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America: No-vacation nation

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

Every summer, we're treated to the same news story: It seems Europeans get weeks and weeks of vacation and Americans don't get any at all. Shocker of the century, right? My guess is the thinking goes: Slow news day, so let's send that "Americans are overworked" story over the wires.

But does all that time off make Europeans any less productive? The answer is a surprising no. Several European countries—Norway, Ireland, and even France—post higher productivity levels than does the United States. Check out FP's recent article, The Influential Tourist, for more on that.

And in our latest issue, Clive Crook explains in Think Again: Europe that even when America does beat European countries in the productivity rankings, "[t]he United States’ much higher output per person is due mostly to more hours on the job, not to superior productivity while working." Is it worth it?

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Numbers: Heavy metal, Chinese style

Chinese wheat field next ot power plant
12%Percentage of the global trade in fruits and vegetables enjoyed by China's agricultural exports [link]
$2.26 billion
China's agricultural exports to the United States in 2006 [link]
3.3%
Percentage of U.S. food imports that come from China [link]
13 million
Tons of Chinese grain contaminated by heavy metals, according to China's Ministry of Land and Resources [link]
30.4 millionAcres of China's arable land that are contaminated by pollution [link]
10%
Percentage of China's arable land that is contaminated by pollution [link]
20 times
Multiple by which the rice grown in Nanning, China, exceeds the allowed level of cadmium [link]
 1.3%Percentage of U.S. food imports inspected by the FDA [link]

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images