Thursday, November 29, 2007

CORNER-CUTTING (Parts 1 and 2)

This is almost funny, but it's just dumb that the problem ever arose in the first place:

The Army is retrofitting 1 million uniforms to bolster pants that have been tearing during the rigors of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldiers in Iraq began reporting "crotch durability problems" with their combat uniforms in July 2005, according to the Army. Jumping into Humvees, hopping from helicopters and scrambling after insurgents have popped inseams on the baggy pants.

Rougher terrain in Afghanistan prompted complaints this past August from soldiers who said their uniforms gave out quickly....

Single-stitching has caused most of the blown-out inseams, said Erin Thomas, an Army spokeswoman. The new trousers are more durable, she said....

Single-stitching? Why?

Lurch at Main and Central says that's not the way it used to be, for good reasons:

There has to be nothing worse than crawling around the rocks of Afghanistan with a ripped crotch in your ACUs. I speak from experience when I tell you that that 1/100th of an inch of fabric covering GI Joe may not be bullet-proof but when it's torn you no longer think of that one bullet with your name on it. You become convinced every bullet is engraved with the name of your best friend and his two sidekicks....

I no longer have my jungle fatigues of course, but I think the seams were double-stitched. I don't claim to having a perfect memory because, you know, white hair and all that, so I wonder whatever possessed procurement managers to not put that little item into the specifications?...

Er, yeah. The need for durability never crossed anyone's mind?


And this is just awful:

The National Labor Committee (NLC) has released a shocking report showing that Christian crosses marketed in the United States by the Association for Christian Retail (ACR, founded as the Christian Booksellers Association) are being made in a Chinese sweatshop with working conditions that are appalling even by Chinese legal standards....

The ACR supplies nearly all of the nation's Christian specialty stores.... ACR did $4.63 billion in business in 2006, at least a portion of it apparently profiting from the suffering of workers at the Junxingye factory in Dongguan, China. The facts in this report are stunning even by Chinese standards:

Crucifixes are being made at the Junxingye Factory in Dongguan, China, by mostly young women-- several just 15 and 16 years old--forced to work routine 14 to 15 ½-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:30 p.m., seven days a week. There are also frequent 17 to 18 hour shifts ending at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and even monthly all-night 22 1/2 to 25-hour shifts before shipments must leave for the U.S. All overtime is mandatory, and anyone missing even a single overtime shift will be docked a full day's wages. It is common for the workers to be at the factory at least 100 hours a week.... Workers fear that they may be handling toxic chemicals, but they are not told the names of the chemicals and paints, let alone their potential health hazards.

Pat Robertson's CBN news outfit is coming to the defense of Singer, the U.S. company that had these crosses manufactured -- but the CBN story links two Singer statements, one an angry denial of wrongdoing ("We would never knowingly allow any of our products to be made in a sweatshop") and the next, well, a bit less angry and somewhat more abashed ("We have started a dialog with the owner of the factory.... since the charge has been made labeling this factory a sweatshop we will dramatically increase our monitoring efforts").

The NLC report is here (PDF).

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