Austria’s foreign minister, said at the report launch.

“We simply need to know what it actually is we are dealing with,” she added. -Reuters

– Kieran Guilbert

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The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

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Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

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Jeff Bezos, World’s Richest Person, Announces Divorce After 25 Years Of Marriage

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Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, will divorce after 25 years of marriage, the couple announced on Wednesday morning. They did not provide a reason for their separation. 

“We have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” they said in the statement, which was posted to Jeff Bezos’ Twitter page. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

Bezos, worth an estimated $136.2 billion, is the richest person in the world. It is not yet clear how the divorce will impact his net worth, or whether it will affect his stake in Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded in 1994. Bezos, 54, owns roughly 16% of the business, which comprises more than 95% of his fortune. He also owns the Washington Post and rocket company Blue Origin.

The couple lives primarily in Washington State, which requires divorcing spouses to equitably divide “community property,” including all income generated during a marriage. “It seems very likely, if not 100% a certainty, that whatever Jeff Bezos has earned at Amazon has been community income,” says David Starks, a partner at the Seattle-based law firm McKinley Irvin. He added, however, that through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, “You can elect to have your assets treated differently, and that’s not uncommon.”

Moreover, “Awarding a spouse their share of a community asset doesn’t necessarily mean actually transferring the asset to them,” notes Virginia Onu, an attorney based in Washington. In other words, instead of selling or transferring Amazon shares, Jeff Bezos could offer monetary compensation equivalent to the shares’ fair market value.

If MacKenzie Bezos, 48, does indeed receive half of her husband’s assets, she would be worth more than $68 billion, making her the fifth-richest person in the world. Even a 1% payout would constitute one of the largest divorce settlements in history.

The Bezoses, who have four children, both attended Princeton but met after graduation while working at investment firm D.E. Shaw; she was an associate on his team. They married in 1993 and moved to Seattle in 1994, the same year Amazon was founded.

MacKenzie Bezos boasts a successful career in her own right. A creative writing major at Princeton (she served as a research assistant to Toni Morrison), she won the American Book Award for her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, published in 2005. She also founded the anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution.

A representative for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Noah Kirsch
Forbes Staff
I mainly cover global wealth and entrepreneurs.

Angel Au-Yeung contributed reporting. 

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Indian master distiller gets a taste for South Africa

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A master distiller, Michael D’Souza, visited South Africa recently to share a few notes with whisky connoisseurs on the great Indian single malt. 


When a master distiller arrives in South Africa from a part of the world that is equally diverse, the result is a spirited confluence of cultures and expressions.

On Michael D’Souza’s first trip to the ‘Rainbow Nation’ from India, he was pleasantly surprised that besides the weather and the people, even the local food reminded him of a vibrancy he thought was only to be found back home. The similarities made him instantly feel at home.  

“India is a massively diverse nation. There are different religions, cultures, colors and different foods. It is very vibrant; the vibrancy is what we wanted to have inside the bottle,” he says, when we meet him on a balmy Friday evening in November in Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile.

D’Souza has been making single malt whiskies for John Distilleries since 2008 in Goa, the Indian destination deemed a tropical paradise the world over for its sandy beaches, swaying palms and uber-cool vibe.

Inspired by this trip to South Africa, D’Souza now wants to create a fusion that combines unique tastes from both regions.

“After tasting a couple of South African gins, and to be honest, I have always thought about creating craft gin, I am thinking of making a South African botanic infused gin. It can be an infusion of Indian spices and botanicals mixed with South African botanicals. India is famous for its own spices, especially coriander and cumin. I can infuse this with some of the South African botanicals like rooibos.”

D’Souza, who has been in this profession for 25 years now, enjoys traveling the world to explore drinking cultures whilst offering his palate a taste of different blends.

Founded in 1992 by Paul P. John, Paul John Single Malt Whisky has won over 200 international awards in six years and is present in 35 countries around the world.The company distributes about 40,000 cases of whisky.

For D’Souza, the shift in India’s drinking culture can be judged by the increasing demand for single malt whiskies despite being 15 years behind the western and European markets.

“India is one of the world’s emerging economies and the buying capacity of people is increasing. They are gradually shifting from cheaper whiskies to premium whiskies. A lot of youngsters travel the world and once they come back, they change their drinking preferences.”

The man who enjoys his whisky neat says the company decided to grow into international markets faster.

Paul John Single Malt Whisky has been distributed in South Africa for over a year.

On his recent two-week tour, D’Souza visited Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

“Johannesburg is one of the biggest markets for us… I found that it is a mix of quality and cost-consciousness. I have been to a lot of big retailers and I saw a lot of Irish and blended whiskies selling.”

Back home in coastal Goa, the climate not only adds flavor to the fusion but allows the spirit to mature faster.

“India is a different region altogether. The beauty of whisky is that each and every whisky will have its own regional characteristics because once distilled, the spirits go inside the wooden cask. Once it is filled, it not only interacts with the wood, but also with the world,” says D’Souza.

The distilled barley, found at the foothills of the Himalayas, absorbs the saltiness through the pores of the oak cask adding more character to the whisky.

D’Souza, who presented a whisky masterclass at the 2018 Whisky & Spirits Live Festival in Sandton, Johannesburg, attests:  “Our whisky has been received very well by South Africans.”

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