March 31, 2016 Leave a comment
BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) – The 337-foot USS Illinois submarine was built with steel made at the Arcelor Mittal USA factory in northwest Indiana. Read more of this post
March 31, 2016 Leave a comment
BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) – The 337-foot USS Illinois submarine was built with steel made at the Arcelor Mittal USA factory in northwest Indiana. Read more of this post
March 24, 2016 Leave a comment
A Chinese man has pleaded guilty in a “years-long” conspiracy to hack into U.S. networks to steal sensitive information, including data on the C-17 cargo plane and fighter jet aircraft, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Read more of this post
December 12, 2014 Leave a comment
The Chinese regime nearly got its hands on new designs for America’s latest fighter jet. New designs that could cut costs in producing the F-35 advanced fighter jet were found in the luggage of a Chinese national who was traveling from New York to China. Read more of this post
October 1, 2013 Leave a comment
By: Austin Wright – reposted from Politico
September 30, 2013 05:06 AM EDT
Domestic shoemakers are going toe to toe with the Pentagon over its footwear policies.
New Balance is leading a charge to force the military to buy U.S.-made running shoes for recruits, meeting with members of Congress and the Obama administration to press its case.
The company sees a $50 million opportunity in a population for which running is mandatory — and a cause that might be difficult for any flag-waving politician to oppose.
The military sees a regulatory headache.
The issue is significant for the Pentagon, which today allows the services to decide for themselves how best to buy running shoes. But a provision making its way through Congress could lead to a militarywide shoe policy — and another example of the transfer of power from the services to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which has expanded in recent years despite pledges to downsize by leaders past and present.
“We tend to grow by congressional fiat,” said one Pentagon official, requesting not to be identified to offer a candid take.
The standoff with shoemakers is also significant for the Defense Department because of the industry’s aggressive public relations push. Defense officials are accustomed to dealing with often deferential contractors, which depend on the Pentagon for a substantial portion of their sales and rarely disagree with the brass in public.
With New Balance, however, the shoe is on the other foot.
“We have not been quiet about our desire to see the department follow its own rules,” said company spokesman Matt LeBretton, referring to a 1941 statute called the Berry Amendment that requires the Pentagon to buy food, clothing and other items from producers inside the United States.
“Soldiers don’t have a choice for most of the gear that they’re given, so I don’t know why it would be different for athletic footwear,” LeBretton said. “The administration talks a lot about supporting domestic manufacturing — here’s an opportunity to do it.”
Each of the services has a different policy for equipping recruits with running shoes as they enter boot camp. The Army, for example, provides soldiers a one-time cash allowance to buy shoes from military exchanges, which stock a number of brands.
Men are given $75 for shoes and white socks, and women are given $347 for shoes, socks, black dress pumps, stockings, underwear and a black purse. The brass says it’s easier to handle this kind of purchase this way.
“For the Army to maintain those items in inventory, it would have to be quite a large inventory,” said Army spokesman Wayne Hall.
The Air Force, meanwhile, gives recruits $75 to purchase athletic shoes, also at military exchanges, following foot exams to determine the right brand and fit. The service spends about $2.3 million on the program each year, according to Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley.
Domestic shoemakers — and their allies on Capitol Hill — consider these policies a violation of the Berry Amendment because recruits are allowed to pick brands such as Nike, which produces most of its shoes outside the U.S.
Their message: Follow the lead of the Navy, which provides recruits only one brand option: New Balance.
The company was selected in part because its shoes “are assembled in the U.S.,” said Kristine Sturkie, a spokeswoman for the Navy Exchange Service Command. The service spent about $3 million last fiscal year to equip about 41,490 recruits with New Balance running shoes, she said.
A provision in the House version of this year’s defense authorization bill would force all the services to adopt a policy similar to the Navy’s — requiring military recruits to be equipped with U.S.-made shoes as they enter boot camp. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate before the end of the year.
The measure, championed by Democratic Reps. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts and Michael Michaud of Maine, would take effect only once the Pentagon certifies there are two suppliers capable of producing shoes compliant with the requirements of the Berry Amendment.
“Innovative companies, such as New Balance right here in Massachusetts, are able to provide our service members with quality products and keep business here on American soil,” Tsongas said in a statement. “It is time for the Department of Defense to treat athletic footwear like every other uniform item, including boots, and buy them from American manufacturers.”
LeBretton said New Balance doesn’t produce Berry-compliant shoes today; it uses some foreign-made materials. But he said New Balance and at least one other company could produce shoes made from start to finish in the United States — if there was a military-scale demand for them.
“The ‘Field of Dreams’ analogy applies,” he said. “If you build it, they will come.”
And Steve Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said his group has been lobbying hard to get the Tsongas provision included in the final version of this year’s defense authorization bill.
“We’ve been talking to folks in both the House and the Senate to urge them to include this in the final package,” Lamar said. “It’s important, and obviously for the firms involved it’s a huge economic impact.”
To learn more about Made in USA Certification: www.USA-C.com
March 28, 2013 Leave a comment
The U.S. has taken its first real swipe at China following accusations that the Beijing government is behind a widespread and systemic hacking campaign targeting U.S. businesses.
Buried in a spending bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is a provision that effectively bars much of the federal government from buying information technology made by companies linked to the Chinese government.
It’s unclear what impact the legislation will have, or whether it will turn out to be a symbolic gesture. The provision only affects certain non-defense government agency budgets between now and Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends. It also allows for exceptions if an agency head determines that buying the technology is “in the national interest of the United States.”
Still, the rule could upset U.S. allies whose businesses rely on Chinese manufacturers for parts and pave the way for broader, more permanent changes in how the U.S. government buys technology.
“This is a change of direction,” said Stuart Baker, a former senior official at the Homeland Security Department now with the legal firm Steptoe and Johnson in Washington. “My guess is we’re going to keep going in this direction for a while.”
In March, the U.S. computer security firm Mandiant released details on what it said was an aggressive hacking campaign on American businesses by a Chinese military unit. Since then, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has used high-level meetings with Beijing officials to press the matter. Beijing has denied the allegations.
Congressional leaders have promised to push comprehensive legislation that would make it easier for industry to share threat data with the government. But those efforts have been bogged down amid concerns that too much of U.S. citizens’ private information could end up in the hands of the federal government.
As Congress and privacy advocates debate a way ahead, lawmakers tucked “section 516” into the latest budget resolution, which enables the government to pay for day-to day operations for the rest of the fiscal year. The provision specifically prohibits the Commerce and Justice departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation from buying an information technology system that is “produced, manufactured or assembled” by any entity that is “owned, operated or subsidized” by the People’s Republic of China.
The agencies can only acquire the technology if, in consulting with the FBI, they determine that there is no risk of “cyberespionage or sabotage associated with the acquisition of the system,” according to the legislation.
The move might sound like a no-brainer. If U.S. industry and intelligence officials are right, and China is stealing America’s corporate secrets at a breathtaking pace, why reward Beijing with lucrative U.S. contracts? Furthermore, why install technical equipment that could potentially give China a secret backdoor into federal systems?
But a blanket prohibition on technology made by the Chinese government may be easier said than done. Information systems are often a complicated assembly of parts manufactured by different companies around the globe. And investigating where each part came from, and if that part is made by a company that could have ties to the Chinese government could be difficult.
Depending on how the Obama administration interprets the law, Baker said it could cause problems for the U.S. with the World Trade Organization, whose members include U.S. allies like Germany and Britain that might rely on Chinese technology to build computers or handsets.
But in the end, Baker says it could make the U.S. government safer and wiser.
“We do have to worry about buying equipment from companies that may not have our best interests at heart,” he said.
Follow Anne Flaherty on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AnneKFlaherty.
March 18, 2013 Leave a comment
By Michael Martina | Reuters
(Reuters) – China has become the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter, a respected Sweden-based think-tank said on Monday, its highest ranking since the Cold War, with Pakistan the main recipient.
China’s volume of weapons exports between 2008 and 2012 rose 162 percent compared with the previous five-year period, with its share of the global arms trade rising from 2 percent to 5 percent, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.
China replaces Britain in the top five arms-dealing countries between 2008 and 2012, a group dominated by the United States and Russia, which accounted for 30 percent and 26 percent of weapons exports, SIPRI said.
“China is establishing itself as a significant arms supplier to a growing number of important recipient states,” Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, said in a statement.
The shift, outlined in SIPRI’s Trends in International Arms Transfers report, marks China’s first time as a top-five arms exporter since the think-tank’s 1986-1990 data period.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about the report, said China was a responsible arms exporter which strictly adhered to international law.
February 28, 2013 1 Comment
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s cabinet may soon approve an aircraft engine development program that will require investment of at least 100 billion yuan ($16 billion), state-run Xinhua news agency quoted unidentified industry sources as saying.
China is determined to reduce its dependency on foreign companies like Boeing Co (BA), EADS-owned Airbus (EAD.PA), General Electric Co (GE) and Rolls Royce Plc (RR.TO) for the country’s soaring demand for planes and engines.
So far the domestic aerospace industry has failed to build a reliable, high-performance jet engine to end its dependence on Russian and Western makers for equipping its military and commercial aircraft.
Xinhua on Thursday quoted an unidentified professor at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA) with knowledge of the project as saying the investment would be used mainly for research on technology, designs and materials related to aircraft engine manufacturing.
The project was going through approval procedures in the State Council and may be approved shortly, the professor was quoted as saying.
Participants in the project include Shenyang Liming Aero-Engine Group Corp, AVIC Xi’an Aero-Engine (Group) Ltd <600893.SS> and research institutes including the BUAA, Xinhua reported.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country’s dominant military and commercial aviation contractor, had lobbied the government to back a multi-billion dollar plan to build a high-performance jet engine.
China’s military and aerospace industries have suffered from bans on the sale of military equipment imposed by Western governments after the Tiananmen Square crackdown and foreign engine-makers are reluctant to transfer costly technology.
Some Chinese aviation industry specialists forecast Beijing will eventually spend up to 300 billion yuan ($49 billion) on jet-engine development over the next two decades.
($1 = 6.2273 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Matt Driskill)
February 10, 2013 2 Comments
China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, a milestone in the Asian nation’s challenge to the U.S. dominance in global commerce that emerged after the end of World War II.
U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s total trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.
China’s increasing influence threatens to disrupt regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for countries including Germany, which will export twice as much to China by the end of the decade as it does to neighboring France, said Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Jim O’Neill.
“For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner,” O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s asset management division and the economist who bound Brazil to Russia, India and China to form the BRIC investing strategy, said in a telephone interview. “At this kind of pace by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe.”
When taking into account services, U.S. total trade amounted to $4.93 trillion in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The U.S. recorded a surplus in services of $195.3 billion last year and a goods deficit of more than $700 billion, according to BEA figures. China’s 2012 trade surplus, measured in goods, totaled $231.1 billion.
The U.S. economy is also double the size of China’s, according to the World Bank. In 2011, the U.S. gross domestic product reached $15 trillion while China’s totaled $7.3 trillion. China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported Jan. 18 that the country’s nominal gross domestic product in 2012 totaled 51.93 trillion yuan ($8.3 trillion).
“It is remarkable that an economy that is only a fraction of the size of the U.S. economy has a larger trading volume,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in an e-mail. “The surpassing of the U.S. is not because of a substantially undervalued currency that has led to an export boom,” said Lardy, noting that Chinese imports have grown more rapidly than exports since 2007.
The U.S. emerged as the preeminent trading power following World War II as it spearheaded the creation of the global trade and financial architecture and the U.K. began dismantling its colonial empire. China began focusing on trade and foreign investment to boost its economy after decades of isolation under Chairman Mao Zedong. Economic growth averaged 9.9 percent a year from 1978 through 2012.
China became the world’s biggest exporter in 2009, while the U.S. remains the biggest importer, taking in $2.28 trillion in goods last year compared with China’s $1.82 trillion of imports. HSBC Holdings Plc forecast last year that China would overtake the U.S. as the top trading nation by 2016.
China was last considered the leading economy during the height of the Qing dynasty. The difference is that in the 18th century, the Qing Empire — unlike rising Britain — didn’t focus on trade. The Emperor Qianlong told King George III in a 1793 letter that “we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and I have no use for your country’s manufactures.”
While China is the biggest energy user, has the world’s biggest new car market and the largest foreign currency reserves, a significant portion of China’s trade involves importing raw materials and parts to be assembled into finished products and re-exported, an activity that provides “only modest value added,” Eswar Prasad, a former International Monetary Fund official who is now a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said in an e-mail.
Last month China’s trade expanded more than estimated, with exports rising 25 percent from a year earlier and imports increasing 28.8 percent, government data released yesterday showed. China’s trade figures in January and February are distorted by the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that fell in January of last year and started yesterday.
Read more of this post
January 22, 2013 Leave a comment
BENTONVILLE, Ark. —
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has alerted its global suppliers that it will immediately drop them if they subcontract their work to factories that haven’t been authorized by the discounter.
Wal-Mart’s stricter contracting rule, along with other changes to its policy, comes amid increasing calls for better safety oversight after a deadly fire at a Bangladesh factory that supplied clothing to Wal-Mart and other retailers. The fire in late November killed 112 workers at a factory owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd. Wal-Mart has said the factory wasn’t authorized to make its clothes.
In a letter sent Tuesday to suppliers of its Wal-Mart stores as well as Sam’s Clubs in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, the company says it will adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on subcontracting without the company’s knowledge, effective March. 1. Previously, suppliers had three chances to rectify mistakes.
Wal-Mart also said it plans to publish on its corporate website a list of factories that haven’t been authorized to manufacture goods for Wal-Mart.
Also, starting June 1, suppliers must have an employee stationed in countries where they subcontract to ensure compliance, rather than relying on third-party agents.
“We want the right accountability and ownership to be in the hands of the suppliers,” said Rajan Kamalanathan, Wal-Mart’s vice president of ethical sourcing, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We are placing our orders in good faith.”
Wal-Mart will hold a meeting for clothing suppliers from the U.S. and Canada on Thursday to explain the new policy changes.
Kamalanathan said Wal-Mart is looking to create a fund that factories can tao to improve safety, but that is still in discussion. But he also said local governments and other suppliers and retailers have to do their part in boosting factory safety.
Critics quickly dismissed Wal-Mart’s moves as inadequate and said that the retailer needs to do more.
“It shows that Wal-Mart is feeling a great deal of pressure in the wake of public scrutiny,” said Scott Nova, executive director at Workers’ Rights Consortium, a labor-backed advocacy group. But he noted the company’s response isn’t adequate unless Wal-Mart and others pay their suppliers more so they can cover the costs of repairs.
“The upfront commitment from brands and retailers is essential if we are going to see real change,” Nova added.
Nova’s group is one of several organizations trying to get retailers and brands to sign a first-of-its-kind contract that would govern fire-safety inspections at thousands of Bangladeshi factories making T-shirts, blazers, and other clothes Americans covet.
The contract would call for companies to publicly report fire hazards at factories, pay factory owners more to make repairs and provide at least $500,000 over two years for the effort. They would also sign a legally binding agreement that would make them liable when there’s a factory fire.
PVH Corp., a New York City-based company that sells the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, last March signed the agreement after a national TV news report that chronicled the dangerous conditions in one of its Bangladesh factories. But PVH pledged to start the program only if at least three other major retailers sign on. So far, only one has: A German coffee chain named Tchibo that also sells clothes. Nova said that his organization is in discussion with other retailers.
Wal-Mart says it has no plans to sign on to the contract. Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, says that the company can make a “positive impact on our global supply chain by both by raising our own standards and by partnering with other stakeholders to improve the standards for workers across the industry.”
Nova also noted that Wal-Mart needs to disclose a list of all the suppliers it currently works with so they can be monitored by independent groups. It also needs to disclose the results of all its factory inspections.
Richard Locke, head of political science at MIT and an expert in global supply chains, said that Wal-Mart also needs to re-evaluate its purchasing practices so its demands are not putting excessive pressure on factories to cut corners on safety. It also needs to provide better technical assistant training for factories so they can run their businesses better.
Wal-Mart ranks second behind Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M in the number of clothing orders it places in Bangladesh. Before the fatal fire there, Wal-Mart had taken steps to address safety, such as mandating fire safety training for all levels of factory management.
Building fires have led to more than 600 garment work deaths in Bangladesh since 2005, according to research by the advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.
Copyright The Associated Press
January 14, 2013 Leave a comment
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is concerned about China’s expanding ability to disrupt the most sensitive U.S. military and intelligence satellites, as Beijing pursues its expanded ambitions in space, according to multiple sources in the U.S. government and outside space experts.
A classified U.S. intelligence assessment completed late last year analyzed China’s increasing activities in space and mapped out the growing vulnerability of U.S. satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches and provide precise targeting coordinates, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
“It was a very credible and sobering assessment that is now provoking a lot of activities in different quarters,” said one former government official who is familiar with U.S. national security satellite programs.
The intelligence report raised red flags about Beijing’s ability to disrupt satellites in higher orbits, which could put the most sensitive U.S. spacecraft at risk, according to the sources. China has already conducted several anti-satellite tests at lower orbital levels in recent years.
Given the heightened concerns, Washington is keeping a watchful eye on Chinese activities that could be used to disrupt U.S. satellites. It is also urging Beijing to avoid a repeat of its January 2007 test that created an enormous amount of “space junk,” said one senior defense official.
Details of the latest Chinese moves that have raised U.S. concerns remain classified.
U.S. officials charge that China’s anti-satellite activities are part of a major military modernization that has seen Beijing test two new stealth fighters; step up cyber attacks on foreign computer networks; and launch more commercial and military satellites in 2012 than the United States.
China still lags behind the United States in most military fields.
“What we’re seeing is a heightened sense in the United States that China is a potential threat and that it has the technology to be a threat if it wishes to,” said Jonathan McDowell, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“As China becomes a space superpower, and given that it does have a significant military component to its space program, it is inevitable that the U.S. will be concerned about threats to its most valued satellite systems, whether or not China actually intends to deploy such aggressive systems,” he said.
CREATING SPACE DEBRIS
Six years ago, on January 11, 2007, China destroyed one of its own defunct weather satellites in low-earth orbit, which created over 10,000 pieces of debris that pose a threat to other spacecraft. A less-destructive test followed on January 11, 2010.
Space experts and U.S. officials say they expect China to continue testing anti-satellite technologies, although they doubt it would repeat the 2007 test, given the massive international outcry it triggered.
Gregory Kulacki, a respected researcher with the Union of Concerned Scientists, reported earlier this month on the group’s website that there was “a strong possibility” of a new anti-satellite test by China within the next few weeks.
He said Chinese sources had told him in November that an announcement about an upcoming anti-satellite test had been circulated within the Chinese government, and a high-ranking U.S. defense official confirmed in December that Washington was “very concerned” about an imminent Chinese anti-satellite test.