Mexican Invasion slowed

April 28, 2012

Mexican ‘invasion’ slowed to a trickle

 

Last Modified: Feb 21, 2012 08:24AM

Even as the Republican presidential candidates vie to show who’s toughest on illegal immigration, the United States is no longer attracting undocumented workers the way it once did.

Few are talking about this, but the flow of undocumented immigrants — mostly from Mexico — has slowed to a trickle.

Contrary to public perception that the southern border is being overrun, illegal crossings dropped more than 80 percent between 2000 and 2010. That explains why arrests at the border in 2011 were down to their lowest levels since 1972.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa violators from Mexico settled in the U.S. in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004.

The undocumented population — around 12 million — peaked in 2007, with about 58 percent coming from Mexico. It declined as jobs dwindled, and it has remained steady at around 11 million. An estimated 525,000 undocumented immigrants live in Illinois.

These figures confirm the work of experts such as Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University. Massey’s research points to the lowest flow of illegal immigration from Mexico in 50 years.

Massey conducted an extensive survey showing that Mexicans’ desire to come to work in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level since the 1950s. The economic downturn, improved border security and a record number of deportations have caused Mexicans to think twice about crossing the border. Improving conditions in Mexico also explain the diminished flow of Mexicans moving north.

The birth rate in Mexico has fallen to about 2 children per mother, compared to 6.8 in 1970. That means less competition for jobs and consequently a less pressing need to go north. Improvements in employment and education also are making the dangerous and expensive trip to the north less attractive, especially with the drug cartels controlling the border zone.

But Massey does not anticipate much of an impact on the U.S. economy in the short run.

“For two reasons,” he explained to me. “Labor demand is low, especially in the construction sector, which had been a big driver of Mexican immigration, and because the U.S. is issuing a record number of temporary work visas, which is covering much of the demand in agriculture and food processing.”

Last year, Massey said, more than 500,000 guest workers were from Mexico, the largest number in history.

With illegal immigration virtually stopped, now looks like a pretty good time for President Obama and Congress to legalize the residence status of the millions of undocumented people who live among us. Deport the murderers, rapists and gang-bangers and help the hard-working majority to integrate into their new home.

“I would recommend an amnesty for those who entered as children and an earned legalization program for those who entered as adults,” Massey said. “It is the only sensible thing to do.”

The presidential candidates and others really might want to stop talking about immigration as if there were an ongoing invasion.

Mexicans are staying home.


The end of the flood

April 27, 2012

Partisan Spin Denies Obama Credit for Immigration Success
Obama has used increased funding and enforcement to slow illegal immigration through our southern border to a trickle, but Mitt Romney and conservatives have responded with silence—or more attacks about a lack of border security.

The headline should be striking: U.S.A. Stops Illegal Immigration from Mexico in its tracks.

That’s an underlying insight in a study by the Pew Hispanic Center released days before the Supreme Court heard arguments over the controversial Arizona illegal immigration law.

It represents a rare success on a contentious culture-war topic, driven in large part by economic trends that have driven down demand for undocumented labor but also by dramatically increased border enforcement under President Obama. The bottom line: a four-decade flood of illegal immigration through our southern border has been slowed to a trickle.

If this happened under a Republican president, conservatives would be celebrating. But because it has happened under Obama the reaction has been awkward silence—from liberals as well. The facts don’t fit the established narrative.

All of which places this week’s Supreme Court hearing over the controversial (and often mischaracterized) Arizona illegal immigration bill in an ironic light.

The law has been a lose-lose for the GOP. Its passage has torpedoed Republican approvals ratings with Latino voters—and possibly turning Arizona into a 2012 swing state—while making no impact on the actual problem it sought to address, because it hasn’t been enacted. Simultaneously, the problem is showing signs of being solved—at least for now.

The numbers are staggering:

• 1.5 million deportations in the last 4 years, a record high.
• A 70 percent increase in the number of convicted criminals deported.
• Arrests at the border up 14 percent in the past two years.
• An 85 percent increase in border agents since 2004.
• 31percent more drugs and 63 percent more weapons seized at the border.
• 650 miles of border fence now completed.

It’s true that many of these efforts began under President Bush—but President Obama has increased funding and accelerated enforcement. The talk-radio crowd just doesn’t want to face those facts because it contradicts their stereotypes.

President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Iowa Field House, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa., Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

I was down at the Arizona border a few weeks ago and saw the impact for myself. I drove through three checkpoints in the Sonoran Desert in just a few hours and passed more border patrol units than I could count. Right now, I’d guess that we have more Federales at the southern border than at any time since Woodrow Wilson sent Black Jack Pershing to push back Pancho Villa.

In a different, more sane, political time, perhaps this would be celebrated as a strategic coup—President Obama pulling a Nixon-in-China on the issue of border security and illegal immigration. But there is no talk of triangulation; instead just a fact-defying rush to reinforce old narratives.

Here’s Mitt Romney six months ago: “Three years ago, Candidate Obama promised to address the problems of illegal immigration in America. He failed. The truth is, he didn’t even try.”

In a different, more sane, political time, perhaps this would be celebrated as a strategic coup—President Obama pulling a Nixon-in-China on the issue of border security and illegal immigration.

It is fair to point out that President Obama didn’t try to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. George W. Bush was the last president to attempt it, and Mitt Romney opposed it in a 2008 pander to the far right. The word amnesty would have been slapped on anything President Obama did on this front—hell, Reagan looks like a lefty on this issue now—and so Obama chose to increase enforcement and funding instead. This falls under the category of deeds, not words.

There is some political risk in the president’s decision to get tough on deportations—ironically, from the left, particularly among immigration activists and members of the Latino community who know deportees personally. But because Romney chose to tack to the right of even Rick Perry on illegal immigration—slamming the border-state governor for backing the DREAM Act—tacking back to the center would be difficult even for this proven political contortionist. And so Romney’s current 40-point Latino vote gap is likely to endure for the foreseeable future, unless it is ameliorated by a Rubio-esque VP nominee.

Border security is a perfect example of what should be seen as a bipartisan responsibility. We should be able to agree on increasing legal immigration to our nation while decreasing legal immigration. Here we have a rare example of data-driven good news—a long-standing problem showing signs of being solved. Again, the driving factor might be the supply and demand of economics—but aggressive enforcement is helping as well by literally raising the barriers to entry. It’s too bad we can’t recognize the progress because we are so preoccupied with the same old partisan spin in a political world where narratives matter more than facts.

Shyness

February 12, 2012

The Upside Of Being An Introvert (And Why Extroverts Are Overrated)

I’m in the bathroom of the American embassy in Tokyo, and I can’t leave. Somewhere in the elegant rooms beyond, the ambassador is holding his annual holiday party. Diplomats from around the world, U.S. military personnel and reporters are mingling, sipping Champagne and picking at hors d’oeuvres. As TIME’s Tokyo bureau chief, I should be there, trolling for gossip or mining potential sources.

And for 20 minutes or so after arriving, despite the usual nerves, I did just that. But small talk with stiff-backed strangers at a swanky cocktail party is by far my least favorite part of my job. Send me to a famine or a flood and I’m comfortable. A few rounds of the room at a social event, however, leave me exhausted. So now and then I retreat into the solitude of the bathroom, watching the minutes tick by until I’ve recovered enough to go back out there.

My name is Bryan, and I’m an introvert. If this scene sounds familiar to you, then chances are that you’re one too.

We’re not alone, even if it sometimes feels that way. By some estimates, 30% of all people fall on the introvert end of the temperament spectrum–but it takes some explaining to understand just what that label means. For one thing, introverted does not have to mean shy, though there is overlap. Shyness is a form of anxiety characterized by inhibited behavior. It also implies a fear of social judgment that can be crippling. Shy people actively seek to avoid social situations, even ones they might want to take part in, because they may be inhibited by fear. Introverts shun social situations because, Greta Garbo–style, they simply want to be alone.

“Introverted people aren’t bothered by social situations,” says Louis Schmidt, director of the Child Emotion Laboratory at McMaster University in Ontario. “They just prefer not to engage.” While extroverts draw energy from mingling with large groups of people–picture former President and extrovert in chief Bill Clinton joyously working a rope line–introverts find such social interactions taxing.

Simply being an introvert can also feel taxing–especially in America, land of the loud and home of the talkative. From classrooms built around group learning to open-plan offices that encourage endless meetings, it sometimes seems that the quality of your work has less value than the volume of your voice.

And as if the world weren’t slanted enough toward the extrovert, study after study has made sociability seem like a prerequisite for good health, right along with low cholesterol and frequent exercise. Very shy and introverted people have been shown to succumb more rapidly to diseases like HIV and to be at greater risk for depression than their extroverted counterparts. In schools, it’s the bolder kids who get attention from teachers, while quiet children can too easily languish in the back of the classroom. “Our culture expects people to be outgoing and sociable,” says Christopher Lane, an English professor at Northwestern University and the author of Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness. “It’s the unstated norm, and against that norm introverts stand out as seemingly problematic.”

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But that unstated norm discounts the hidden benefits of the introverted temperament–for workplaces, personal relationships and society as a whole. Introverts may be able to fit all their friends in a phone booth, but those relationships tend to be deep and rewarding. Introverts are more cautious and deliberate than extroverts, but that means they tend to think things through more thoroughly, which means they can often make smarter decisions. Introverts are better at listening–which, after all, is easier to do if you’re not talking–and that in turn can make them better business leaders, especially if their employees feel empowered to act on their own initiative. And simply by virtue of their ability to sit still and focus, introverts find it easier to spend long periods in solitary work, which turns out to be the best way to come up with a fresh idea or master a skill.

Introversion and extroversion aren’t fixed categories–there’s a personality spectrum, and many, known as ambiverts, fall in the gap between the two traits–but they are vital to our personality. “Our tendency to be extroverted or introverted is as profound a part of our identities as our gender,” says Susan Cain, author of the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. “But there’s a subtle bias against introverts, and it’s generating a waste of talent and energy and happiness.” It may be time for America to learn the forgotten rewards of sitting down and shutting up.

Born This Way

If you want to know how tough a society of extroverts can be for introverts and how quiet types can learn to adapt, you could do worse than talk to Cain. A graduate of Harvard Law School–not an institution known for churning out timid folks–she practiced corporate law for seven years before she began writing full time. During most of those years in the legal system, she hated what she did. Not every day–Cain loved research and writing–but it soon became clear that her soft-spoken, introspective temperament might not have been the best fit for a high-powered law firm. Eventually she left law and began working on her own, coaching clients in negotiating skills and working as a writer. “When I started practicing the law, I thought the ideal lawyer was bold and comfortable in the spotlight, but I was none of those things,” says Cain. “I could fake those things, but it wasn’t my natural self.”

Faking it is exactly what a lot of introverts learn to do from an early age. And that masquerade covers up something primal and deep. Scientists have begun to learn that the introverted or extroverted temperament seems strongly inborn and inherited, influencing our behavior from not long after we’re out of the womb.

That was the conclusion of a pioneering series of experiments by Harvard developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan. In a 1989 study, he and his colleagues gathered a sample group of 500 4-month-old infants and exposed them to new experiences in the lab, including popping balloons, colorful mobiles and the smell of alcohol on cotton swabs. About 20% of the infants reacted intensely to the stimuli, crying and pumping their arms. About 40% stayed relatively quiet, and the remaining 40% fell between the two extremes.

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Kagan predicted that the infants who had the most noticeable responses–the group he called high-reactive–would likely be introverted as adolescents, whereas low-reactives would likely be extroverted. When he brought his subjects back into the lab as they grew older, his hypothesis proved true: high-reactive infants matured into more inhibited, introverted teenagers. “There’s a strong footprint on temperament that you see early in life,” says Dr. Carl Schwartz, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a former student of Kagan’s. “It’s not deterministic, but if you’re a highly reactive baby, you’re less likely to become a bond trader or Bill Clinton.”

Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of the 1997 book The Highly Sensitive Person, explains what’s behind this. People who are introverts by nature, she says, may simply have a lower threshold for stimulation than others. It doesn’t take too many popped balloons and crowded rooms before they learn to compensate by keeping a low, quiet profile, conserving their limited energy. The definition of hell for an introvert isn’t other people–not exactly. But people are stimuli, and a cocktail party or brainstorming session full of them can blow their neural circuits. So they limit their exposure. Meanwhile, extroverts are a little bit like addicts who are always in search of a high, seeking out stimuli–in the healthier form of social situations–that would make an introvert’s head ring.

In studies conducted with functional magnetic resonance imagers, Schwartz found that the amygdalae in the brains of those original high-reactive subjects–now adults–tend to light up when they’re shown pictures of unfamiliar faces, while the amygdalae of low-reactive subjects show less activity. That makes sense: the amygdala processes fearful stimuli, among other functions, and the introvert’s first reaction to new people or experiences is usually guarded caution. “It’s not genes or the environment alone that drive this,” says Schwartz. “It’s the environment in dialogue with the genes.”

Quiet Babies, Fretful Parents

Caution, inhibition and even fearfulness may be healthy–and smart–adaptations for the overstimulated person, but they’re still not characteristics many parents would want in their children, especially in a society that lionizes the bold. So it’s common for moms and dads of introverted offspring to press their kids to be more outgoing, lest they end up overlooked in class and later in life. That, however, can be a mistake–and not just because our temperaments are difficult to change fundamentally.

The very fact that introverts are more sensitive to their environment often means they’re fully aware that they appear out of step with the expectations of others, and they can easily internalize that criticism. Just about every adult introvert can remember being scolded, even if gently, for being too quiet as a kid. Anytime a teacher grades on classroom participation, introverted kids will be at a disadvantage. There’s nothing wrong with parents’ nudging their shy children into the world, but there is something wrong if it’s more than a nudge. “You don’t want to break the kid by overwhelming their coping capacity,” says Jay Belsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis. “The key is sensitive encouragement.”

Sendong Washi December 2011

December 18, 2011

As bodies washed out to sea began rising to the surface, mortuaries were overwhelmed and emergency teams struggled to find survivors in cloying mud around the major port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on Mindanao island.
Entire villages were swept away by floodwaters as residents, normally spared from typhoons that devastate other parts of the Philippines every year, slept in the early hours of Saturday despite storm warnings.
The Red Cross said that 652 people had been confirmed dead and another 808 were currently listed as missing.
“I’m out here retrieving bodies that are starting to rise to the surface,” Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster council, told AFP by mobile phone from a rescue boat off Cagayan de Oro.
The United States offered assistance to its former colony as the Philippine government and the Red Cross appealed for help to feed, clothe and house more than 35,000 people huddled in evacuation centers.
A 20,000-strong military force normally involved in fighting Muslim insurgents in Mindanao was leading rescue and relief operations.
A 30-member military and police rescue team landed Sunday in Bayug, a delta area near Iligan formerly home to a fishing community of up to 1,000 people, an AFP photographer saw.
The delta had been swept clean of most structures, leaving those left alive having to rebuild huts with scrap wood, and Lieutenant Colonel Efren Baluyot said only 43 people were known to have survived there.
Local freelance reporter Leonardo Vicente Corrales told AFP that rotting corpses were piling up unclaimed at mortuaries in Cagayan de Oro as overworked staff ran out of embalming fluid, coffins, and water to clean them.
“The bodies are decomposing too quickly because they are drowning victims – because there is muddy water in their bodies,” he said.
One establishment, Somo Funeral Homes, turned away the bodies of two drowned children. “We are already swamped. We only have four embalmers,” its owner Ryan Somo told an AFP reporter.
The mayor of Cagayan de Oro, Vicente Emano, said he expected the death toll to reach 500 just in his city, which has a population of half a million.
The local authorities opened up fire hydrants and long lines soon formed as residents queued for fresh water.
In the hamlet of Macasandig, near Cagayan de Oro, teacher’s wife Divilita Cuartero, 38, said she saw two dead bodies among the wreckage of houses near her own home, which was filled with mud from the nearby Cagayan river.
“I’m thankful that we woke up in time and were able to run toward the road, otherwise we would be dead by now,” the mother of one told AFP.
The Philippine National Red Cross listed 346 deaths in Cagayan de Oro and 206 in Iligan. Smaller tolls were reported in other parts of Mindanao and the central province of Negros Oriental.
Gwendolyn Pang, the organization’s secretary general, said the 808 people listed as missing could be trimmed as the dead were identified.
Authorities likened tropical storm Sendong (international name: Washi) to Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), one of the country’s most devastating storms which dumped huge amounts of rain on Manila and other parts of the country in 2009, killing more than 460 people.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has ordered a review of the country’s disaster defences as it became apparent that residents were unprepared for such a deadly storm.
Ramos, the disaster agency chief, said the government faced a formidable task with 100,000 people needing help, including those who sought refuge at schools, government buildings and gyms.
The national government has begun airlifting mats, blankets and clothes to the affected populations of the south, he added.
Debris has to be cleared, electricity and drinking water have to be restored and damaged roads and bridges must be repaired, officials said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent condolences to the Philippines and said in a statement: “The US government stands ready to assist Philippine authorities as they respond to this tragedy.”
Originally posted at 05:30 pm | Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Spending Stress

December 10, 2011
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Holiday spending is a source of concern and stress for many Americans, even as they plan to spend less money, according to recent CBS News polls. A third say they feel more stress than usual about the amount they plan to spend on gifts, and half are concerned they will not be able to afford the gifts on their list this season. And with these anxieties, few anticipate spending any more this year than last year.

Not surprisingly, household income plays a role in how people consider their holiday budgets. Those who are less affluent are more likely to spend less money on gifts this year, are more concerned about not being able to afford what they want to buy, and express more anxiety about the spending money on gifts this year. The poll was taken Nov. 18-21 with 951 adults.

Half of all Americans and two-thirds of those with annual incomes under $50,000 are very or somewhat concerned that they will not manage to pay for the holiday presents they want to purchase. Twenty percent of those surveyed with incomes over $50,000 say they are feeling more stress about their holiday spending this year than usual, while more than twice as many less affluent Americans feel that way.

Another CBS News poll, taken Nov. 6-10 with 1,182 adults, suggests that few Americans are feeling generous this year. Just 9 percent of respondents said they would spend more on gifts this year than they did last year. About half said they would spend about the same amount on holiday presents. And four in 10 expect to spend less money shopping for gifts this year than last year.

Again, less affluent holiday shoppers will be making more economies this year than those who are better off.

Both surveys were conducted with landlines and cellphones nationwide and each has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all adults. The margin of sampling error for subgroups is larger.

Death Apple

October 9, 2011
Steven P. Jobs, 1955-2011

Apple’s Visionary Redefined Digital Age

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Steven P. Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple who helped usher in the era of personal computers and then led a cultural transformation in the way music, movies and mobile communications were experienced in the digital age, died Wednesday. He was 56.

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The death was announced by Apple, the company Mr. Jobs and his high school friend Stephen Wozniak started in 1976 in a suburban California garage. A friend of the family said the cause was complications of pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Jobs had waged a long and public struggle with the disease, remaining the face of the company even as he underwent treatment, introducing new products for a global market in his trademark blue jeans even as he grew gaunt and frail.

He underwent surgery in 2004, received a liver transplant in 2009 and took three medical leaves of absence as Apple’s chief executive before stepping down in August and turning over the helm to Timothy D. Cook, the chief operating officer. When he left, he was still engaged in the company’s affairs, negotiating with another Silicon Valley executive only weeks earlier.

“I have always said that if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know,” Mr. Jobs said in a letter released by the company. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

By then, having mastered digital technology and capitalized on his intuitive marketing sense, Mr. Jobs had largely come to define the personal computer industry and an array of digital consumer and entertainment businesses centered on the Internet. He had also become a very rich man, worth an estimated $8.3 billion.

Tributes to Mr. Jobs flowed quickly on Wednesday evening, in formal statements and in the flow of social networks, with President Obama, technology industry leaders and legions of Apple fans weighing in.

“For those of us lucky enough to get to work with Steve, it’s been an insanely great honor,” said Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder. “I will miss Steve immensely.”

A Twitter user named Matt Galligan wrote: “R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You touched an ugly world of technology and made it beautiful.”

Eight years after founding Apple, Mr. Jobs led the team that designed the Macintosh computer, a breakthrough in making personal computers easier to use. After a 12-year separation from the company, prompted by a bitter falling-out with his chief executive, John Sculley, he returned in 1997 to oversee the creation of one innovative digital device after another — the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. These transformed not only product categories like music players and cellphones but also entire industries, like music and mobile communications.

During his years outside Apple, he bought a tiny computer graphics spinoff from the director George Lucas and built a team of computer scientists, artists and animators that became Pixar Animation Studios.

Starting with “Toy Story” in 1995, Pixar produced a string of hit movies, won several Academy Awards for artistic and technological excellence, and made the full-length computer-animated film a mainstream art form enjoyed by children and adults worldwide.

Mr. Jobs was neither a hardware engineer nor a software programmer, nor did he think of himself as a manager. He considered himself a technology leader, choosing the best people possible, encouraging and prodding them, and making the final call on product design.

It was an executive style that had evolved. In his early years at Apple, his meddling in tiny details maddened colleagues, and his criticism could be caustic and even humiliating. But he grew to elicit extraordinary loyalty.

“He was the most passionate leader one could hope for, a motivating force without parallel,” wrote Steven Levy, author of the 1994 book “Insanely Great,” which chronicles the creation of the Mac. “Tom Sawyer could have picked up tricks from Steve Jobs.”

“Toy Story,” for example, took four years to make while Pixar struggled, yet Mr. Jobs never let up on his colleagues. “‘You need a lot more than vision — you need a stubbornness, tenacity, belief and patience to stay the course,” said Edwin Catmull, a computer scientist and a co-founder of Pixar. “In Steve’s case, he pushes right to the edge, to try to make the next big step forward.”

Mr. Jobs was the ultimate arbiter of Apple products, and his standards were exacting. Over the course of a year he tossed out two iPhone prototypes, for example, before approving the third, and began shipping it in June 2007.

To his understanding of technology he brought an immersion in popular culture. In his 20s, he dated Joan Baez; Ella Fitzgerald sang at his 30th birthday party. His worldview was shaped by the ’60s counterculture in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had grown up, the adopted son of a Silicon Valley machinist. When he graduated from high school in Cupertino in 1972, he said, ”the very strong scent of the 1960s was still there.”

After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold of liberal thought in Portland, Ore., in 1972, Mr. Jobs led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.

Decades later he flew around the world in his own corporate jet, but he maintained emotional ties to the period in which he grew up. He often felt like an outsider in the corporate world, he said. When discussing the Silicon Valley’s lasting contributions to humanity, he mentioned in the same breath the invention of the microchip and “The Whole Earth Catalog,” a 1960s counterculture publication.

Apple’s very name reflected his unconventionality. In an era when engineers and hobbyists tended to describe their machines with model numbers, he chose the name of a fruit, supposedly because of his dietary habits at the time.

Coming on the scene just as computing began to move beyond the walls of research laboratories and corporations in the 1970s, Mr. Jobs saw that computing was becoming personal — that it could do more than crunch numbers and solve scientific and business problems — and that it could even be a force for social and economic change. And at a time when hobbyist computers were boxy wooden affairs with metal chassis, he designed the Apple II as a sleek, low-slung plastic package intended for the den or the kitchen. He was offering not just products but a digital lifestyle.

He put much stock in the notion of “taste,” a word he used frequently. It was a sensibility that shone in products that looked like works of art and delighted users. Great products, he said, were a triumph of taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”

Regis McKenna, a longtime Silicon Valley marketing executive to whom Mr. Jobs turned in the late 1970s to help shape the Apple brand, said Mr. Jobs’s genius lay in his ability to simplify complex, highly engineered products, “to strip away the excess layers of business, design and innovation until only the simple, elegant reality remained.”

Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

Early Interests

Steven Paul Jobs was born in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 1955, and surrendered for adoption by his biological parents, Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, a graduate student from Syria who became a political science professor. He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.

The elder Mr. Jobs, who worked in finance and real estate before returning to his original trade as a machinist, moved his family down the San Francisco Peninsula to Mountain View and then to Los Altos in the 1960s.

Mr. Jobs developed an early interest in electronics. He was mentored by a neighbor, an electronics hobbyist, who built Heathkit do-it-yourself electronics projects. He was brash from an early age. As an eighth grader, after discovering that a crucial part was missing from a frequency counter he was assembling, he telephoned William Hewlett, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard. Mr. Hewlett spoke with the boy for 20 minutes, prepared a bag of parts for him to pick up and offered him a job as a summer intern.

Mr. Jobs met Mr. Wozniak while attending Homestead High School in neighboring Cupertino. The two took an introductory electronics class there.

The spark that ignited their partnership was provided by Mr. Wozniak’s mother. Mr. Wozniak had graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, when she sent him an article from the October 1971 issue of Esquire magazine. The article, “Secrets of the Little Blue Box,” by Ron Rosenbaum, detailed an underground hobbyist culture of young men known as phone phreaks who were illicitly exploring the nation’s phone system.

Mr. Wozniak shared the article with Mr. Jobs, and the two set out to track down an elusive figure identified in the article as Captain Crunch. The man had taken the name from his discovery that a whistle that came in boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal was tuned to a frequency that made it possible to make free long-distance calls simply by blowing the whistle next to a phone handset.

Captain Crunch was John Draper, a former Air Force electronic technician, and finding him took several weeks. Learning that the two young hobbyists were searching for him, Mr. Draper had arranged to come to Mr. Wozniak’s Berkeley dormitory room. Mr. Jobs, who was still in high school, had traveled to Berkeley for the meeting. When Mr. Draper arrived, he entered the room saying simply, “It is I!”

Based on information they gleaned from Mr. Draper, Mr. Wozniak and Mr. Jobs later collaborated on building and selling blue boxes, devices that were widely used for making free — and illegal — phone calls. They raised a total of $6,000 from the effort.

After enrolling at Reed College in 1972, Mr. Jobs left after one semester, but remained in Portland for another 18 months auditing classes. In a commencement address given at Stanford in 2005, he said he had decided to leave college because it was consuming all of his parents’ savings.

Leaving school, however, also freed his curiosity to follow his interests. “I didn’t have a dorm room,” he said in his Stanford speech, “so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.”

He returned to Silicon Valley in 1974 and took a job there as a technician at Atari, the video game manufacturer. Still searching for his calling, he left after several months and traveled to India with a college friend, Daniel Kottke, who would later become an early Apple employee. Mr. Jobs returned to Atari that fall. In 1975, he and Mr. Wozniak, then working as an engineer at H.P., began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club, a hobbyist group that met at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, Calif. Personal computing had been pioneered at research laboratories adjacent to Stanford, and it was spreading to the outside world.

“What I remember is how intense he looked,” said Lee Felsenstein, a computer designer who was a Homebrew member. “He was everywhere, and he seemed to be trying to hear everything people had to say.”

Mr. Wozniak designed the original Apple I computer simply to show it off to his friends at the Homebrew. It was Mr. Jobs who had the inspiration that it could be a commercial product.

In early 1976, he and Mr. Wozniak, using their own money, began Apple with an initial investment of $1,300; they later gained the backing of a former Intel executive, A. C. Markkula, who lent them $250,000. Mr. Wozniak would be the technical half and Mr. Jobs the marketing half of the original Apple I Computer. Starting out in the Jobs family garage in Los Altos, they moved the company to a small office in Cupertino shortly thereafter.

In April 1977, Mr. Jobs and Mr. Wozniak introduced Apple II at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. It created a sensation. Faced with a gaggle of small and large competitors in the emerging computer market, Apple, with its Apple II, had figured out a way to straddle the business and consumer markets by building a computer that could be customized for specific applications.

Sales skyrocketed, from $2 million in 1977 to $600 million in 1981, the year the company went public. By 1983 Apple was in the Fortune 500. No company had ever joined the list so quickly.

The Apple III, introduced in May 1980, was intended to dominate the desktop computer market. I.B.M. would not introduce its original personal computer until 1981. But the Apple III had a host of technical problems, and Mr. Jobs shifted his focus to a new and ultimately short-lived project, an office workstation computer code-named Lisa.

An Apocalyptic Moment

By then Mr. Jobs had made his much-chronicled 1979 visit to Xerox’s research center in Palo Alto, where he saw the Alto, an experimental personal computer system that foreshadowed modern desktop computing. The Alto, controlled by a mouse pointing device, was one of the first computers to employ a graphical video display, which presented the user with a view of documents and programs, adopting the metaphor of an office desktop.

“It was one of those sort of apocalyptic moments,” Mr. Jobs said of his visit in a 1995 oral history interview for the Smithsonian Institution. “I remember within 10 minutes of seeing the graphical user interface stuff, just knowing that every computer would work this way someday. It was so obvious once you saw it. It didn’t require tremendous intellect. It was so clear.”

In 1981 he joined a small group of Apple engineers pursuing a separate project, a lower-cost system code-named Macintosh. The machine was introduced in January 1984 and trumpeted during the Super Bowl telecast by a 60-second commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, that linked I.B.M., then the dominant PC maker, with Orwell’s Big Brother.

A year earlier Mr. Jobs had lured Mr. Sculley to Apple to be its chief executive. A former Pepsi-Cola chief executive, Mr. Sculley was impressed by Mr. Jobs’s pitch: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

He went on to help Mr. Jobs introduce a number of new computer models, including an advanced version of the Apple II and later the Lisa and Macintosh desktop computers. Through them Mr. Jobs popularized the graphical user interface, which, based on a mouse pointing device, would become the standard way to control computers.

But when the Lisa failed commercially and early Macintosh sales proved disappointing, the two men became estranged and a power struggle ensued, and Mr. Jobs lost control of the Lisa project. The board ultimately stripped him of his operational role, taking control of the Lisa project away from him, and 1,200 Apple employees were laid off. He left Apple in 1985.

“I don’t wear the right kind of pants to run this company,” he told a small gathering of Apple employees before he left, according to a member of the original Macintosh development team. He was barefoot as he spoke, and wearing blue jeans.

That September he announced a new venture, NeXT Inc. The aim was to build a workstation computer for the higher-education market. The next year, the Texas industrialist H. Ross Perot invested $20 million in the effort. But it did not achieve Mr. Jobs’s goals.

Mr. Jobs also established a personal philanthropic foundation after leaving Apple but soon had a change of heart, deciding instead to spend much of his fortune — $10 million — on acquiring Pixar, a struggling graphics supercomputing company owned by the filmmaker George Lucas.

The purchase was a significant gamble; there was little market at the time for computer-animated movies. But that changed in 1995, when the company, with Walt Disney Pictures, released “Toy Story.” That film’s box-office receipts ultimately reached $362 million, and when Pixar went public in a record-breaking offering, Mr. Jobs emerged a billionaire. In 2006, the Walt Disney Company agreed to purchase Pixar for $7.4 billion. The sale made Mr. Jobs Disney’s largest single shareholder, with about 7 percent of the company’s stock.

His personal life also became more public. He had a number of well-publicized romantic relationships, including one with the folk singer Joan Baez, before marrying Laurene Powell. In 1996, his sister Mona Simpson, a novelist, threw a spotlight on her relationship with Mr. Jobs in the novel “A Regular Guy.” The two did not meet until they were adults. The novel centered on a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who bore a close resemblance to Mr. Jobs. It was not an entirely flattering portrait. Mr. Jobs said about a quarter of it was accurate.

“We’re family,” he said of Ms. Simpson in an interview with The New York Times Magazine. “She’s one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days.”

His wife and Ms. Simpson survive him, as do his three children with Ms. Powell, his daughters Eve Jobs and Erin Sienna Jobs and a son, Reed; another daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, from a relationship with Chrisann Brennan; and another sister, Patti Jobs.

Return to Apple

Eventually, Mr. Jobs refocused NeXT from the education to the business market and dropped the hardware part of the company, deciding to sell just an operating system. Although NeXT never became a significant computer industry player, it had a huge impact: a young programmer, Tim Berners-Lee, used a NeXT machine to develop the first version of the World Wide Web at the Swiss physics research center CERN in 1990.

In 1996, after unsuccessful efforts to develop next-generation operating systems, Apple, with Gilbert Amelio now in command, acquired NeXT for $430 million. The next year, Mr. Jobs returned to Apple as an adviser. He became chief executive again in 2000.

Shortly after returning, Mr. Jobs publicly ended Apple’s long feud with its archrival Microsoft, which agreed to continue developing its Office software for the Macintosh and invested $150 million in Apple.

Once in control of Apple again, Mr. Jobs set out to reshape the consumer electronics industry. He pushed the company into the digital music business, introducing first iTunes and then the iPod MP3 player. The music arm grew rapidly, reaching almost 50 percent of the company’s revenue by June 2008.

In 2005, Mr. Jobs announced that he would end Apple’s business relationship with I.B.M. and Motorola and build Macintosh computers based on Intel microprocessors.

His fight with cancer was now publicly known. Apple had announced in 2004 that Mr. Jobs had a rare but curable form of pancreatic cancer and that he had undergone successful surgery. Four years later, questions about his health returned when he appeared at a company event looking gaunt. Afterward, he said he had suffered from a “common bug.” Privately, he said his cancer surgery had created digestive problems but insisted they were not life-threatening.

Apple began selling the iPhone in June 2007. Mr. Jobs’s goal was to sell 10 million of the handsets in 2008, equivalent to 1 percent of the global cellphone market. The company sold 11.6 million.

Although smartphones were already commonplace, the iPhone dispensed with a stylus and pioneered a touch-screen interface that quickly set the standard for the mobile computing market. Rolled out with much anticipation and fanfare, iPhone rocketed to popularity; by the end of 2010 the company had sold almost 90 million units.

Although Mr. Jobs took just a nominal $1 salary when he returned to Apple, his compensation became the source of a Silicon Valley scandal in 2006 over the backdating of millions of shares of stock options. But after a company investigation and one by the Securities and Exchange Commission, he was found not to have benefited financially from the backdating and no charges were brought.

The episode did little to taint Mr. Jobs’s standing in the business and technology world. As the gravity of his illness became known, and particularly after he announced he was stepping down, he was increasingly hailed for his genius and true achievement: his ability to blend product design and business market innovation by integrating consumer-oriented software, microelectronic components, industrial design and new business strategies in a way that has not been matched.

If he had a motto, it may have come from “The Whole Earth Catalog,” which he said had deeply influenced him as a young man. The book, he said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005, ends with the admonition “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

“I have always wished that for myself,” he said.

Delete IE

July 15, 2011
January 17, 2009

Microsoft Ordered to Delete Browser

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Friday that Microsoft’s practice of selling the Internet Explorer browser together with its Windows operating system violated the union’s antitrust rules.

It ordered the software giant to untie the browser from its operating system in the 27-nation union, enabling makers of rival browsers to compete fairly.

“Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between Web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice,” the E.U. said in a statement.

It gave Microsoft eight weeks to respond, adding that the company could defend its position in a hearing if it found that useful.

Microsoft issued a statement saying, “We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law.”

The commission’s investigation into Microsoft’s Web-surfing software began a year ago, after the Norwegian browser-maker Opera Software filed a complaint. Opera argued that Microsoft hurt competitors not only by bundling the software, in effect giving away the browser, but also by not following accepted Web standards.

Outsourced Chores Come Back Home

July 15, 2011
January 17, 2009

A few months ago, as her family’s income fell, Laura French Spada, a real estate agent in Glen Rock, N.J., began dyeing her hair at home and washing the family cars herself. Her husband, Mark, started learning how to do electrical repairs.

Susan Todoroff, a personal trainer in Ann Arbor, Mich., has begun brewing espressos at home and cutting her hair and cleaning her house herself. And Tamar A. Zaidenweber, a health care market researcher in Astoria, Queens, is spending more time walking her dog instead of taking it to day care each week.

All of these consumers could praise themselves for their newfound frugality in the midst of an economic downturn. But every step they take toward self-reliance — each shrub they prune themselves, each cupcake they bake from scratch — hurts the people and small businesses that have long provided these services professionally.

These small, service-oriented businesses are run in storefronts on urban streets and in suburban strip malls, or sometimes just out of pickup trucks. Responsible for roughly 18 million jobs nationwide, according to 2006 Census Bureau data, these companies have long been seen as engines of America’s economic growth. Yet after years of explosive expansion, many beauty salons, dry cleaners, landscapers, dog walkers, nanny services and restaurants experienced slower sales growth or even decline in the final months of 2008.

Their services are suddenly, and painfully, being perceived as nonessential.

The question now for these businesses is whether demand will stabilize or, eventually, drop enough to force them to close. And the answer may depend on whether consumers’ new penchant for self-service is temporary or permanent.

After all, as incomes rose and gender roles changed over the last 50 years, families have become accustomed to outsourcing more and more of their household chores. No longer was it just the very rich who had “servants,” said Jan de Vries, an economic historian at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Household members, particularly women, have been working more in the market,” said Mr. de Vries. “They have had less time and higher money income, and they have been spending a lot of that money income on services they once provided themselves.”

Still, he said, even before the recession, some families had already cited moral reasons for reverting to domestic self-sufficiency, to those good old days when families grew their own food and burped their own babies.

“Families have been creating a discussion over the past decade about value-driven concerns that are now being reinforced by forces in the economy,” he said. As a result of this confluence of moral and financial incentives, “The way households function 20 years from now will probably be sort of surprising to us.”

Indeed, after decades of spendthrift subcontracting, many consumers now say they view such specialist services as indulgences rather than necessities.

“A lot of the way we’d been living was all an illusion, a fantasy,” said Ms. Spada, who has also been cooking more and bathing the family dog instead of going to the groomer. “We’ve been asking ourselves: Can we replicate some of those specialized services, which normally we would outsource, ourselves?”

Even as Americans cut back on restaurant dining, pet care services, professional hair and nail services, house cleaners and landscapers, companies producing some of the do-it-yourself products are seeing higher sales.

According to Information Resources Inc., a market research firm in Chicago, sales of products used in home manicures, home cooking and home medical treatments, among others, have experienced healthy growth in the last year. Dollar sales of cold-allergy-sinus tablets, for example, increased 17.2 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, according to Sageworks, a company that tracks sales at privately held businesses, revenue at physicians’ offices fell by 0.06 percent.

“They’re reducing doctor visits, and trying to treat themselves at home,” says Thom Blischok, president of global innovation and consulting at Information Resources.

Big-box stores that sell these products have been capitalizing on the return to a self-service mentality. Target, for example, recently began its “New Day” marketing campaign, which glorifies the family-friendly, do-it-yourself alternatives to activities households used to outsource. Against upbeat lyrics about how things are “getting better every single day,” the ads show dismal economic headlines, followed by scenes of a father buzzing the hair of his smiling sons (“the new barber shop”) and a child eagerly eyeing his mother’s cookie-filled oven (“the new bakery”).

At the same time, the service providers have been hurting.

“From the moment that the stock market collapsed and the TARP was being talked about, in September, it was like someone turned the switch off for nanny demand,” said Steve Lampert, the president of eNannySource.com, making a reference to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Family subscriptions to eNannySource.com, a national nanny placement company based in West Hills, Calif., are down to 150,000, about a third of the site’s peak in 2007, he said.

James Erath, owner of Puppy Love & Kitty Kat in Manhattan, said, “Business is definitely down, about 25 or 50 percent down.” He has been offering steep discounts on grooming to attract customers who might bathe their pets at home.

Similarly, Rhonda Coop-Piraino, a hair stylist in Dallas, said about 10 percent of her clients had started coloring their hair at home to save money. Many of these clients, she said, return to her salon for color correction when their home kits disappoint.

“They do come in sometimes with some pretty orange hair,” she said. “I have a hard time charging the same amount I once charged for color correction, though. I have clients who have been with me for so many years, and it’s hard for me to charge them $200 in this economy.”

Like Ms. Coop-Piraino’s clients, some consumers say that doing things for themselves has not been as easy as they thought.

After letting their maid go last October, Chris DeCarlo said he and his partner, Chris Toland, realized they had a lot to learn about keeping their Manhattan apartment tidy. Their biggest challenge has been laundry.

“No mishaps yet,” said Mr. DeCarlo, a Web site designer, “but my partner is proud to report that somebody in our laundry room who was watching him struggle felt the need to intervene and show him the proper way to fold a fitted sheet.”

And there are some services that consumers now have trouble duplicating themselves because of technological advances.

When it comes to cars, for example, consumers might be able to refresh their memories about how to change a car’s oil — and some mechanics report a rise in such self-service. Faisal Akram, the owner of service stations in Irvington, Tarrytown and Cortlandt Manor, all in New York, said that for the first time in recent memory customers were bringing in waste oil from home.

But beyond oil changes, there is little most car owners can do themselves because automobiles have become so sophisticated.

Aaron Clements, the owner of C & C Automotive and host of a car-repair radio show in Augusta, Ga., said that in recent months twice as many customers had been calling and asking for advice on how to service their cars themselves. But usually, once they learn what equipment, training and effort would be necessary for self-service, he said, they opt to take the car to a shop.

“Two cars ago, I was able to rebuild the entire engine,” said Vicki Robin, the co-author of “Your Money or Your Life,” a book praising the financial virtues of self-service. “But back then a car was a car. Now a car is a computer with wheels.”

As their former nannies, stylists, landscapers, dry cleaners and maids languish, consumers report mixed feelings. They say they sometimes feel guilty about the ripple effects their penny-pinching is having on the livelihoods of others, but at the same time they feel unexpectedly empowered by their rediscovered self-reliance.

Many say that even when their financial worries abate, they will probably remain self-service converts.

“After doing it yourself, it’s like, ‘Why was I ever spending $200 to pay someone else to do it for me?’ ” said Ms. Zaidenweber, who recently dyed her hair for the first time from an $8 home coloring kit. “It was kind of fun, even if it didn’t turn out exactly as I expected, and even it took a couple tries to get it done right.”

Made in…

July 14, 2011

To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules

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TIANJIN, China — Judging by the din at its factory here one recent day, the Spanish company Gamesa may seem to be a thriving player in the Chinese wind energy industry it helped create.

But Gamesa has learned the hard way, as other foreign manufacturers have, that competing for China’s lucrative business means playing by strict house rules that are often stacked in Beijing’s favor.

Nearly all the components that Gamesa assembles into million-dollar turbines here, for example, are made by local suppliers — companies Gamesa trained to meet onerous local content requirements. And these same suppliers undermine Gamesa by selling parts to its Chinese competitors — wind turbine makers that barely existed in 2005, when Gamesa controlled more than a third of the Chinese market.

But in the five years since, the upstarts have grabbed more than 85 percent of the wind turbine market, aided by low-interest loans and cheap land from the government, as well as preferential contracts from the state-owned power companies that are the main buyers of the equipment. Gamesa’s market share now is only 3 percent.

With their government-bestowed blessings, Chinese companies have flourished and now control almost half of the $45 billion global market for wind turbines. The biggest of those players are now taking aim at foreign markets, particularly the United States, where General Electric has long been the leader.

The story of Gamesa in China follows an industrial arc traced in other businesses, like desktop computers and solar panels. Chinese companies acquire the latest Western technology by various means and then take advantage of government policies to become the world’s dominant, low-cost suppliers.

It is a pattern that many economists say could be repeated in other fields, like high-speed trains and nuclear reactors, unless China changes the way it plays the technology development game — or is forced to by its global trading partners.

Companies like Gamesa have been so eager to enter the Chinese market that they not only bow to Beijing’s dictates but have declined to complain to their own governments, even when they see China violating international trade agreements.

Even now, Gamesa is not crying foul — for reasons that are also part of the China story. Although the company’s market share in China has atrophied, the country’s wind turbine market has grown so big, so fast that Gamesa now sells more than twice as many turbines in China as it did when it was the market leader five years ago.

So as Gamesa executives see it, they made the right bet by coming to China. And they insist that they have no regrets about having trained more than 500 Chinese machinery companies as a cost of playing by Beijing’s rules — even if those rules have sometimes flouted international trade law. It is simply the table stakes of playing in the biggest game going.

“If we would not have done it, someone else would have done it,” said Jorge Calvet, Gamesa’s chairman and chief executive.

Gamesa, an old-line machinery company that entered the wind turbine business in 1994, is a modern Spanish success story.

Its factories in Pamplona and elsewhere in Spain have produced wind turbines installed around the world. With sales of $4.4 billion last year, Gamesa is the world’s third-largest turbine maker, after Vestas of Denmark, the longtime global leader, and G.E.

With its relatively low Spanish labor costs, Gamesa became an early favorite a decade ago when China began buying significant numbers of imported wind turbines, as Beijing started moving toward clean energy. Gamesa also moved early and aggressively to beef up sales and maintenance organizations within China, amassing 35 percent of the market by 2005.

But Chinese officials had begun to slip new provisions into the bidding requirements for some state-run wind farms, requiring more and more of the content of turbines to be equipment produced within China — not imported.

Those piecemeal requirements soon led to a blanket requirement. On July 4, 2005, China’s top economic policy agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, declared that wind farms had to buy equipment in which at least 70 percent of the value was domestically manufactured.

“Wind farms not meeting the requirement of equipment localization rate shall not be allowed to be built,” stated the directive, known as Notice 1204.

Trade lawyers say that setting any local content requirement — let alone one stipulating such a high domestic share — was a violation of the rules of the World Trade Organization, the international body that China had joined just four years earlier. Joanna I. Lewis, a Georgetown University professor who is a longtime adviser to Chinese policy makers on wind energy, said she and others had repeatedly warned Beijing that the local-content policy risked provoking a W.T.O. challenge by other countries.

But the Chinese government bet correctly that Gamesa, as well as G.E. and other multinationals, would not dare risk losing a piece of China’s booming wind farm business by complaining to trade officials in their home countries.

Rather than fight, Gamesa and the other leading multinational wind turbine makers all opted to open factories in China and train local suppliers to meet the 70 percent threshold.

Mr. Calvet said Gamesa would have opened factories in China at some stage, regardless of the content policy.

“If you plan to go into a country,” Mr. Calvet said, “you really need to commit to a country.”

Ditlev Engel, the chief executive of Vestas, said in an interview, “We strongly believed that for us to be competitive in China, it was very important for us to develop an Asia supplier base.”

A top executive at a rival of Gamesa and Vestas, who insisted on anonymity for fear of business retaliation by Beijing, said that multinationals had another reason for going along with China’s dictates: “Everybody was too scared.”

Local Production

There is a difference between setting up an assembly plant in a host company — as many European wind turbine companies, including Gamesa, have done in the United States, for example — and ceding the production of crucial parts to companies in the host country.

In the United States, where there are no local-content requirements, the wind turbine industry uses an average of 50 percent American-made parts. For its American operations, Gamesa relies somewhat more than that on American suppliers, but it still imports some parts from Spain, including crucial gearboxes.

Within weeks after Beijing’s issuance of Notice 1204, Gamesa sent dozens of Spanish engineers to Tianjin. The engineers did not just oversee the construction of the assembly plant, but fanned out to local Chinese companies and began teaching them how to make a multitude of steel forgings and castings, and a range of complex electronic controls.

One Chinese supplier here became so adept at making a 10-ton steel frame that keeps a wind turbine’s gearbox and generator aligned even under gale-force conditions, and making it so cheaply, that the Spanish company now ships the Chinese frame halfway around the world for turbines that Gamesa assembles at its American plant in Fairless Hills, Pa. Mr. Calvet said the American manufacturing sector had been so weakened in recent decades that for some components there were no American machinery companies readily available.

It was not until the summer of 2009, when senior Obama administration officials started looking at barriers to American clean energy exports, that the United States pressed China hard about Notice 1204. The Chinese government revoked it two months later.

But by then, the policy was no longer needed. Some Gamesa wind turbines exceeded 95 percent local content.

“The objectives of the local content requirement were achieved, and probably more achieved than anyone expected,” said Steve Sawyer, the secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, a trade group based in Brussels that represents wind energy companies from around the world, including China.

A Battle Takes Shape

China agreed to abide by the W.T.O.’s trade rules when it joined the organization in 2001. And Chinese officials, when willing to comment on such matters at all, typically defend their actions as being within the bounds of fair play.

Li Junfeng, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission who oversees renewable energy policy, defended the local content policy.

“It was localization support,” Mr. Li said in an interview. China is a developing country, he said, and developing countries need to do what they can to foster industrial development.

But the Obama administration takes a different view. It included the local content rule in the investigation it announced on Oct. 15, an inquiry into whether China’s clean energy policies had violated W.T.O. rules. The investigation was spurred by the United Steelworkers union, which has no qualms about taking on Beijing because it has no sales contracts at risk in China.

Zhang Guobao, the director of China’s National Energy Administration, said at an Oct. 17 press conference that the United States was wrong to cite the local content rule in its investigation — because China had already abolished it. Mr. Zhang did have a point: the W.T.O.’s main redress for a local content protection is to push the offending country to revoke it.

But the United States investigation of China goes beyond local content, and the W.T.O. has other weapons at its disposal.

The trade organization, for example, has authority to order the repayment of subsidies a government gives to its export industries to the detriment of foreign competitors. The steelworkers’ petition cites various forms of subsidies and support that China has given to its industries in potential violation of international trade rules. That includes low-interest loans from state-owned banks and grants of cheap or free land, as well as other perks not available to foreign companies operating in China.

As for the state-owned wind farms that are the main buyers of wind energy equipment, China has many policies to preserve their dominance, while limiting market opportunities for foreign companies that might try to develop wind farms.

Those policies — all potential W.T.O. violations, according to some experts — are an open secret.

Earlier this autumn the Chinese wind turbine maker Ming Yang Wind Power Group made an initial public offering of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, as prelude to entering the American wind energy market. The financial disclosures in the company’s prospectus acknowledged that “we obtained land and other policy incentives from local governments,” as well as deals requiring that the municipal governments’ wind farms buy turbines only from Ming Yang.

China Looks Abroad

Gamesa, among other multinational turbine makers, so far has benefited from the growing market in China, despite policies that have increasingly relegated those companies to fighting over ever-thinner slices of the pie.

But that dynamic could be changing. The Chinese government is now slowing the approval of new wind farms at home. The pause, whose duration is unclear, is meant to give the national electricity system time to absorb thousands of new turbines that have already been erected and not yet connected to the grid.

Gamesa had an ample order book lined up before the government applied the brakes. But the government policy means that the Chinese turbine makers, having become giants on the backs of companies like Gamesa, must now look beyond their captive national market for further growth.

Sinovel, China’s biggest wind turbine maker, has said it wants to become the world’s largest by 2015. The company’s chairman and president, Han Junliang, said in October at the annual China Wind Power industry conference in Beijing that his goal was to sell as many turbines overseas as within China.

Sinovel is among the Chinese companies now opening sales offices across the United States in preparation for a big export push next year. They are backed by more than $13 billion in low-interest loans issued this past summer by Chinese government-owned banks; billions more are being raised in initial public offerings led mainly by Morgan Stanley this autumn in New York and Hong Kong.

Multinationals are alarmed. Vestas, for example, is closing four factories in Denmark and one in Sweden, and laying off one-eighth of its 24,000-person labor force this autumn, in an effort to push its costs down closer to Asian levels, its chief, Mr. Engel, said.

The Chinese push, clouded by the Obama administration’s investigation of the steelworkers’ complaint, could complicate the climate change debate in the West. Wind farm developers in the West are worried that Western governments may be less enthusiastic about encouraging renewable energy requirements if these programs are perceived as creating jobs in China instead of at home.

The provincial government of Ontario in Canada now wants to take a page from China’s playbook by trying to require 25 percent local content for wind energy projects and 50 percent for solar power projects in the province. The Japanese government responded by filing a W.T.O. complaint against Canada in September, asserting that Ontario was violating the W.T.O. prohibition on local content requirements. By contrast, Japan has never filed a W.T.O. complaint on any issue against China, for fear of harming diplomatic relations with its large neighbor.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is intent on turning its wind energy industry into the global leader, helping manufacturers coordinate export strategies and providing various sorts of technical assistance.

Mr. Li, the overseer of the Chinese renewable energy industry, publicly exhorted the leaders of the nation’s biggest wind turbine makers at the China Wind Power conference, a three-day event that drew hundreds of executives from around the world.

“You cannot be called a winner if you are the leader for three or five years,” Mr. Li told the Chinese executives. “You can only stand on the top line if you are the leader for 100 or 200 years.”

The Chinese presidents sat quietly and respectfully, chins down. Senior executives from the foreign manufacturers — including Vestas, G.E. and Gamesa — sat alongside them, staring straight ahead in stony silence.

Spend Less, Save More

July 14, 2011
  • Find creative ways to spend less and save more.
  • Do not dine out. You can’t afford the tip.
  • Buy at Costco.
  • Drink instant coffee.
  • No to soda.
  • Buy toothpaste in bulk.
  • Buy soap good for one year.
  • Drink tap water. Buy bottled water only when you have guests.
  • Go for garage sales.
  • Avoid malls.
  • No movies.
  • No Netflix.
  • Shop once a month only.
  • Stockpile dry goods if prices are low.
  • Use coupons.
  • Live near where you work and the kids have their school.
  • Eat salmon, vegetables, turkey and chicken. Avoid red meat, hotdogs, ice cream, sweets.

More Laws for Wealth and Frugalism Here