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Friday, March 30, 2012

Apple Inc Critisized for Overseas Factory Conditions

Story first appeared in the Yahoo news.
SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc and its main contract manufacturing Foxconn agreed to tackle violations of conditions among the 1.2 million workers assembling iPhones and iPads in a landmark decision that could change the way Western companies do business in China.
Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, whose subsidiary Hon Hai Precision Industry assembles Apple devices in factories in China, will hire tens of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade workers' housing and other amenities.  A Memphis Employment Lawyer follows the case.
It is a response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of a U.S. company's operations outside of America. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent Fair Labor Association (FLA) to stem a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.  The case raises the intrigue of Employment Lawyers in Memphis and elsewhere in the United States due to the severity of the accusations.
The association, in disclosing its findings from a survey of three Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers, said it had unearthed multiple violations of labor law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime.
The FLA President expects the agreement between Apple, the world's most valuable listed company, and Foxconn, which supplies 50 percent of the world's consumer electronics, to have far reaching affects.
That could affect brand names that have contracts with the Taiwanese company, including Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon.com Inc, Motorola Mobility Holdings, Nokia Oyj and Sony Corp.
The agreement is a sign of the increasing power of Chinese workers to command higher wages given increasing prices in China, and an ageing workforce that has led to labor shortages.
Working conditions at many Chinese factories supplying Western brands are considerably inferior to those at Foxconn, experts say.
Still, labor costs are a fraction of the total cost of most high-tech devices, so consumers might not see higher prices.
Under the agreement, Foxconn said it will reduce working hours to 49 per week, including overtime, while keeping total compensation for workers at its current level. The FLA audit found workers in the three factories put in more than 60 hours per week on average during peak production periods.
To keep up with demand, Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of additional workers and build more housing and canteens.
Apple CEO, who took over from the late co-founder last year, has shown a willingness to tackle the criticism head-on.
But New York-based labor advocacy group China Labor Watch said the report failed to address the workers' primary concerns.
The agreement has not gone down well with some Foxconn workers, either.
An employee who has worked at a Foxconn factory at Longhua in southern Guangdong province for four years, complained that her salary will drop to just over 2,000 yuan a month ($317) from over 4,000 yuan.
Hon Hai shares fell on Friday around 1.3 percent, underperforming a rising market. Apple shares, which hit a record high on Wednesday, dropped 1.3 percent on Thursday.
The report marks the first phase of a probe into Apple's contract manufacturers across the world's most populous nation.
Foreign firms have long grappled with working conditions in China, dubbed the world's factory because of its low wages and efficient coastal transport and shipping infrastructure.
Global protests against Apple swelled after reports spread in 2010 of a string or suicides at Foxconn's plants in southern China, blamed on inhumane working conditions and the alienation that migrant laborers, often from impoverished provinces, face in a bustling metropolis like Shenzhen, where two of the three factories the FLA inspected are located.  A Personal InjuryLawyer in Memphis is following the case, in regards to reports of employee suicides as a result of poor working conditions and wages.
In months past, protesters have shown up at Apple events - the rollout of the new iPad, the iPhone 4GS and its annual shareholders' meeting - holding up placards urging the $500 billion corporation to make "ethical" devices.
Some have also criticized the FLA for its close alignment with corporations.
The FLA in its report sought measures that will reduce working hours while ensuring that migrant laborers - often willing to pile up the overtime to make ends meet back home - do not forego much-needed income.
Foxconn committed to building new housing to ease situations where multiple workers were squeezed into rooms that seemed inhumane by Western standards. The accommodations do not compare to posh New York or Philadelphia Apartments. It agreed to improve accident reporting and help workers enroll for social welfare and increase their participation in committees and other union structures.
The FLA will conduct onsite verification visits to make sure the agreement is implemented.
Apple is not the first U.S. consumer brand to respond to criticism of working conditions at factories abroad making its products.
Nike Inc implemented wide-ranging changes to improve safety and working conditions after it was rocked by reports in the 1990s that its contractors in China and elsewhere forced employees to work in slave-like conditions for a pittance.
Yet even Nike stopped short of Apple's and Foxconn's hiring and income-boosting spree. Last month, Foxconn said it was raising salaries by 16 to 25 percent, and was advertising a basic monthly wage, not including overtime, of 1,800 yuan ($290) in the southern city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province - where the monthly minimum wage is 1,500 yuan.
Future forays by the FLA over coming months will encompass Apple contractors Quanta Computer Inc, Pegatron Corp, Wintek Corp and other suppliers, all notoriously tight-lipped about their operations.

Chinese Real Estate Developers Arrested for Corruption

Story first appeared in the Yahoo news.

HONG KONG  - More than $5 billion was wiped off the market value of Sun Hung Kai Properties on Friday, after the billionaire owners of Asia's largest real estate developer were arrested on suspicion of corruption.

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) arrested the owners in the agency's biggest investigation since it was set up in 1974 to root out what was seen as widespread corruption in the government and police.

The arrests on Thursday come just days after Hong Kong elected its next leader, pledging land for cheaper public housing, and as soaring property prices, the most expensive in the world, have stirred public discontent. Home prices almost doubled in the five years to end-2011.

The owners were released late on Thursday but were expected to return for more questioning, according to a source familiar with the matter. Local media reporters said the brothers were still inside a Deepwater Bay luxury compound on the south side of Hong Kong on Friday.

The owners are worth $18.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, the second-biggest family fortune in Hong Kong after Asia's richest man,  founder of rival developer Cheung Kong (Holdings) .

Shares in Sun Hung Kai slumped more than 15 percent to 15-week lows when they resumed trading on Friday. The company owns some of the former British colony's largest properties, including its tallest building, the International Commerce Centre that houses Morgan Stanley and the Ritz Carlton.


Sun Hung Kai said the owners would continue with their duties as chairmen and managing directors, and normal business operations would not be affected.

In the past two weeks, Sun Hung Kai has also disclosed that the employee in charge of project planning and land acquisitions, had been arrested for suspected bribery, and the executive director of architectural and engineering services, had died, peacefully - meaning of the company's seven executive board members, three have been arrested, and one has died.

Details of what is behind the arrests remain unclear.

The unfolding scandal has gripped Hong Kong, the world's most densely populated city which was returned to Chinese rule by the British in 1997.

The potential conflict of interest in a senior government official living - rent-free, according to media reports - in an upscale residence owned by an influential property family has not escaped public and media attention.


The owners' family had a public feud in 2008 that ended with the elder being ousted as chairman. The two younger brothers, backed by their mother, claimed the elder brother was mentally unfit to run the business, claims the elder brother has denied.

That aside, the brothers who run the company's construction and engineering departments, and look after legal and financial issues - have a relatively low media profile.

Others also expressed concern about the impact on Hong Kong's reputation for corporate governance.

A loan banker in Hong Kong, who asked not to be named as his bank is a lender to Sun Hung Kai, said there was unlikely to be any significant impact on the company's business.


In a writ filed in Hong Kong in 2008 as part of his bid to avoid his ouster, the eldest brother said his brothers repeatedly disagreed with his attempts to improve management at the company. He also said he tried to investigate the sale of a parcel of land in Hong Kong's New Territories at more than the asking price, and look into why construction contracts awarded by Sun Hung Kai went to a select number of contractors.

The ICAC had an 88 percent conviction rate on the 443 people it prosecuted in 2010.

Over the past four decades, Sun Hung Kai, listed in 1972, has built some of Hong Kong's most expensive property, from luxury hilltop apartment blocks and harbor-front skyscrapers to landmark office buildings.

The company's net profit has soared to HK$48 billion ($6.18 billion) in the year to last June from $10.4 billion two years earlier.

Best Buy Downsizing Stores

Story first appeared in The Detroit News.
Minneapolis -- In order to grow, Best Buy is shrinking.
The largest U.S. specialty electronics retailer for years expanded quickly by opening big-box stores across the country. But shoppers have started using the stores as showrooms, testing products before buying them cheaper elsewhere.
To revamp the struggling chain, Best Buy said Thursday it plans to close 50 of its U.S. big box stores, cut 400 corporate jobs and trim $800 million.
The company, which has about 1,400 U.S. locations, also plans to open 100 smaller and more profitable Best Buy Mobile stores throughout the country.
Best Buy is trying to avoid the fate of its rival Circuit City, which liquidated in 2009 after it struggled with the changing electronics landscape. Sales of TVs, digital cameras and videogame consoles -- once the bread-and-butter of electronics retailers -- have weakened, while sales of lower-margin items like tablet computers, smartphones and e-readers have increased. The rise in competition from Internet rivals like Amazon.com and discounters like Target also has hurt electronics retailers.
To better compete, Best Buy is shaking up its business. The company said it will focus on what sets it apart from its rivals: trained sales staff that can help shoppers get the most out of their tablets, TVs and other electronic devices, including tech support from its "Geek Squad" service and repair unit.
But as Best Buy announced its changes Thursday, the Minneapolis-based firm posted a $1.7 billion fourth quarter loss due in part to restructuring charges.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soldier Steals Identity of Microsoft Co-founder

Story first appeared in the Detroit Free Press.

An AWOL soldier from Pittsburgh is charged with bank fraud for allegedly stealing the identity of one of the world's richest men: a Microsoft co-founder.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday says the 28-year-old soldier called Citibank in January and changed the address on the account in question from Seattle to one in Pittsburgh, then had a new debit card sent to him at that address.

Investigators say he used the card to attempt $15,000 in transactions, including paying on a delinquent Armed Forces Bank account and making purchases at a video game store before his March 2 arrest.

A detention order says he will be detained until April 2 unless the Army takes him into custody.

An email to his public defender wasn't immediately returned today.

WPXI-TV first reported the arrest.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bankrupt Solar Panel Manufacturer Pulled from Stock Market

Story first appeared in The Detroit News on March 14th, 2012.

The stock of Energy Conversion Devices. Inc., the bankrupt Auburn Hills-based solar panel manufacturer, was pulled from the Nasdaq Stock Market on Feb. 24, according to a filing on Wednesday.  The company primarily makes, sells and installs thin-film flexible solar products and systems to the building and rooftop markets.  These panels are useful in the construction of Solar Carports and solar roof structures.

Energy Conversion filed for bankruptcy protection Feb. 14, when its stock price closed at 29 cents a share from $1.46 the day before. Nasdaq told the company Feb. 15 that it no longer qualified for listing on the stock exchange, according to the company's filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

When the company did not appeal the decision, the stock was suspended from the exchange Feb. 24, when Energy Conversion Device's stock closed at 16 cents a share. The delisting will become official 10 days after the Nasdaq files the paperwork, according to another filing made Wednesday with the SEC.

The company's stock — now traded on the over-the-counter "Pink Sheets" under the symbol ENERQ — closed Wednesday at nine cents a share.

The Auburn Hills-based firm said in May that it would lay off 300 workers, including 115 in Michigan, as it restructured amid cutbacks in government solar incentives overseas and after posting a large quarterly loss.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

US Industries Expanding: Solar and Wind

First appeared in USA Today
Despite last year's bankruptcies of several solar manufacturers, including government-backed Solyndra, the U.S. solar and wind industries continue to expand in the face of obstacles this year. There is even increasing production of Solar Carports.

Newly installed solar panels produced 109% more electricity nationwide last year than in 2010, reaching a record 1,855 megawatts, as the price of these panels plummeted by more than 50%, according to a report today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an industry group, and GTM Research.

"The U.S. remains the innovative center of the solar industry worldwide," says Rhone Resch, SEIA's president. He says "run-of-the-mill" panels may increasingly be made overseas, but the U.S. still will make the most advanced solar components and post double-digit annual growth. He expects solar power, which now produces less than 1% of U.S. electricity, to generate 10% by 2020.

"There's no bubble" bursting in the clean-tech sector, Resch says, although he cautions that more companies likely will fail as the industries mature and cope with decreased government subsidies.

Other recent reports indicate that the U.S. clean-tech sector remains strong despite Republican criticism of President Obama's half-billion-dollar loan guarantee to Solyndra and his other support for renewable energy. Some are looking to Oil & Gas Expert Witness for information.

Wind power increased 31% last year, says the American Wind Energy Association, and venture capital invested in clean technology grew from $3.8 billion in 2010 to $4.3 billion last year, the National Venture Capital Association says.

Still, even advocates see challenges ahead.

"It's not all rosy. … There have been growing pains of late," says Ron Pernick, managing director for Clean Edge, a research firm. He expects "considerable consolidation."

A federal "production tax credit," which lowers the wind industry's cost of producing power, is slated to expire at the end of 2012. Also at issue:

·         A Treasury Department program, which Resch says helped many solar start-ups, expired at the end of last year. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate rejected an effort to restart the Section 1603 program, which allows companies to take upfront cash grants in lieu of tax credits.

·         The Department of Commerce is likely Monday to decide whether to impose duties on solar panels made in China in response to an unfair-trade complaint filed by Oregon-based SolarWorld and six unnamed solar manufacturers. If it imposes duties, Resch expects a slight increase in panel prices.

·         Low natural-gas prices are threatening the economic rationale for renewable energy. Pernick says the wind and solar industries will still grow, because more than two dozen states now require utilities to produce more of their power from renewables. Sometimes a Natural Gas Expert might be necessary.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stimulus Possible Due to China Inflation

First appeared in Bloomberg News
China’s inflation eased to the slowest pace in 20 months while new loans, industrial output and retail sales were below analysts’ forecasts, boosting the case for easing monetary policy in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Consumer prices gained 3.2 percent in February from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Local-currency loans were 710.7 billion yuan ($113 billion) in February. Factory production rose 11.4 percent in January and February combined and retail sales advanced 14.7 percent. Data in the first two months of the year are distorted by a weeklong holiday.

Asian stocks rallied on a debt deal in Greece and speculation that China’s moderating inflation and growth will lead the ruling Communist Party to loosen policy. Citigroup Inc. says a cut in banks’ reserve requirements may come as soon as this month, while the government also has more room to boost wages and ease price controls on energy and water. A certain amount of Offshore Product Development and Manufacturing is also taking place.

“Today’s data, with surprisingly low retail sales and output continuing to weaken, point to economic growth further cooling to 8 percent or lower this quarter,” said Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup in Hong Kong. Data this month may show further worsening if the government fails to cut banks’ reserve requirements for the third time since November, he said.

The benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks rose 1 percent as of 6 p.m. in Tokyo, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8 percent. China’s interest-rate swaps had their biggest weekly decline in three months.

Below Estimates

The rise in consumer prices was less than the 3.4 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 35 economists and below January’s 4.5 percent rate. Retail sales were forecast to rise 17.6 percent in January and February, while analysts predicted industrial output growth of 12.3 percent.

Producer prices were unchanged in February from a year earlier, the Beijing-based statistics bureau said. That compares with a median estimate for a 0.1 percent increase. The gauge rose 0.7 percent in January.

New local-currency loans reported by the central bank compared with the 750 billion yuan median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists and 738 billion yuan in January. M2, the broadest measure of money supply, expanded 13 percent in February from a year earlier.

Fixed-asset investment excluding rural households rose 21.5 percent in January and February combined from a year earlier, above the 20.5 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Home Prices

China’s home sales declined 25 percent in the first two months of the year as the government pledged to maintain its housing curbs, separate data showed today. This is even true for Quality Assurance China Suppliers.

The statistics bureau didn’t release the year-over-year change for industrial production and retail sales in January or February alone.

China’s government has done a terrific job in controlling inflation, Stephen Roach, former non-executive chairman for Morgan Stanley in Asia and previously the bank’s chief economist, said at a conference in Shanghai yesterday. Concerns that China will have a so-called hard landing are “vastly overblown” even as economic growth becomes more unbalanced, Roach said.

Even so, “they need to focus more on the downside risk” to growth, Qu Hongbin, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “They need to react to those data and I think they will,” he said, predicting the central bank will lower banks’ required reserve ratios at least twice by the end of June.

Resource Prices

Premier Wen Jiabao this week set an inflation target of about 4 percent for 2012, unchanged from last year. The goal takes into account risks from imported inflation and rising costs of land, labor and capital and will leave room to change the way prices of resources including electricity and oil are set, he told lawmakers at the National People’s Congress. China Factory Audit has some influence on changes.

Tao Dong, a Hong Kong-based economist at Credit Suisse Group AG, said the industrial-production report “looks bad” and is a “loud warning to the commodity bulls.” Still, China’s leaders are unlikely to start a large-scale stimulus right away and may wait until reports on March data “before making a decisive call on the direction of the economy,” Tao said.

Food price gains last month slowed to 6.2 percent from a year ago, compared with a pace of 10.5 percent in January, and accounted for 62 percent of the total inflation rate, the statistics bureau said today. Consumer prices fell 0.1 percent from the previous month.

Malaysia Rate

Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysia’s central bank is forecast to keep its benchmark interest rate at 3 percent for a fifth meeting today, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

In Europe, Germany said exports rebounded 2.3 percent in January from the prior month, while French industrial production in the same period also bounced back 0.3 percent. Italy’s industrial output probably dropped in January, while Spain’s retail sales declined.

U.S. employers probably added more than 200,000 workers for a third straight month in February, economists predicted ahead of a Labor Department report today. The jobless rate stayed at 8.3 percent, a separate survey showed.

China’s economic growth has moderated for the past four quarters as Europe’s debt crisis crimped demand for exports and the government limited lending and imposed curbs on home purchases to rein in prices. Manufacturing Engineering has not stopped this process.

Separately today, Politburo member Bo Xilai gave figures that indicate China’s wealth gap has now exceeded the point that analysts view as a predictor for social unrest, in a rare disclosure of the country’s income disparity.

Barclays Capital is forecasting a “cautious easing” stance for monetary policy and a “modest expansionary fiscal policy stance to ensure a soft landing of the Chinese economy,” said Chang Jian, a Hong Kong-based economist at the company.

US Soldier Goes on Shooting Spree

First appeared in USA Today
Throughout Afghanistan, people are struggling with how to deal with allegations against an American soldier accused of leaving his base and killing 16 people Sunday.

The shooting spree, which has been widely condemned by American officials, comes as relations between Afghanistan and the West are tense after the burning of Qurans on a U.S. base last month. The Taliban has vowed revenge for this "inhumane crime."

Afghans pondered the motivations behind the incident and how it fits into larger questions about the American presence here.

"Of course, no one can close their eyes to what the foreigners have done for us. In the country we have more development. Overall, we would not say that they're bad people," says Abdul Qadir, a high school teacher in Lashkar Gah, the capital city of the south's restive Helmand province.

Citing another incident in which NATO forces killed Afghans at a wedding party, he says, "If foreigners give us everything and make us rich but they try to kill us, then what is the need for having everything?"

There are still many questions about what happened in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai in Panjwai before dawn Sunday. The Pentagon has declined to identify the shooter, but some details of the shooting were emerging Monday.

A Pentagon official who spoke on background because the killings are under investigation said the villages were about 800 yards from the small military base. An Afghan guard reported the suspected shooter — a 38-year-old staff sergeant and 11-year veteran — leaving the base but probably would have had no reason to challenge him, the officials said.

The official said victims of the shootings, which occurred in three houses, were as young as 2. The death toll is 16, and it may rise as some of those who survived were wounded critically.

Shortly after the shootings, by about 4 a.m., villagers began bringing bodies and the wounded to the base. The soldier was noticed missing and troops put "two and two together" and quickly realized he was the likely suspect, the official said.

The suspect could be court martialed in Afghanistan and be subject to the death penalty. The murders were premeditated, the officials said.

Another senior Pentagon source said the shooter acted on his own and described him as a "troubled individual" but that the signs of his problems were not obvious.

Plans call for the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces while turning over security to the Afghan government in 2014. The pace of the Afghanistan withdrawal is one of the topics of this week's visit to Washington by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Afghanistan also will top the agenda at the G-8 and NATO summits Obama will host at Camp David.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the killings will not affect the timetable of the U.S. withdrawal.

Obama — who apologized to Afghanistan for the burning of Qurans less than a month ago — said Sunday, "I am deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians."

"This incident is tragic and shocking and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan," the president said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack .

"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said Sunday.

Villagers described how they cowered in fear as gunshots rang out while the soldier roamed from house to house firing on those inside.

"He was walking around taking up positions in the house — in two or three places like he was searching," said 26-year-old witness Mohammad Zahir, who watched the gunman while hiding in another room.

"He was on his knees when he shot my father" in the thigh, he told The Associated Press. His father was wounded but survived.

Zahir recounted the harrowing scene in his family home when the soldier came in before dawn.

"I heard a gunshot. When I came out of my room, somebody entered our house. He was in a NATO forces uniform. I didn't see his face because it was dark," he said.

Zahir said he quickly went into another room in the house, where animals are penned. "After that, I saw him moving to different areas of the house - like he was searching," he said.

His father, unarmed, then took a few steps out of his bedroom door, Zahir recalled. "He was not holding anything - not even a cup of tea," Zahir said. Then he fired.

"My mother was pulling my father into the room. I put a cloth on his wound," he said.

After the gunman left, Zahir said he heard gunshots near the house again. He stayed in hiding for a few minutes to make sure he was gone.

The soldier accused in the shooting was in custody at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

The Taliban said in a statement on its website that "sick-minded American savages" committed the "blood-soaked and inhumane crime" in Panjwai district, a rural region outside Kandahar that is the cradle of the Taliban where coalition forces have fought for control for years.

The militant group promised the families of the victims that it would take revenge "for every single martyr with the help of Allah."

Protests that followed the Quran burnings last month ended with almost 40 dead, including four U.S. service members, but as of Monday, there were no major demonstrations in response to the shootings. Nor were there any violent demonstrations in response to a recent video of U.S. Marines urinating on dead Afghans. Internet in Afghanistan proves to be important.

"Overall, this was a really bad incident, especially looking at the photos of the kids who were killed," says Jalil Babak, an Afghan soldier stationed in Nangarhar province. "But this is a conflict, and anything can happen in war. This is not the first time a soldier or policeman, foreign or Afghan, has done something like this. In the past, many times the Afghan security people opened fire on their foreign colleagues and killed them. This is not a new issue."

He says the support of the U.S. and international community has been indispensable to Afghanistan, and he hopes people will not focus to heavily on this issue and risk losing international backing.

As the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan shifts from war fighting to small groups of U.S. troops training Afghan security forces in their communities to counter insurgent groups like the Taliban, American troops will be more isolated and vulnerable, according to Anthony Cordesman, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

U.S. officials who want to support a continuing war effort need to educate Americans "that this is war," he said. "We're going to see incidents like this and we're also going to see that this is the new IED (improvised explosive device) for the Taliban and Haqqani network -- to push as much strife between Afghan troops and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and NATO as possible."

Michael O'Hanlon, director of research at the Brookings Institution, said the shooting is the wost incident of its kind by a NATO service member in Afghanistan, and could precipitate a significant reaction by Afghan civilians and a change in Afghan policy makers' attitude toward NATO.

The shooting of multiple civilians at a Baghdad intersection by the security firm Blackwater "affected everything" in Iraq, including the Iraq legislature's unwillingness to give immunity to U.S. service members there, which led to an early departure of NATO troops last winter, O'Hanlon said.

Some Afghans questioned whether Americans respect fundamental Afghan values.

"America is saying they are the defenders of the human rights … but the things they are doing in Afghanistan are completely against human rights," says Abdul Rahim Ayobi, a member of parliament from Kandahar. Though it's clear the killings were not planned at a high level or part of the American strategy, he says, "it finally gives us the message that now the American soldiers are out of the control of their generals."

The issue could complicate negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan that would allow U.S. troops to stay beyond the 2014 deadline. Last November, leaders agreed at a loya jirga, or grand assembly, that any such agreement should make any international service member who commits a crime accountable to the Afghan courts. Satellite Internet in Afghanistan proves to be important.

Sunday's shooting has brought this issue into sharp relief once more. During a parliamentary session Monday, the legislative body condemned the action and called for the prosecution of the soldier in Afghanistan.

"The person committed the crime here in Afghanistan, and if he gets punished in Afghanistan, it will be a lesson for others, but since foreign soldiers are not prosecuted in Afghanistan, that's why they continuously commit crimes in Afghanistan," says Qazi Abdul Rahim, a member of parliament from Badghis province and a former judge. "America always says they are here for security and helping Afghans, but in reality, you see it's the opposite."

U.S. troops accused of wrongdoing in Afghanistan are subject to U.S. military law and proceedings, according to the Military Technical Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.

One of the most difficult challenges for the immediate future may be controlling Afghan perception of the incident.

"This crime was an individual crime done by a single person. It is not the policy or strategy of Americans to kill innocent civilians, but still the public reaction will blame the government of America, not the soldier," says Kamal Safai, a member of parliament from Kunduz.