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14

Federal Mediators to Try to Restart Talks with Dockworkers

The Baltimore Sun / http://www.baltimoresun.com/

Longshoremen's contract for East and Gulf coasts set to expire Sept. 30; fear is first strike in 35 years. More in the Baltimore Sun


Conflict Minerals Disclosure Requirement

Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP / http://www.gdlsk.com/firm-news/223-conflict-minerals-disclosure-requirement.html

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has published a final rule implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) relating to “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”).

The Final Rule imposes new disclosure and reporting requirements on companies already required to file disclosures with the SEC,1 that manufacture or contract to manufacture products for which “conflict minerals” are necessary to functionality or production.

In essence, the new rule requires companies that produce goods containing conflict minerals—gold, tantalum, tin or tungsten—to conduct inquiries to ensure that any such minerals are not contributing to the violence in the DRC. These requirements are both far reaching, and potentially quite onerous. Any publicly-traded company producing goods that incorporate these minerals may face a considerable disclosure obligation, no matter how deep within the supply chain such minerals have been added, or how miniscule the presence of such minerals in the finished product.

Broadly speaking, there are two conditions that trigger the obligation to file a disclosure. First, the rule applies to companies that manufacture or contract to manufacture goods containing conflict minerals. The SEC has explained that the term “manufacture” is used in its ordinary sense, and that a company “contracts to manufacture” when it exerts some degree of actual influence over the manufacturing process. Thus, while made to order goods would clearly satisfy this requirement, purchases of existing inventory, whether resold as-is or “private labeled” do not trigger the disclosure requirement even if those goods contain conflict minerals. Second, the disclosure requirement is triggered when conflict minerals are necessary to the functionality or production of the goods in question. Conflict minerals are necessary to functionality when they are essential to any of a product’s functions, uses and purposes; conflict minerals incorporated for purely decorative or ornamental purposes would therefore not be considered necessary to functionality. Additionally, conflict minerals are considered necessary to production if, in addition to being used in the production process, are also present in the finished product in some amount, including trace amounts.

Companies meeting these threshold conditions are required to file a specialized disclosure report with the SEC, on new Form SD, as described in the recently amended regulation at 17 C.F.R. § 249b.400. The first filing deadline will be May 31, 2014 for goods manufactured during the 2013 calendar year. The basic obligation accompanying the disclosure requirement is a “reasonable country of origin inquiry,” designed to assess the origin of the conflict minerals in each of the reporting company’s products. Depending on the outcome of this country of origin inquiry, and particularly if there is reason to believe that the conflict minerals may of originated from the DRC or neighboring countries, the reporting company may have to conduct more rigorous supply chain due diligence according to internationally recognized standards. Ultimately, companies whose products contain DRC origin conflict minerals will be required to make a determination as to whether such minerals are or are not “DRC Conflict Free,” and to publicly disclose that conclusion in its SEC filing.

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[1] The statute applies to “[e]very registrant that files reports with the [SEC] under Sections 13(a) (15 U.S.C. 78m(a)) or 15(d) (15 U.S.C. 78o(d)) of the Exchange Act,” and applies equally to domestic companies, foreign private issuers, and smaller reporting companies. Final Rule at 48–52, 343.

 


 

Subject: Competent Management and Scientific Authorities for CITES Documents

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / www.fws.gov

Background: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) requires each CITES Party country to designate a Management Authority and a Scientific Authority for, among other things, issuance of CITES documents. The treaty also requires each non-Party country to have competent authorities that can issue comparable CITES documentation. U.S. CITES regulations that went into effect on September 24, 2007 require the Party or non-Party issuing CITES documents to have designated a Management Authority and a Scientific Authority and communicated such designations to the CITES Secretariat. Such authorities must be competent to make the required legal and biological findings in order to issue valid CITES documents.

As of September 7, 2012, the following countries had not provided information to the CITES Secretariat on their designated Management Authority and/or Scientific Authority:

Anguilla, Armenia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Cook Islands, Eritrea, Holy See, Maldives, Nauru, Niue, Oman, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Tuvalu.

Action: The United States will not allow the import of CITES-listed specimens from countries that have not designated a competent Management Authority and Scientific Authority and communicated such designations to the CITES Secretariat. Any such shipments will be subject to seizure and forfeiture because of invalid CITES documents (50 CFR § 23.26 (c) (10)). We will regularly update this public bulletin, however, the trade can also check for updated information on these designations on the CITES website under National Contacts.

 


 

FTC Proposes Changes to its Fur Labeling Rules

U.S. Federal Trade Commission / www.ftc.gov

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on changes the agency is proposing that would eliminate unnecessary requirements on companies that sell fur products to give them more flexibility on labeling, and update the Fur Products Name Guide that lists common animal names allowed on fur labels. The proposed changes also would incorporate provisions of a fur labeling law passed by Congress in 2010, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010 (TFLA). The proposals are part of a review of the Name Guide required by Congress under the TFLA and the FTC’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.

The Fur Products Name Guide is part of the FTC’s Fur Labeling and Advertising Rules, commonly known as the Fur Rules, which help inform consumers by requiring manufacturers and retailers to label fur products with certain information, such as the animal’s name and an imported fur’s country of origin. The Name Guide provides English names for fur-producing animals, listed by genus-species.

In March 2011, as required by the TFLA, the FTC began a review of the Name Guide, sought public comments on the Fur Rules generally, and announced upcoming changes to the Fur Rules required by Congress. In December 2011, the Commission also held a public hearing and invited views on all aspects of the Name Guide, including using the Integrated Taxonomic Information System to determine an animal’s true English name, and whether the agency should modify, add or delete names for several specific species.

Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice. Comments can be filed electronically by clicking here. Comments must be received by November 16, 2012. All comments received will be posted on the FTC website.

The Commission vote approving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 5-0. It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon. (FTC File No. P074201; the staff contact is Matthew Wilshire, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2976)

For more information, read How to Comply with the Fur Products Labeling Act and the complete Rules and Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act.

 


 

FTC Proposes Changes to its Care Labeling Rule for Clothing

Manufacturers, Importers Could Put Wetcleaning Instructions on Garment Care Labels

U.S. Federal Trade Commission / www.ftc.gov

As part of the Federal Trade Commission's systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, the FTC is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the FTC Rule that requires manufacturers and importers to attach labels with care instructions for garments and certain piece goods, so consumers have reliable instructions for drycleaning or washing, bleaching, drying and ironing their clothing.

The Care Labeling Rule, officially called the Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, has been in effect since 1971. The FTC sought public comment on the overall costs, benefits, and necessity of the Care Labeling Rule. Based on a review of comments, the agency has concluded that the Rule continues to benefit consumers and will be retained, and is now seeking comments on potential updates to the Rule, including changes that would:

  • Allow manufacturers and importers, if they so choose, to include professional instructions for wetcleaning – an environmentally friendly alternative to drycleaning – on labels if the garment can be professionally wetcleaned;
  • Permit manufacturers to use updated ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization) symbols on labels in lieu of written terms providing care instructions;
  • Clarify what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions; and
  • Update and expand the definition of "dryclean" to reflect current practices and account for the advent of new solvents.

The Commission vote approving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 5-0. It is available on the FTC's website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon. Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice. Comments can be filed electronically by clicking here. Comments must be received by November 16, 2012. All comments received will be posted online here. (FTC File No. R511915; the staff contact is Robert M. Frisby, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2098)

 


 

Assistant Commissioner Gina Shares CBP’s Top Trade Initiatives

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

When CBP’s Assistant Commissioner of the Office of International Trade Allen Gina spoke to trade business leaders from the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, NCBFAA, Monday, he lightheartedly greeted them in jest. But he wasn’t kidding when he told the group how much they were valued by CBP.

“The truth is the NCBFAA and each of you are extremely important to us,” said Gina, who was the keynote speaker at the opening day luncheon of the association’s 2012 Government Affairs Conference held in Washington, D.C. “When we think about partnerships and partners, the NCBFAA is one of the most critical. Every commissioner to date, including Deputy Commissioner [David] Aguilar, recognizes that and he wanted me to convey that to you today.”

Gina, pinch-hitting for Aguilar who was in Texas yesterday, also told those attending that the deputy commissioner’s focus is on modernizing and streamlining. “Everything we do needs to be safer, faster, cheaper,” said Gina. To illustrate his point, he shared the agency’s top trade transformation initiatives. The seven initiatives include—the Role of the Broker; ACE, the agency’s automated cargo processing system; the Centers of Excellence and Expertise, Simplified Entry-Air Cargo Advanced Screening, trusted trade partnerships; trade intelligence, and the One U.S. Government at the Border.

Among the key points Gina expressed was the importance of the ACE program. “There’s no way we’re going to transform our operations with an antiquated system or paper forms. There needs to be some type of automation and ACE is it,” he said. “I’m a big believer that the only way we’re going to create efficiencies in the future is to deliver ACE to you. I’m here to tell you that the agency is fully committed to continuing with ACE’s development and delivery.”

Gina also noted that the new industry specific Centers of Excellence and Expertise were game changers for the agency. “The centers are going to create tremendous efficiencies for CBP, for other government agencies, and for the trade community at large,” he said, assuring the audience that brokers will be involved in the process. “I’d like to dispense with the notion that brokers do not have an active role to play within the centers. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “By partnering with brokers, CBP has expanded our facilitation efforts, streamlining the import process—and the centers are the strategic platform to continue this partnership.”

Approximately 120 members of the association attended the luncheon, which was part of the two-day conference sponsored by the NCBFAA, the leading transportation logistics association in the country. The annual conference provides an opportunity for industry leaders to meet with legislators and update them on critical importing and exporting trade issues. Established in 1897 in New York, the NCBFAA currently is celebrating 115 years as the national voice of the industry.

 


 

Nearly 140 Tragic Child Drownings In Pools and Spas Reported By Media In Summer 2012

Initial summer drowning figures are only part of the annual toll

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission / www.cpsc.gov

WASHINGTON, DC - According to information compiled from media reports and released today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign, 137 children younger than 15 years drowned in a pool or spa during the traditional summer season of Memorial Day to Labor Day this year. An additional 168 children of that age required emergency response for near-fatal incidents in pools or spas during that period.

"These figures are a strong indication that child drownings are a serious public health problem," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said. "We are losing too many children to drowning, tragically cutting short these young lives and leaving families devastated. While summer is ending, our vigilance in ensuring that all children pool safely must not end. With so many indoor community pools, hotel pools and spas, indoor waterparks, as well as outdoor pools that remain open in warm-weather states, we must continue our efforts to remind everyone to pool safely whenever they are near the water."

The media figures for this summer show that 54 of these drownings occurred soon after the children left an adult who was in their immediate vicinity, and 31 children drowned despite the presence of others at the pool.

In addition, the media reports from this summer are consistent with CPSC's annual reports in showing that young children and toddlers are especially vulnerable to drowning - at least 100 of the 137 children who drowned were younger than five. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children one to four years of age.

Not every child drowning is reported on or tracked by the media. In turn, it takes time for CPSC to compile data of all child drownings from around the country. Each May, CPSC releases reports for drownings and non-fatal submersions for children younger than 15 years of age. CPSC data from 2007 to 2009 shows an annual average of 243 children drowned in pools or spas during the summer months, which is about 63 percent of the average annual drowning figures for these years.

CPSC's Pool Safely campaign message reinforces the important safety steps: stay close to children in the water, be alert, and watch children in and around the pool at all times.

During the summer of 2012, the following twelve states suffered the largest number of pool and spa drownings for children younger than 15:

1. Texas (17) 7. Florida (6)
2. California (10) 8. Illinois (6)
3. Ohio (9) 9. North Carolina (6)
4. Arizona (8) 10. Alabama (5)
5. Michigan (8) 11. Georgia (5)
6. Pennsylvania (7) 12. New York (5)

CPSC's 2012 submersion report (pdf) shows on average 390 pool or spa-related drownings occur each year for children younger than 15, based on statistics from 2007-2009. About 5,200 pool or spa-related emergency department-treated submersion injuries occur on average each year for children younger than 15.

The Pool Safely campaign provides information on the simple steps that parents, caregivers and pool owners should take to ensure that children and adults stay safe around pools and spas:

Stay close, be alert and watch children in and around the pool. Never leave children unattended in a pool or spa; always watch children closely around all bodies of water; teach children basic water safety tips; and keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.

Learn and practice water safety skills. Every family member should know how to swim. Learn how to perform CPR on both children and adults.

Have appropriate equipment for your pool or spa. This includes pool fencing, a lockable safety cover for spas, proper drain covers to avoid entrapments, and lifesaving equipment such as life rings and a reaching pole.

The Pool Safely campaign was launched in 2010 to raise awareness about pool and spa safety, as mandated by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. This year, the campaign is increasing its focus on populations most at risk of drowning, including children younger than five years old who represent 75 percent of child drowning fatalities on average, and African American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14 who drown at higher rates than white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from USA Swimming indicates that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, making them especially vulnerable to drowning.

About Pool Safely:
The Pool Safely campaign is CPSC's national public education and information program to reduce child drownings, near-drowning and entrapment incidents in swimming pools and spas. The campaign resulted from the requirements of Section 1407 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act), federal legislation signed into law in 2007, which mandated new requirements for pool and spa safety. Parents, caregivers and the media are encouraged to visit PoolSafely.gov or @PoolSafely on Twitter for vital safety information regarding the prevention of child submersions in and around pools and spas.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals - contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go online to: SaferProducts.gov, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing and speech impaired. Consumers can obtain this news release and product safety information at www.cpsc.gov. To join a free e-mail subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.

 
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