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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Chinese Authorities Nab Bosses Who Enslaved Workers

December 15, 2010 3:33 am

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities have rescued a group of mentally ill workers enslaved in a factory after being sold by a man who purportedly ran a beggars' shelter, state media reported Wednesday. Police on Tuesday nabbed Li Xinglin, the boss of the building materials factory in the far-western Xinjiang region who had fled Sunday after Chinese media reports exposed the plant's working conditions, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

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GM's Flint Plant Shut Down Due To Crippling Blizzard

December 15, 2010 3:32 am

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The winter storm pushing through the Midwest forced General Motors Co. to temporarily halt production at its Flint Truck Assembly plant. GM says it sent workers home at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday because of a parts shortage. Hazardous roads in Ontario have closed the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron, Mich.

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China Won't Restrict Rare Earths, But They Will Tax Them

December 15, 2010 3:31 am

BEIJING (AP) — China plans to raise tariffs on some rare earth exports starting next year in a move to limit shipments of the precious metals out of the country, state media said Wednesday. The Ministry of Finance issued a statement saying some rare earth products will have export duties increased beginning Jan.

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Chinese Factory Bought, Enslaved Mentally Ill Workers

December 14, 2010 3:54 am

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese official said Tuesday that authorities were on their way to rescue a group of mentally ill workers who state media reports said were enslaved in a factory and given dog food to eat. The official with the civil affairs bureau in Qu county in the southwestern province of Sichuan said authorities took a flight early Tuesday to the western region of Xinjiang.

Toyota Recalls 100,000 Siennas For Broken Brake Lights

December 14, 2010 3:50 am | by Ken Thomas, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it will recall nearly 100,000 Sienna minivans from the 2011 model year to replace a switch bracket on the brake lamp that could cause the brake lights to stay on. The Japanese automaker, which has grappled with several safety recalls during the past year, said a driver's foot could hit the switch bracket and deform it while applying the parking brake pedal.

Fire Rages Through Bangladesh Factory, Killing 25

December 14, 2010 3:47 am | by Julhas Alam, Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A devastating blaze raced through a multistory garment factory near Bangladesh's capital on Tuesday, killing as many as 25 people and injuring more than 100, witnesses and news reports said. Fire official Golam Mostafa said the fire started in a 10-story factory owned by local business giant Hameem Group in the Ashulia industrial zone, just outside Dhaka.

Frozen Crops? Just Use A Few Dozen Helicopters

December 14, 2010 3:42 am

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — Dozens of helicopters are whirring above Florida's valuable and sensitive veggie crops, an unusual approach by farmers worried that an uncommon freeze could wipe out their harvests. The choppers hover low over green bean and sweet corn fields, moving back and forth in the early morning hours to push warmer air closer to the plants — and, the farmers hope, save the plants from a deadly frost.

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Stinky Factory Goes To Court For Being Public Nuisance

December 14, 2010 3:38 am

CARTHAGE, Mo. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a lawsuit against the owners of a southwest Missouri plant that caused odor complaints will be allowed to proceed. The lawsuit filed in 2007 by Carthage residents against Renewable Environmental Solutions had been stayed since 2009, when the parent company of RES declared bankruptcy, closed the plant and laid off its employees.

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Nissan, Mitsubishi Put Aside Differences For OEM Partnership

December 14, 2010 3:37 am | by Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan Motor Co. and smaller rival Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will deepen business ties to get ahead in the fiercely competitive global car industry, including establishing a minicar joint venture in Japan that could eventually expand to other countries. In the agreement announced Tuesday, the two Japanese automakers will also make more cars for each other under what is known as an "original equipment manufacture" or OEM partnership.

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GM Offers Buyouts To 2,000 Skilled Tradesmen

December 14, 2010 3:35 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. is offering buyouts to several thousand skilled trades workers at 14plants around the U.S. The company estimates it has 2,000 more skilled trades workers than it needs right now. Skilled trades workers do jobs that need special training, like electrical work and welding.

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Manufacturer Defies Odds, 4 Billion Straws At A Time

December 13, 2010 4:16 am | by John Reid Blackwell, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Among the many modern comforts we all enjoy, the humble drinking straw perhaps gets too little attention. Few people — when they pop a straw into a carton of juice or milk — think about the source of that deceptively simple piece of plastic, or what it takes to make one.

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Airbus: Aircraft Industry Will Recover Faster Than Expected

December 13, 2010 4:02 am | by Angela Doland, Associated Press

COLOMIERS, France (AP) — The global aircraft industry will recover faster than expected, according to European manufacturer Airbus, which on Monday predicted about $3.2 trillion (euro2.4 trillion) in new passenger and freighter planes will be needed over the next 20 years. The figure translates to nearly 26,000 aircraft, up from its earlier forecast for 25,000.

Toyota To Add 250 Jobs At Huntsville Plant

December 13, 2010 3:55 am

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Toyota says its on track to add 250 jobs at its Huntsville plant next summer, when the automaker plans to expand its production of engines. Mark Brazeal, general manager of administration for Toyota Manufacturing Alabama, says the plant received more than 10,000 applications for the new jobs and is in the process of hiring workers.

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Thermo Fisher To Buy Dionex For $2.1 Billion

December 13, 2010 3:54 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said Monday it will buy laboratory equipment maker Dionex Corp. for $2.1 billion. The scientific instrument maker said the deal will expand its business in the Asia-Pacific region and help it do more business in industries such as environmental analysis, water testing, and food safety.

AP: Economic Stress Dips To 18-Month Low

December 13, 2010 3:52 am | by Martin Crutsinger and Mike Schneider, Associated Press

Job gains around the country offset higher foreclosures and helped reduce the nation's economic stress in October to an 18-month low, according to The Associated Press' monthly analysis. Stress fell in 56 percent of the roughly 3,100 U.S. counties analyzed and in 28 of the states, the AP's Economic Stress Index shows.

Vitesse Founder, Exec Indicted On Fraud Charges

December 13, 2010 3:51 am

NEW YORK (AP) — The founder of Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. and a former executive vice president of the company have been indicted on securities fraud charges. Authorities said Friday that Vitesse founder Louis Tomasetta (Tahm-ah-SEHT-uh) and Eugene Hovanec (HOH-vah-nehk) were charged in federal court in Manhattan with making false filings to federal regulators and conspiring to manipulate the public company's financial statements.

Federal Judge Rejects Dismissal Of Toyota Lawsuits

December 10, 2010 3:46 am | by Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge who said he's inclined to let personal injury and wrongful deathlawsuits against Toyota Motor Corp. move forward heard arguments Thursday from Toyota attorneys hoping to dissuade him. U.S. District Judge James V. Selna issued a preliminary opinion Wednesday denying the automaker's motion to dismiss key causes of action in 51 lawsuits.

AFL-CIO Opposes U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

December 10, 2010 3:42 am | by Sam Hananel, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The largest U.S. labor federation said Thursday it will oppose the free trade deal between the Obama administration and South Korea, which could complicate efforts to get the support of organized labor's Democratic backers in Congress. The decision announced by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka marks a break with the United Auto Workers union, an AFL-CIO affiliate, which agreed to support the deal after negotiators acted to deal with South Korea's big trade surplus in automobiles.

CEO, Union Disagree On Happiness Of Pratt & Whitney Workers

December 10, 2010 3:41 am

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The chief executive of Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. says workers at jet engine manufacturing subsidiary Pratt & Whitney are happy to have a new labor contract. A union official disagrees. Chief Executive Officer Louis Chenevert told investor analysts Thursday he's pleased members of the Machinists union on Sunday approved an agreement allowing the company to shut two engine repair plants in Connecticut.

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Investigators Seek Answers In Blast That Killed Brothers

December 10, 2010 3:40 am | by Joe Mandak, Associated Press

NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. (AP) — Investigators planned to search Friday for answers to what caused an explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant that killed two brothers in the third fatal blast at the site in 15 years. The blast happened around 1:30 p.m. at the AL Solutions Inc. plant in New Cumberland, a small town in West Virginia's northern Panhandle about 33 miles west of Pittsburgh.

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