World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Consumer Safety Chief Doesn’t Want More Funds

The nation’s top official for consumer product safety has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency that polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools.

On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.

Nord opposes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate laws.

The measure is an effort to buttress an agency that has been under siege because of a raft of tainted and dangerous products manufactured both domestically and abroad. In the last two months alone, more than 13 million toys have been recalled after tests indicated lead levels that sometimes reached almost 200 times the safety limit.

Nord’s opposition to important elements of the legislation is consistent with the broadly deregulatory approach of the Bush administration over the last seven years. In a variety of areas, from antitrust to trucking and worker safety, officials appointed by President Bush have sought to reduce the role of regulation and government in the marketplace.

Crackdown On Tainted Products Nets 774 Arrests, China Says

The Chinese government said Monday that it had arrested 774 people over the past two months as part of a nationwide crackdown on the production and sale of tainted food, drugs and agricultural products.

Government regulators hailed the arrests as a major step forward for food and drug safety, and said the suspects were detained during nationwide inspections of thousands of restaurants, food and drug production facilities and wholesale food markets.

Determined to counter accusations that it has been producing and even exporting tainted goods, China vowed earlier this year to revamp its food and drug safety regulations and to close down illegal manufacturers and exporters.

But the government also acknowledged Monday that problems remain. As of earlier this month, it said, only 82 percent of the food tested in medium and large cities in China met food safety standards, and nearly 30 percent of the restaurants surveyed by regulators had failed food safety inspections.

Sas Ends Use Of Turboprop After Third Crash Landing

Scandinavian Airlines announced Monday that it would abandon a fleet of 27 planes made by Bombardier of Canada that have been involved in crash landings.

The unusual step by SAS came after one of its Dash 8 Q400 commuter planes crash-landed on Saturday because of landing-gear failure, the third such incident involving the airline in the last two months.

In March, landing-gear problems forced the crash landing of a fourth Q400 belonging to a Japanese carrier.

No other airline flying Q400s removed the aircraft, a turboprop plane, from service, permanently or otherwise, after the SAS announcement, including Horizon Air in the United States, which has 33 of the planes.