Silicon Valley company paid Indian employees just $1.21 an hour

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While many Americans fight for the government to increase the minimum wage across the country, one Silicon Valley company has now been penalized for paying some foreign employees dramatically lower wages.

The fine was handed down by the US Department of Labor after it discovered that Electronics for Imaging (EFI) flew eight employees in from its office in Bangalore, India, and paid them the equivalent of $1.21 an hour, the San Jose Mercury News reported this week. The foreign employees were called in to help install computers for the Fremont, California-based company, which paid them in Indian rupees.

Additionally, these employees worked extensive hours – up to 122 hours a week in some cases. They were employed inside of the United States last year from September 8 until December 21.

“We are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from employers,” said Susana Blanco, district director of the US Labor Department, according to the Mercury News.

Blanco added that the Labor Department decided to investigate the situation after receiving an anonymous tip, adding that more will be needed to uncover further abuses by other companies.

As a result of these violations, EFI was ordered to pay back more than $40,000 in back wages based on California’s own minimum wage of $8 per hour. The company was also fined an additional $3,500.

Although not well-known around the US, EFI is an international corporation that focuses on digital and inkjet printing technology. Just one day before these abuses were reported, the company posted third quarter revenues of almost $200 million.

In a statement to the newspaper, EFI’s Beverly Rubin called the violations an “administrative error” and said it would not happen again.

“During this assignment, they continued to be paid their regular pay in India, as well as a special bonus for their efforts on this project,” Rubin said. “During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards.”

Nevertheless, the $1.21-per-hour wage is the lowest Blanco has ever seen in Northern California since 2012, when Bloom Energy was fined for paying Mexican employees just $2.66 an hour for repairing generators.

“It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage,” said Alberto Raymond, a Labor Department assistant district director, to NBC News.

Top Iranian Official: Obama is ‘The Weakest of U.S. Presidents’

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Adviser to Iranian president mocks Obama’s ‘humiliating’ presidency (UPDATED)

BY: Adam Kredo

The Iranian president’s senior advisor has called President Barack Obama “the weakest of U.S. presidents” and described the U.S. leader’s tenure in office as “humiliating,” according to a translation of the highly candid comments provided to the Free Beacon.

The comments by Ali Younesi, senior advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, come as Iran continues to buck U.S. attempts to woo it into the international coalition currently battling the Islamic State (IS, ISIL, or ISIS).

And with the deadline quickly approaching on talks between the U.S. and Iran over its contested nuclear program, Younesi’s denigrating views of Obama could be a sign that the regime in Tehran has no intent of conceding to America’s demands.

“Obama is the weakest of U.S. presidents, he had humiliating defeats in the region. Under him the Islamic awakening happened,” Younesi said in a Farsi language interview with Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

“Americans witnessed their greatest defeats in Obama’s era: Terrorism expanded, [the] U.S. had huge defeats under Obama [and] that is why they want to compromise with Iran,” Younesi said.

The criticism of Obama echoes comments made recently by other world leaders and even former members of the president’s own staff, such as Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Younesi, a former minister of intelligence in the country, also had some harsh comments about U.S. conservatives and the state of Israel.

“Conservatives are war mongers, they cannot tolerate powers like Iran,” he said. “If conservatives were in power they would go to war with us because they follow Israel and they want to portray Iran as the main threat and not ISIS.”

Younesi took a more conciliatory view towards U.S. Democrats, who he praised for viewing Iran as “no threat.”

“We [the Islamic Republic] have to use this opportunity [of Democrats being in power in the U.S.], because if this opportunity is lost, in future we may not have such an opportunity again,” Younesi said.

The candid comments by Rouhani’s right-hand-man could provide a window into the regime’s mindset as nuclear talks wind to a close.

The Obama administration has maintained for months that it will not permit Congress to have final say over the deal, which many worry will permit Iran to continue enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.

About the potential for a nuclear deal, Youseni said, “I am not optimistic so much, but the two sides are willing to reach results,” according to an official translation posted online by Fars News.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have adopted a much more pessimistic view of Iran’s negotiating tactics, which many on the Hill maintain are meant to stall for time as Tehran completes its nuclear weapon.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), for instance, wrote a letter to the White House this week to tell Obama his desire to skirt Congress is unacceptable.

“Congress cannot and will not sit idly by if the Administration intends on taking unilateral action to provide sanctions relief to Iran for a nuclear deal we perceive to be weak and dangerous for our national security, the security of the region, and poses a threat to the U.S. and our ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote.

“If the Administration opts to act in a manner that directly contradicts Congress’ intent, then Congress must take all necessary measures to either reverse the executive, unilateral action, or to strengthen and enhance current sanctions law,” she told the president.

“President Obama does believe that by rewarding Iran and permitting it to do whatever it wants in the region, the mullahs in Tehran will be convinced to compromise,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

However, “the result has been disastrous: Iran controls 3 Arab capitals (Damascus, Beirut, and Baghdad) and its allies just captured the fourth one (Sana in Yemen) and Iran’s economy has significantly improved,” Ghasseminejad explained.

“Unfortunately, it does not seem that the mullahs reached the conclusion desired by the administration,” he said. “Iranians believe this administration is weak, it has lost its economic leverage over Iran and there is no credible military option on the table. Iran has been rewarded upfront, they now ask for more while are determined to keep their nuclear program intact.”

Dems on FEC move to regulate Internet campaigns, blogs, Drudge

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In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.

Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.

The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising.

Under a 2006 FEC rule, free political videos and advocacy sites have been free of regulation in a bid to boost voter participation in politics. Only Internet videos that are placed for a fee on websites, such as the Washington Examiner, are regulated just like normal TV ads.

Ravel’s statement suggests that she would regulate right-leaning groups like America Rising that posts anti-Democrat YouTube videos on its website.

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site or even chat room could be regulated. He added that funny internet campaigns like “Obama Girl,” and “Jib Jab” would also face regulations.

“I told you this was coming,” he told Secrets. Earlier this year he warned that Democrats on the panel were gunning for conservative Internet sites like the Drudge Report.

RELATED: FEC chair warns that conservative media face regulation-like PACs

Ravel plans to hold meetings next year to discuss regulating the internet. She charged that groups placing paid TV ads use the FEC exemption to disseminate similar messages on the internet, regulation free. But Goodman says that Ravel misconceives the exemption. If the same message that is run on TV also is posted online, it is regulated, he said. The Internet exemption applies only to videos posted for free, solely on the Internet.

Blasting the exemption, she said, “Since its inception this effort to protect individual bloggers and online commentators has been stretched to cover slickly-produced ads aired solely on the Internet but paid for by the same organizations and the same large contributors as the actual ads aired on TV,” Ravel argued.

Goodman and the two other Republicans on the evenly split agency argued in a statement that regulations would chill politics on the Internet.

The trio noted that the goal of setting aside regulations to let the Internet blossom is working and shouldn’t be tampered with.

“This freedom has gained wide acceptance, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of political videos, websites, blogs and other social media posted on the Internet without so much as an inquiry by the Commission,” they wrote.

“Regrettably, the 3-to-3 vote in this matter suggests a desire to retreat from these important protections for online political speech — a shift in course that could threaten the continued development of the Internet’s virtual free marketplace of political ideas and democratic debate,” they concluded.