World and Nation

Shorts (left)

China Loves Its Knockoff Cell Phones

The phone’s sleek lines and touch-screen are unmistakably familiar. So is the logo on the back. But a sales clerk at a sprawling electronic goods market in this Chinese coastal city admits what is clear upon closer inspection: This is not the Apple iPhone; this is the Hi-Phone.

“But it’s just as good,” the clerk says.

Nearby, dozens of other vendors are selling counterfeit Nokia, Motorola and Samsung phones — as well as cheap look-alikes that make no bones about being knockoffs.

“Five years ago, there were no counterfeit phones,” said Xiong Ting, a sales manager at Triquint Semiconductor, a maker of mobile phone components, while visiting Shenzhen. “You needed a design house. You needed software guys. You needed hardware design. But now, a company with five guys can do it. Within 100 miles of here, you can find all your suppliers.”

Technological advances have allowed hundreds of small Chinese companies, some with as few as 10 employees, to make what are known as shanzhai, or black market, cell phones, for as little as $20 apiece.

GM Says It Must Shrink Severely to Survive

For all the uncertainty surrounding a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors, the troubled automaker said Monday that it must become drastically smaller if it hoped to remain a viable company.

GM said it would eliminate another 21,000 factory jobs, close 13 plants, cut its vast network of 6,500 dealers almost in half and shutter its Pontiac division.

By the time it is finished, GM expects to have only 38,000 union workers and 34 factories left in the United States, compared with 395,000 workers in over 150 plants at its peak employment in 1970.

One goal of this latest plan was to persuade the Obama administration that it is willing to take harsh measures and cut its bloated infrastructure to match its declining share in the United States.

Absent such steps, the government has said it was reluctant to lend the company more money. For the first time since it toppled into financial crisis last year, GM appears to be earning government support.

A Quiet Day In Iowa As Same-Sex Couples Begin To Marry

In a way, life looked unexpectedly ordinary here on Monday as Iowa began allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The large, angry protests some had imagined never materialized in this city, the state’s most populous. Neither did the crowds of couples from all over the nation that some feared might create a carnival-like atmosphere captured in earlier images from other places.

By noon, no protesters could be found outside the marriage license office. Extra sheriff’s deputies assigned to keep order milled around the Polk County recorder’s office, looking bored. And an early-morning line of dozens of same-sex couples waiting to apply for licenses had dwindled into a few people discussing recent rainfall patterns.

Given polls showing that most Iowans object to same-sex marriage, Shawn Regenold and Steve Kearney of West Des Moines had feared a tense, perhaps overwhelming scene. Instead, they found a quiet building where, every so often, couples receiving licenses burst into rounds of applause and where, on the front steps, a local pastor married a few smiling couples as television cameras rolled.