The Watering Hole: Tuesday June 12, 2012 – Duck and Pray or Go Vote! Your decision.

Bank Run

The perfect economic storm may be rocking the boat big time, come three weeks. That’s how long IMF boss Christine Lagarde reckons Europe has left to solve their problems. I wish everybody the best of luck with Angela Merkel being the key person in the situation. That’s one obstinate woman if there ever was one.

Well, then there are younger economic powerhouses than Europe, which could pick up the slack. India? Errr no. Brazil? So sorry, no help. China? Hmmmm.

Don’t expect the economy to be any help in November when it comes to President Obama running for a second term. Mitt Romney’s position gets stronger by default. Bringing out the Democratic vote, even if you are understandably less than enthusiastic must be top priority this year. If Mitt Romney is elected, the last remnants of what’s left of the middle class will go down in flames. Their already dismal funds will be transferred to the top 1%.

The 1% will then learn a little later, that their money is just printed on paper after all and there is no one left they can milk for more. Then the top 0.1% will go after the others, but that won’t be of any help to any of you.

Is it that bad? Yes it is.

Erin Burnett Compares The US Unemployment System With China

Erin Burnett questions unemployment benefits themselves:

“Places like China don’t have unemployment benefits and everyone says that makes them weak. But does that encourage people in places like China to go get jobs more quickly, rather than waiting to exhaust their unemployment benefits, as some say some people do here…”

Burnett starts to back peddle big time right there in the segment. She feels that it is a fair and legitimate question for discussion. She asks this question to Joe Scarborough at the (2:47) mark.

heathr456 posted this and she took the words right out of my mouth when she said ” Put this one under the you’ve got to be f*cking kidding me column.”

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From a distance: My Wish List for President elect Obama

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The general election has a first positive impact: Europeans are for the first time in many years applauding America. I haven’t spoken to a single person here, who is not happy with Barack Obama as President elect. You voters have made a huge step in mending the abysmal reputation of America.

I am personally delighted with the result, but that won’t surprise anybody, I guess. So, what am I expecting from an Obama Administration? A lot. Continue reading

Wal-Mart Caught Again With Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions

Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments made in sweatshops.

 

This comes on the heels of a CNN report aired on December 13, 2007 of last year, when it was revealed that Wal-Mart Christmas Ornaments were made under deplorable conditions. Children ranging from ages of 12 to 16 years old, making 26 cents an hour which is half of China’s minimum wage.

Business Week.com cites a new study released, which exposed Wal-Mart’s auditing program failed to uncover that a supplier of children’s wear are being produced in sweatshop conditions. The factory forced workers to lie to Wal-Mart inspectors about the working conditions. Wal-Mart has, of course, tried to hide this report from the public.

According to Business Week, “Wal-Mart acknowledges that it urged SweatFree Communities several times not to publish its report.”

According to the study, “Sweatshop Solutions? Economic Ground Zero in Bangladesh and Wal-Mart’s Responsibility,” the factory forces workers to toil marathon 19-hour shifts from 8 am to 3 am in order to finish Wal-Mart orders with tight deadlines. “If any worker declines overtime, management harasses him or her mentally or physically,” says Elina, a 22-year old factory helper. The report recounts one incident of a pregnant worker, who was refused leave, and forced to deliver her child inside the factory.

“In response to this report and pressure from our organization, Wal-Mart promises action to make this factory a model for others in Bangladesh,” said Bjorn Claeson, Executive Director of SweatFree Communities, a worker rights organization that authored the report. “We welcome Wal-Mart’s intervention. As one of the most powerful companies in the world with enormous presence in Bangladesh Wal-Mart could have a dramatic positive impact. But the company should recognize that its own low price demands and just-in-time production system is the root cause of sweatshop conditions. To bring about substantive changes in this factory and others, Wal-Mart must be willing to change its own demands.”

Continue reading

FDA Warning: U.S. Instant Coffee From China Melamine Tainted

George W. Bush who hates regulations has fought against it with the food and drugs since he has been in office. So you know it has to be really adverse to your health when the FDA finally is issuing a warning. That means check your coffee and get rid of it fast. I have the list of coffees that are going to be pulled from the grocery stores across the US.

U.S. regulators warned the public on Friday not to consume seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products that were made in China because of concerns they may be contaminated with melamine. The Food and Drug Administration said the products were recalled by King Car Food Industrial Co Ltd “due to possible contamination with melamine.”

Infant formula tainted with the industrial chemical has resulted in hospitalization for thousands of Chinese babies with painful kidney stones. Four have died.

Here are the coffee and tea products that are being recalled:

Continue reading

China to stop lending to US banks

Reuters reports:

BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited unidentified industry sources as saying the instruction from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) applied to interbank lending of all currencies to U.S. banks but not to banks from other countries.

“The decree appears to be Beijing’s first attempt to erect defences against the deepening U.S. financial meltdown after the mainland’s major lenders reported billions of U.S. dollars in exposure to the credit crisis, the SCMP said.

A spokesman for the CBRC had no immediate comment.

Oh boy. This is NOT good.

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China, beyond the games – Small Hands: Child Labour

“It’s a good thing to grow up in the warm embrace of your family. I really want to go home.”
“I will love you forever, Mum and Dad.”

“This place is death.”

(A child’s graffiti, near a polypropelene factory in China)

There are two tables crammed into the tiny workshop, along with two electric fans and a VCD player. The children start work at eight in the evening, and when there is a lot of work, the shift may be extended. After midnight, when the children get verysleepy, they turn on the music, and everyone nods their heads while singing along…. While sewing on the beads, the children’s hands are stuck by the needle dozens of times each day and their hands are full of calluses. Because their eyes cannot leave the needle and the bead, the children have all developed “panda eyes” – they cannot open their eyes wide, and are always complaining that their eyes hurt. There is a small first-aid kit in the factory, full of the painkiller analgin. After long periods of night work, many of the children suffer headaches, to the point that they cannot work. 13-old Liu Yiyi takes analgin two or three times each evening.

The quote above and the description of the working conditions of children in China are taken from:

Small Hands: A Survey Report on Child Labour in China
China Labour Bulletin
(http://www.clb.org.hk)
September 2007

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Ohhhhhh, that’s rich…

The Rawstory

The United States opposes China’s detention of dissidents and other activists, President George W. Bush will say Thursday in a pointed message on human rights on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.

According to an advance copy of the speech he will give in Thailand before going to China for the opening ceremony of the Games, Bush insisted that the criticisms were not intended to “antagonise” the Beijing leadership.

I see….the US is against China detaining dissidents and activists, even while we do the same things, and will say so in a speech on Thursday that will likely get worldwide coverage, but….. “Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more?”  **terrorist fist jab**

“The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,” he said in the prepared remarks, to be delivered during his last trip to East Asia as president.

“America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” Bush said.

“We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labour rights not to antagonise China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

“We press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs,” he said.

I’ll bet $1 that even the Boy King can’t say that with a straight face.  Maybe I’ve just turned a corner into terminal cynicism.

China is getting slammed…

BBC

Breaking News…

Two aftershocks have destroyed about 420,000 houses in the Chinese region hit by an earthquake two weeks ago, the official Xinhua agency says.

One of the aftershocks, in Qingchuan county, measured magnitude 5.7, according to the US Geological Survey.

The official death toll from the earthquake that hit Sichuan province on 12 May is 67,183. Another 20,790 people are listed as missing.

On Sunday 300,000 more homes were wrecked by a strong tremor.

Plastics, China, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Oh My!

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I heard recently that more jobs are being sent overseas. This time, our garbage is what China is after. More and more, the plastics in our garbage our going to China to be recycled. With low environmental standards, wages and a high tolerance for child labor, the US and Britain find themselves passing off their recyclables to China.

No detailed studies have been done of the environmental costs of shipping vast quantities of waste from Britain to China, but environment groups and MPs were yesterday shocked at the scale of the trade. “Exporting lightweight packaging waste to China makes little sense environmentally,” said Liberal Democrat MP Sue Doughty. “It is a failure of the UK recycling market which allows the UK to export plastic for recycling. We have no control over environmental standards in China. Instead of solving the problem we are exporting it.

Another great article, if you have time to read, details the many aspects of this growing problem very nicely.

“Right now, a lot of our material is indeed baled and shipped off-shore,” said Calvin Young, market development specialist with the state Integrated Waste Management Board. “We all hear the horror stories, but there’s not a lot of verified information” about working conditions in China or elsewhere, he said. A spokeswoman for the waste board, which manages California’s solid waste stream, said the state’s hands are tied. “Once you release the material and another person buys it, you can’t tell them what to do with it,” said Roni Java.

Low conversion rate

What is clear is that plastic recycling presents myriad problems. In addition to safety and environmental questions, technological and economic hurdles have complicated plastics recycling efforts in the United States. The result: Plastic containers get turned into new products at a much lower rate than glass bottles or aluminum cans. The can you recycle today, for instance, will make its way back to the supermarket shelf in just six weeks. Because of health concerns, a plastic bottle will never become another plastic bottle. Recyclers often have a hard time making ends meet because the demand from manufacturers for recycled plastic — and, consequently, the money paid for it — is considerably less than for virgin material.

Another growing problem, literally, is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a patch of garbage floating around the Pacific Ocean that is about twice the size of the state of Texas (or about half a million square miles).

This is a very informative article from Best of Life online with pictures that aren’t for the faint-hearted.

photo of deformed sea turtle
At the same time, all over the globe, there are signs that plastic pollution is doing more than blighting the scenery; it is also making its way into the food chain. Some of the most obvious victims are the dead seabirds that have been washing ashore in startling numbers, their bodies packed with plastic: things like bottle caps, cigarette lighters, tampon applicators, and colored scraps that, to a foraging bird, resemble baitfish. (One animal dissected by Dutch researchers contained 1,603 pieces of plastic.) And the birds aren’t alone. All sea creatures are threatened by floating plastic, from whales down to zooplankton. There’s a basic moral horror in seeing the pictures: a sea turtle with a plastic band strangling its shell into an hourglass shape; a humpback towing plastic nets that cut into its flesh and make it impossible for the animal to hunt. More than a million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die in the North Pacific each year, either from mistakenly eating this junk or from being ensnared in it and drowning.

I read an article in Popular Science about 1-2 years ago about a new form of recycling using plasma technology. It is fascinating! It would seem we have a very viable win-win situation for some of our garbage problems. However, like the oil industry, kicking out the old and not good for us to make room for the new, innovative and better is not as easy as it should be. The same problems that stymie the energy industry stymie the garbage industry; kicking out the fat cats that make money off of problems.

Here is my idea for a plan to help stop and fix the GPGP. Have a group of environmentally conscious countries set up a coalition to fund one of these plasma recyclers to be on a ship or a platform like they use for oil drilling. Start “dredging” the misc. garbage out there in the gyre’s. Let the countries that fund the project get the by-product Hydrogen fuel and solid recycled waste to be used for industry by percent contributed. They may or may not financially come ahead, but the alternatives to leaving it to grow will be a far greater debt we will pay later.

UPDATED on April 26, 2009.

Chinese Drug Supplier Unregulated

Four deaths in the United States are linked to  a Chinese factory that  provided most of the blood thinner heparin to Baxter Laboratories here.  The company is not certified by Chinese drug regulators to make pharmaceutical products.   Because the plant is not certified it was not inspected by China’s drug agency.  The Food and Drug Administration said this week that it had not inspected the plant either before allowing it to be a provider of blood thinner to Baxter Laboratories.  This is a clear violation of the policies of the FDA. 

In addition to the four deaths another 350 patients suffered complications from these drugs. 

There is much more to this story at The New York Times.