• News Ticker alerts

The controversy-plagued documentary Death by China, produced by UC-Irvine professor Peter Navarro, former perennial San Diego political candidate, will debut March 28 at 4 p.m. at the Fashion Island Cinema, 999 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, according to the Laguna Beach Independent newspaper.

The big steel company Nucor was to finance the film with a $1 million grant to Navarro. But according to Nucor, Navarro wanted the money to be run through San Diego's Utility Consumers' Action Network, which wants to dissolve and is facing both a civil lawsuit from internal whistleblowers and an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.

Possible financial irregularities of the consumers network are major subjects of both the civil suit and the government probe, and the Death by China financing is one key focus.

The Utility Consumers' Action Network sent $600,000 of Nucor's money on to Navarro, but retained $400,000. This week, in an ex parte court hearing, the network said it wants to pay the $400,000 to Navarro, even though the utility watchdog complained of its fragile finances.

The consumers' network wants the hearing on the movie's finances to be accelerated "to resolve the dispute over the 'legality' of the payment and to minimize potential consequential damages asserted by the payee [Navarro's Death by China Products LLC]," says the network's filing.

Pictured: Navarro from the Death by China website

  • News Ticker alerts


hillcrest_bobby March 15, 2012 @ 10:30 a.m.

Controversy-plagued? I guess if you are dividing the people here who like having jobs and those who don't. One problem: they need to move that showing to Washington DC. Those people are doing NOTHING!! We're doomed.


Don Bauder March 15, 2012 @ 10:44 a.m.

I guess I didn't make myself clear on "controversy-plagued." The production of that documentary has been steeped in controversy because steel company Nucor chose to run $1 million for Navarro through Utility Consumers' Action Network, which still hasn't paid the final $400,000. It's not clear why the money was to be run through UCAN, although it might have involved taxes. I can't argue with many if not most points in Navarro's book, Death by China, on which the documentary is based. Best, Don Bauder


villageram March 15, 2012 @ 5:26 p.m.

Settle down, Bobby. You were doomed after you took your first breath. Just kidding!! (not)


Don Bauder March 15, 2012 @ 9:14 p.m.

If Bobby is a big brute, you better be kidding. Best, Don Bauder


mitch Aug. 5, 2012 @ 6:11 a.m.

I watched the film and found it to be a very one sided view of a real problem.

While fundamentally right, the film is nothing but a 100 minute repletion of the same idea: "China is bad". The "badness" of China is represented as a three spike harpoon pointed towards us: Killing American jobs, killing our babies with bad products, and of course: "The Chinese army is preparing to kill Americans"

The pacing of the film is bound to make someone run out of his seat after 10 minutes. Every twenty seconds a new talking head is throwing a negative comment on China, over and over, and over... About 45 minutes in the film the director broke the chaotic pace and introduced a musical break, when, again, a song about the badness of China is suppose to give us a moment for contemplation. There is no story telling, no cause and effect narrative, and no chronological progression of events. At times the very short soundbites seem thrown on the screen at random, totally out of the context. I personally think that even Nazi or Communist propaganda had more taste in making their point. After the song, the fast paced talking head marathon is commencing again, till the end of the movie.
The conclusion of the film was for me as disappointing as the rest of it, as the writer/director simply avoided making a real point. I thought he would propose American protectionism, or he would expose why the congress failed in protecting our interests, or he would call for a full embargo against China.

Instead, the Harvard School of Economics PHD Professor, proposed that we all look for the "Made in China" label on the products we buy, and we simply avoid them if they show that. Earlier in the film he has also shown many goods in the US, were impossible to find unless they were "Made in China". So what is one to do?
I think this is a pathetic cop out from making a real point. While it is easy to point out problems, my respect goes to authors that also propose solutions.

I still recommend the film, as you can still learn something out of it, but be warned, dont expect any intellectual stimulation, all you'll get is some very primitive scare tactics worthy of the McCarthy era...

For the serious student of China history and politics, I recommend "China from the inside" or "China's Century of Humiliation". Both these films taught me a lot.


hillcrest_bobby March 15, 2012 @ 12:18 p.m.

Ahhhh...gotcha. Forgive me...just trying to follow. Were they not allowed to give? So if I give money to PBS and then they give it to the Frontline people (greatest show ever btw), did I do something wrong? There was also a Nightline story on Apple making iphones in China a few weeks ago that opened my eyes. Someone in congress, president, whoever, needs to do something!


Don Bauder March 15, 2012 @ 4:26 p.m.

There were several things that UCAN whistleblowers found wrong with the Nucor/Navarro arrangement. First, the board didn't know about it. One board member wrote to another that the whole thing smacked of money laundering, and it did. Why did Nucor run money intended for Navarro through UCAN? Tax advantage (for either Nucor or Navarro)? UCAN's mission is to monitor local utilities. So what does that have to do with China's mercantilist economic policies? As to Apple: yes, it once had manufacturing facilities all around the U.S. Finally it capitulated and did what others were doing: farmed it out to a country with low- or slave-wage labor. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh March 15, 2012 @ 8:54 p.m.

Navarro has always been an enigma to me. Yes, the establishment wanted "The Susan" Golding as mayor and they got their wish. But Navarro never made a case that resonated with me. But that made little difference: I live in No County, and could not vote in the election. I didn't want to vote in it anyway. Oh, Navarro had a bunch of academic credentials, but little street experience. Why him? Why now? Why UCAN? These are the questions we all would like to have answered.


Don Bauder March 15, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m.

In hindsight, from the standpoint of intellect, Navarro would have been a better mayor than Golding, who could scarcely have been worse. Navarro has a good academic reputation. He has been close to Shames for a long time and has done consulting work for UCAN. It will be important to get to the bottom of the Nucor deal, which smacks of money laundering, according to one UCAN board member. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 March 15, 2012 @ 11:30 p.m.

The Golding/Navarro Mayors race was the most closely contested mayor race the city has ever seen.

As I recall navorro only lost by 1% point.


Visduh March 16, 2012 @ 7:38 a.m.

If that contest were that close, and with all the support that she had from the local establishment, it proved that she was an utter lightweight. But she got eight years to wreak havoc upon the city, and it will take decades for SD to recover, if it ever does.


Don Bauder March 16, 2012 @ 7:59 a.m.

Yes, she certainly had name recognition and Navarro did not. I think one factor is that Navarro with his anti-Los Angelesization campaign appealed to environmentalists, slow-growthers and the like. Then the economy started softening markedly and jobs were scarce. That factor helped Golding. I agree with you, Visduh: she was a disaster as mayor. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 16, 2012 @ 7:55 a.m.

Navarro had a significant lead for a long time. It seemed to be waning at the end. Then he used the ad criticizing Golding for her husband Dick Silberman's money laundering (he made the mistake of attempting it through a federal agent). There is a feeling that many voters felt sorry for Golding and put her over the top. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 March 16, 2012 @ 8:43 a.m.

Yep. Remember when Silberman attempted suicide? That would make anyone sympathetic, and with good reason. I do recall Silberman hired one of the best lawyers in the USA to defend him at his criminal trial.


Don Bauder March 16, 2012 @ 10:01 a.m.

I do not remember any Silberman suicide attempt. Never heard anyone mention it. Yes, Silberman hired a top criminal lawyer; I believe he was from San Francisco. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 March 16, 2012 @ 10:51 a.m.

Yep, he went to a hotel and tried to kill himself. Pretty sad actually. He hired James Brosnahan out fo SF as his criminal lawyer. He is as big of a gun as money can buy.


Don Bauder March 16, 2012 @ 1:15 p.m.

Again, either my memory is failing me (quite possible at my age) or this suicide attempt is something I didn't know about. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell March 17, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

There's no real evidence that Silberman tried to kill himself by swallowing his dog's prescrition medicine. His purported suicide attempt appears to have been little more than a stunt to obtain a lesser prison sentence. It looks like Silberman is 82 years old.



tomjohnston March 17, 2012 @ 1:29 a.m.

I seem to remember this for some odd reason and I think the last paragraph in the article you link says it all. I also seem to recall reading another LAT article that said something about the government doubting the authenticity of his attempted suicide. Real or not it didn't seem to do much good. I think he got the exact sentence that the feds asked for.


Don Bauder March 17, 2012 @ 8:38 a.m.

Silberman's sources of income appeared dubious in other ways. I remember writing about this while I was still at the U-T. He was connected with offshore institutions shortly after graduating from college, and continued those associations, according to public records. Just think: if Jerry Brown would have been elected president back in the early 1990s, Silberman would probably have been secretary of the treasury or head of the Federal Reserve. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder March 17, 2012 @ 8:34 a.m.

He may be 82, but as I recall he fathered a child (I believe it was in Marin County) when he was in his 70s, or at least late 60s. Best, Don Bauder


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!