Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Santa Won’t Visit China’s Toymakers Much This Year

December 1, 2008

Dongguan, China, produces a vast amount of the toys that will end up under Christmas trees around the world. Or it did, until all the factories there started to close because of the global economy….. leaving thousands of workers out of work and out of luck….

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At about six o’clock Thursday evening, around what used to be quitting time for the day shift at the He Jun toy factory in Dongguan, China, 40-year-old Wei Dong Li made his way to the factory’s front entrance, his three-year-old son Qian Jie tugging at his sleeve. The factory is now closed; a few security guards stand inside the locked gate. Posted each evening at the front entrance is a sheaf of documents: the latest rulings from a local court on compensation claims filed by many of He Jun’s 4,000 workers, Wei included. “They process a few of them a day, so I come back every other day to check and see if my case is on the list,” Wei says. He has no luck again. “I’ll just wait some more,” he says. “I have nothing else to do at this point.”

By Bill Powell
Time Magazine

Dongguan, along with a handful of similar, nearby towns, is the real Santa’s factory at the North Pole. A sprawling, charmless city of 7.5 million that sits 80 km southeast of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong in southern China, Dongguan produces a vast amount of the toys that will end up under Christmas trees around the world. Toys were one of the critical, low-wage, low-tech industries on which China built its economic ascent over the past 30 years. But as workers such as Wei know better than anyone, 2008 is the year that that part of China’s miracle has come to an end.

It’s been six weeks since He Jun, a Hong Kong-listed company, shuttered two of its biggest factories in China — suddenly and without any warning, former workers say. They were among the latest and largest factory closures in China’s battered low-end industries: toy manufacturers, textile companies and shoe makers most prominent among them. China’s steadily appreciating renminbi currency — which makes Chinese goods more expensive in key exports markets like the U.S. — as well as higher costs embedded in a new labor law enacted last year were already wreaking havoc with companies that survived even in the best of times on the thinnest of profit margins. Now, with a global recession gathering pace, the best of times are gone, and the pain in what had been booming areas in southern China is spreading quickly. Fully half of China’s toy exporters, which sent nearly $8 billion worth of Barbies and Thomas the Tank Engines to export markets in 2007, were driven out of business in the first seven months of this year, Beijing’s General Administration of Customs said in a recent report. In the city of Shenzhen, the other major manufacturing center in Guangdong province, 50,000 people have already lost their jobs this year. And in Beijing last week, Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s key economic policy-making body, bluntly warned that “excessive production cuts and business closures will cause massive unemployment and that will lead to instability.”

In Dongguan, it already has. Earlier last week, on the evening of November 25, another large toy manufacturer here, Kai Da Manufacturing, laid off more than 600 of its workers because of slowing production. According to participants and eyewitnesses to what followed, a large group of the workers gathered in the front courtyard of the factory demanding to know what compensation they would receive. At first, a company manager told them that anyone with a good work record and less than five years service would receive less than 10,000 RMB—less than $1,500 at today’s exchange rates. Anyone with over seven years on the line and a good record would get 12,300 RMB or about $1,800.

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,
1862717,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Make-or-Break Holiday Season Looms Large for Retailers Amid Global Financial Crisis

October 9, 2008

By Ylan Q. Mui and Kendra Marr
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 9, 2008; Page A01

Each day of financial tumult is bringing more pressure to bear on the nation’s retailers — and time is growing short.
Yesterday, as the clock ticked ominously down to the critical holiday season, department stores and clothing retailers reported a sharp drop in sales while Target said its shoppers are delinquent in their store credit card payments. Port traffic, meanwhile, has been plummeting as retailers cut back on inventory.

“I don’t think anyone predicted a crisis of this magnitude that couldn’t be fixed quickly,” said Bob Carbonell, chief credit officer for Bernard Sands, a retail rating and credit services agency. “If the American housewife puts the money under the mattress, we’re in deep trouble.”

In a year that seems to be defying all economic expectations, retailers are struggling to plot a course through the make-or-break holiday season, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of their sales each year. Will they have access to credit? How much merchandise should they order? Will anyone buy it? The moves they make now could determine where they stand in January.

The past three months were expected to bring the deepest cuts in consumer spending since the 1991 recession. September’s dire economic news — from the collapse of Lehman Brothers to the freefall in the financial markets to the government’s $700 billion rescue plan — have spooked shoppers and eroded confidence. On the day that the House of Representatives rejected the rescue plan, mall traffic plunged 12 percent, according to research firm ShopperTrak.

Scott and Elaine Bourdeau feel the ripples. The couple, who live in Herndon, had planned to travel to Italy for their 10th anniversary but opted instead to save money with a short trip to the San Francisco Bay area. They’re postponing remodeling their bathroom and focusing on necessities — clothes for their two daughters.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/10/08
/AR2008100804024.html?hpid=topnews

Britney Spears: Decline Repeatedly Noted Before

February 2, 2008

By John E. Carey

A suburban housewife said to me yesterday, “What happened to Britney Spears, all of a sudden.”

The answer is: Nothing.

Like most drug and alcohol abusers, the decline for Britney was prolonged, obvious and intense.
Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008. A Los Angeles court ... 
Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008. A Los Angeles court on Friday awarded Spears’ father control of his daughter’s affairs following her admission to a hospital psychiatric unit for evaluation, officials said.
(AFP/File/Gabriel Bouys)

The real question that faces all of us when we see such a decline in our own midst is: what can we do to help?

The answer is: Intervention.

Intervention is the loving act of saying enough is enough.

Even in our society that promotes freedom above practically all else there are times to say “Stop.” 

“Enough already” may be the phrase that allows life to continue or, for some, return.

In this image from APTN video, Lynne Spears, center, Britney ...
In this image from APTN video, Lynne Spears, center, Britney Spears’ mother is shown leaving UCLA Medical Center with two unidentified people, early Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008, in Los Angeles. Britney Spears was taken from her home by ambulance early Thursday and escorted to the hospital by more than a dozen police officers. A Los Angeles police officer, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said the 26-year-old pop star was being taken to ‘get help.’
(AP Photo/APTN)

If you see wild and crazy abuse right before your nose, you are doing God’s work to help find solutions.

And intervention does not, to me, mean one visit to one doctor.  Taking a serious drug and alcohol abuser for a doctor’s “visit” is like taking your car with a steering problem to “Jiffy Lube.”  At both places you’ll leave in an hour with a fluid change.

Meaning the doctor will send the abuser/alcoholic to the pharmacy: which is often the wrong course of action.

And you won’t get your steering fixed.

A friend of mine who runs a treatment center called “The Manor House,” one Bill Alexander, said to me once, “Doctors are killing alcohol and drug users every day.”

One of the “treatment” drugs is often Xanax.

Xanax can kill an alcoholic.

Steve Hayes, the Director of Novus Detox said, “We see it every day.”

Steve had been speaking to a man with a problem similar to Brit’s.

“His life is falling apart,” Steve told me. “This is a guy that relied on medical doctors and trusted the drug companies.”

Intervention takes some work.  But it won’t take you as long as the serious drug or alcohol user has invested in ruination.

The article below appeared in 2006.  It is a reminder that everyone knew Britney was in trouble — even then and probably before.
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Britney Spears: Pill-Popping Dope Fiend?

Semi-reliable news source In Touch Weekly is reporting that Britney Spears may have made the leap from a mere amateur crotch shot queen and raging booze hound to unabashed, pill-popping dope fiend.

Brit was recently spotted by fellow club-goers in a restaurant bathroom with a purse full of pills, including an anti-depressant, Paxil, and an anti-anxiety drug, Xanax. Britney is said to have been popping Xanax like it’s hot – right in front of everyone.

“It looked like a freaking pharmacy in there – I have never seen so many pills,” says a witness. “There was a bottle of Paxil, an antidepressant, and a bottle of Xanax, which treats anxiety, that she took out and put on the counter.”

You’re probably not supposed to mix those drugs, and you’re definitely not supposed to drink while using them.

While both drugs mentioned above are legal if you have a prescription, somehow T.H. Gossip doubts Brit got them from her primary care physician. It’s far more likely Paris Hilton’s pool guy smuggled them up from Tijuana.

This is only the latest event in the ever-evolving Britney Spears train wreck.

Links:

http://www.manorhouserehab.com/

http://www.novusdetox.com:80/

Related articles:
Teen Media Idols: Drunk, Naked, Pregnant, Unashamed (We Have Pictures!)

Britney Spears: “Dangerous to Herself”

Heath Ledger, President Bush, The Addicted and Our Medical Professionals

Nationwide Imminent Danger Alert – Super Bowl Weekend Dangers

Addicts Neglected, Over-Medicated Despite Vast System of “Care”

Our Holiday Season: A Good Time To Discuss Drugs and Alcohol in America