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The Old Way

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“What do ye do when ye see a whale, men?”
“Sing out for him!” was the impulsive rejoinder from a score of clubbed voices.
“Good!” cried Ahab, with a wild approval in his tones; observing the hearty animation into which his unexpected question had so magnetically thrown them.
“And what do ye next, men?”
“Lower away, and after him!”
“And what tune is it ye pull to, men?”
“A dead whale or a stove boat!”

The call-and-response of Ahab’s maniacal pep rally—a string of, as Ishmael puts it, “seemingly purposeless questions” with which the Pequod’s captain stirs his crew into a bloodthirsty furor for whale-killing—culminates in what one scholar of American folklore has called the “universal motto” of nineteenth-century whalemen: “A dead whale or a stove boat!” Like a seagoing version of the Depression-era bumper slogan “California or bust,” the phrase pithily evokes both the mariners’ desperate dedication to the pursuit and destruction of their prey and the extreme risks they incurred in the process. “A dead whale” was, of course, the desired outcome of the chase, but “a stove boat”—a wrecked mess of splintered timber, fouled tackle, and flailing bodies—was just as likely. For the fictional crew of the Pequod, as for the real whalemen of the day, whaling was more mortal combat than straightforward hunt: Six sailors in a flimsy, open whaleboat, armed with only handheld harpoons and lances, pitting themselves at every opportunity against the singular terror of a true sea monster, the sperm whale, an animal that, when fully grown, could measure sixty-two feet in length, weigh eighty tons, and wield, to deadly purpose, an eighteen-foot jaw studded with seven-inch teeth.

Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World, a new American Experience documentary by Ric Burns, is alive with the all-or-nothing ethos of the nineteenth-century whaleman. Drawing its central narrative arc from two of the most famous man-versus-whale tales of the era—the true, though at the time unthinkable, story of the Essex, a whaleship sunk in the middle of the Pacific by an enraged sperm whale, and the dark masterpiece it partially inspired, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick—the film follows the history of the American trade as it evolved from the colonial practice of “drift whaling” through the so-called Golden Age, which lasted from shortly after the War of 1812 until the commercialization of petroleum after it was successfully drilled in 1859. During that time, Nantucket, New Bedford, and other port towns sent hundreds of ships all over the globe in search of leviathans. This was before modern whaling technologies reduced the drama and heroics of the chase to mere assembly-line slaughter, when whaling still represented, in the words of several scholars interviewed in the film, a “primordial . . . epic hunt, . . . tap[ping] into something very basic about human existence and experience,” “a spiritual endeavor,” and a “peculiar combination of romance, . . . danger, and exoticism.” Those brave enough to ship out on a Yankee whaler could expect to hunt the biggest game, explore new corners of the ocean and faraway lands, dally with foreign women, and hack to pieces and boil down behemoth carcasses.

Wait. Hack and boil carcasses?

For all the antiquarian nostalgia that risks tinting our view of the fishery’s past, Into the Deep never loses sight of the simple fact that whaling was an industry—one of the largest, most profitable, and important businesses of its day, involving tens of thousands of workers at sea and on shore, and millions of dollars in annual investments and returns. It is a refreshingly clear perspective for those of us who may have thumbed quickly past the more technical chapters of Moby-Dick, or who imagine whaling through the narrow lens of those impressive painted and scrimshawed scenes of vicious whales smashing boats and tossing sailors in the air. Men went to sea for any number of reasons—to make a living, to escape the law, to find themselves—but once aboard a whaleship, their job was to supply the rapidly industrializing Western world with oil for its lamps, candles, and machinery, and baleen for its parasol ribs, horsewhips, and corsets. And as author Nathaniel Philbrick, one of the experts appearing in the film, said in a phone interview: “It’s not as though the harpoon hit the whale and—poof—magically it was turned into a profitable commodity.” To effect that transformation required some of the most difficult and disgusting labor of any industry of the time.

“We have to work like horses and live like pigs,” wrote Robert Weir, a greenhand (or first-time sailor), in his diary. His experiences aboard the whaleship Clara Bell from 1855 to 1858 correspond to many scenes from Into the Deep. After only forty-eight hours at sea, his “eyes,” he said, were already “beginning to open” to the harsh realities of his “rather dearly bought independence.” He had shipped out to cut ties with those on land—his family and creditors—but to what end? The life of a whaleman was not, it turned out, all battling leviathans, exploring exotic isles, and cavorting with natives. In fact, for the most part, it was downright miserable. The quarters were cramped, the food was awful, and the work, when there was any to be done, positively backbreaking. After one especially long day, Weir jotted in his diary, it “rained pretty hard in the evening—and I got wet and tired tending the rigging and sails. Tumbled into my bunk with exhausted body and blistered hands.” To this account he appended a one-word commentary, as bitterly sarcastic as it was short: “Romantic.”

Although wooden whalers required, as Weir put it, “innumerable jobs” just to keep afloat and moving forward, the really hard work of whaling didn’t begin until after the brief thrills of the chase were brought to a successful conclusion. If a whaleboat crew were skilled and lucky enough to kill a whale—to make it spout blood and roll “fin out,” in the colorful language of the fishery—the men would then have to tow the carcass to the waiting mother ship, which could be anywhere from a few yards to several miles distant. As Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, a professor of maritime literature at Williams College–Mystic Seaport Program, points out in the film, dragging tens of tons of deadweight through the water under oar was anything but easy: Six men working themselves raw could only achieve a top speed of one mile per hour. Even a mariner seasoned by years in the merchant service described towing a dead whale as “one of the most tedious and straining undertakings I have ever assisted at.”

And, as some of the archival photographs and footage Burns dredged up for Into the Deep graphically attest, things didn’t get any easier after the whaleboat met the ship. Brought alongside, the corpse was secured to the starboard side of the vessel, whale’s head to ship’s stern, by a large chain about its flukes and sometimes a wooden beam run through a hole cut into its head. Soon, all hands—except, in American whalers, the captain—were given over to the bloody task of “cutting-in,” by which the whale was literally peeled of its blubber—“as an orange is sometimes stripped by spiralizing it” is the simile Melville and other salts and scholars have used to illuminate the process. With a few deft slashes of a fifteen-foot cutting spade, an experienced mate would loosen a portion of flesh and blubber between the animal’s eye and fin, while another man, braving the sharks that were by now swarming the grisly mass, boarded the body, and fixed a huge hook to the cut swath of whale. Drawn up into the rigging, this hook began ripping a long strip of blubber, called a “blanket-piece,” from the carcass. Measuring some five feet wide, fifteen feet long, and ten to twenty inches thick, blanket-pieces were borne aloft and aboard, where they could be cut down to sizes suitable for “trying-out,” the next step.

Gruesome as cutting-in may seem to most of us, unaccustomed as we are to the scenes that unfold daily in slaughterhouses and aboard commercial fishing vessels, it was really nothing more than whale-scale butchery—certainly not the kind of thing any hunter, especially one who had just gone through all the trouble and gore of killing a whale, would cringe at. But trying-out, the process of boiling oil from the stripped blubber, was another story. Working around the clock in six-hour shifts for one to three days (depending on the size of the whale killed), the crew kept the two giant copper cauldrons of the try-works burning, tossing in hunks of blubber and barreling the gallons and gallons of oil they rendered. Almost every whaling memoir contains some stomach-turning account of this process. Melville’s highly poetic version is quoted in the film, but Charles Nordhoff’s 1856 Whaling and Fishing, with which the author aimed, he said, “to give a plain common sense picture of that about which a false romance throws many charms,” offers one of the most visceral litanies of the distasteful conditions trying-out created aboard ship. “Everything,” the seaman wrote, “is drenched with oil. Shirts and trowsers are dripping with the loathsome stuff. The pores of the skin seem to be filled with it. Feet, hands and hair, all are full. The biscuit you eat glistens with oil, and tastes as though just out of the blubber room. The knife with which you cut your meat leaves upon the morsel, which nearly chokes you as you reluctantly swallow it, plain traces of the abominable blubber. Every few minutes it becomes necessary to work at something on the lee side of the vessel, and while there you are compelled to breath in the fetid smoke of the scrap fires, until you feel as though filth had struck into your blood, and suffused every vein in your body. From this smell and taste of blubber, raw, boiling and burning, there is no relief or place of refuge.”


And there was more. To quote Melville: “It should not have been omitted that previous to completely stripping the body of the leviathan, he was beheaded.” As the blanket-pieces were rent from the dead whale, its body turned in the water, straining against the fixed head, until, with some more plying of a spade, the two portions were wrenched apart. If the head was of a manageable size, it was brought on deck; if not, it was rigged to the side of the ship, nose down. Right, bowhead, and fin whales were relieved of their baleen, while sperm whales had the spermaceti, a substance contained in a head organ known as the case, bailed out in bucketfuls. “This is the good stuff,” says Philbrick in the film. “It’s as clear as vodka when you first open” the spermaceti organ, “but as soon as it touches air, it begins to oxidize,” taking on the white, waxy properties that caused early whalemen to mistake it for the animal’s semen. Scientists still don’t know what function spermaceti serves in whale physiology, but for the men and women of the nineteenth century, it was simply the best illuminant and lubricant money could buy. In fact, the light given off by candles manufactured with spermaceti was considered so superior to that of other types of candles that it served as the benchmark for all artificial light: One candlepower, as defined by the English Metropolitan Gas Act of 1860, was equivalent to the light of a pure spermaceti candle of one-sixth pound burning at a rate of one hundred and twenty grains per hour. The spermaceti-based unit survived until an international committee of standards agencies redefined the measure in 1909 to conform with the luminous properties of the then recently invented electric carbon filament bulb.

Finally, with all the blubber processed, all the spermaceti bailed, and the decapitated corpse left for the sharks and scavenging birds, the crew set about giving the ship a thorough scouring. This was accomplished with a combination of strong alkali and sand, or sometimes an effective concoction of human urine and whale blubber ash. Only when the ship was returned to its pre-processing shine—“with a sort of smug holiday look about her,” wrote one sailor—did the men even attempt to clean themselves. “Happy day it was for me,” remarked Nordhoff, “when I was once more permitted to put on clean clothes, and could eat biscuit without oil, and meat unaccompanied by the taste of blubber.” A well-earned respite to be sure, but, of course, only temporary: The entire laborious, nauseating operation, from chasing down to trying-out to cleaning up, would be repeated perhaps as many as one hundred and fifty times until, if the cruise was a “greasy” one—the whalemen’s esoteric but wholly appropriate word for “good,” “fortunate,” or “lucky”—the hold practically overflowed with whale oil, spermaceti, and baleen. A prospect that, one imagines, might have caused more than a few greenhands to hesitate for a moment before yelling, “There she blows!” at their next glimpse of a whale.

And yet, for all the hardships involved, men shipped with Yankee whalers in droves throughout the Golden Age. The experience of whaling was, it seems, something irreducible to the sum of its working parts. “At the end of the day,” Burns says, whaling in the nineteenth century was still “an extraordinarily primal, existential confrontation between human beings and what was really the last frontier of untamed nature, the oceans of the world.”

Indeed, Melville, Weir, Nordhoff, and countless other whalemen of the time didn’t just “work like horses and live like pigs”; they had adventures, too. They took on and dispatched the largest animals on the planet, lived as captives among cannibals, saw islands no one had ever seen before, plumbed the depths of their souls and psyches while scanning the ocean from the masthead.

“At some point,” Burns says, “one wants to see whaling for what it was and understand the crucial admixture of cruelty, and greed, and nobility, and courage, and generosity, and selfishness, and withal the magnificence of the enterprise, even as one says, ‘Thank God it’s gone. Thank God we’re not out there on three-hundred-ton ships prowling the world, looking for mammals to turn into umbrella stays, lamp oil, and lubricant.’”

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Off Topig | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU Anti-dumping Cases Related Issues Shoes Analysis

Chinese Ambassador to the World Trade Organization on April 20 formally requested the WTO set up expert groups to investigate and rule EU shoe anti dumping measures taken in violation of international trade rules. Day meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting, the Chinese delegation pointed out that the EU’s shoe anti dumping measures, whether procedural or substantive violation of WTO related agreements at all. The author believes that the EU anti dumping measures on China shoes is the essence of trade protectionism, in violation of World Trade Organization agreements, undermine the international free trade order, not only harm China related industries, but also the interests of the EU member states caused by consumers loss of certain benefits.

First, EU shoe anti dumping cases the basic situation of starting from October 2006, the EU began to impose on Chinese leather goods 16.5% anti dumping duties; Chinese shoe exports to Europe, production has been reduced by 20%, resulting in some of China 20,000 workers lose their jobs. October 2008, at the expiry of anti dumping measures in the occasion of the EU regardless of the interests of consumers and the strong opposition from China, but also initiated a review of the final. The European Union on Dec. 22, 2009, announced the decision to extend production to China and Vietnam have imposed punitive tariffs on footwear period of 15 months. The Chinese government on February 4, 2010 the EU’s shoe anti dumping cases to resort to the WTO, the two sides on the case then launched a 60 day bilateral consultations. The two sides on March 31 in view of the recent round of consultations was held unable to find a mutually satisfactory solution, China on April 20 formally requested WTO dispute settlement body set up expert groups to ensure that China’s legitimate rights and interests are protected. Day meeting, the Chinese side requests the EU expressed “regret”, and in accordance with procedures to prevent the establishment of expert groups. As long as China was held in the next month again at the Dispute Settlement Body request to set up an expert group, the group will automatically set up.

Second, the EU anti dumping measures on China shoes procedures and physical analysis of improper
(A) the nature of international trade protectionism. Extend the EU’s unfair anti dumping measures on China shoes, in essence, the post crisis era and its frequent implementation of trade protectionism, China’s continuing policy inertia ??. Of the EU footwear industry has been going on for 14 years of trade protection, at present there is no damage to the EU footwear industry conditions, to extend anti dumping measures the EU footwear industry would not benefit, only harm the interests of related industries in China and EU consumers. November 19, 2009, at the European Commission anti dumping advisory committee, the representatives of EU member states the majority of the facts from an objective, anti dumping measures against the further extension. But the EU eventually succumb to the pressure of trade protectionism, insisting on Chinese made shoes to extend anti dumping measures, indicating the path of trade protectionism, the more lines farther. Breach of international commitments, the EU openly implement its policy of trade protectionism, the Chinese shoes anti dumping investigations and decisions, in violation of WTO rules related to the detriment of the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, in fact, both the EU member states punish consumers and can harm the EU’s long term political economic and trade relations with China’s healthy development.

(B) in violation of WTO related rules of procedure. EU Trade Commission in violation of anti dumping investigations trade principle of fairness, the Chinese shoe enterprises ignore the evidence submitted, the program obviously inappropriate. European Court of Justice in the Interpretation of anti dumping law Tiaokuan process, is entirely based on the European Union in December 2009 announced the sunset review of China’s ruling shoes, mainly based on field verification of the case the EU does not comply with WTO related rules of procedure. In the case of the review process, of Chinese partner by the EU Trade Commission of unfair treatment, do not get enough right to justify anti dumping charges, the EU ruling, of course also with departure from the principle of equality seriously. The author believes that the reason why the EU to extend anti dumping measures on China shoes, trade protectionism is one of the important reasons which, on the other hand the EU market economy status and application of standard procedures identified a key reason for the confusion is. In fact, in the review process of investigation, exporters, importers, exporters and representatives of the Community producers on the issues raised in the review set, the right of rebuttal or comment by undue restrictions, the Chinese enterprises, relevant enterprises and consumers in the EU interest demands have not been given due attention.The European Union’s decision procedure in another member of its decision not to discuss, simply by a “rubber stamp” approach by not only being a member of the opposition half, has also been related to the European mainland enterprises in China protest . The fundamental reason lies in its decision process is neither fair nor transparent, a serious violation of the WTO principle of fair and transparent.

(C) in violation of WTO rules related entities. According to WTO “Anti Dumping Agreement” requirement, the minimum dumping constitutes a large, serious harm to the domestic industry, dumping and injury, causal relationship between. The EU’s shoe anti dumping measures, in fact, did not have these conditions. Substantial evidence that the fact that there is no dumping, dumping damage is nonsense; there is no reasonable evidence that, within the meaning of the number of dumped imports and the price level and the Community industry within the meaning of the damage to the causal link. China’s Ministry of Commerce, Bureau of Fair Trade related person in charge pointed out that China’s shoe exports up to thousands of companies, mostly private or foreign, in this highly competitive market, companies can not sell below cost product to make their own losses, companies are not granted by the Government from any subsidies. Currently, the European Union good indicators related industries, strong exports, indicating European industry is competitive, there was no need for protection. European industry in global supply chain, and gradually move towards high end market, their products do not directly compete with Chinese products, to continue the anti dumping on China without any solid grounds. In addition, the public interest standard to judge, can not prove the legitimacy of its anti dumping measures and legitimacy.The intervention of the authorities in determining whether the Community interest, it should be all the different interests of the evaluation as a whole. However, the fact that a large number of EU decisions and not take into account the relevant industry organizations, business interests and demands of consumers. Therefore, the anti dumping measures taken since it is not out of the Community interest, there is no justification for anti dumping measures, naturally, against the public interest criteria for judging.

Third, should the laws of EU anti dumping policy
(A) full use of EU legal relief channels. First to make full use of EU law relief channels. “EU Treaty” Article 173 provides: impose anti dumping duties with the parties directly concerned to the European courts for review of the effectiveness of anti dumping order. Chinese shoes enterprises should initiate proceedings to start judicial review, and asked the European court to review the entire case. Recommendations from the European Commission ruled in China related companies and entities in the process perspective of problems in the complaint, pay special attention to defense from a public interest standard. EU anti dumping law clearly required in the implementation of any anti dumping measures should be carried out before the investigating authorities examine the public interest, which is anti dumping duties is a necessary condition. In general, a country in the implementation of anti dumping measures, the most direct loss of public interest is the loss of importers and end users. Therefore, Chinese enterprises should strengthen and importers and end users of multilateral cooperation, to use their native strengths, enhance the overall defense capability in responding.

(B) actively use the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. China should actively make use of WTO dispute settlement mechanism. In view of the EU anti dumping legislation and enforcement measures were not strictly abide by WTO rules, China certainly has the right within the framework of the WTO dispute settlement legislation and this appeal against the ruling. The Chinese government was February 4, 2010 the EU’s shoe anti dumping cases to resort to the WTO; and on April 20 formally requested the WTO to set up expert. The author believes that the focus of our government the next step should be defined as: active use of WTO dispute settlement mechanism, the defense presented evidence of strong reasons to protect the legitimate rights and interests of China’s shoe industry.

(C) strengthen the EU negotiations between the political and economic fields. Recovery process in the global economy, countries in particular to avoid the abuse of trade protection measures, should be sought through dialogue and cooperation and mutual benefit and win win solution. In addition to legal channels, the Chinese government should continue to strengthen bilateral negotiations with the EU side to properly resolve the trade disputes. Negotiations led by the EU’s emphasis on the concerns of China, in good faith to resolve trade disputes, the early resumption of shoes free trade. At present, the EU members for the restoration of normal trade of footwear products relatively strong desire; therefore urge the EU negotiations are expected to respect the facts, listen to public opinion, to immediately stop the anti dumping measures on China shoes.Other hand, China should join other anti dumping victim of the EU improper, not to impose anti dumping measures and objective international political and economic pressure, prompted the EU to give up as soon as possible the discriminatory anti dumping policy towards China.

(D) make good use of China’s anti dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures. International trade protectionism and free trade offsetting the other, to some extent also the international political and economic course of the game between the force of law. Therefore, China should further improve our anti dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures in the legal system and revise the related laws and formulation. Implementing the Anti dumping and countervailing regulations, handle cases with efforts to improve the quality of case handling, better protection of domestic industry. In order to fully play to the anti dumping, countervailing role of legal means, for the domestic industry has made application, allegation of dumping, the domestic industry showed clear signs of the products Sun Hai, be sure to Guiding the time the law placed on file within the Jishi. Further speed up the investigation and adjudication of cases the progress made so that the dumped imports and the domestic industry suffered injury in time be protected by law. Improve the investigation and adjudication of rules, norms handling procedures, adhere to the principle of fair and equitable handling of cases, improve the industrial damage investigation and adjudication of the quality and level. Improve the industrial injury early warning mechanism, analysis, and import and export situation of international competition, the impact on the national economy, judging the industrial safety and scientific index system damage; timely forecasting and warning, to ensure sustained and stable development of related industries.

In summary, the world’s economic development should be oriented towards free trade and trade liberalization, particularly in the context of the financial crisis, any protectionist measures would be on the world economy is recovering and obstacles, should be get rid of. The relevant Chinese government departments, industries and companies, to clearly understand the situation, positive response, strengthen coordination, master the rules of the World Trade Organization, proficient in related domestic trade laws, dare to take up legal arms, protect the state’s overall interests, to protect the security of domestic industries, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of enterprises.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Business, World Trade Organization | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment