Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite LATEST STORIES Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely TNT KaTropa signed up NBA vet Lou Amundson, and the Texters will be making their PBA Commissioner’s Cup debut against Meralco on Friday not looking to rush franchise player Jason Castro into coming back.ADVERTISEMENT Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac town Castro is still the most important piece in the TNT puzzle, though coach Nash Racela heaped praises on the former New York Knick Amundson, who came here on short notice after the Texters sent Denzel Bowles home for “self-destructing.”“He’s OK, he’s very seasoned,” Racela said of Amundson, a 34-year-old who passed the 6-foot-10 height test on Thursday at the league’s offices in Libis, Quezon City. “He can definitely help the team.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnRacela bared that Castro is listed as doubtful for the 7 p.m. contest against the Bolts, though the 5-foot-10 dynamo voted as Asia’s best point guard twice will suit up.“He’s been practicing, but his timing is definitely not there yet,” Racela said of Castro. “He’s still working on it. As a matter of fact, we needed to do scrimmage (on Thursday) to get him (Castro) and Amundson on board.” Azkals not panicking over scoreless draw, looking forward to Nepal match The Bolts will be coming off a 91-84 decision of NLEX last week.“Alex moved a little better,” coach Norman Black said of his burly import, an imposing presence in the paint who fights ferociously for those rebounds.The Road Warriors, meanwhile, will try to snap a two-game losing streak when they face Mahindra in the 4:15 p.m. contest.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Duterte promises to look for funds to establish rail transport in Cebu MOST READ Prince Harry: ‘No other option’ but to cut royal ties ‘It’s not my shame’: Why Filipino women are calling out sexual misconduct on social media ‘Bad Boys for Life’ debuts so good with box office top spot ‘1917’ takes top honor at the Producers Guild Awards Castro missed Game 7 of the Texters’ Final Four series against eventual champion San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup because of a hamstring pull. He was ordered to rest for at least two weeks after that.Racela gave him more than that, knowing his value in the import-spiced conference.“He actually had three weeks of rest, just to be sure,” Racela said. “He might be out (against the Bolts) and might play on Sunday (against Phoenix Petroleum). But it all depends on him on how he feels.”Meralco will actually be shooting for the early lead and will try to stay unbeaten.Alex Stepheson is slowly but surely improving and is plugging all the holes in the middle for the Bolts, who finished at the tailend of the All-Filipino where their weakness at the spot was exposed to the hilt.ADVERTISEMENT Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos Taal Volcano evacuees warned against going home Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments
SAFETY: Big price increases are expected next year as more safeguards are implemented. By Anne D’Innocenzio THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK – American consumers will be bearing the cost of safer toys, but not until after this year’s Christmas season. “I will pay more (for toys) because I know it will ensure safety,” said Lisa Sallese, a Wilton, Conn., mother of a 7-month-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. “But it stinks. It should have been safe to begin with.” Most of the rising costs come from emergency third-party testing in the U.S. by makers and sellers as they aim to root out any unsafe products, analysts say. El Segundo-based Mattel Inc.’s three high-profile recalls of lead-painted toys since Aug. 1 have pushed product testing to a frenzied pace. Companies are removing playthings from shelves and sending them to independent laboratories to be examined. The price of labor, overtime and testing will drive up costs in the short term, analysts said, but increased regulation will likely keep them higher. The U.S. Toy Industry Association supports a federal requirement to make safety testing and inspection mandatory and is working with the American National Standards Institute to develop industrywide safety procedures. But during Wednesday’s Congressional hearing on toy safety, senators urged even more stringent measures including stepping up fines for selling or failing to report dangerous items. This year, “both retailers and manufacturers will share the costs,” said Eric Johnson, professor of operations management at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “But in the longer term, costs will have to go somewhere. And consumers will see it.” Johnson estimated toy prices will rise by 10 percent next year. He said that the most vulnerable are mass-market toys including die-cast vehicles which run the risk of containing lead. Anita Frazier, toy analyst at market research firm NPD Group Inc., added that higher prices will stick around because some toy makers will shift a portion of their production from China to the U.S. or Europe, where labor is more expensive. This week, Toys “R” Us Inc., the nation’s second largest toy seller behind Wal-Mart, said it would be using an independent laboratory to test every branded product, said Kathleen Waugh, a company spokeswoman. The retailer will be absorbing the extra costs this year, but Waugh said that she believes next year “pricing could increase.” The Walt Disney Co. – hit by Mattel’s recall of 436,000 cars based on “Sarge,” a character in the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars,” that were believed to contain lead paint – will independently test toys featuring its characters. The tests will begin in the next two weeks and will include all categories of products from about 2,000 licensees, including Mattel, which is the largest maker of Disney-related toys. Disney consumer products spokesman Gary Foster said Disney will absorb the additional costs which he estimated to be about several million dollars this year. It’s unclear whether future costs will be shared by licensees, he said. Price wars led by Wal-Mart have put financial pressure on toy makers, although they have been able to push through price increases in recent years as they face higher resin and other related costs. In particular, makers have been wrangling over prices with their Chinese suppliers, which have struggled with higher labor costs amid a shrinking pool of workers in the country’s southern region, said Pat Furey, senior category consultant at Ariba Inc., a global sourcing and procurement management company. NPD’s Frazier also noted that average toy prices have been creeping up because of the industry’s increasing focus on higher-priced electronic gadgets such as child-friendly digital cameras and cell phones that retail for about $70. The average toy price remains relatively cheap because the bulk of toys sold involve $1 items such as card games and miniature cars – impulse purchases that can be picked up in the local supermarket. The average selling price of a toy increased to $7.53 in 2006, compared to $7.17 in 2005 and $6.97 in 2004, according to NPD, which tracks prices of specific toys and categories. Chris Byrne, a New York-based toy consultant, said shoppers can still expect price wars this holiday season, led by Wal-Mart.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Shoppers can expect price increases up to 10 percent next year to pay for increased vigilance by toy makers and stores after more than 3 million lead-tainted toys from China were recalled worldwide since June. That means a $6.99 Barbie doll could go up to about $7.70, or a $70 child-friendly digital camera could retail next year for almost $80. A 10 percent average increase would be the biggest one-time price hike in toys in several years, analysts say. And it’s more than twice the government’s measure of consumer inflation of 4.7 percent during the first seven months of this year. Consumers also could see higher prices on other Chinese imports such as fish and children’s apparel, but the big price gains in toys could be more jolting. Shoppers have become accustomed to cheap playthings from China because Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other discounters have waged cost-cutting campaigns. Critics say real safeguards were sacrificed to keep prices low, however. Analysts said the price increases are unlikely to hit until at least January because manufacturers and sellers already ordered the toys for Christmas. But that’s no consolation for parents.