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States Suing Trump Administration, Company Over 3D Guns

July 31, 2018 Leave a comment

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Eight states are filing suit against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals and threaten public safety.

The suit, filed Monday in Seattle, asks a judge to block the federal government’s late-June settlement with Defense Distributed, which allowed the company to make the plans available online. Officials say that 1,000 people have already downloaded blueprints for AR-15 rifles.

“I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday. “These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history.”

Joining the suit were Democratic attorneys general in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia. Separately, attorneys general in 21 states urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday to withdraw from the settlement with Defense Distributed, saying it “creates an imminent risk to public safety.”

People can use the blueprints to manufacture a plastic gun using a 3D printer. But gun industry experts have expressed doubt that criminals would go to the trouble, since the printers needed to make the guns are very expensive, the guns themselves tend to disintegrate quickly and traditional firearms are easy to come by.

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, first published downloadable designs for a 3D-printed firearm in 2013. It was downloaded about 100,000 times until the State Department ordered him to cease, contending it violated federal export laws since some of the blueprints were downloaded by people outside the United States.

The State Department reversed course in late June, agreeing to allow Wilson to resume posting the blueprints. The files were published on Friday.

The company filed its own suit in Texas on Sunday, asserting that it’s the victim of an “ideologically-fueled program of intimidation and harassment” that violates the company’s First Amendment rights.

The company’s attorney, Josh Blackman, called it an “easy case.”

States are free to enact gun control measures, but “what they can’t do is censor the speech of another citizen in another state, and they can’t regulate the commerce of another citizen in another state when that commerce is authorized by a federal government license,” Blackman said in an interview Monday. “It’s a violation of the First Amendment, it’s unconscionable and we’re going to fight it to the very end.”

Defense Distributed agreed to temporarily block Pennsylvania residents from downloading the plans after state officials went to federal court in Philadelphia on Sunday seeking an emergency order. The company said it has also blocked access to users in New Jersey and Los Angeles.

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Associated Press writer Lisa Marie Pane contributed to this story.

 

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Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why

July 29, 2018 Leave a comment

America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a ‘good jobs’ crisis – where too much employment is insecure, and poorly paid

Workers protest for more money outside a McDonald’s in Miami, Florida.
 Workers protest for more money outside a McDonald’s in Miami, Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.

But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.

America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis.

When Republicans delivered their $1.5tn tax cut last December they predicted a big wage boost for American workers. Forget it. Wages actually dropped in the second quarter of this year.

Not even the current low rate of unemployment is forcing employers to raise wages. Contrast this with the late 1990s, the last time unemployment dipped close to where it is today, when the portion of national income going into wages was 3% points higher than it is today.

What’s going on? Simply put, the vast majority of American workers have lost just about all their bargaining power. The erosion of that bargaining power is one of the biggest economic stories of the past four decades, yet it’s less about supply and demand than about institutions and politics.

Two fundamental forces have changed the structure of the US economy, directly altering the balance of power between business and labor. The first is the increasing difficulty for workers of joining together in trade unions. The second is the growing ease by which corporations can join together in oligopolies or to form monopolies.

By the mid-1950s more than a third of all private-sector workers in the United States were unionized. In subsequent decades public employees became organized, too. Employers were required by law not just to permit unions but to negotiate in good faith with them. This gave workers significant power to demand better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. (Agreements in unionized industries set the benchmarks for the non-unionized).

Employers have been firing workers who attempt to organize, threatening to relocate to more “business friendly” states if companies unionize, mounting campaigns against union votes, and summoning replacement workers when unionized workers strike. Employer groups have lobbied states to enact more so-called “right-to-work” laws that bar unions from requiring dues from workers they represent. A recent supreme court opinion delivered by the court’s five Republican appointees has extended the principle of “right-to-work” to public employees.

Today, fewer than 7% of private-sector workers are unionized, and public-employee unions are in grave jeopardy, not least because of the supreme court ruling. The declining share of total US income going to the middle since the late 1960s – defined as 50% above and 50% below the median – correlates directly with that decline in unionization. (See chart below).

Robert Reich graph

Perhaps even more significantly, the share of total income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans over the last century is almost exactly inversely related to the share of the nation’s workers who are unionized. (See chart below). When it comes to dividing up the pie, most American workers today have little or no say. The pie is growing but they’re getting only the crumbs.

Robert Reich graph

Over the same period time, antitrust enforcement has gone into remission. The US government has essentially given a green light to companies seeking to gain monopoly power over digital platforms and networks (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook); wanting to merge into giant oligopolies (pharmaceuticals, health insurers, airlines, seed producers, food processors, military contractors, Wall Street banks, internet service providers); or intent on creating local monopolies (food distributors, waste disposal companies, hospitals).

This means workers are spending more on such goods and services than they would were these markets more competitive. It’s exactly as if their paychecks were cut. Concentrated economic power has also given corporations more ability to hold down wages, because workers have less choice of whom to work for. And it has let companies impose on workers provisions that further weaken their bargaining power, such as anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements.

This great shift in bargaining power, from workers to corporations, has pushed a larger portion of national income into profits and a lower portion into wages than at any time since the second world war. In recent years, most of those profits have gone into higher executive pay and higher share prices rather than into new investment or worker pay. Add to this the fact that the richest 10% of Americans own about 80% of all shares of stock (the top 1% owns about 40%), and you get a broader picture of how and why inequality has widened so dramatically.

It is no coincidence that all three branches of the federal government, as well as most state governments, have become more “business-friendly” and less “worker-friendly” than at any time since the 1920s. As I’ve noted, Congress recently slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Meanwhile, John Roberts’ supreme court has more often sided with business interests in cases involving labor, the environment, or consumers than has any supreme court since the mid-1930s. Over the past year it not only ruled against public employee unions but also decided that workers cannot join together in class action suits when their employment contract calls for mandatory arbitration. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009, and is now about where it was in 1950 when adjusted for inflation. Trump’s labor department is busily repealing many rules and regulations designed to protect workers.

America’s shift from farm to factory was accompanied by decades of bloody labor conflict.

The shift from factory to office and other sedentary jobs created other social upheaval. The more recent shift in bargaining power from workers to large corporations – and consequentially, the dramatic widening of inequalities of income, wealth, and political power – has had a more unfortunate and, I fear, more lasting consequence: an angry working class vulnerable to demagogues peddling authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.

  • Robert Reich is chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and was secretary of labour in the Clinton administration. His latest book, The Common Good, was published earlier this year
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Companies Dealing with Specified Products and Countries Advised of North Korea Sanctions Risk

July 23, 2018 Leave a comment

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Businesses with operations in industries and/or countries identified in a new U.S. government advisory as being at high risk of violating sanctions against North Korea should closely examine their supply chains and adopt appropriate due diligence practices. This advisory highlights sanctions evasion tactics used by North Korea and notes that well-documented due diligence policies and practices to counter these tactics may be considered mitigating factors when enforcement responses are determined.

Existing Sanctions

The U.S. maintains a wide range of restrictions on trade with North Korea, including prohibitions on the exportation or reexportation to, or importation from, North Korea of any goods, services, or technology; a ban on imports of goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, and manufactured wholly or in part by North Korean citizens or nationals; and any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a U.S. person of a transaction by a foreign person that would be prohibited if performed by a U.S. person or within the U.S. Those who violate these sanctions can be subject to civil and criminal penalties as well as denial of entry, seizure, and forfeiture of imported goods.

In addition, United Nations member countries are required to (a) prohibit imports from North Korea of 21 categories of goods, including textiles, seafood, metals, food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, wood, and vessels; (b) prohibit all joint ventures with North Korean entities and individuals; and (c) repatriate all North Koreans earning income no later than Dec. 22, 2019.

Identified Risks

According to the advisory, one of the primary risks of violating these sanctions is the inadvertent sourcing of goods, services, or technology from North Korea, which has been associated with the following.

– Third-country suppliers shift manufacturing or subcontracting work to a North Korean factory (e.g., for embroidery detailing on garments) without informing the customer or other relevant parties.

– North Korean exporters disguise the origin of goods produced in North Korea (e.g., seafood and garments) by affixing country of origin labels that identify a third country.

– North Korean firms have established hundreds of joint ventures with partners from other countries in industries such as textiles, apparel, construction, small electronics, hospitality, minerals, precious metals, and seafood. Companies should carefully review the list of JVs in annex 2 of the advisory to ensure they are not working with these companies, though it should be noted that this list is not comprehensive or up to date.

– North Korean exporters sell goods and raw materials (e.g., minerals) well below market prices to intermediaries and other traders.

– North Korea sells a range of information technology services and products abroad, including website and application development, security software, and biometric identification software that has military and law enforcement applications.

Another sanctions violation risk is the presence in companies’ supply chains of North Korean citizens or nationals whose labor generates revenue for the North Korean government. Affected industries include textiles, apparel, construction, footwear, hospitality, IT services, logging, medical, pharmaceutical, restaurant, seafood processing, and shipbuilding. The advisory identifies 42 countries where North Korean laborers working on behalf of the North Korean government were present in 2017-2018, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

Businesses should use due diligence best practices to guard against these risks. For more information on such practices or assistance in implementing them, please visit the ST&R website or contact Elise Shibles at (415) 490-1403 or Marilyn-Joy Cerny at (212) 549-0161.

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Amazon Now Has Nearly 50% of US Ecommerce Market

July 22, 2018 Leave a comment

eMarketer Retail

Company’s ecommerce business will jump almost 30% in 2018

July 12, 2018

When it comes to the US ecommerce market, Amazon is leaving the competition in the dust. This year, the online shopping juggernaut will capture 49.1% of the market, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on the top 10 US ecommerce retailers, up from a 43.5% share last year. Amazon now controls nearly 5% of the total US retail market (online and offline).

Amazon will generate $258.22 billion in US retail ecommerce sales this year, up 29.2% over last year. Amazon’s Marketplace sales will represent an increasingly dominant portion of its ecommerce business—68.0% this year, compared with 32.0% for Amazon direct sales. By the end of 2018, sales generated from Amazon’s Marketplace will be more than double that of Amazon’s direct sales in the US.

“The continued growth of Amazon’s Marketplace makes sense on a number of levels,” eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman said. “More buyers transacting more often on Amazon will naturally attract third-party sellers. But because third-party transactions are also more profitable, Amazon has every incentive to make the process as seamless as possible for those selling on the platform.”

Computer and consumer electronics is the leading product category for Amazon, with sales of $65.82 billion in the US this year, representing more than a quarter of its retail ecommerce business.

In 2017, apparel and accessories surpassed books and music to become the second largest category. Apparel sales will grow more than 38% this year to reach $39.88 billion in the US. This category will represent 15.4% of Amazon’s ecommerce business, and 38.5% of all online apparel sales in the US.

But Amazon’s private-label push is being met with apprehension by several brands and retailers.

“While they are dependent on Amazon as a selling channel, they also recognize the threat to their brands should Amazon decide to compete by introducing its own private labels,” Lipsman said.

Other fast-growing categories for Amazon are food and beverage* and health, personal care and beauty. Food and beverage will grow more than 40% this year, while health and beauty will jump nearly 38%. Still, both categories represent just a small portion of Amazon’s US retail ecommerce sales.

“Amazon’s strategy for food and beverage is no different, in some respects, than it was for books—dominate the category,” eMarketer senior analyst Patricia Orsini said. “However, ecommerce in the grocery sector is a challenge. Share of online sales in this category is low because most people, for a host of reasons, prefer to buy food in brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has an advantage because its shopper base is comfortable with shopping online. Along with insights gathered about Whole Foods shoppers, Amazon probably has the best chance of converting in-store grocery buyers to online grocery buyers.”

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he State O The State Of Online Commerce Online2018: High Hopes

July 20, 2018 Leave a comment
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Post Show Report : 3rd Edition of Denimsandjeans Vietnam

July 9, 2018 Leave a comment

After the 2 successful editions, the Denimsandjeans Vietnam has once again rolled out the carpet for denim professionals in Vietnam with their 3rd edition on 27-28th June at the new Venue – The Riverside Palace. The show was inaugurated on 27th June and many eminent VIP’s including Indian Counsel General HE Dr. SK Reddy, VITAS Chairman Mr Vu Duc Giang ,Vice General Director of Saigon 2 Garment JSC Mr. Nguyen Huu Toan and dignitaries from VCCI , VIETRADE, Eurocham, Aushcham etc.With over 35 Denim Companies from 11 countries participated in this show. The list of exhibitors can be accessed here.  The two day Denim Trade Show completed with a very encouraging response as many invited buyers flocked from different parts of the globe including China, Tunisia, Hongkong , USA, Turkey, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Netherlands, UK , Thailand, Bangkok, Malaysia and Germany to see the latest offerings of the exhibitors exhibiting at the show. The exhibitors showcased their AW19 collections to the visitors who traveled miles to visit this show.

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A number of important denim companies from Vietnam including Phong Phu Coats, Viet Hong, Tuong Long, JS Viet, TCE, Hyosung and others have joined this show besides a number of important international suppliers from Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, India, Pakistan, China, HongKong, Switzerland, US and other countries. Important global buyers from US ,EU, Hongkong,Korea,Taiwan and Japan like VF, Levi’s , GAP, American Eagle, JC Penny, A&F, Lifung, Walmart, Yagi , PVH, Hermes , Target, MGF, H&M ,Mast, Coach , G Star ,S Oliver, Camaieu, Uniqlo, Debenhams,Marks & Spencer, Gloria Jeans, Itochu, Toray and buyers from over 200 companies visited the show and expressed their satisfaction and found it a very important platform to meet all the denim supply chain partners at one place . Many Garment Factories and buying houses including Saitex, PPJ International , DEMCO , LE & LE , Saigon 1,2 & 3 Garment JSC, Grandmax , Viet Ten , Vita Jeans , Anh Phu Garment JSC , GoldMark , Asmara and TP Group visited the show on both the days.

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