Return to Transcripts main page
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
U.S.-China Relations Strained; Flu Outbreak Claims Lives; How Safe Is Imported Food?
Aired November 26, 2003 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: trade disputes with China, rising tensions over Taiwan, and now a Chinese spy scandal. U.S.- Chinese relations face a new challenge after the accused spy pleads guilty. National security correspondent David Ensor reports.
This years's flu season has begun early, has already claimed lives, and could be the worst in three decades. The number of deaths from flu this year could double. The government's top expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is our guest.
In "Broken Borders": The Food and Drug Administration faces tough questions after contaminated food imported from Mexico sickens hundreds and kills three. How safe is our imported food? Bill Tucker reports.
And tonight, as the nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, a special tribute to the men and women who are serving our country around the world. I'll be joined by one of the country's most decorated soldiers, General David Grange.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Wednesday, November 26. Here now, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening.
Tonight, a human rights activist China jailed for espionage two years ago is at the center of a spying scandal. The Chinese-born woman today pleaded guilty in Alexandria, Virginia, to illegally exporting U.S. technology to China. That equipment can be used in missile guidance systems. China convicted the woman of spying for Taiwan in July of 2001. She was released after President Bush telephoned the Chinese president.
National security correspondent David Ensor has the report.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their appearance at federal district court in Virginia, charged with illegal exports to China, is a surprise twist in the story of Gao Zhan and her husband, known until now in the West as critics of human rights in China.
With tears in her eyes, Gao Zhan pled guilty to two charges, illegally exporting $1.5 million worth of sensitive electronic components to China and tax evasion. Under federal guidelines, the maximum sentence for the first charge is 10 years, though prosecutors say she's cooperated. They're likely to ask for much less.
MARK HULKOWER, ATTORNEY FOR GAO: The parts all have civilian and commercial nonmilitary uses. And she believed that was the use to which those parts were going to be put.
ENSOR: It is an extraordinary turn of events for the U.S. resident/Chinese citizen who was imprisoned in China for five months on charges of spying for Taiwan. Her son was also held separately for a time, prompting official complaints.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We think it is particularly outrageous that the young boy, son, was held away from his parents.
ENSOR: After intense pressure from Washington, she was freed, to return to her husband and child and to her job as professor at American University in Washington.
GAO ZHAN, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: With America standing by me, with these fine people standing behind me, I'm not scared.
ENSOR: Now, the human rights hero lionized in Washington will do jail time in this country for illegally serving as China's agent, obtaining microprocessors that can be used in missile guidance systems.
GAO: You will have a chance to hear my story. I assure you.
QUESTION: I know, but today -- people are going to hear today. They're going to hear today what the government says.
GAO: No, no, no. They're going to have a lot of time to hear in the future.
ENSOR: The question many are asking tonight, Lou, if Gao was working for China, what was that all about with her going to jail in China? Was that a ruse to fool the United States or was it a case of one part of the Chinese government not knowing what the other one was doing?
That, said one official to us today, is the $2 million question -- Lou.
DOBBS: At least that, David. And we should point out that Gao Zhan was convicted of spying before her conviction in China for spying for Taiwan, correct?
ENSOR: She was found guilty of spying for Taiwan by the Chinese, served some time, then came here.
She has not, I should point out, been found guilty of spying here, only of acting as an agent, in fact, selling things to China without the proper licenses. So that's a lesser charge, but still a serious one.
DOBBS: A lesser one and a government term. I think the rest of us mortals, David, might consider it spying.
Thanks very much, David Ensor, our national security correspondent.
Just hours after Gao Zhan entered her guilty plea, the White House, by coincidence, announced that President Bush will meet the Chinese prime minister in Washington next month. The White House said the president wants to continue building what he termed a candid, constructive and cooperative bilateral relationship with China. The growing trade dispute between the United States and China is certain to be one of the main topics on the agenda.
The U.S.-China trade dispute is worsening seemingly by the day. It has now spread to television sets. China today accused Washington of unfair trade sanctions when Washington imposed tariffs on Chinese- made television sets. Incredibly, China has a powerful ally in this country. It is America's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart.
Peter Viles has the report.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest trade spat between Washington and Beijing, Chinese manufacturers accused of dumping TV sets into the American market, the case brought by the last American-owned TV factory and by unions that have been hammered by cheap imports.
But guess who stuck up for the Chinese in Washington? That's right, their big customer, Wal-Mart. In testimony before the U.S. International Trade Commission, Wal-Mart argued -- quote -- "The imported televisions cannot be injuring the domestic industry."
LAURENCE LASOFF, ATTORNEY, COLLIER SHANNON SCOTT: It was somewhat ironic. I go back to Sam Walton a number of years ago standing up, raising the American flag, and saying, we are going to buy American. Things have certainly changed. But Wal-Mart has gone to such extremes to get the cheapest product available in the marketplace, that it appears that they are willing to buy product that is priced unfairly, in contradiction with U.S. law and international law.
VILES: Among the TV sets at issue are the new Apex brand from China. If you go to WalMart.com you can see how cheap that brand is, 20-inch, flat screen on special, $114, 27-inch stereo TV, $177, 51- inch HDTV, $1,100.
In defending the Chinese, a Wal-Mart executive testified -- quote -- "We purchase U.S.-produced sets to satisfy one part of our market and we import sets to satisfy a separate part of our market." Meantime, it is a myth that television manufacturing is a dead industry in the United States. Sony, for example, employs more than 2,000 people at a factory outside Pittsburgh.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VILES: The dumping case brought by Tennessee-based Five Rivers Electronic , which makes Samsung and Zenith TVs, among others, and says it has had to cut of 600 jobs in the past three years due to low- priced competition from imports -- Lou.
DOBBS: Wal-Mart the fifth largest market by itself for Chinese goods overseas.
DOBBS: And Wal-Mart in this case defending, in this case, as you point out, the Chinese, while the United States is intervening to protect U.S. manufacturers which happen in at least one case to be Japanese.
VILES: Sure. The American...
DOBBS: I think this is globalization.
VILES: It is, at its best or at its worst.
The American industry was beaten down by the Japanese in the '70s and '80s. There are no American producers left. But there are Americans who work making TVs in this country; 30 percent of the TVs sold here are made here. A lot of the Sonys are made here in the United States. So there are jobs at risk. It's an industry worth sticking up for.
What Wal-Mart is saying is, we weren't going to buy them in the United States anyway.
DOBBS: Pete, thanks -- Peter Viles.
In our "Face-Off" tonight, the issue of free trade and this economy. I'll be joined later in the show by Allan Meltzer. He is political economy professor at Carnegie Mellon University; and by Thea Lee, the chief international economist of the AFL-CIO.
China is likely to become an even bigger challenge for the United States in the future. But the most pressing overseas issue tonight is Iraq. The former U.S. administrator in Iraq, Jay Garner, today said the coalition made several critical mistakes after it took control of Baghdad. Garner said he could have done a better job of communicating with the Iraqis and restoring particularly power.
He also said the military should have deployed more infantry to Baghdad. Garner was replaced as administrator after less than a month on the job.
General John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, today said the insurgency can only be defeated when the Iraqi economy improves. The general said the coalition must help angry, young Iraqis find jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, CMDR., U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: The U.S. military's not the full answer. The full answer on how Iraq emerges from this war has to do with economic, military, political, diplomatic power all coming together at the right time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: In Washington today, defense officials said the United States will send an additional 3,000 Marines to Iraq next year. The extra troops will increase the planned size of the American force in Iraq to 108,000 next May. About 130,000 American troops are now in Iraq.
Following up on a story we first reported to you in October, as many as 45,000 American troops in Iraq are still fighting without the latest bulletproof vests. According to a spokesman for Central Command, production of those vests is now up to 30,000 a month, and it's been for at least the past month. So, by our mathematics, at least, that number should already be cut to 15,000, yet it remains at 45,000.
According to Central Command, no one knows when all of our troops will be outfitted with the vests. In the meantime, family and friends of American troops serving in Iraq are taking matters into their own hands. They're buying the vests. They're shipping them overseas. One National Guard unit from California will have bulletproof vests when they ship out to Iraq in January, thanks to the tireless, generous efforts of a group of local law enforcement officers.
Rob Roth from CNN affiliate KTVU in San Rafael, California, has the report.
ROB ROTH, KTVU REPORTER (voice-over): Come January, 120 National Guard soldiers from Marin County will be heading for Iraq. But the problem is, the military done have enough flak jackets for them or the other National Guard troops.
LT. COL. TIMOTHY KEASLING, NATIONAL GUARD: With this mobilization, we are supposed to get the body armor. But we are not for sure when that body armor would be made available to us. It may be some time after we get in country.
ROTH: And for some troops, that could be too late. So today, law enforcement agencies from throughout Marin County donated more than 60 new and used bulletproof vests, so the soldiers would have at least some protection.
SGT. DARRYL KESECKER, MARIN COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: We don't have a large department, but we did a little digging. We found one. And I told him, I've got one. He goes, that's one more that we need. Bring it over.
ROTH: The vests are made of Kevlar. Some also have pockets for ceramic plates. KEASLING: With the plates on the front and back, which some of the vests they have given us do have that, will stop rifles. The vests without that will only stop handgun rounds.
ROTH: The National Guard soldiers from Marin will be performing counterintelligence operations in Iraq. Others will be interrogating enemy prisoners.
BOB DOYLE, MARIN COUNTY SHERIFF: What strikes me is, here we're going to put citizens into a combat zone and we're not going to at least give them protective vests, when we require all of our field deputies, before they even go on service, that they to wear protective vests.
ROTH: The U.S. military has given thousands of flak jackets to soldiers from other countries as an incentive to join the coalition. So, in Marin, the donations keep coming in.
(on camera): The National Guard expects to have enough vests for everyone by the time the troops leave for Iraq in January. And they will be leaving with a lot more protection than they would have.
In San Rafael, Rob Roth, KTVU, Channel 2 News.
DOBBS: And coming up next: A deadly flu outbreak has claimed for young lives in Colorado and could claim tens of thousands of more in the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health joins us.
And "Broken Borders" tonight: a fatal breakdown in the system designed to protect us from infectious disease, how the system failed and who bears the blame. Bill Tucker reports.
And in tonight's "Grange On Point," giving thanks to the hundreds of thousands of American troops serving this country all around the world -- General David Grange.
And, as we go to break, some Thanksgiving wishes from our troops in Iraq to their loved ones at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is specialist Isaac Roscoe (ph) from Long Beach, California.
And we're still here in Iraq. Fortunately, it's raining today. So that's a good thing. And I just wanted to say hi to my friends and family in California. Hey. How are you? And hope to see you soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, my name is Sergeant Robert Cornwall (ph) in Tikrit, Iraq, right now fighting for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
And I just want to say hi and happy Thanksgiving to Jennifer (ph), Robert (ph), Ryan (ph), Julie (ph), mom, dad, Katharine (ph), Ruby (ph), Corey (ph), everybody back home, Granny, Grandma, all you guys. I really miss you all a lot. And I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas. I love you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My whole name is Staff Sergeant Rafael Harris (ph). I'm from Chicago, stationed here in Tikrit, Iraq. I would like to say hello, happy Thanksgiving to everybody. Family, take it easy. Be home soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The hepatitis-A outbreaks in four states linked to green onions from Mexico has raised many concerns about the safety of imported foods. The government promises more inspections. The FDA now only inspects about 2 percent of the produce that is imported. But many suggest that there has to be considerably more done.
Bill Tucker has the report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a problem with our food safety system.
MICHAEL JACOBSON, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: People lost their lives. Three people died, possibly unnecessarily, because the government was slow in alerting the public as to the problem related to scallions.
TUCKER: And the problem is not new -- quote -- "The current food safety system is a patchwork structure that hampers efforts to adequately address existing and emerging food safety risks" -- that from GAO testimony two years ago. And there are other reports from 1992 and earlier outlining the problem.
That patchwork of agencies is reactive by design. And the public is not notified of a problem with a food source until the agencies know where or what country the food came from. The FDA and the CDC knew in September they had cases of hepatitis-A on their hands, but it took until early November to discover the cause.
MICHAEL TAYLOR, FORMER ADMIN., USDA FOOD SAFETY SERVICE: The system we have today is fundamentally reactive. It's important to be able to react to food safety problems like disease outbreaks. But we won't ensure food safety in this country unless we're more preventive about food-borne illness.
TUCKER: There are some changes already in the system. As of December 12, under new bioterrorism laws, the government will have the power to detain food before it's imported into the United States.
TUCKER: Both the FDA and the USDA will have the authority to inspect farms and facilities in foreign countries to assess food safety practices.
And, Lou, they will have the authority to bar those products if they don't like what they see there.
DOBBS: But the very idea that the FDA right now is only taking a look at, both the anticipatory and at the border, 2 percent of the food that's being brought in...
TUCKER: That's correct.
DOBBS: That's utterly ridiculous.
TUCKER: It is. But they say they don't have the manpower, they don't have the resources to do it any more deeply than that.
DOBBS: It makes one wonder what is being done with those billions of dollars that have been provided by Congress for homeland security, because we have a porous border and a lot of people still in our federal government agencies not getting the job done.
Bill Tucker, thank you.
Turning now to another critically important health issue in this country, four children have died in Colorado in what officials are calling that state's worst flu outbreak. Two of the children were infants, two older, leading state officials today warning residents that this flu strain may be especially dangerous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NED CALONGE, COLORADO HEALTH DEPARTMENT: It's the worst we've had in the past six years. I can tell you that. And it's the worst we've seen since we have been using our current flu surveillance system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The Centers for Disease Control classified Colorado's flu outbreak as widespread. That is the most serious category. Texas, Nevada and Wisconsin are also seeing intensified flu cases.
The Mayo Clinic has also warned that this may be the worst flu season in three decades. As many as 70,000 people may die. But the Mayo Clinic says getting a flu shot will double your chances of survival.
When we continue, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's foremost expert on infectious disease, joins us. We'll be talking about this flu outbreak, what we can expect, and how to protect yourself.
Also ahead, "The Throwaway Society," our special report -- the disposal of everyday technology taking a damaging toll on the environment and our health. The extent of that damage is still unknown. Kitty Pilgrim reports.
In "Face-Off" tonight: unfair trade practices, the ultimate cost the American worker. You do remember the American worker? Two experts will "Face-Off" on free trade next.
DOBBS: As we reported, this season's flu strain is especially severe.
We're now joined by the government's leading expert on infectious disease. Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that, of course, part of the National Institutes of Health. He joins us tonight from Washington.
Doctor, good to have you with us.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Good to be here.
DOBBS: This outbreak, it claimed the lives of two small children, a 15-year-old and an 8-year-old in Colorado. This is beginning early and it looks virulent. How bad is it, in your estimation?
FAUCI: Well, one cannot really tell how it's going to roll out.
But the initial signs that we're seeing are not encouraging, first of all, because we're seeing clusters of cases earlier than we usually see it. We're seeing usually peaks in January, February, March. To see these many cases, with these kind of serious complications, at the end of November is a bad sign that we're likely going to be in for a bad year. You can't say for sure, but it's not encouraging.
Also, the strain is what we call an H3N2. It's designated by letters and numbers, which traditionally is one that can lead to serious disease. And particularly the one that's circulating now is a little bit having drifted from the kind of virus that we're aimed at in the vaccine. The vaccine will almost certainly protect very well, but it's not the perfect match.
But that still does not take away from the fact that we really should get vaccinated. People should get vaccinated. What we're seeing now is essentially a good call for vaccination.
DOBBS: Now, you just said that it's impossible to tell. The Mayo Clinic has come out and said they are looking at an extensive increase in the member of cases of flu.
DOBBS: Perhaps a doubling of fatalities from a year ago.
FAUCI: Right. Exactly.
DOBBS: Would you dispute that forecast or are you just...
FAUCI: No, absolutely not. No, we are concerned. We're concerned about what I just mentioned, the fact that it's occurring early and there are a lot of them.
So, when you look at the curves of how influenza evolves in a particular region, state or country, what have you, we're already way on the unfortunate side of the curve that we're already seeing the burst of cases that you might not otherwise see until late in the year. So, by the time you get well into the year, we could have a serious problem.
DOBBS: Dr. Fauci, you referred to the virus as H3N2.
DOBBS: The drift referring to the mutation of the particular strain of influenza.
DOBBS: Have we seen this strain before in it's particular form?
FAUCI: Yes. Yes.
Actually, generally, what you see here in the United States is what has occurred previously in the Southern Hemisphere. That allows us to be able to predict what to put into the vaccine. We saw this not soon enough to get it into the vaccine. But what is in the vaccine now should have enough cross-reactivity to be able to protect people who get vaccinated, which is again, even though it is a drifting virus with regard to mutations, we still feel it's extraordinarily important for people to pay attention to getting vaccinated.
DOBBS: Now, when you say -- and we have got just a few seconds, Doctor, and we appreciate it. But I want to be as clear as possible for our audience and for myself. I've always been told that people over 50 should get an influenza vaccination. Precisely who should go out and get the flu shot?
First of all, anybody that wants it should get it. So there isn't any
DOBBS: Irrespective of age?
FAUCI: Irrespective -- well, less than six months, you shouldn't.
But anyone who wants it. Children who are six months to 23 months are the ones who, in fact when they do get sick, they get cases of pneumonia that generally require hospitalization in a certain percentage of people. But people over 50, people who have debilitating diseases like heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, people whose immune systems are suppressed, people in nursing homes, health care workers and children who would require aspirin, because, when you get influenza and you're taking aspirin, you could get a complication, and, finally, pregnant women after their third month of pregnancy. That's generally the group that we say definitely should get vaccinated.
DOBBS: Dr. Anthony Fauci, good to have you on. We appreciate it and look forward to talking with you again.
FAUCI: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up next, tonight's "Face-Off," the cost of so- called free trade on this country's economy and its workers. Two leading experts on the issue will "Face-Off" here next.
DOBBS: The ongoing trade dispute over steel imports escalated today. Japan has now threatened to impose $85 million in retaliatory duties against American imports, unless the U.S. backs away from those steel tariff -- those steel import tariffs.
Those tariffs were imposed a year and a half ago. They were recently ruled to be unfair by the World Trade Organization. The issue of trade, trade disputes and huge trade deficit for this country brings us to the subject of tonight's face-off.
Allan Meltzer is political economy professor at Carnegie Mellon. He says U.S. job growth has been lagging because of a slowing economy, not because of imports from China, Japan or any other country. Thea Lee is the chief international economist for the AFL-CIO. She says NAFTA along with with tariff reductions have encouraged some companies to ship more jobs out of the country.
We want to thank both of you for being with us tonight.
Let me turn to you, first, professor, and ask, it is certain that we've lost 3 million jobs during an economic downturn while at the same time our trade deficit has escalated to almost a half a trillion dollars. You see no relationship between the two?
ALLAN MELTZER, CARNEGIE MELLON: Well, we haven't lost 3 million jobs. I mean, there are two numbers that collect the unemployment statistics, one is the household survey, one is the establishment survey. The establishment survey has been revised for the last couple of months and the household survey doesn't show anything like 3 million jobs. It shows this year we added something in the neighborhood of 800,000 jobs.
So there's are real difference. It doesn't say one is right and one is wrong, but the 3 million number is almost certainly an overstatement. The second part of your question asks, does the trade deficit have anything to do with the loss of jobs? Well, we have been losing manufacturing jobs since 1951. I think I sent you a chart, I hope you have it there, that you can show the audience, that shows, if you look at that chart, there's no difference in the rate at which manufacturing jobs have been declining as a percentage of all jobs.
And the reason for that is just productivity growth. I mean, we produce the same or more output with fewer workers. And so workers' wages are rising at one of the most rapid rates in recent years.
DOBBS: Thea Lee, your thoughts?
THEA LEE, CHIEF INTL. ECONOMIST AFL-CIO: Well, I think there's no question when we're running a half a trillion dollar merchandise trade deficit and we're seeing a lot of multinational companies outsourcing jobs that workers are certainly losing jobs because of trade, imports and outsourcing.
The question is, you know, what impact does that have on the overall economy? And I say, the main impact is on the quality of jobs. The kind of jobs workers are losing because of imports, because of outsourcing are good jobs, a lot of times in the manufacturing sector. Now we're seeing in engineering and white collar jobs that some of the jobs are moving offshore as well.
And I think that the job performance in this recovery is strikingly poor given that the economy is growing, that we aren't seeing the kind of job creation we ought to see at this stage of recovery.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this, professor. If you -- you think we've gained how many did you say 800,000 jobs?
MELTZER: Well, that's what the household survey says. I don't claim that's right.
DOBBS: But you used it for disputation on my assertion that we lost 3 million. So let me ask you this question, if I may, professor.
DOBBS: That is, with a 6 percent, better than 6 percent unemployment rate in this country. With the number of jobs being outsourced and sent overseas, what do you see as the long-term effect? Do you see that has beneficial to the labor market in this country?
MELTZER: No. And as the economy picks up strength, as it has now, we see every sign that the employment rate is going up, that the unemployment rate will go down, slowly over the next year, as the economy strengthens. That is the principal reason why we're losing jobs is not because of some sudden surge of imports, the principal reason we're losing jobs is because until recently it's been a very weak recovery.
DOBBS: And the income of America's workers to what degree does that concern you both? Because we're watching this outsourcing of jobs. We are look at transplants being built, in this case originating in the United States overseas, in a search for cheaper labor. It's not a isn't for higher productivity, although they talked -- many of those companies talking about productivity. It's become a code word for lower, cheaper labor.
MELTZER: Let me answer by saying before NAFTA, that is before 1994, 1995, we were -- real wages of compensation of workers were growing at less than 1 percent of year. In the last three years, it's been growing at twice the rate 1.7 percent a year. And with the productivity growth we have, which is close to historic highs, we're going to have even bigger increases in wages over the next few years.
So it's not true that we're losing high-paying jobs and/or -- what we're losing are jobs in the textile industry, furniture industry, those are two industries where we have serious losses.
DOBBS: The technology industry as well.
MELTZER: The technology industry lost jobs because it got over, expanded, but now it's picking up fairly rapidly. And we're going to see growth in that area, growth in the biotech area. We see growth in the service industry.
DOBBS: Let's let Thea Lee get into this.
LEE: What we have seen in past 20 years in the U.S. economy is a growing wage in equality that was slowed down in 1990s. We had tremendous job growth and GDP growth. But we -- a long-term trend is for growing wage and equality. So the average worker, the median worker, is really not better off than he or she was 20 years ago and I think that's pretty striking in a period where we have technological improvements.
And as Professor Meltzer says, we have a lot of productivity improvements, but one of the dangerous signs we see is the productivity improvements aren't passed on in higher wages. So we're seeing a rupture between growth of productivity and what workers are producing and what they're getting.
And part of the impact comes from the fact that the trade agreements that we've signed have been all about changing the balance of bargaining power between capital and labor, giving multinational corporations a lot more clout, a lot more options, a lot more freedom, mobility, flexibility to move production around and they bargain much tougher. They have used globalization of the economy to bust unions, to keep wages low, to keep benefits low, and that's had an impact on a lot of workers.
DOBBS: Well, unions have basically in this country been busted. Organized labor is down to less than double digits in representation of the work force.
LEE: About 13 percent overall.
DOBBS: And the fact of the matter is, I don't think either of you will dispute the fact most trade agreements really aren't about trade. They're about, if you will, securing investment venues for American capital. In nearly every case. You can...
MELTZER: About two things, Lou. That's one. But the other one is about getting cheaper products that go both into the manufacturers that we export and into consumer goods. You go to a store, you find inexpensive clothing...
DOBBS: I would never suggest we can not get lower priced products through these trade agreements. History has demonstrated. But I think it should be very clear, we should be straightforward with our audience, and I'm glad you acknowledged it, these trade agreements are primarily about providing security for U.S. investment in these markets, not about as a primary goal either raising the standard of living or the quality of life for an American worker.
LEE: If I could say something...
MELTZER: I don't agree with that.
DOBBS: Sorry, Thea. Let me get back...
MELTZER: May I say one thing in response?
DOBBS: I just prodded the professor there. I want to give him the opportunity to respond.
MELTZER: May I say one thing about the jobs. What are the fact? The facts are, if you look -- you check with the U.S. trade representatives' office, 13 percent to 16 percent higher wages in the export industries than in the industries that -- we're losing. So, when we shift the mix of jobs in the country by losing low-paying jobs we gain high-paying jobs. And those jobs are 13 to 16 percent better paid than the jobs that we're losing. So that's good for the standard of living of American people.
DOBBS: You get the last word.
LEE: Actually that's not true. The jobs -- export jobs pay higher than the average job in the economy, because the average job is a service sector job. But the import displaced jobs lost and pretty high paid as well. And when you have half a trillion dollar trade deficit than you're losing more of those import jobs than you are creating on the export side and that's what our trade agreements have done, have in fact caused a huge flood of imports and have -- and a lot outsourcing as you said, Mr. Dobbs, have encouraged and rewarded companies that have shifted jobs overseas instead of opening up export markets in the products.
DOBBS: Thea, I appreciate the Mr. Dobbs, but it's Lou. And I thank you very much for that. And I hope you both, professor, Thea, it you both come back soon as we discuss this because this is a critically important issue for this country, as certainly the two of you understand better than even the rest of us. We thank you very much.
MELTZER: Thank you.
LEE: Thanks, Lou.
MELTZER: Happy Thanksgiving.
DOBBS: And Happy Thanksgiving to you both.
Tonight, our special report "The Throw-Away Society." Over the past two decades cellular phones have become one of the most popular new technologies and the most disposable. The constant need to upgrade to smaller, more advanced technology has led to an ever growing glut of used cell phones that are often simply thrown away. Kitty Pilgrim has the report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $29.99 for 3,000 minutes.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than half of all American have a cellphone. On average, they replace it every 18 months. Americans get rid of 100 million cellphones a year for any number of reasons: when they switch service, when new gizmos come out, when they lose their old one. There are boxes of them at Penn Station in New York City, left on trains.
And when they get a new one, the old one gets chucked. 500 million are stashed away, mostly in drawers. But throwing them in the trash is a problem, they leak heavy metal and toxic chemicals into landfills and pollute the air with toxins when they are burned.
BETTE FISHBEIN, INFORM: These substances cause thyroid dysfunction. They have been linked with increased risks of cancer, immunological, neurological problems. So they're quite a serious risk to human health and the environment.
PILGRIM: And even more hazardous substances are in the batteries. Phone recycling has begun, but slowly. Some phone companies will take back the old phones. The Cell Industry Association says recycling is the only way to go. But we will be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with toxic junk.
JO-ANNE BASILE, CELLULAR TELECOM & INTERNET ASSN.: It's an issue of sheer numbers and that's the reason why we are calling on the consumer to pull that phone out of their drawers and bring it to one of your service providers.
PILGRIM: Recellular is a company in Michigan that collects and sells old phones. They sell them to service providers in underdeveloped countries around the world.
CHUCK NEWMAN, PRES. & FOUNDER, RECELLULAR: This really is the only way that folks in the third world country are going to be able to afford any kind of telephone and that's a used or refurbished phone that is no longer desirable here in the states.
PILGRIM: Recellular gets 10 tons of discarded phones a day, 4 million a year. 75 percent are reusable.
PILGRIM: Cell phone recycle programs help but activists say it's better to change some of the technology like reducing toxins like lead and making a standard charger that could be used for all models -- Lou.
DOBBS: Who would have ever thought of cell phones being thrown away discarded. The heavy metals, the idea of changing, the technology, is it really possible for the cell phone makers to do so?
PILGRIM: It has already been done to some degree. They need to do it more. Also in the batteries.
DOBBS: If it can be done, they need to do it more. All right. Kitty, thanks. Kitty Pilgrim.
Coming up next, giving thanks to all of the brave, young men and women of armed services serving our country around the world this Thanksgiving. General David Grange joins us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Specialist David Barco (ph) from Elizabeth, New Jersey. I'm stationed in Tikrit. I'm in the 4th Infantry Division. I just want to say happy Thanksgiving to my wife, Jackie, and everyone who supporting me and my family. Thank you for everything. God bless you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, my name Sergeant Joseph Cooke (ph). I'm from Clarksville, Indiana. I want to say hi to all my friends and family back home and that I'll see you guys soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Sergeant First Class Wagner (ph). Giving a Thanksgiving shoutout from Tikrit, Iraq. I want to say hi to my wife and daughters back in Texas and all my family in California and brother in basic training in Georgia. Happy Thanksgiving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Specialist Erik Williams from Austin, Texas. I'm in Tikrit, Iraq. I would like to say hello to family and friends at home, and happy Thanksgiving. I'll be home soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Well, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we thought it would be appropriate, at least General David Grange, who is focused point of "Grange on Point", thought it would be appropriate to talk about troops serving their country all around the world and how they're going to celebrate it. Dave, happy Thanksgiving, first, to you.
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Happy Thanksgiving to you, Lou.
DOBBS: And how happy will thanksgiving be for our men and women in uniform around the world?
GRANGE: Well, most of them will be able to celebrate it. Some will have a regular turkey dinner in one of the mess halls, the base camps where they feed the troops. Some will be in some pretty remote areas and they'll have to improvise, like on the border of lets say Iran and Iraq, the border or Pakistan, Afghanistan. Now, they will improvise and do something.
DOBBS: Now, I think this holiday is important. It's one of the happiest of all of our holidays, perhaps our favorite in many cases. For the G.I. out there, how far will the army go, in particular, to make sure that he or she gets to enjoy the holiday?
Is it a commitment on the part of their officers, on the part of the army itself?
GRANGE: Lou, it is a commitment. And both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, every effort is made to bring in traditional meals -- or the stuff to cook the meals and then provide that meal to the different soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, wherever they are. Obviously in combat, it's on a rotational basis. And then sometimes you just can't get the food to the troops which happened to me in Vietnam on several occasions.
DOBBS: How many Thanksgivings, by the way, over your distinguished career, did you miss, were you away from home?
GRANGE: I would say about half of the thanksgivings in 30 years, Lou. And it's not just on an deployment, but it depends on where you're stationed. For instance, if you're in Germany, you don't have Thanksgiving at dinner at home on Thursday because usually you go out to mess halls and have Thanksgiving with the troops. It's a tradition in the military that the officers who wear the dress uniforms and they actually serve the troops in the mess halls the Thanksgiving dinner. So you're committed to that which is a great camaraderie builder in the units.
DOBBS: General, did you say mess hall?
GRANGE: I did.
DOBBS: I thought that language had been changed by the military.
GRANGE: Well, mess hall is an affectionate term to most veterans and all of their G.I.s. It's been around a long time. It's been changed to dining facility which just doesn't have the ring. The mess hall, the word "mess" is a gathering of troops or sailors to prepare and eat together. And it's just got some great tradition. It should come back.
DOBBS: We, as you know, Dave, on this broadcast, pride ourselves on not being politically correct and paying great homage to a tradition. I know that we can all join on one politically correct thought here tonight, and that's to wish our young men and women in uniform the happiest of Thanksgivings.
GRANGE: You bet. Happy Thanksgiving to all of them.
DOBBS: And coming up next -- a wave of solar storms may be headed for Earth as soon as tomorrow. Astrophysicist Charles Liu, the American Museum of Natural History, joins us. And to Dave "Grange on Point," happy Thanksgiving back.
DOBBS: Good news on the economy just keeps coming. Several reports today released show strength in just about everything. Christine Romans is here with the market, the story and a lot more.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Nine reports, nine reports.
ROMANS: Yes. And you've got to pull out a calendar to find out the last time the economy was this strong. Jobless claims fell 11,000, the best level since January 2001. Business activity in Chicago grew for the seventh month in a row, the best activity in almost 8 years. And it was the big of the jump in orders for durable goods in 16 months. That's not all, 2003 is on track for record home sales. A Fed report noted broad strength in the economy and personal income grew 0.4 percent.
All of that a solid foundation for consumer spending which brings me to Wal-Mart. It has aggressively cut prices on certain toys, a direct challenge to Toys R Us. In some cases, analysts say, Wal-Mart is selling these toys below cost. For example, a Hot Wheels T-Rex play-set $29, most retailers selling it for $50. Analysts say, Wal- Mart is playing more cutthroat and cutting prices much earlier than usual. This is something to keep a very close eye on.
DOBBS: Very close eye. More cutthroat than usual.
ROMANS: More cutthroat than usual in retail, can you imagine.
DOBBS: Imagine. All right. Christine, thanks a lot. Christine Romans.
DOBBS: Many wrote in about the surge in GDP growth in corporate profits and the passage of the Medicare bill. From Rochester, Vermont, "Dear Lou, I was distressed in listening to last evenings up- beat news on the passing of the Medicare bill and the rising economy. I can't help but feel these are all quick-fix, feel good and temporary," Keefer Irwin. Well, after the last three years, Keefer, I'll take even temporary and feel-good for a while.
From Sacramento, California, "Thanks to the Republican party I now know what to get my axis of evil mother-in-law for Christmas, a lifetime membership to AARP," P.V. Hammond. And P.V., I hope you don't mind our using your name. And on the issue of illegal alien and our broken borders from Elizabeth, Colorado, "Thank you for you enlightening broken borders segment! Illegal immigration is ruining our country and I just wanted to thank you for exposing it in the limelight," that from Linda Ashner.
From Detroit, Michigan, "Is the excuse that Americans don't want to work these jobs? That's so much crap! Pay fair wages and any American will work," that from Worris Dumas Sr, Detroit, Michigan.
Please send us your thoughts here, email us at loudobbs@CNN.com.
Coming up next, another solar storm on its way to Earth. Astrophysicist Dr. Charles Liu of the American Museum of Natural History joins us next.
DOBBS: Solar flares expected to bombard the Earth with radiation again, possibly as soon as tomorrow. Those storm can disrupt radio, cell phone service, power. For more now, I'm joined by Dr. Charles Liu astrophysicist of the American Museum of Natural History. Good to have you here, Charles.
DR. CHARLES LIU, AM. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Always a pleasure.
DOBBS: These flares this time, moderate?
LIU: We hope so. It's those sunspots that cause those record- breaking flares a few weeks ago and they've come back around the sun and they're aim right at us. As long as they don't erupt like crazy like they did a few week ago, we're okay.
DOBBS: These sunspot are huge aren't they?
LIU: That's right, you could easily drop 10, 50, even 100 Earths in some of the biggest ones.
DOBBS: And it's problematic, there's no way to tell which will erupt, which will there be a coronal ejection, a flare that will reach Earth?
LIU: Exactly. Fortunately we have some great scientists who are devoting their careers to try to predict and understand them. But it's still quite a while before we know. It's kind of like trying to predict a hurricane, see whether or not it's a category 1 or 5 just by watch it while it's in the Atlantic Ocean.
DOBBS: This activity still surprising you astrophysicists. You brains who are having to deal with these earns we've moved into a period where there should be a recession of activity instead, it's an acceleration.
LIU: Right. It's an average out kind of thing. Those two weeks, four weeks were extremely strong, but then followed by two weeks of unusual calm. And then last week another big storm that caused auroras and beautiful geo magnetic activity all over the world.
DOBBS: And the fact that this is occurring, you're not worried about it, but you're paying heightened attention to it?
LIU: That's correct. I'm not concerned. I'm not changing travel plans. I know people are on the case. But we need to know people are on the case, these solar environment center people and solar scientists from NASA and NOAA who are paying attention.
DOBBS: Charles Liu, we thank you for paying attention and sharing your knowledge with us.
LIU: Always a pleasure, thanks.
DOBBS: Good to have you here, Charles. And happy Thanksgiving.
LIU: You, too.
DOBBS: Finally tonight, with Thanksgiving upon us, we wanted to remember certainly and to give thanks certainly to the men and women who are serving in our armed forces all around the globe. It is, of course, these men and women who defend our freedom and work to promote peace.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year, as in other times in our history, we can be especially grateful for the courage and faithfulness of those who defend us. Every man and woman who wears our country's uniform is a volunteer facing hardships and sometimes peril, because they believe in this country and our cause.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This Thanksgiving we have a great deal to be thankful for. Thankful for the brave Americans who serve our country and we pray especially for the families of those who giving their lives. Those families can know that millions of Americans will have them in their thoughts and prayers. We're truly fortunate that there are so many wonderful young men and women who willing to step forward, volunteer to serve. And their accomplishments deserve full recognition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives me a tremendous amount of pride as an American to know that I can lay my head down every single night and know we're defended by you men and women out there.
BUSH (voice-over): We can be grateful to live in a country that has produced such good and brave people who stand between us and the dangers of the world.
DOBBS: And this is our show for tonight. We thank you for being with us. For all of us here, good night from New York. We wish everyone, all around the world, a very happy Thanksgiving. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
How Safe Is Imported Food?>