Elaine Meinel Supkis
The Chinese ship that hit the Oakland Bay Bridge in California is polluting the entire bay. Today, in another closed waterway, Azor, a Russian tanker split in two under heavy seas and sank totally. Also in today's news about global trade, Samsung, a Korean electronics firm, has been totally driven out of Fortress Japan. Correction on story: the ship evidently is Korean.
The Cosco Busan was carrying container cargo bound from Oakland to South Korea. It had just left the dock on the Oakland estuary west of Jack London Square and was proceeding to sea when the accident occurred.
The pilot on board was Capt. John Cota, who has worked on the bay for more than 25 years, said Patrick Moloney, executive director of the San Francisco Pilot Commission. Cota is one of the most experienced of the 60 captains who guide ships into the bay, Moloney said.
Although the ship's own captain has overall responsibility, the pilot controls the navigation of the vessel from the time it leaves the dock until the ship is clear of the approaches to the Golden Gate, about 12 miles at sea.
One of our readers pointed out to me that this ship is South Korean. I first wrote that with this story and checked out the information but then all the news stories talked about COSCO. Which is Chinese. The Asian consortiums are confusing and although my ex-husband worked in shipping and I once worked for a German corporation, this was years ago and the landscape of international commerce changes all the time. Perhaps I should look deeper into this web of deal making in the shipping industry. Obviously, things are consolidating and getting bigger just like in the equally confusing oil industry, for example.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in the San Francisco Bay on Friday, as oil spilled into San Frnacisco Bay was spreading around the area.
*snip* The cargo ship bumped into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridgeon Wednesday morning due to a dense fog, leaking about 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel, thick and oily, and difficult to be cleaned up.
Coast Guard officers initially said about 140 gallons of the viscous fuel had oozed out, but they had not updated figures to local officials and the public for more than 12 hours as the spill was failed to contain.
Outraged by the delay, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threatened a legal action.
The official Chinese news service doesn't mention who owns this ship. Like in the US, the people running the media in China are good at covering stories while leaving out vital details. Way back when I was very young, I used to joke, one needs to read the news of one's rivals in order to learn what is really going on at home. So if you were a Russian in the 1960's, going to the BBC or NYT garners more information about local events than going to Pravda. And if you were an American, the reverse. I used to go to great trouble to get short wave radio shows from communist nations, for example, to see what was going on in the Vietnam war, for example. It usually was quite accurate.
So the Chinese, embarrassed by all the scandals of tainted toys right before Xmas, This whole orgy of importing stuff so we can stuff our stockings with more junk we don't need is turning sour. So on top of all this, I could say, Santa's sleigh is sliding down the slippery slope. Or, watch out for them thar elves, Martha! They are a-comin' to kill the kids! The US used to ship toys via trains. There was virtually no occasion to ship them on gigantic carriers like the ship that crashed this week. Why, I am so young, I even remember when toys were manufactured in New York state!
I even remember 10 years ago when my little town of Berlin, NY, had flourishing businesses that used trains and trucks to ship things all over the USA. Now they are gone except for one that does Pentagon work and another that does that and general plastics manufacturing. So the US is being besieged by many huge ships that restlessly prowl the Seven Seas and this flood of imports are a serious problem for us. We have a trade deficit.
On top of all this, when these monsters get in trouble, they cause huge ecological destruction. If a train carrying toys derails, this can be annoying. The same toys on a huge tanker means lots of dead animals, flithy water and our waterways turned into cess pools. This is one of the hidden costs of global free trade.
China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO)
the national flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, is one of the world's premier full service intermodal carriers. The company utilizes a vast network of ocean vessels, barges, railroad and motor carriers to link the international shipper with the consignee.
Founded in 1961, COSCO has consistently been the world's fastest growing shipping company over the past decade and is now one of the largest container operators in the world. The company's core international shipping business is divided between Chinese imports/exports and cross trade cargos.
Bigger Faster Ships
COSCO continues to make major investments in its equipment. New, larger ships have greatly increased COSCO's capabilities. Currently the company owns and operates a fleet of more than 117 container ships for a total capacity of 256,171 TEU.
We can see the downside of bigger, faster ships. There are always hidden costs to doing things and the news this week illustrates one of them. The bigger the ships, the bigger the mess they make when they sink or crash. The clean up is a hidden cost for the US. And of course, the ineptitude of the US Coast Guard is connected to our refusal to protect America. We are spending nearly a trillion dollars, securing the Middle East for Israel and Saudi Arabia while at home, all our systems are collapsing. The Coast Guard was unable to do much after Hurricane Katrina due to underfunding and neglect and now they were unable to prevent a major oil spill due to the fact that our government isn't bothering to come up with better ways or more man power to deal with major oil spills.
Our trillion dollars for oil in the Gulf leaves us engulfed in oil spills here at home.
After only 10 months of implementation, the COSCO Shipyard Group, one of China’s major shipbuilding companies, has already realized significant productivity and quality results to warrant a more rapid deployment of Intergraph SmartMarine 3D™ engineering design software solutions to all five of its yards for ship and offshore projects.
Typical start-up times for comprehensive software solutions use on real projects is one-to-three years, but because of SmartMarine 3D’s ease of use, integration and ability to increase shipbuilding productivity and quality, COSCO is accelerating implementation. SmartMarine 3D streamlines marine outfitting and structure design processes and provides all the functionality needed to design and build many different types of marine facilities and equipment, including offshore platforms, naval and commercial ships, and floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels.
The US doesn't build the ships that bring Santa's toys. We don't own them, we don't sail them and we have no control over them. We are not the captains running this Free Trade ship. We are bystanders. Seafaring technology and the fact that China has huge ship-building yards while we have virtually none seals our fates as world rulers. We are a hollow shell now. The fact that we won't be able to force the Chinese to change how they ship here proves this. The US will talk tough and then enable this to continue all in the name of cheap prices and killing US unions. Which are still enemy #1 to our government and the wealthy speculators on Wall Street.
A Russian oil tanker has split in half during a severe storm near the Black Sea, spilling around 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil. A Russian official said it was a "very serious environmental disaster", which would take years to solve.
The vessel was at the Kerch Strait, between the Azov and Black Seas, when it broke up after being battered by 5m (16.5ft) high waves on Sunday morning.
I wonder where this ship was going? Russia is one of the biggest oil producers on earth. All over the planet, ships sail silently with their huge cargoes of oil, making the news only when they sink and then destroy some shoreline, some habitat. During WWII, many ships were sunk and the mess this caused was still a problem even in my childhood. The oil from this still washed ashore in places like Coney Island, for example. Hard, round, black balls of oil. Then we might get fresh spills in storms. After one storm, a girlfriend of mine and her dog set out to go to the beach at sunrise to see the ocean. Her yellow dog romped ahead of us and then came back over the dunes, pitch black. The mess on the beach took several months to sop up.
These occasional La Brea Tar Pits moments aside, most people are content to continue shipping oil all over the place so we can burn it, a tragic and heroically hideous misuse of this important natural resource.
China's quality control watchdog said late Saturday initial investigations had found the bead toys that were recalled in the United States contained toxic substance.
The AQSIQ noted a Hong Kong firm, agent of Moose Enterprises, outsourced the toys production to Wangqi Product Factory. The English name of the Hong Kong firm is not yet available.
Investigations showed Wangqi Product Factory used the toxic "1,4 butylene glycol" as softener in the production, and the product contained 14.5 percent of "1,4 butylene glycol".
I say, arrest the executives of the corporations that outsourced the toy making and then didn't bother to patrol the factories making toys in their own names. When unsuspecting parents buy toys, they don't see 'AQSIQ' on it. Just as Mattel talks and talks about 'branding' so I say, brand the executives on their foreheads with the name of their Chinese outsourced sub-groups! Then, when the executives talk, we can be reminded of who they really represent. And the Hong Kong firm: this should remind us that a former Queen Elizabeth pirate cove is now run by the Chinese. But in the pirate days, this whole mess would have happened and it is due to the semi-lawless nature of Hong Kong in the first place.
Responsibility for the downside of global trade rests upon the economic leaders in the US and Europe.
About 175,000 Curious George Plush Dolls were recalled Thursday, becoming the latest popular toy made in China found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of lead.
Manufactured by Marvel Toys, of New York, N.Y., the Curious George dolls contain excessive levels of lead in their surface paint, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
An old online joke is that Bush is Curious George. So it is fitting that the toy that represents him is toxic. Marvel Toys is a classic example of executives in America refusing to patrol their own products. Forcing the government of China and the US to do this is wrong. Marvel Toys should be shut down and the executives put on trial for peddling dangerous goods to our beloved children. In the news this week is the ugly fact that the US child death rate is higher than Europe and other 'Western' nations. So it seems we are indifferent to the health and welfare of our children. Let them chew on a toxic Curious George monkey doll!
Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday it had stopped selling flat panel televisions and other consumer products in Japan, citing poor profitability.
Samsung has emerged in the past decade and a half as a global force in consumer electronics, taking on and even beating Japanese rivals in places such as the United States and Europe.
But penetrating the competitive Japanese consumer market, home to rivals such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp., appears to have been a considerable challenge.
Samsung is a major electronics corporation. They export many products to the USA. But this Korean company was chased out of Japan. Not content with making them a small force, the Japanese managed to slam the door shut in their faces. This is how Japan operates. It has a fine trade surplus because it won't let anyone sell anything in Japan if this can possibly be prevented. On top of this, profit margins are very low in Japan due to the moronic need to keep inflation as low as the interest rates used by the industrialists there. They need this financial advantage so they can undercut the Koreans in trade with the US and Europe.
The Koreans are very annoyed by all this. They can't muscle Japan like China can. It is increasingly obvious that there is a counter force building in Asia whereby all the other Asians will eventually beat down Japan. Right now, Japan just wants to keep the US in an armlock. The US investor/speculator class desperately needs the carry trade for cheap money but with cheap money Bernanke dropping rates like crazy, the attraction of Japanese loans lessens.
Samsung isn't failing in Japan because they are inefficient or priced badly. They were muscled out by the Japanese businesses making profitability there impossible. This dishonest form of free trade is hurting Japanese consumers but the guys running that place don't care. Note how the opposition party in Japan is folding just when victory was in sight. Instead of rallying the Japanese to move forwards and change course, the inflexibility of their system defeats political change.
This means change will happen the hard way, of course. As always. When the winds outside tear off the roof. This is true of the world's #1 economy, America.