The explosion ripped through Building A5 on a Friday evening last May, an eruption of fire and noise that twisted metal pipes as if they were discarded straws.
When workers in the cafeteria ran outside, they saw black smoke pouring from shattered windows. It came from the area where employees polished thousands of iPad cases a day.
Two people were killed immediately, and over a dozen others hurt. As the injured were rushed into ambulances, one in particular stood out. His features had been smeared by the blast, scrubbed by heat and violence until a mat of red and black had replaced his mouth and nose.
“Are you Lai Xiaodong’s father?” a caller asked when the phone rang at Mr. Lai’s childhood home. Six months earlier, the 22-year-old had moved to Chengdu, in southwest China, to become one of the millions of human cogs powering the largest, fastest and most sophisticated manufacturing system on earth. That system has made it possible for Apple and hundreds of other companies to build devices almost as quickly as they can be dreamed up.
“He’s in trouble,” the caller told Mr. Lai’s father. “Get to the hospital as soon as possible.”
In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”
Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.
The Baby Name Wizard “Baby names popularity and trends in the acclaimed interactive graph of baby name popularity. Watch as baby name trends rise and fall over time.”
The basic geographic unit for mobile telephone services is a ‘cell’ in a cellular system. A city or county is divided into ‘cells’, each of which is equipped with a low-powered radio transmitter/receiver. The cells can vary in size depending upon terrain, capacity demands, etc. By controlling the transmission power, the radio frequencies assigned to one cell can be limited to the boundaries of that cell. When a cellular phone moves from one cell toward another, a computer at the Switching Office monitors the movement and at the proper time, transfers or hands off the phone call to the new cell and another radio frequency – Provided by RandomHistory.com
An Excerpt From “Killing the Competition: How the New Monopolies Are Destroying Open Markets”
Fear, in any real market, is a natural emotion. There is the fear of not making a sale, not landing a job, not winning a client. Such fear is healthy, even constructive. It prods us to polish our wares, to refine our skills, and to conjure up—every so often—a wonder.
But these days, we see a different kind of fear in the eyes of America’s entrepreneurs and professionals. It’s a fear of the arbitrary edict, of the brute exercise of power. And the origins of this fear lie precisely in the fact that many if not most Americans can no longer count on open markets for their ideas and their work. Because of the overthrow of our antimonopoly laws a generation ago, we instead find ourselves subject to the ever more autocratic whims of the individuals who run our giant business corporations.
The equation is simple. In sector after sector of our political economy, there are still many sellers: many of us. But every day, there are fewer buyers: fewer of them. Hence, they enjoy more and more liberty to dictate terms—or simply to dictate.
Over the past four years of financial collapse, many of us have come to view markets as a fantastical scam: a giant mechanism geared to transfer our hard-earned dollars into the hands of a few select bankers. And when it comes to the Wall Street markets we rely on to trade our equities and debt and commodities, this sentiment is not all wrong.
But as every previous generation of Americans understood, a truly open market is one of our fundamental democratic institutions. We construct such markets to achieve some of our most basic rights: to deal with whom we choose, to work with whom we choose, to govern our communities and nation as we (along with our neighbors) choose.
And so, as every previous generation of Americans also understood, monopolization of our public markets is first and foremost a political crisis, amounting to nothing less than the reestablishment of private government. What is at stake is the survival of our democratic republic.
Lars Eighner was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1946, and he later studied at the University of Texas. He worked as an attendant and ward worker in a mental institution from 1980 to 1987 before finding himself homeless for three years. Travels with Lizbeth (1993), the book that includes “On Dumpster Diving,” recounts these years. It began as letters to friends explaining his circumstances and evolved into a series of essays on equipment that he had found in the garbage. Eighner later sent the essays to the Threepenny Review for publication. “On Dumpster Diving” shows Eighner’s uniquely powerful insights and unconventional, yet elegant, prose style, which is similar in some ways to the nineteenth-century fiction he enjoys.
Long before I began Dumpster diving I was impressed with Dumpsters, enough so that I wrote the Merriam-Webster research service to discover what I could about the word “Dumpster.” I learned from them that “Dumpster” is a proprietary word belonging to the Dempsey Dumpster company.
Since then I have dutifully capitalized the word although it was lowercased in almost all of the citations Merriam-Webster photocopied for me. Dempsey’s word is too apt. I have never heard these things called anything but Dumpsters. I do not know anyone who knows the generic name for these objects. From time to time, however, I hear a wino or hobo give some corrupted credit to the original and call them Dipsy Dumpsters.
I began Dumpster diving about a year before I became homeless.
I prefer the term “scavenging” and use the word “scrounging” when I mean to be obscure. I have heard people, evidently meaning to be polite, using the word “foraging,” but I prefer to reserve that word for gathering nuts and berries and such which I do also according to the season and the opportunity. “Dumpster diving” seems to me to be a little too cute and, in my case, inaccurate, because I lack the athletic ability to lower myself into the Dumpsters as the true divers do, much to their increased profit.
I like the frankness of the word “scavenging,” which I can hardly think of without picturing a big black snail on an aquarium wall. I live from the refuse of others. I am a scavenger. I think it a sound and honorable niche, although if I could I would naturally prefer to live the comfortable consumer life, perhaps—and only perhaps—as a slightly less wasteful consumer owing to what I have learned as a scavenger.
Totally Drug-Resistant TB Reported in India
India has recently made great strides in the eradication of polio; however, tuberculosis (TB) still runs rampant throughout the country. Though TB is usually treatable with antibiotics, it remains the world’s second-deadliest infectious disease, and there is growing concern over the emergence of drug-resistant strains. In India, doctors recently reported 12 cases of what is being called “totally drug-resistant TB,” or TDR-TB, meaning that none of the antibiotics currently used to treat TB is effective on this strain. More …
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LINCOLN, Neb.—Andrew Borakove didn’t know it seven years ago when he started an Internet gong store, but gongs are economic indicators.
When the economy was going gangbusters, salesmen were piling into gongs. Sales people seem to like making customers bang gongs to ease the pain of buying something they might not be able to afford.
“But as soon as the recession hit, bam! It stopped,” says Mr. Borakove. Gong sales shifted over to the meditation market. “Because when people go broke,” he says, “they get spiritual.”
No joke—not to Mr. Borakove. He’s a fed-up Hollywood comedy writer, raised in Manhattan, who went west in 1986 to seek his fortune in sitcoms. He broke in with “The Munsters Today,” advanced to “South Park” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” And then he went bust trying to develop a show about a talking dog.
He was walking on the beach, in 2005, when the idea hit him: He would start an Internet business. It would be based someplace cheap and noncoastal. It would be called “Gongs Unlimited.”
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