"When you get taken for granted, you get taken" -- Ralph Nader, addressing the NAACP's annual conventionEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top
How to Shut Up a Dissident
Harry Wu became famous as a critic of China's dismal record on human rights. But after leaving China in 1985, the dissident now wonders if friends of President Clinton are squelching his speech here in the Land of the Free. If so, they're doing it the American way: by withholding money.
Last year, Wu persuaded Congress to fund a $900,000 plan to aid pro-democracy Chinese dissidents. The money was to be administered by Greg Craig, head of the China Working Group of the RFK Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit human-rights group. But the project won't see a dime. Wu says Craig, a Clinton lawyer during Monicagate, is angry that Wu opposed Clinton's efforts to normalize trade with China.
In a Nov. 24 letter, Craig told Wu that if he headed the dissident project, it "would inevitably limit" his ability to speak out on the China policy debate. Wu likens that to an attempt to silence him. "There was no gag order," Craig counters. He says that Wu's politics are incompatible with a nonprofit foundation. "I have the right to speak," says Wu. Unable to see eye-to-eye with Wu, Craig pulled the plug on the project in March, and the money won't be spent.By Lorraine Woellert; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
Say It Ain't So, Saturn
The different kind of car company is using the same tricks as everyone else to sell its vehicles. General Motor's Saturn retailers have traditionally banned haggling and earnestly tried to avoid resorting to rebates. Recently, however, Saturn has been pumping up its incentives to bolster sales--notably those of its just-introduced mid-size L-series cars.
In June, incentives for all Saturns hit a record $1,116 per vehicle, says CNW Marketing/Research.By July, Saturn was giving dealers up to $1,000 per vehicle, supposedly to advertise L-series cars. A competitively equipped L-series V-6, for instance, goes for $21,300. But a Saturn spokesman says that dealers, if they wish, can use that cash toward the purchase of the automobile. In effect, it's a rebate. "We just pass it on to the consumer," says Jim Gentry, general manager of Saturn of Fulton Avenue in Sacramento, Calif. Additionally, Saturn is offering cut-rate financing or special lease deals.
In fairness to Saturn, the entire auto industry is using record-high rebates. But things are grim at Saturn. The L-series has stalled in showrooms. Although total Saturn sales rose 24% in the first half, disappointing sales of the L-series models led Saturn to lay off a shift at the plant where they are made.By David Welch; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
The Ice Beneath the Ice
South Africa's De Beers Consolidated Mines is pushing for a stake in the promising Canadian diamond fields--which would be its first ownership of a mine outside Africa.
The company's recent $175 million hostile takeover bid for Canada's Winspear Diamonds should help De Beers retain global dominance as a supplier of the gems. But De Beers also wants Canada's diamonds--mined in the frigid north--for marketing reasons, say analysts. After the beating it took for selling diamonds from apartheid-era South Africa, De Beers wants to be able to tell consumers that the rock in that ring isn't a "conflict" diamond--one mined in war-torn Angola or Sierra Leone.
Insiders say that Canada, where British and Australian companies already operate, could eventually yield up to 20% of the $7 billion world diamond market. De Beers has about a 65% share. Says Art Ettlinger, a mining analyst for Yorkton Securities: "De Beers has to be part of this if they want to maintain their dominance." De Beers Canadian Senior Vice-President Tom Beardmore-Gray says that De Beers has also found another large, promising Canadian field.By Hugh Filman; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top