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US Trade Deficit
Page 1

Wal-Mart Faces Lawsuit
Page 1

4500 Vietnamese Laborers Strike
Page 1

New .XXX Address
Page 1

The Miami International Lingerie Show
Page 2

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Trade for America Pushes for TPA Renewal
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The American Red Cross

 February 15, 2007                                        Issue #187


14/24

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2006 US Trade Deficit 
         $763.6bn
The US government reported an all-time-high trade deficit of US$763.6bn for 2006, surpassing the previous record of $717bn in 2005.
With China, the US' deficit leapt from $202bn in 2005 to $232.5bn in 2006.
Within the manufactured goods industry, the deficit went up to $525.8bn from $504bn the year before. 
"The 2006 record negative US trade imbalance further proves that US trade policy is broken," said American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition executive director Auggie Tantillo. 
"The deficit will only worsen and the off shoring of key US industrial sectors will only accelerate unless Congress steps in and makes major changes."
“Our escalating US trade deficits and concomitant loss of 3m US manufacturing jobs are a direct outgrowth of US trade policy. 
"The US government’s refusal to use access to the US market as trade negotiating leverage gives other countries like China a green light to subsidize and protect their industries to the detriment of US producers," Tantillo continued. 
In AMTAC’s view, the most ubiquitous and damaging protection/ subsidies are foreign value-added taxes. Currently 137 countries, including every major industrial power except the US, rebate VAT taxes when goods are exported and levy VAT taxes on imports. 


3/24  
              Wal-Mart Faces 
Discrimination Lawsuit
Despite an appeal lodged in the beginning of February, Wal-Mart will face a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against it.
A federal appeals court in the US ruled that Wal-Mart Stores must face a class-action lawsuit alleging female employees were discriminated against in pay and promotions.
The ruling upholds a 2004 federal judge's decision to let the lawsuit, which claims up to 1.5m current and former female employees earned less than men and were bypassed for promotions, go to trial. 
Wal-Mart claimed the conventional rules of class actions should not apply in the case because the stores involved operated like independent businesses, and that the company did not have a policy of discriminating against women. 


10/24   
4500 Vietnamese Laborers
             Strike
4,500 workers from the Hansoll Vina factory in the Binh Duong province are on strike against poor pay and bad work conditions.
The laborers from the garment factory in southern Vietnam accuse the plant’s Korean managers of regularly insulting them, said an official from the Binh Duong Trade Union. 
According to a report, the managers also force employees to work when they are ill.
The union spokesman was reported as saying it was attempting to come to a deal with the workers and the factory. 


12/12 

Nanotechnology Barcodes
 Help Fight Counterfeiting
Nanotechnology is about to deliver a new generation of barcodes that it is claimed radically enhance security for garment manufacturers. 
Scientists at Oxonica, the Oxfordshire-based nanomaterial group, have developed a device that they say will thwart counterfeiting and increase brand security by offering covert, item-specific tagging. 
Drawing on the familiar marker of the barcode, Oxonica has developed nanobarcode particles, which comprise striped, submicron-scale metallic rods, creating the opportunity to develop more intricate and complex barcodes than by traditional means. 
The company has prepared more than 1,000 unique particle types, in which combinations of nano-sized particles could generate trillions of unique codes – making it virtually impossible to counterfeit. 
The barcodes, which is it hoped will be commercially available within 12 months, will be embedded in the garment and will be read by a combination of a scanning device and software. 
It is understood the cost per tag is of an order of magnitude lower than for rival RFID (radio frequency identification) technology.



7/24              Photographed by Michael Brouwer
 

US Files Complaint Against
                 China
The US has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over what it alleges are China’s illegal subsidies aimed at boosting exports and discouraging imports.
US trade representative Susan C Schwab said the decision to call for WTO dispute settlement consultations “comes after our efforts at dialogue failed.”
She added: “China’s use of market-distorting subsidies creates an uneven playing field and subverts China’s own efforts to foster consumption-led growth.”
Carlos Gutierre, secretary of commerce at the Commerce Department, added: “China is using prohibited subsidies to compete unfairly. 
The US filing alleges that China grants export subsidies that encourage foreign investors in China to export to the US, as well as incentives for companies in China to purchase domestic equipment and accessories, instead of buying from US exporters. 
It adds that the measures are contrary to a number of WTO rules, including the explicit prohibitions against export subsidies and import substitution subsidies. 
The move by the Bush Administration comes after the US reported a record annual trade deficit with China of $214bn in 2006. 
It is also seen as part of a strategy to win congressional approval for renewal of the president’s fast-track trade negotiating authority, which expires on June 30.

              
11/12
 
Seven Workers Killed 
         in Fire
Seven workers have been killed after a fire broke out at a sari factory in eastern India early February 5, said officials.
The blaze broke out in the factory in Howrah, a suburb of Calcutta, at about 4.45 am.
The cause of the fire is so far uncertain, but it was reported that sparks from electrical wires ignited a nearby can of diesel fuel.
Factory fires are a major problem for Asian garment makers. Already this year, property at the Creative Garments factory in Lower Parel, in India's Suburban Mumbai, was wrecked from a fire; seven workers were killed by a fire in a reportedly unlicensed garment factory in Shenzhen, southern China; five died when a factory roof caved in during a fire in Karachi, Pakistan; and 27 workers were injured by a fire at a factory in Naujore, Sadar Upazila, in Bangladesh. 


5/24

New .XXX Address
The Internet's key oversight agency has revived a proposal it earlier rejected to create an online red-light district, after adding stronger provisions to prohibit child pornography and require labeling of web sites with sexually explicit materials.
The use of the proposed ".xxx" domain name would remain voluntary, but any porn sites that choose to use it instead of the more popular ".com" would be subject to the new terms issued by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The idea of a separate .xxx domain has generated significant opposition from conservative groups and even some pornography web sites.
But ICANN officials said they initially rejected the proposal in May not because of the opposition but because of concerns that the agency might be put in the difficult position of having to enforce all of the world's laws governing pornography. They noted that various nations' speech-related laws sometimes conflict with one another.
The new proposal does not directly address any potential conflicts in laws, but it calls for the company backing it, ICM Registry Inc. of Jupiter, Florida to hire independent organizations to monitor porn sites' compliance with the new rules.
ICANN, the agency in Marina del Rey, California, designed by the US government to oversee domain name policies, opened the proposal to public comment but did not indicate when it would rule.
If approved, ICM would be required to help develop mechanisms for promoting child safety and preventing child pornography, "including practices that appeal to pedophiles or suggest the presence of child pornography on the site."
Porn sites would have to participate in a self-descriptive labeling system, likely one from the Internet Content Rating Association. 
Under it, web sites add tags based on such criteria as the presence of nudity and whether it is in an artistic or educational context.


15/24
Manager Stole $15,000 of Victoria's Secret Lingerie
An ex-girlfriend snitched on a warehouse worker who is now accused of pilfering high-end lingerie worth nearly $15,000.
Northern Kentucky police investigators say a manager stole Victoria's Secret lingerie from a warehouse where he worked near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Christopher L. Perry, 24, of Villa Hills, Ky., hasn't been seen since he was charged with one count of receiving stolen property, according to  authorities. He did not return to work, and his phone has been disconnected.
His estranged girlfriend, Elizabeth Gibbs, called Erlanger police January 31, to report that Perry was lifting lingerie from Advanced Distributions Services in Hebron, according to an affidavit filed in Kenton County District Court.
She led detectives to a room at Airport Inn on Donaldson Road in Erlanger where the lingerie was stashed.
The detectives took six garbage bags of underwear that still had price tags and was almost every style and size carried by the specialty store.
Investigators said Perry was approaching people on the street to sell his wares.



 6/6
US Lawmakers Push for 
   Fur Labeling Bill

Two US lawmakers are introducing a bill to combat the use of dog and cat fur in clothing, and ban the sale and import of raccoon dog fur, a wild species of dog found in China. 
They say the action is needed to prevent apparel companies from hiding the origin of certain furs used in coats and other garments.
Under current legislation, clothing that uses fur worth less than $150 does not have to carry labels specifying which animal the fur came from. 
And according to the Humane Society of the United States, this loophole means some jackets from China – which supplies half of all fur garments entering the US – are trimmed with dog fur around the hood or the cuffs.
The Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act would stop the sale of fur from raccoon dogs – a member of the canine family – and would also require that all fur garments, regardless of value, be labeled.
The use of dog and cat fur is illegal in the United States.
Jackets tested by the Humane Society last year were said to include fur from domestic and raccoon dogs that was labeled as ‘faux’ fur or raccoon fur or not labeled at all.
The jackets were from brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Andrew Marc, Michael Kors and DKNY and were sold in stores such as Burlington Coat Factory, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus.
The new bill would require that all fur garments be labeled, thus closing the loophole in the Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951.


 
                             
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