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Up the chain 

The Financial Times has a fascinating story about the long-anticipated shift up the value chain of Chinese factories. China is still the titan of low-cost production, but a few pioneering firms are signalling a shift.

“Factories in China traditionally have provided dormitories and canteens for their workers. But now, one US-financed stationery plant is piping music on to the production floor. Another factory has built a gym and a three-lane bowling alley. Libraries and karaoke machines have also become standard.”

And there’s a caveat: “While the improvement in conditions is a positive step, observers say that adding recreational facilities costs factory owners far less than raising wages, and impresses visiting executives.”

Holbrooke’s comeback  

I love Richard Holbrooke’s riposte to Wolf Blitzer (via Atrios) regarding John Kerry’s supposed remarks about foreign leaders.

“John Kerry committed an unpardonable crime in Washington: he spoketh the truth. What he said is self-evidently true. There’s a new poll out today by the Pew Institute, a worldwide pool, which shows massive and growing anti-Americanism around the world. Now American voters need to make up their own mind who they prefer, George W. Bush or John Kerry. But they also ought to know this administration is isolating us in the world, weakening us. Recent events in Spain, this election are another example.

“John Kerry said something everybody knows is true. And, Wolf, you know it’s true. And why don’t I say just one other thing. Why don’t you, instead of staging a silly he said/he said between the White House, which is throwing all this mud at John Kerry after he said something true. Why don’t you poll your foreign correspondents on CNN. And ask them who the population and leaderships in the world would prefer to see elected? Very simple.”

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