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Archive for the ‘industry’ Category

The Infosys H1B Scandal

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 22, 2011

Yet more proof that the “oh we can’t find these tech workers at home so we must import them” line is nonsense:

A giant Indian outsourcing company with thousands of employees in the
United States is facing an expanding federal investigation prompted by
claims from an American whistle-blower that it misused short-term
visitors’ visas to bring in low-cost workers from India.

Accusations that the company, Infosys Technologies, repeatedly violated the terms of business visitor visas were first raised in a lawsuit filed in February in Alabama by Jack Palmer, an Infosys project manager. Aside from Mr. Palmer, at least two other Infosys managers in the United States have submitted internal whistle-blower reports pointing to Indians on business visitor visas who were performing longer-term work not authorized under those visas, according to internal
and current Infosys managers.

In May, Infosys acknowledged that it had received a subpoena from a
federal grand jury in Texas seeking information about the company’s use
of the visitor documents, known as B-1 visas, which are easier to
obtain. This month, N. R. Narayana Murthy, an Infosys founder, expressed
his concern about that investigation at a board meeting in Bangalore,
India, in his final address before he retired as company chairman.

“As I leave the board, I feel sad” about the subpoena, he said. “The
issue will be decided on its merits in due course,” said Mr. Murthy, who
is something of a legend in global business for building the company
over three decades from a $250 investment into an outsourcing powerhouse
with $6 billion in revenues.

The legal jeopardy isn’t the only one the divide-and-conquer-the-worker CEOs in both India are facing. Zoe Lofgren’s introduced a bill that would require US companies to increase the wages employers would have to pay H-1B workers, in an effort to ensure they do not undercut American tech industry workers as well as to eliminate the exploitation of overseas tech workers in the US; the measure targets Indian outsourcing companies. In addition, Congress last year added an extra $2,000 to the fee for H-1B visas, in another move aimed at the Indian outsourcing companies.

Posted in immigration, India, industry | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Back from the newsgrave: formaldehyde, styrene, dogbites, and the Koch brothers

Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2011

Friday should be called the newsgrave, because that’s where all important stories are sent to be buried.

DemocracyNow did an especially good report today on the release of a report on the cancer causing potential of styrene and formaldehyde and their listing as carcinogens by the Dept. Health and Human Services, the possible connection between the delay of the release of that report and the resignation of David Koch (Koch Chemicals produces formaldehyde) from the board of the National Institutes of Health, the potential for the suppression of an even more important report from the EPA, and the tactics that industry uses to forestall the day of reckoning on the withdrawal of toxic chemicals from the environment.

Now, a quick preface. To have an excessive fear of chemicals is equivalent to industry recklessness in being ethically, morally, and logically indefensible. All “chemicals”–including water and oxygen–cause death if administered wrongly. “Natural” products like plutonium, and “organic” products such as as VX (nerve gas) can be incredibly dangerous. Even some “natural organic” materials include things like botulinum toxin and aflatoxin are far, far more dangerous than most synthetic chemicals. Furthermore, the decision to regulate or, more seriously, withdraw from the market a product can lead not only to financial losses for the producers, but to actual death. To give an example, polystyrene is used not only for plastic cups, but in a host of medical applications. While replacements can be found, simply the process of changeover to a new material can lead to unpredictable effects, and those can include death. Even the simple increase in price of a material with price someone out of the current medical system, leading to injury or death, and that person is disproportionately likely to be poor. For that matter, the substitutes themselves will have their own health risks. And so we have to look at: what are exposures to all chemicals (even “natural” and “organic” ones)? Are there differential responses depending on age or other factors? How do we weigh risks and benefits? If we discover a health risk from a component of manufacturing, what are our alternatives? How do we properly price risk into the marketplace?

It’s important to absorb these facts in order to understand why and how styrene and formaldehyde need to be cut back drastically. If one doesn’t understand these points fully, then one will be susceptible to the Scylla of being persuaded by industry deceptions or the Charybdis of thinking we should ban these chemicals entirely. As the representative of the NRDC pointed out on DemocracyNow, the industry has four dogs with which to counter critics:

  • My dog doesn’t bite. (the chemical is safe)
  • OK, my dog does bite, but he didn’t bite you. (only factory workers, not the public is exposed).
  • OK, my dog did bite you, but he didn’t hurt you. (the public is exposed, but at safe limits)
  • Well, OK, my dog did bite you and he hurt you, but Hoocoodanode? (we aren’t paying for your suffering)
  • More below the fold
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in environment, health issues, industry | 1 Comment »

    We have seen the future, and it is Chinese

    Posted by Charles II on April 27, 2011

    Personally, I don’t like this design (my first thought is “dwarven lowrider”), but when there are hundreds of millions of potential consumers at stake, their tastes tend to influence what happens.

    Buick Envision SUV
    (from Future Transportation)

    Via Patty Waldmeir, FT, in which we learn that China is the world’s largest car market. The really depressing part is that design is increasingly being done in China, meaning more good paying jobs are going overseas. And China is pressuring auto companies to launch indigenous brands, i.e. force them to accept half-ownership with local joint venture partners to keep the profits in China.

    Waldmeir notes that the front of the car forms a smile. A predatory one, I would say.

    Added: Michael Pettis has a good article, in which he notes that Chinese consumption is incredibly low. This keeps interest rates worldwide low, as well as keeps commodity prices from exploding, but of course means misery for the average Chinese. Situations liike this remind me of the end of Animal Farm.

    Posted in China, industry, transportation | Comments Off on We have seen the future, and it is Chinese

    While The GOP/Media Idiots Were Babbling About Bowing…

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2009

    While the GOP/Media clowns were babbling about bowing, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao were hammering out a climate-change deal in advance of the great Copenhagen climate summit.

    Because of this deal, President Obama is now able to go to Copenhagen with the following good news:

    The news that President Obama will seek a emissions target at global talks in Copenhagen has animated a once-moribund meeting and given hope to environmentalists that something tangible can come from them.

    The emissions target is expected to correspond to numbers that have been discussed on Capitol Hill, namely a reduction of 17 to 20% below 2005 emissions levels by the year 2020.

    This is a direct result of the meeting with China’s Hu Jintao and was expected by those news outlets that were actually paying attention instead of freaking out over bows. As I mentioned last week, both the US and China have now agreed to stop playing climate-change chicken.

    And it’s not just China that’s agreed to join the US in working to curb emissions. Obama has met with the leaders of India as well, and got commitments from them on this.

    This may be the most significant news of the last decade.

    [UPDATE: And no, it’s not too late. The economic downturn has bought us an extra 21 months in which to retool our economies to lower emissions. That’s 21 extra months for China to retool the older, grossly inefficient and polluting steel factories it has idled because of the downturn. That’s 21 extra months for India to do similar upgrades to its factories. That’s 21 extra months for the US to do the same thing with its factories. Considering that these three nations account for 56% of the world’s CO2 emissions, that’s not a small thing.]

    (Crossposted at The Seminal.)

    Posted in China, climate change, energy, environment, India, industry, international, President Obama, saving the earth | 6 Comments »

    Sunday Afternoon News Roundup

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 1, 2009

    — I really haven’t heard anything new coming out of Honduras, but that doesn’t mean nothing new is going on. Al Jazeera reports that the agreement may be in jeopardy, but that’s been suspected from the first; the golpistas don’t want to allow Zelaya even a nominal win. And as Quotha’s Adrienne Pine and ALP’s Nell Lancaster both opine, the only reason there’s been any movement at all in the past week, after months of stalemate, is because the US finally got involved in a serious way.

    David Neiwert over at Crooks and Liars picks up on Sally Jo Sorensen’s excellent journalism on the subject of neo-Nazis and the anti-immigration movement in particular (and the conservative movement in general).

    — Meanwhile, it looks as if Secretary Clinton may have got something worthwhile done in the Middle East last week and got Israel to start making some concessions. I’ll know for sure if I hear one of my Likud/Kadima-worshiping acquaintances cuss her out tomorrow.

    — In other news, business spending is starting to recover, which is a good sign for the economy.

    Posted in Hillary Clinton, Honduras, immigration, industry, international, israel | Comments Off on Sunday Afternoon News Roundup

    The Most Important Stimulus Money?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 29, 2009

    There’s a very good case to be made for the stimulus dough the Department of Energy is about to dish out:

    One of the hottest cleantech funding programs created as part of the stimulus package is close to producing some of its first winners. When we spoke with the Department of Energy back in May about the $2.4 billion in grants for advanced battery manufacturing for plug-in vehicles, we learned that the agency planned to notify awardees sometime in July — as in by the end of this week — and dole out the grants by September. While DOE Deputy Secretary Jen Stutsman told us at the time that delays were a possibility, depending on the number and completeness of applications, she confirmed with us this week that the agency “will be making all of the announcements soon.”

    More than 100 companies have lined up for the so-called Electric Drive Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative’s $2.4 billion, which is set to be divided into just 32 to 35 or so grants in seven different categories. The bulk of the money — $1.2 billion — will go toward manufacturing facilities for battery cells and packs, with grants of $100 million to $150 million supporting seven to eight projects.

    This is the big bottleneck for realistic (and affordable) electric cars with a range beyond that of a typical daily commute.  Furthermore, improved battery storage is a way to take some strain off the grid.

    Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, industry, infrastructure, sustainability | Comments Off on The Most Important Stimulus Money?

    The H-1B Program

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 1, 2009

    Boo hoo hoo, American banks that took bailout money must be forced to — GASP! — hire Americans first, rather than the cheaper H-1B workers whose labor they’ve been exploiting for years.

    The H-1B program needs to be reformed, if not eliminated altogether. Right now the H-1Bs are little more than indentured servants, allowed to stay in America only to work for a single company, and only so long as they are employed by that company. Which doesn’t help the H-1Bs or the American workers whose jobs they take, but it sure benefits the CEOs. As recently as March of 2008, when the economy was already showing signs of stress (and when Microsoft was seeing the full bitter flowering of the poisoned fruit that was Vista), Bill Gates was asking Congress for more H-1B visas.

    Posted in computers and software, financial crisis, industry, infrastructure, technology | 3 Comments »

    The Economic Reach of Wind

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 20, 2009

    Renewable Energy World has an interesting article on why wind power is so important to the US right now:

    …as the U.S. economy hemorrhaged jobs in 2008, the wind industry enjoyed 70% job growth — growth that supported a 60% surge in new wind capacity installation over 2007. The wind industry installed 8,358 MW last year, which accounted for roughly 40% of all new electricity capacity. This incredible growth led to the addition of around 35,000 new jobs, creating a total of 85,000 people now employed in the wind industry. More impressive still, even though the new jobs were wind power jobs, they were added across myriad sectors, such as manufacturing, construction and operations, among others.

    The wind power jobs story is also one of “on-shoring” (as opposed to offshoring). In 2008 a continued shift toward domestic production resulted in nine new facilities opening across the country and many more on the way. …


    In the past, the U.S. wind industry relied largely on imported components; however, there has been a remarkable shift towards domestic manufacturing in the past few years that is likely to continue. Since 2005 many of the leaders in turbine manufacturing have opened U.S. facilities; of the top 10 global suppliers in 2007, seven — Vestas, GE, Gamesa, Suzlon, Siemens, Acciona, and Nordex — have an American manufacturing presence. (The other three — Enercon, Goldwind, and Sinovel — do not yet sell into the U.S. market.) In addition, the homegrown Clipper Windpower has joined GE Energy as a major domestic player in the production of utility-scale turbines, with the two companies together capturing 50% of the 2008 domestic market.

    Domestic manufacturing for large components in particular, such as towers and blades, has increased significantly over the past several years, with the majority now produced in the U.S. As for the thousands of smaller and midsized components, while the U.S. continues to import some of them (mostly from Europe) many more can now be sourced from American companies.

    Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, industry, infrastructure, wind power | 1 Comment »

    Chevy’s Hybrid Lineup

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 18, 2008

    Did you know that you can get a hybrid version of the Chevy Malibu?

    Or the Chevy Tahoe SUV?

    Or, in a few months, a hybrid Silverado?

    Neither did I, until very recently.

    Check it out, at . Since the Priuses are currently on back order anyway, why not try an American hybrid, if you can find one? (And no, GM’s not paying me a dime to do this. They probably have no idea I exist.)

    Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, Good Things, industry, saving the earth, technology | 5 Comments »

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