Unsafe at Any Speed

“Unsafe at Any Speed

The downside of China’s manufacturing boom: deadly goods wreaking havoc at home and abroad…

“A good system for guaranteeing quality control simply doesn’t exist in China,” says Wang [a Chinese consumer watchdog and writer], who’s been on the consumer-rights warpath for more than a decade. “Even confidential informants who report to authorities about someone selling fraudulent goods can wind up dead, under suspicious circumstances.”…

…just a few years ago, pundits and the global press were marveling at how quickly China had come on as a major manufacturing export power able, or so the thinking went, to build just about anything fast, cheap and well.

Now the true picture is emerging, and it isn’t pretty. Far from the disciplined and tightly controlled economy China was thought to have, the ongoing scandals have revealed an often chaotic system with lax standards, where the government’s economic authority has been weakened by rapid reforms. This sorry state is not unprecedented—other economies, such as South Korea’s and Japan’s, experienced similar growing pains decades ago. The difference, and the danger, is one of scale, since Chinese goods now dominate the world in so many sectors. Unless Beijing can improve its image fast and turn “Made in China” into a prestigious—or at least reliable—brand, consumers will remain at risk and the country’s export-driven economic miracle could face serious trouble.

China today resembles nothing so much as the United States a century ago, when robber barons, gangsterism and raw capitalism held sway. Now as then, powerful vested interests are profiting from murky regulations, shoddy enforcement, rampant corruption and a lack of consumer awareness. In the United States during the early 20th century, public outrage over bogus drugs and contaminated foodstuffs, fueled by graphic accounts such as Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” finally prompted passage of the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act. China needs a similar revolution today if it is to protect its competitiveness and its consumers.

The problem is especially pressing at home. Bad as the export scandals have been, conditions are even worse inside China…

Three decades ago, all of China’s big manufacturers were state-owned enterprises, and the government could guarantee quality control. Now, however, many manufacturing companies, including formerly state-owned enterprises, have slipped into the loosely regulated private sector. These big businesses often get preferential treatment from local officials who are supposed to monitor them. And companies commonly bribe local police forces, even paying cops’ individual salaries. Then there’s the problem of regulations themselves. Experts say China should adopt an EU-style Basic Food Law and streamline its overlapping rules and jurisdictions. For the time being, different agencies still issue and follow different guidelines/

 

China also lacks a system for properly recording quality complaints, which makes it easy for authorities to later deny knowledge of a transgression. And according to Zhang Bing of the consulting firm AT Kearney, China has little means for tracking defective goods back to the source after they are distributed.

As a result of such gaps, China’s many lapses are undermining the country’s reputation as a juggernaut that will soon compete head-to-head with the likes of Germany and Japan in the most sophisticated sectors of industrial manufacturing. China’s high-end exports are more comparable with those of South Korea and Taiwan, says Oded Shenkar, a professor at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. In other words, they rank somewhere between Mexico’s and Japan’s. And the Chinese government must figure out how to improve quality if it hopes to keep the economy humming. The recent U.S. recall of defective Chinese-made car tires suggests more such discoveries may be forthcoming, which would further tarnish mainland brands and dent their overseas ambitions. For example, the Chinese manufacturer Chery Automobile, in cooperation with Chrysler, plans to start exporting small and subcompact vehicles to the United States in less than a year. But a scandal there could prove crippling. Other Chinese automakers, such as Geely, have already postponed plans to export to the West because ensuring safety and performance standards has proved so difficult. The Chinese-made Landwind SUV recently received the worst crash rating a German auto club had awarded in two decades.

The real problem may be that some parts of the Chinese bureaucracy have become so used to quality problems at home that they are waking up too slowly to the damage these lapses do to their reputation in Europe, the United States and Japan. The mind-set of the demanding consumer society has not yet taken hold. When U.S. officials tried to raise the product-safety issue during a recent session of the Sino-U.S. strategic dialogue, held in Washington, D.C., in late June, Chinese delegates seemed caught flat-footed and asked to defer discussion until the next round….

This is worrisome, since China is already so big and globalized. The mainland’s mushrooming road system, for example, makes it easier for Chinese eels and wheels to travel from East to West. “All of those farmers at the end of all those brand-new highways are suddenly connected to the rest of China—which is now connected to all of us,” says Drew Thompson, China studies director at the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C. “But getting all those farmers up to international standards is a Herculean task.” To accomplish it will require a clear-eyed recognition of the problem, not a stifling of Chinese critics following in the footsteps of Upton Sinclair.”

Running From Petraeus: The Most Astounding Act Of Perfidy In The History Of The Congress

Running From Petraeus: The Most Astounding Act Of Perfidy In The

History Of The Congress

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New York Sun Editorial
July 9, 2007

Congress, without waiting for General Petraeus to send back the progress report it asked him to write when it sent him to Baghdad in January, will launch phase two of the campaign to declare defeat in the Battle of Iraq. The majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and their Democratic Party are maneuvering to set a date for withdrawal of troops even as General Petraeus is preparing for delivery in September two reports that will conclude that it is possible to bring enough security to Iraq for political reconciliation.

What is shaping up may be the most astounding act of perfidy in the history of the Congress. The senate voted 82 to zero to confirm General Petraeus. The Congress underwrote his surge in a bipartisan show of support for a campaign to get control of Baghdad. It put only one basic condition on the expedition, which is that General Petraeus would have to come back in the fall with a thorough report. Our troops are now in the field, fighting heroically in one of the deadliest phases of the Battle to do just what the Congress ratified — and is making real progress.

That turns out to be just what the Democrats are afraid of.

(Read More)

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Syria Begs Cindy Sheehan To Get Back In The Fight

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Tony Snow: Yesterday’s AP Report Was Bullshit. “Benchmarks HAVE Been Met.”

Tony Snow: Yesterday’s AP Report Was Bullshit. “Benchmarks HAVE

Been Met.”

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Remember all those screaming headlines yesterday? “The Iraqi Government Has Met No Benchmarks”?

Tony Snow on Fox & Friends this morning:

“Americans are going to be surprised. Benchmarks have been met.”Steve Doocey: “Is the President going to be changing his message?”

Tony Snow: “No.”

Under her hijab — Murder juror ‘listened to music under hijab’

Fitzgerald: We don’t need to be friendly with Muslim countries

Fitzgerald: We don’t need to be friendly with Muslim countries

“The US really needs to be friendly to Muslim countries,” he [Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar] told retired Malaysian diplomats. “This is not a good development as they have just appointed a special envoy to OIC.” Malaysia heads the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference.– from this news article

Why do we “need to be friendly to Muslim countries”? Muslim countries need to explain themselves, and the contents of Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira. For these are now widely available to Infidels for intelligent inspection and study without the apologists — whether Muslim (those safis, those nasrs, those khalidis) or non-Muslim (those armstrongs, those espositos, those ernsts). We have available the writings of the great Western authorities on Islam, who studied and wrote in the period 1870-1970, before the Arab money came on the scene to buy up pre-existing, or to even start up, academic “Centers” for the study of Islam or matters related to Islam, before Muslims and non-Muslim apologists for Islam began their steady creep into and rise within the academic ranks until now they hold all but a few places firmly in their grasp — long before the publishers got scared, long before academic standards collapsed, long before all kinds of things.

We can read Schacht and Snouck Hurgronje and Jeffery and Lammens and Zwemer — there is no preventing it. And we can see that what they write makes so much sense, and has such obvious explanatory value as compared to the vaporings of John Esposito, or Gilles Kepel, or Noah (“After Jihad”) Feldman. They make more sense than any of the other entrepreneurs who have made their fortune (Esposito) directly or indirectly through Arab support. They make more sense than the thrusting young academics (Noah Feldman) who have presented themselves as Constitution-writing “experts” and have been given jobs and even tenure by others who haven’t looked into Islam themselves and may be mightily impressed by letters of reference from Roy Mottahedeh and John Esposito and, of course, someone in the American government thanking someone for his “important work in drafting the Iraqi constitution.” No, we don’t have to go for them for our information or understanding.

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The loony left. Global warming snafu.

The loony left. Global warming snafu. – Saturday, July 07, 2007 5:52 PM

If you had any doubts about the dangerous loonies that make up the rank and file of the Democratic Party, attend its conventions, pass its resolutions and keep its legislators in line should they veer in the direction of common sense, read this email from one of what the Nation describes as “several hundred Dean leaders.” Read it carefully, particularly her informative comment that “most f us on the far left” consider ourselves “moderate Democrats.” Lord help us.

Address: 16574 West Park Ave.
 Address 2: Boulder Creek, Ca 95006
 Phone: 831-338-1706
 Date: 7/6/2007 12:08:24 AM
 Email: cfinnie@sbcglobal.net
 Message: This site is hysterical! David Horowitz wouldn’t know anything about people on the left if one of them bit him–and I’m sure many of us have been tempted to do just that. If you had ever listened to anything Howard Dean or Barak Obama said, you’d know they consider themselves moderate Democrats. Most of us on the far left do too. And, unlike Mr. Horowitz, I haven’t read most of what The Nation has published about the Iraq war. I’ve read all of it. He has, of course, completely mis-characterized it. Since that was undoubtedly his intention, just as the site is clearly designed to confuse people looking for real liberal groups, I’m sure he’ll be quite pleased to hear that.

I’m tempted to pass this along to some of my liberal friends. I’m sure they’d get as big a laugh out of it as I did.

Sincerely, Chris Finnie; member, Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee; member, California State Democratic Central; member, CDP Organizational Development standing committee; county organizer, Santa Cruz County Democracy for America

Global Warming Snafu


Ah, the joys of Gore’s “man-made” global warming!
 
Buenos Aires gets first snow since 1918

By BILL CORMIER, Associated Press WriterMon Jul 9, 7:20 PM ET
 

Thousands of Argentines cheered and threw snowballs in the streets of Buenos Aires on Monday as the capital’s first major snowfall since 1918 spread a thin white mantle across the region.
Wet snow fell for hours in the Argentine capital, accumulating in a mushy but thin white layer late Monday, after freezing air from Antarctica collided with a moisture-laden low pressure system that blanketed higher elevations in western and central Argentina with snow.
“Despite all my years, this is the first time I’ve ever seen in snow in Buenos Aires,” said Juana Benitez, an 82-year-old who joined children celebrating in the streets.
Argentina’s National Weather Service said it was the first major snow in Buenos Aires since June 22, 1918, though sleet or freezing rain have been periodically reported in decades since.
 
Global Warming Update: First Snow in Johannesburg and Pretoria since 1981

NewsBusters – Jun 27, 2007

Johannesburg recorded its first confirmed snowfall for almost 26 years overnight as temperatures dropped below freezing in South Africa’s largest city,

Hat Tip: Lawrence Peck

 

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