Poison in Kids drinking glasses again, Cadmium, lead found in drinking glasses

JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” exceed federal limits for lead in children’s products by up to 1,000 times, according to laboratory testing commissioned by The Associated Press.

The decorative enamel on the superhero and Oz sets — made in China and purchased at a Warner Brothers Studios store in Burbank — contained between 16 percent and 30.2 percent lead. The federal limit on children’s products is 0.03 percent.

The same glasses also contained relatively high levels of the even-more-dangerous cadmium, though there are no federal limits on that toxic metal in design surfaces.

In separate testing to recreate regular handling, other glasses shed small but notable amounts of lead or cadmium from their decorations. Federal regulators have worried that toxic metals rubbing onto children’s hands can get into their mouths. Among the brands on those glasses: Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Burger King and McDonald’s.

The Coca-Cola Co., which had been given AP’s test results last week, announced Sunday evening that after retesting it was voluntarily recalling 88,000 glasses over concerns regarding the mainly red glass in a four-glass set.

The AP testing was part of the news organization’s ongoing investigation into dangerous metals in children’s products and was conducted in response to a recall by McDonald’s of 12 million glasses this summer because cadmium escaped from designs depicting four characters in the latest “Shrek” movie.

The New Jersey manufacturer of those glasses said in June that the products were made according to standard industry practices, which includes the routine use of cadmium to create red and similar colors. That same company, French-owned Arc International, made the glasses that Coca-Cola said it was pulling.

To assess potential problems with glass collectibles beyond the “Shrek” set, AP bought and analyzed new glasses off the shelf, and old ones from online auctions, thrift shops and a flea market. The buys were random.

The fact it was so easy to find glasses that appeal to kids and appear to violate the federal lead law suggests that contamination in glassware is wider than one McDonald’s promotion.

The irony of the latest findings is that AP’s original investigation in January revealed that some Chinese manufacturers were substituting cadmium for banned lead in children’s jewelry; that finding eventually led to the McDonald’s-Shrek recall; now, because of the new testing primarily for cadmium in other glassware, lead is back in the spotlight as well.

AP’s testing, conducted by ToyTestingLab of Rhode Island, found that the enamel used to color the Tin Man had the highest lead levels, at 1,006 times the federal limit for children’s products. Every Oz and superhero glass tested exceeded the government limit: The Lion by 827 times and Dorothy by 770 times; Wonder Woman by 533 times, Superman by 617 times, Batman by 750 times and the Green Lantern by 677 times.

Federal regulators will decide whether the superhero and Oz glasses are “children’s products” and thus subject to strict lead limits; if U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staffers conclude the glasses to fall outside that definition, the lead levels would be legal.

Judging by the agency’s own analysis, obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act, the Oz and superhero glasses appeal to kids.

“Licensed characters based on action superhero themes or friendship themes are very popular” with children ages 6 to 8, CPSC staff wrote when explaining why the “Shrek” glasses, which featured the cartoon ogre and his friends, would end up in children’s hands.

Warner Brothers said, “It is generally understood that the primary consumer for these products is an adult, usually a collector.”

However, on Warner Brothers’ website, the superhero glasses are sold alongside kids’ T-shirts with similar images and a school lunch box. An online retailer,http://www.retroplanet.com, describes the 10-ounce glasses as “a perfect way to serve cold drinks to your children or guests.”

The importer, Utah-based Vandor LLC, said it “markets its products to adult collectors.” The company said less than 10,000 of each set had been sold and that the products were made under contract in China.

The company said that superhero and “Oz” glasses both passed testing done for Vandor by a CPSC-accredited lab, including the same lead content test that ToyTestingLab did for AP — a test only required of children’s products. Spokeswoman Meryl Rader did not answer when asked why a test specific to children’s products would be performed on glasses the company said were not intended for kids.

“The results were well within the legal limits” of 0.03 percent lead, Rader wrote in an e-mail. The company would not share those results.

Informed in general terms of AP’s results, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said that the agency would pursue action against any high-lead glasses determined to be children’s products. The agency has authority to enforce lead levels for glasses going back decades, he said.

AP’s testing showed Vandor’s Chinese manufacturer also relied on cadmium. That toxic metal comprised up to 2.5 percent of the decorative surface of the Oz and superhero glasses, nearly double the levels found in the recalled “Shrek” glasses. But the CPSC only limits how much cadmium escapes from the designs, not how much cadmium the designs contain. Even that regulation is new: The CPSC used the “Shrek” glasses to establish a standard for how much cadmium coming out of children’s glassware creates a health hazard.

Five of the glasses that AP tested, including one ordered from the online Coca-Cola store, shed at least as much cadmium as the CPSC found on the “Shrek” glasses. While those five could have been deemed a health hazard under the CPSC guidelines used for the recall, recent revisions tripled the allowable amount of cadmium and the agency may no longer consider them a problem. The agency has said its upward revision means the “Shrek” glasses did not need to be recalled.

all-red Coke glass shed three times more cadmium than the Puss in Boots “Shrek” glass that worried federal regulators the most last summer. Coke Zero and Diet Coke glasses from the same set did not exhibit the same problem in AP tests.

In announcing that it was voluntarily recalling 22,000, four-glass sets “for quality reasons,” the company said the glass designed to look like a red can of Coca-Cola “did not meet our quality expectations. While recent tests indicated some cadmium in the decoration on the outside of the glass, the low levels detected do not pose a safety hazard or health threat.” It said the three other designs in the set — Coke Zero, Diet Coke and Sprite — did not cause concern.

“The Coca-Cola Company has an unwavering commitment to quality, and at times we may withdraw products from the market for quality reasons, even if there is no safety concern or legal requirement to do so,” the company said. “We apologize to our consumers for the inconvenience.”

The company said consumers who purchased the glasses from Coke’s online store will receive an automatic credit; customers who bought the glasses in retail stores will be instructed on what to do starting Nov. 30.

The glasses were “designed for the general adult population,” were manufactured in the United States and have been on the market since March, the company said. Last week, Coke said previous testing showed the glasses “complied with all relevant regulations, including with respect to cadmium.”

In all, AP scrutinized 13 new glasses and 22 old ones, including glasses sold during McDonald’s promotion for a 2007 “Shrek” movie. The used glasses date from the late 1960s to 2007, mostly from promotions at major fast-food restaurants. Thousands of such collectibles are available at online auction sites; countless others are kept in American kitchen cabinets, and used regularly by children and adults.

First, AP screened them using a state-of-the-art Olympus Innov-X gun that shoots X-rays into a glass and delivers an estimate of how much lead, cadmium or various other elements are present.

The glasses were then sent to ToyTestingLab, which is accepted by the CPSC as an accredited laboratory for a range of procedures.

The glasses were tested according to the procedure that the safety commission used in the “Shrek” recall. The decorated surface of each glass was stroked 30 times with water-soaked wipes, with each stroke representing a hand touch. The wipes were then analyzed for how many micrograms of lead, cadmium or other elements they collected.

Finally, for seven of the superhero and Oz glasses the lab extracted samples of the decorations. That colored enamel was analyzed for its total lead content.

“I was extremely surprised at the levels,” said Paul Perrotti, ToyTestingLab’s director, of the total content test. He said his lab has seen glasses that fail to meet government standards, “But not 30 percent lead.”

Despite what Perrotti described as “grossly high” levels, the wipe testing picked up very little lead coming out from these seven glasses. His staff had to use a diamond-tipped grinder to remove the colors, suggesting the enamel was strongly bonded to the glass.

Perrotti and glass engineers interviewed by AP said the surface of the glasses AP tested could break down with repeated use, scouring and trips to the dishwasher, making the metals more accessible.

Following a cascade of problems with products manufactured in China, Congress in 2008 passed strict new limits that effectively ban lead in any children’s product. The underlying materials in these products — including the baked-in enamel — cannot be more 0.03 percent lead.

Lead has long been known to reduce IQ in kids; recent research suggests cadmium also can damage young brains. Cadmium also is a carcinogen that can harm kidneys and bones, especially if it accumulates over time.

Cadmium, however, also happens to be an indispensable pigment for an important part of the color palette — without it there is no “fire engine red” (think Superman’s cape and Dorothy’s slippers). Lead on the other hand is not essential.

A lot of a toxic metal in a glass does not necessarily mean a health hazard. Most of the 35 lab-tested glasses were safe under normal conditions — their decorations shed very low or no detectable amounts of lead or cadmium. Among those that did release higher levels in the wipe test, none gave off nearly enough to make someone immediately sick, according to AP’s analysis of the results.

Instead, the concern is low levels of exposure over weeks or months, whether kids also are eating a sandwich or licking their fingers.

In addition to the seven contaminated Oz and superhero glasses, 10 others raised concern over longer-term contact — two for both lead and cadmium, five for lead only and three for cadmium only. According to widely used computer modeling, the contamination that came off three of the glasses could measurably increase a child’s blood lead level.

If half of what gets onto a child’s hand enters their mouth, as the CPSC calculates, seven of the glasses would require fewer than 20 hand touches for kids age 6 and under to exceed U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for the maximum amount of lead they should ingest in a day.

Most of the 10 additional glasses were released before 2000, including a Disney “Goofy” glass distributed by McDonald’s that shed lead and cadmium, and three “Return of the Jedi” glasses from 1983 released by Burger King. One of the “Jedi” glasses hit the FDA lead level for 6-year-olds after just eight touches.

Both fast food chains said in statements that their glasses met applicable safety standards at the time they were manufactured. Disney, which ran several promotions with McDonald’s for glassware AP tested, had no comment.

Using computer modeling, nationally recognized toxicologist Dr. Paul Mushak, who has advised government agencies including the CPSC and now operates a consulting practice in North Carolina, concluded that if half of what came off the glasses was ingested, it could raise a 5- to 6-year-old’s blood lead level by 11 percent on the high end and 4 percent on average.

The blood level changes didn’t alarm Mushak, but he expressed concern because lead from the glasses would be absorbed into the bones, only to be released much later in life, for example in menopausal women.

Mushak suggested that the safety commission’s wipe test could underestimate real-world exposure, because it uses water on the wipes, a very mild approach. AP’s testing showed that when glasses were subjected to a wipe wetted with artificial sweat, the amounts of lead or cadmium that came off were up to four times higher than water wipes.

Members of the association representing the U.S. glassware industry say the glasses are safe and strongly protest that the wipe test does not accurately reflect how much lead or cadmium escapes in the real world.

Myra Warne, executive director of the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorated Products, said she is frustrated that the CPSC used it, rather than a more commonly used method developed by the FDA.

“As we are aware, government agencies don’t always (or perhaps often) share their insight and knowledge with one another which is likely why CPSC and others are fixated on improper test protocol for our products,” she wrote in an e-mail.


The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate(at)ap.org

Internet Traffic from U.S. Government Websites Was Redirected Via Chinese Servers

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Nearly 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic — including data from the Pentagon, the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other U.S. government websites — was briefly redirected through computer networks in China last April, according to a congressional commission report obtained by FoxNews.com.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident was deliberate, but the April 18 redirection could have enabled malicious activities and potentially caused an unintended “diversion of data” from many U.S. government, military and commercial websites, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states in a 316-page report to Congress.

A draft copy of the report was obtained on Tuesday by FoxNews.com. The final 2010 annual report to Congress will be released during a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

According to the draft report, a state-owned Chinese telecommunications firm, China Telecom, “hijacked” massive volumes of Internet traffic during the 18-minute incident. It affected traffic to and from .gov and .mil websites in the United States, as well as websites for the Senate, all four military services, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and “many others,” including websites for firms like Dell, Yahoo, IBM and Microsoft.

“Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications,” the report reads. “This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites.”

Citing a separate cyberattack against Google’s operations in China earlier this year, the report notes China’s history of “malicious computer activities” that “raise questions about whether China might seek intentionally to leverage these abilities to assert some level of control over the Internet, even for a brief period.”

The report continues, “Any attempt to do this would likely be counter to the interests of the United States and other countries. At the very least, these incidents demonstrate the inherent vulnerabilities in the Internet’s architecture that can affect all Internet users and beneficiaries at home and abroad.”

Chris Smoak, a research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said, whether intentional or accidental, incidents like the one on April 18 occur “two or three times a year” as large amounts of data are routed through multiple nations. He declined to indicate whether he believes the incident was deliberate.

“There’s no way to really say,” Smoak said. “Due to the short duration, it’s very difficult to say.”

Smoak said security vulnerabilities pertaining to Internet routing processes is one of the more “unfortunate aspects” of the digital age.

“They weren’t designed with security in mind, they were designed with performance in mind and the end result,” he said referring to the routing system. “We’re very susceptible in that anyone could do this at any time.”

The report details how the Internet routing process is susceptible to manipulation and lists how the exchange of data between networking equipment typically relies on “trust-based” transactions.

The report reads: “If a computer user in California, for example, seeks to visit a website hosted in Texas, the data would likely make several ‘hops’ (that is, transit multiple servers) along the way,” the report reads. “Data are supposed to travel along the most efficient route. However, Internet infrastructure does not necessarily correlate to the geographical world in a predictable way, so it would be unusual for data to transit a server physically located in Georgia, or some other somewhat removed location.”

The process, however, could be subject to manipulation if networking equipment in a remote location, such as China, advertised a route claiming to be the most efficient data path. Effectively, Smoak said, the servers will try to get the information to its destination by the fastest means possible, but the data could conceivably be censored or changed altogether.

“It’s an unfortunate aspect of the technology we use today,” Smoak said. “It’s all based on trust.”

Sam Masiello, director of threat management at McAfee, said the security breach could have been potentially “very damaging” given the large amounts of data transferred across the Internet every second.

“It could potentially be very damaging, the reason being you don’t know what traffic was being routed to those servers at the time,” Masiello told FoxNews.com. “But if you’re the criminal, how do you identify [sensitive information]? It’s like trying to find a very small needle in a very, very large haystack.”

Masiello said he did not find any evidence leading him to believe that the incident was intentional, but noted increasing number of cyberattacks emanating from China.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot of Internet crime coming out of China and a lot of criminals that are based out of China, but as far as an actual link back to China Telecom, it’s very difficult to say,” Masiello said. “Who’s to say criminals did not get into China Telecom? But the fact of the matter remains, we’ve seen a lot of cybercrime emanating out of China in the past year.”

Regardless of the intention behind the breach, Masiello concluded: “This type of attack shows there is a vulnerability in the Internet system, even if someone if able to hijack it for a very short period of time.”


China's 'State Capitalism' Sparks a Global Backlash


One of Beijing’s most important goals: wean China off expensive foreign technology. It is a process that began with the “open door” economic policies launched by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that brought in waves of foreign technology firms. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Motorola Inc. set up R&D facilities and helped train a generation of Chinese scientists, engineers and managers.


BEIJING—Since the end of the Cold War, the world’s powers have generally agreed on the wisdom of letting market competition—more than government planning—shape economic outcomes. China’s national economic strategy is disrupting that consensus, and a look at the ascent of solar-energy magnate Zhu Gongshan explains why.

A shortage of polycrystalline silicon—the main raw material for solar panels—was threatening China’s burgeoning solar-energy industry in 2007. Polysilicon prices soared, hitting $450 a kilogram in 2008, up tenfold in a year. Foreign companies dominated production and were passing those high costs onto China.

Beijing’s response was swift: development of domestic polysilicon supplies was declared a national priority. Money poured in to manufacturers from state-owned companies and banks; local governments expedited approvals for new plants.

In the West, polysilicon plants take years to build, requiring lengthy approvals. Mr. Zhu, an entrepreneur who raised $1 billion for a plant, started production within 15 months. In just a few years, he created one of the world’s biggest polysilicon makers, GCL-Poly Energy Holding Ltd. China’s sovereign-wealth fund bought 20% of GCL-Poly for $710 million. Today, China makes about a quarter of the world’s polysilicon and controls roughly half the global market for finished solar-power equipment.

Western anger with China has focused on Beijing’s cheap-currency policy; President Obama blasted the practice at the G-20 summit in Seoul last weekend. Mr. Zhu’s sprint to the top points to a deeper issue: China’s national economic strategy is detailed and multifaceted, and it is challenging the U.S. and other powers on a number of fronts.

Central to China’s approach are policies that champion state-owned firms and other so-called national champions, seek aggressively to obtain advanced technology, and manage its exchange rate to benefit exporters. It leverages state control of the financial system to channel low-cost capital to domestic industries—and to resource-rich foreign nations whose oil and minerals China needs to maintain rapid growth.

China’s policies are partly a product of its unique status: a developing country that is also a rising superpower. Its leaders don’t assume the market is preeminent. Rather, they see state power as essential to maintaining stability and growth, and thereby ensuring continued Communist Party rule.

It’s a model with a track record of getting things done, especially at a time when public faith in the efficacy of markets and the competence of politicians is shaken in much of the West. Already the world’s biggest exporter, China is on track to pass Japan this year as the second-biggest economy.

Charlene Barshefsky, who as U.S. trade representative under President Bill Clinton helped negotiate China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization, says the rise of powerful state-led economies like China and Russia is undermining the established post-World War II trading system. When these economies decide that “entire new industries should be created by the government,” says Ms. Barshefsky, it tilts the playing field against the private sector.

Western critics say China’s practices are a form of mercantilism aimed at piling up wealth by manipulating trade. They point to China’s $2.6 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves. The U.S. and the European Union have lodged a series of WTO cases and other trade actions targeting Beijing’s policies, and hammer China’s refusal to let its currency appreciate more quickly, which they argue fuels global economic imbalances.

Top executives at foreign companies have started griping publicly. In July, Peter Löscher, Siemens AG chief executive, and Jürgen Hambrecht, chairman of chemical company BASF SE, in a public meeting between German industrialists and China’s premier, raised concerns about efforts to compel foreign companies to transfer valuable intellectual property in order to gain market access.

Some observers think Beijing’s vision is rooted in a desire to avenge China’s “century of humiliation” that started with the 19th-century opium wars. Such critics believe that China’s focus on “indigenous innovation”—nurturing home-grown technologies—entails appropriating others’ technology. China’s high-speed trains, for instance, are based on technology introduced to China by German, French and Japanese makers.

“The Chinese have shown that if they have the ability to kill your model and take your profits, they will,” says Ian Bremmer, president of New York-based consultancy Eurasia Group. His book, “The End of the Free Market,” argues that a rising tide of “state capitalism” led by China threatens to erode the competitive edge of the U.S.

So far, though, multinationals aren’t staying away, because China remains a vital source of growth for companies whose domestic markets are saturated.

China’s strategy echoes the policies Japan employed in its economic rise—policies that also rankled the U.S. But China’s sheer scale—its population is 10 times Japan’s—makes it a more formidable threat. Also, its willingness in recent decades to open some industries to foreign firms makes its market far more important for global business than Japan’s ever was, giving Beijing much greater leverage.

Chinese leaders have begun to acknowledge the backlash. At the World Economic Forum in Tianjin in September, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the recent debate about China among foreign investors “is not all due to misunderstanding by foreign companies. It’s also because our policies were not clear enough.”

“China is committed to creating an open and fair environment for foreign-invested enterprises,” Mr. Wen said.

The state has always played a big role in China’s economy, but for most of the reform era that started in the late 1970s, it retreated as state-owned collective farms were dismantled and inefficient state industrial enterprises closed. Accession to the WTO in 2001 represented a big bet by the leadership on liberalizing markets further. The gamble paid off, with growth rocketing much of the past decade.

But the state is again ascendant. Many analysts say the pace of liberalization has slowed, and point to vast swaths of industry still controlled by state companies and tightly restricted for foreigners. The government owns almost all major banks in China, its three major oil companies, its three telecom carriers and its major media firms.

According to China’s Ministry of Finance, assets of all state enterprises in 2008 totaled about $6 trillion, equal to 133% of annual economic output that year. By comparison, total assets of the agency that controls government enterprises in France, whose dirigiste policies give it one of the biggest state sectors among major Western economies, were €539 billion ($686 billion) in 2008, about 28% of the size of France’s economy.

The government’s increased involvement in sectors from coal mining to the Internet has spawned the phrase guojin mintui, or “the state advances, the private sector retreats,” among market proponents in China. A January report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said China’s economy had the least competition of 29 surveyed, including Russia’s. Prominent Chinese economist Qian Yingyi of Peking University has said he worries over what appears to be “a reversal of market-oriented reforms in the last couple of years.”

The state’s huge role in the economy gives it enormous sway to pursue its policy goals, which are often laid out in voluminous five-year (sometimes 15-year) plans. These relics of the Mao-era command economy are central to the corporate fortunes of Western giants like Caterpillar Inc. and Boeing Co. that rely on the country’s market. China is now one of the biggest sources of revenue growth for Caterpillar, and is the biggest buyer of commercial jets outside the U.S., according to Boeing.

One of Beijing’s most important goals: wean China off expensive foreign technology. It is a process that began with the “open door” economic policies launched by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that brought in waves of foreign technology firms. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Motorola Inc. set up R&D facilities and helped train a generation of Chinese scientists, engineers and managers.

That process is now in overdrive. In 2006, China’s leadership unveiled the “National Medium- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology,” a blueprint for turning China into a tech powerhouse by 2020. The plan calls for nearly doubling the share of gross domestic product devoted to research and development, to 2.5% from 1.3% in 2005.

One area of hot pursuit: green technology. China’s “Torch” program fast-tracks industries, attracting entrepreneurs with offers of cheap land for factories, export tax breaks and even a free apartment for three years.

Take the case of Deng Xunming, a China-born U.S. citizen who is a pioneer of America’s solar industry and whose innovations light up the first solar-powered billboard on New York’s Times Square.

His company, Xunlight Corp., has been nurtured by U.S. financial aid and embraced by politicians eager for the U.S. to win the race to develop new energy technologies. Xunlight has pulled in more than $50 million in state and federal grants, loans and tax credits, partly aimed at bringing needed jobs to Toledo, Ohio, where the company is based.

But two years ago, Mr. Deng, who left China in 1985 to study at the University of Chicago, set up a Xunlight unit on a giant industrial estate near Shanghai. The company now also makes its thin-film solar panels there and employs 100 workers. The panels are exported back to the U.S.

Mr. Deng says he is trying to keep the Chinese operation “low key.” It isn’t mentioned on Xunlight’s website, and Mr. Deng declined to comment on the China factory in an interview. “China will be a good market for the future,” he said. “But right now, the bigger market is in Europe. We’re putting our attention on the Europe and U.S. market. But meanwhile we’re developing efforts for the China market,” which could eventually be bigger, he said.

While the state seeks new technology, it also uses control of banking to feed cheap credit to industries it wants to foster. The government sets interest rates for China’s bank depositors low relative to rates of growth and inflation. That means Chinese households, through the banks, effectively subsidize the state’s industrial darlings.

Privately held telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Techologies Co. has long had its overseas expansion supported by China Development Bank, which in 2004 extended a five-year, $10 billion credit line and routinely lends money to foreign buyers to finance their purchases of Huawei products. Revenue has risen more than 200% in the past five years, and it has become one of the top three telecommunications companies, along with Nokia Siemens Networks and Telefon AB LM Ericsson.

Sprint Nextel Corp. recently excluded Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp. from a contract worth billions of dollars, prompted by U.S. fears that the companies have ties to China’s military. The Sprint decision was a setback for Huawei in the one major market it has had difficulty penetrating, the U.S., and shows how mounting concerns over China’s policies are starting to exact a cost.

Huawei has also faced complaints in Europe that Chinese government backing gives it an unfair advantage. Both Huawei and ZTE have said their equipment poses no threat to U.S. security, and deny benefiting unfairly from government support.

For China, the biggest risks may be internal. Some attempts to generate high-tech breakthroughs by fiat have fizzled. A drive to produce a home-grown microprocessor took years to replicate features of those from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., whose products had continued to evolve. A Chinese-developed mobile phone technology has yet to gather significant momentum abroad, despite the government forcing China’s largest phone company to adopt it.

Longer term, China faces a host of challenges that threaten growth. They include a population that is aging quickly because the one-child policy limited births in recent decades, and environmental damage resulting from the country’s breakneck pace of industrialization.

For now, that pace has the West on guard. “Our competition has gotten tougher during a period for the U.S. of profound economic weakness that magnifies any perceived threat,” says Ms. Barshefsky, the former U.S. trade representative. There is a “significant and profound—almost theological—question about the rules as they exist.”

—Andrew Batson contributed to this article.

Write to Jason Dean at jason.dean@wsj.com, Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com and Shai Oster at shai.oster@wsj.com

We have a problem America Chinese workers build 15-story hotel in just six days

As the United States and China battle over the finer points of currency manipulation at the G-20 summit, American negotiators may want to take note of this startling testimonial to the productivity of Chinese workers: A construction crew in the south-central Chinese city of Changsha has completed a 15-story hotel in just six days. If nothing else, this remarkable achievement will stoke further complaints from American economic pundits that China’s economy is far more accomplished than ours in tending to such basics as construction.

[Related: China sets record with new supercomputer]

Meanwhile, it’s easy to imagine the disorientation of Changsha residents who’d gone away, or who just hadn’t recently ventured into the downtown neighborhood of the new Ark Hotel: “Honey, I don’t remember a hotel there, do you?”

The work crew erected the hotel — a soundproofed, thermal-insulated structure reportedly built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake — with all prefabricated materials. In other words, a crew of off-site factory workers built the sections, and their on-site counterparts arranged them on the foundation for the Ark project.

[Video: How safe is a home built in a week?]

Despite the frenetic pace of construction, no workers were injured — and thanks to the prefab nature of the process, the builders wasted very few construction materials. Below is a time-lapse video that shows the hotel being built from the ground up in less than a week:

To Save America We Need To Put 50% Tariffs On All Chinese Imports, Says Tonelson

50% Tariffs On All Chinese Imports, Says Tonelson


President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are treading lightly when it comes to China, perhaps out of fear of annoying a huge US creditor and trading partner.

After all, China lends the United States so much money and touches so much of the US economy that a full-blown trade or currency war could clobber the US economy.

But if the US ever wants to dig itself out of its economic hole, says Alan Tonelson, a fellow at the United States Business and Industry Council and author of “The Race to the Bottom,” we need to fix our enormous trade deficit with China and other countries. And the way to fix it, says Tonelson, is to put high tariffs on all goods imported from China, thus increasing the price-competitiveness of those produced domestically.

Tonelson acknowledges that putting big tariffs on China imports would increase prices for US consumers and that this would hurt the economy in the short-term.  But he says there’s no way we’re going to get out of our current economic plight without pain–and no way we’ll ever get back to full strength unless we fix the trade deficit.

Tonelson also plays down fears that erecting tariffs would clobber the economy, the way the Smoot-Hawley Act is thought to have contributed to the Great Depression back in the 1930s.  In fact, says Tonelson, Smoot-Hawley did not have anywhere near the impact that most people think.  The Depression, in Tonelson’s view, was the result of the extreme imbalances that developed in the 1920s, which were similar to those that our own economy developed over the past couple of decades.


Is THE U.S. worth about 37 Clicks of a mouse to you and your family ?

Is THE U.S. worth about 37 Clicks of a mouse to you and your family ?

If you would please go to our FAN PAGE then invite your friends we need to get to about 100,000 we are around 1600

It is pretty easy just make sure you have 20 people each sign up to the FAN PAGE which would give us 1600 x 20 = 32000

Once we have 32000 we will just ask for 4 more then we have a force

Facebook FAN PAGE


Go to our made in usa certified FAN PAGE then Suggest to Friends

This will take less then one minute about 37 clicks  Lets get moving NOW

We need a GRASS ROOTS movement

Obama Jumps Into G-20 Surplus Spat

Wall Street Journal

NEW DELHI—U.S. President Barack Obama, returning fire in a heated exchange between the U.S. and Germany, added his voice to U.S. efforts to reduce the massive German and Chinese trade surpluses and increase pressure on China to let the value of its currency rise.

Tensions have flared between German and U.S. economic officials ahead of the summit of the Group of 20 industrial powers, which begins Wednesday night in Seoul. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been pressing member nations to adopt targets to lower trade surpluses and trade deficits. In return, German officials have publicly lectured Washington about the wisdom of its economic policies.

In a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in India’s capital, the U.S. president came close to defending the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to pump $600 billion into the economy by buying U.S. Treasury bonds in a bid to keep interest rates low and spur consumer demand. The Federal Reserve is independent of the administration, and by tradition White Houses have strained to avoid any appearance of collusion on Fed and administration policies.

Mr. Obama said the administration doesn’t comment on particular actions of the U.S. central bank, then said, “I will say the Fed’s mandate, my mandate, is to grow our economy, and that’s not just good for the U.S. That’s good for the world as a whole.”

Also Monday, in a speech before India’s parliament, he called on Pakistan to eliminate terrorist safe havens within its borders, a move likely to be greeted well by critics in India, even as it touches on a sensitive area in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

German officials have accused the United States of joining other countries in a currency war designed to drive the value of currencies down, cheapen their products and boost exports. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble lashed out at U.S. pressure on Berlin to rein in the country’s surging exports, accusing Washington of hypocrisy and telling Der Spiegel magazine, “the American growth model … is stuck on a deep crisis.”

“It doesn’t add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then, with the help of their central bank’s printing presses, artificially lower the value of the dollar,” he said.

Data released Monday by Germany’s federal statistical office showed the country’s trade surplus shot up to €16.8 billion in September from €9 billion in August, much larger than the €12 billion economists had anticipated and further evidence that the German economy continues to rely on exports to drive its recovery.

Mr. Obama didn’t back down. “We can’t continue situations where some countries maintain massive [trade] surpluses, other countries have massive deficits and, never is there an adjustment with respect to currency that would lead to a more balanced growth pattern.”

And he enlisted a key ally in Mr. Singh, an economist whose country, along with Brazil and China, is wielding increasing influence at the G-20. Responding to Mr. Schäuble’s denunciation of the Fed move, the prime minister said, “Anything that stimulates the underlying growth impulses of entrepreneurship in the United States would help the cause of global prosperity.”

The G-20 is shaping up as a showdown between the exporting powers and nations like the U.S. that are struggling to emerge from recession and high unemployment by tapping export markets. Mr. Geithner, facing continuing resistance from China on the currency issue, has shifted his focus to trade surpluses, which can be exacerbated by artificially low currency prices as well as other policies. That was meant to lift some of the pressure from China and spread it to other nations, especially Germany.

But Mr. Geithner has backed off demands that the summit produce numerical targets for countries to strive for in reducing trade surpluses after Berlin made it clear it wouldn’t accede. The U.S. president made it clear the issue would still top his demands when he presses for “balanced and sustainable growth.”

Mr. Obama, at the press conference, repeated his remarks of the day before in which he encouraged expanded peace efforts between India and Pakistan and he praised Mr. Singh’s dedication to resolving the outstanding issues between the two neighbors.

In a speech to Parliament later Monday, Mr. Obama plans to again prod New Delhi to pursue confidence-building measures as a prelude to broader peace efforts. The U.S. president is also expected to endorse India’s push for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Singh gave a cautious response to the encouragement of talks, repeating India’s line that Pakistan needs to do more to combat terrorism before it can expect a wide-ranging discussion with India.

He said that “the terrorism machine is as active as ever” in Pakistan and that “once Pakistan moves away from this terror-induced question, we will be very happy to engage productively with Pakistan to resolve our outstanding issues.”

Mr. Obama also defended his rhetoric against the outsourcing of jobs to India and China, saying “I don’t think you’ve seen me making outsourcing a boogey man during the course of my visit.”

Since his arrival Saturday, the president has spoken instead of economic stereotypes on both sides of the Indo-American relationship that have outlived their usefulness. But he spoke often of jobs being shipped “from Boston to Bangalore” on the campaign trail before his party’s drubbing last Tuesday in U.S. midterm elections.

Mr. Singh, for his part, said the India is “not in the business of stealing jobs” from America—a frequent critique of outsourcing from some in America.

In a speech later Monday before Parliament, Mr. Obama addressed several of the most sensitive issues confronting the two nations. He reassured the Indian Parliament that the U.S. “will not abandon the people of Afghanistan—or the region—to the violent extremists who threaten us all.”

He addressed Pakistan directly on terrorist organizations that operate on its soil, something some Indian commentators repeatedly have called on him to do since he arrived Saturday.

“We will continue to insist to Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,” he said

Mr. Obama also said he looked forward to overhauls at the United Nations that could include India’s having a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Undersecretary of State William Burns said such a process is underway but he acknowledged “it is bound to take a considerable amount of time.” He also said the U.S. has yet to lay out its vision of what that reconstituted Security Council will even look like.

Mr. Obama called on India to press to be more vocal in opposing the military dictatorship in neighboring Myanmar, where India and China are vying for commercial and political influence but where the U.S. sees major human rights abuses and political suppression. “If I can be frank, in international fora, India has often avoided these issues,” Mr. Obama said. “But speaking up for those who cannot do so for themselves is not interfering in the affairs of other countries. It’s not violating the rights of sovereign nations. It’s staying true to our democratic principles.”

Write to Jonathan Weisman at jonathan.weisman@wsj.com

The New Old Shopping Culture made in USA


As mainstream media continues to report on the dangers and recalls of products imported from other countries like; dog food, dry wall, toys, vitamins, milk, and lead paint. Consumers out of fear have started to actively read labels and shop accordingly. A recent Gallup Poll found that 72% of Americans are paying “heightened attention” to the country of origin.

Today, the American public wants to Buy American and is willing to pay more for it. This Gallup Poll revealed that 94% of Americans would pay more for foods grown or produced in the United States.

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19 Iconic Products That America Doesn't Make Anymore Read more

Provided by the Business Insider November 1, 2010:

Another American icon has bit the dust: Pontiac.

GM is canceling the 84-year-old brand after winding down production over the past few years. Like other American automakers, it is restructuring and rebranding to compete with foreign companies.

Pontiac joins a long list of iconic products that aren’t made anywhere in America.

Meanwhile, plenty of beer is still made here, but many of America’s most-iconic beer brands, including Miller, Coors, and Budweiser, are owned by foreign companies. In 2008, Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis-based company that has a nearly 50 percent market share in the U.S., was sold to InBev, a Belgium-based conglomerate run by Brazilian executives. In the accompanying video, Julie McIntosh, author of Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon, discusses the deal with Yahoo! Finance economics editor Daniel Gross.

Here are 18 Iconic Products That America Doesn’t Make Anymore:

Rawlings baseballs

Last production date: 1969

Rawlings is the official supplier of baseballs to Major League Baseball. The St. Louis shop was founded in 1887 by George and Alfred Rawlings. In 1969 the brothers moved the baseball-manufacturing plant from Puerto Rico to Haiti and then later to Costa Rica.

Etch a Sketch

Last production date: 2000

Etch A Sketch, an iconic American toy since the 1960s, used to be produced in Bryan, Ohio, a small town of 8,000. Then in Dec. 2000, toymaker Ohio Art decided to move production to Shenzhen, China.

Converse shoes

Last production date: 2001

Marquis M. Converse opened Converse Rubber Show Company in Massachusetts in 1908. Chuck Taylors– named after All American high school basketball player Chuck Taylor– began selling in 1918 as the show eventually produced an industry record of over 550 million pairs by 1997. But in 2001 sales were on the decline and the U.S. factory closed. Now Chuck Taylors are made in Indonesia.

Stainless steel rebar

Last production date: circa 2001

Many forms of this basic steel product are not available domestically. Multiple waivers to the Buy America Act have allowed purchase of rebar internationally.

Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Dress shirts*

Last production date: Oct. 2002

The last major shirt factory in America closed in October 2002, according to NYT. C.F. Hathaway’s Maine factory had been producing shirts since 1837.

*We know there are other shirt manufacturers in America. They do not produce in large quantities or supply major brands.

Mattel toys

Last production date: 2002

The largest toy company in the world closed their last American factory in 2002. Mattel, headquartered in California, produces 65 percent of their products in China as of August 2007.


Last production date: circa 2003

A waiver to the Buy America Act permitted an American producer of wheel-chair accessible minivans to purchase Canadian chassis for use in government contracts, because no chassis were available from the United States. The waiver specified: “General Motors and Chrysler minivan chassis, including those used on the Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana, Buick Terraza, Saturn Relay, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan, are no longer manufactured in the United States.”

Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Vending machines

Last production date: circa 2003

You know that thing you put bills into on a vending machine? It isn’t made in America, according to a waiver to the Buy America Act.

Neither is the coin dispenser, according to this federal waiver.

Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Levi jeans

Last production date: Dec. 2003

Levi Strauss & Co. shut down all its American operations and outsourced  production to Latin America and Asia in Dec. 2003. The company’s denim products have been an iconic American product for 150 years.

Radio Flyer’s Red Wagon

Last production date: March 2004

The little red wagon has been an iconic image of America for years. But once Radio Flyer decided its Chicago plant was too expensive, it began producing most products, including the red wagon, in China.


Last production date: Oct. 2004

Five Rivers Electronic Innovations was the last American owned TV color maker in the US. The Tennessee company used LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology to produce televisions for Philips Electronics. But after Philips decided to stop selling TVs with LCoS, Five Rivers eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Oct. 2004. As part of its reorganization plan, the company stopped manufacturing TVs.

Now there are ZERO televisions made in America, according to Business Week.

Cell phones

Last production date: circa 2007

Of the 1.2 billion cell phones sold worldwide in 2008, NOT ONE was made in America, according to Manufacturing & Technology publisher Richard McCormick.

After studying the websites of cell phone companies, we could not identify a single phone that was not manufactured primarily overseas.

Railroads (parts including manganese turnout castings, U69 guard bars, LV braces and weld kits)

Last production date: circa 2008

Here’s another standout from dozens of waivers to the Buy America Act: railroad turnouts and weld kits.

Manganese turnout castings are used to widen railroad tracks, and they were used to build our once-great railroad system. U69 guard bars, LV braces and Weld Kits, along with 22 mm Industrial steel chain are basic items that were certifiably not available in the US.

Note: The Buy America Act requires government mass transportation spending to use American products.

Dell computers

Last production date: Jan. 2010

In January 2010, Dell closed its North Carolina PC factory, its last large U.S. plant. Analysts said Dell would be outsourcing work to Asian manufacturers in an attempt to catch up with the rest of the industry, said analyst Ashok Kumar.

Canned sardines

Last production date: April 2010

Stinson Seafood plant, the last sardine cannery in Maine and the U.S., shut down in April. The first U.S. sardine cannery opened in Maine in 1875, but since the demand for the small, oily fish declined, more canneries closed shop.

Pontiac cars

Last production date: May 2010

The last Pontiac was produced last May. The brand was formally killed on Halloween, as GM contracts Pontiac dealerships expired.

The 84-year-old GM brand was famous for muscle cars.

Forks, spoons, and knives

Last production date: June 2010

The last flatware factory in the US closed last summer. Sherrill Manufacturing bought Oneida Ltd. in 2005, but shut down its fork & knife operations due to the tough economy. CEO Greg Owens says his company may resume production “when the general economic climate improves and as Sherrill Manufacturing is able to put itself back on its feet and recapitalize and regroup.”

Incandescent light bulb

Last production date: Sept. 2010

The incandescent light bulb (invented by Thomas Edison) has been phased out.

Our last major factory that made incandescent light bulbs closed in September 2010. In 2007, Congress passed a measure that will ban incandescents by 2014, prompting GE to close its domestic factory.

Note: A reader pointed out that the Osram/Sylvania Plant in St. Mary’s, Penn. is still producing light bulbs to fill old and international contracts. However, the plant has announced plans to wind down incandescent production.

GM, Chinese state owned SAIC Join Forces on Technology


BEIJING—General Motors Co. and its long-time Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp. said Wednesday they signed an agreement to deepen their technical cooperation and further integrate SAIC into GM’s global product-development system.

The move is intended to allow the two companies to share technology and experience more widely to support the joint development of electric cars and components, GM and SAIC said in a joint press release. It is also aimed at creating a greater role for their joint research and technical center in Shanghai in the development of future vehicles and engines.

GM and SAIC signed the memorandum of understanding in order to “cement” their already close relationship, said a person close to the companies.

The companies have run manufacturing and sales joint ventures in China since the late 1990s and have recently been working on jointly developing cars.

“Today’s MOU reinforces our strong relationship with SAIC. New energy vehicles (such as electric cars and plug-in hybrids) are on everybody’s agenda in China. We want to ensure that we continue to play a leading role in the years to come,” said Tim Lee, president of GM’s international operations.

GM and SAIC said in their statement the agreement adds to a series of steps the two companies have taken in recent years to give the Chinese state-owned auto maker a bigger role in GM’s global strategy. For example, the companies signed an agreement in late 2009 to cooperate in their efforts to expand into emerging markets such as India.

The push to increase technical cooperation comes as SAIC is believed to be gearing up to buy a stake in GM by participating in GM’s initial public offering, which is expected to take place later this month.

Analysts said the agreement signed Wednesday would likely make it more difficult for those who might oppose foreign investors’ participation in GM’s IPO to block SAIC from investing in the U.S. firm. tHE person close to the companies said if allowed, SAIC would likely take a “very small stake” of less than 10% in GM.

Foreign participation in GM’s IPO is a thorny issue for the U.S. government. The Treasury Department is worried about the political reaction if non-U.S. investors, such as a sovereign-wealth fund or a Chinese company, were allowed to acquire a significant stake after U.S. taxpayers spent $50 billion to assist the company through bankruptcy reorganization.

GM and SAIC said in their press release the joint effort to develop more “new energy” vehicles and components is a “core element” of their strategic cooperation and could include the co-development of key components, a new electric vehicle platform or vehicle underpinnings for China.

The two companies also said they plan to share more gasoline-fueled vehicle architecture or underpinnings, engines and transmissions to help reduce development costs and produce economies of scale.

The person close to the companies said the technical-cooperation agreement is a “two way street” of benefits. The person said the move isn’t going to give SAIC unfettered access to GM’s intellectual property, but is “aimed to let us share more.”

Write to Norihiko Shirouzu at norihiko.shirouzu@wsj.com

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