Firestone Operations Threatened over ‘Violations’

first_img– Advertisement – (Left) Edmundo Garcia, Managing Director, Firestone Plantations Company Liberia For Selling Hevea Wood, Furniture; Growing Coffee, Cocoa(PICTURES IN CHATROOM)Firestone Liberia, the oldest and largest rubber plantation company in the country, has been criticized by members of the House of Representatives for being in blatant violations of the 92-year-old Concession Agreement, by selling hevea rubber wood, furniture and growing coffee and cocoa.The Lawmakers said the venturing of Bridge Firestone Liberia into selling hevea rubber woods and furniture and growing coffee and cocoa  does not only make them to be in violation but is undermining Liberians who engage in similar businesses and the Liberianization Policy.Members of the House of Representatives made the statement yesterday – Thursday, June 28, during the 41st day sitting when the Management of Firestone Liberia appeared to address itself to the observations and findings  by the House’s Joint Committee on Agriculture and Labor as well as Lawmakers from Margibi and Montserrado Counties.The Plenary of the House of Representatives recently endorsed the report submitted by its Joint committee on Agriculture and Labor, recommending that Firestone Liberia be invited to answer to some inquiries as it relates to her operation in the country, of bad labor practice, including underpaying of workers, no overtime for workers and poor living conditions of workers.The Joint Committee also accused the Management of Firestone of lack of electricity, sanitary latrines and deplorable housing conditions.In response, the Managing Director of Bridge Firestone, Mr. Edmundo Garcia admitted producing rubber wood and selling furniture, but said they were “trials” to encourage Liberians to engage in rubber wood furniture. He also admitted that the management is involved in growing cocoa and coffee, but was also a trial and part of the amended documents of Firestone which is before the Legislature to engage in crop diversity.“If the amendment is not passed by the Legislature, we will stop it,” Mr. Garcia said.He however rejected allegations of bad labor practices and providing poor living conditions to employees of the company.Garcia described most of the issues raised in the report of the House committee on Agriculture and Labor as inaccurate and a misunderstanding of the facts.The committee on Agriculture accused the company of bad labor practices, poor living conditions, over-time, lack of safe drinking water and electricity, among others.Responding to the concerns, Mr. Garcia said the company is paying employees at between US$8.30 and US$12.82 per day, excluding over-time and is providing safe drinking water.He said the employees, as per the Collective Bargain Agreement, are tapping 548 to 648 trees per day, contrary to the committee report of 750 to 1,000 per day.On the issue of electricity, the MD of Firestone insisted that the company was providing electricity to the workers but admitted their inability to supply all camps on the plantation as the company generator is producing four megawatts.He admitted having employees as contractors for periods ranging between one to four years, but has started employing some of them and is working to employ the others.Following the explanation of the managing director of the Firestone Plantations Company, the plenary voted to present copy of the report to the management for a comprehensive response within two weeks and also mandated the Management of Firestone to improve on issues where they have gone wrong.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Former Los Alamos physicist denies federal charges he lied about China ties

first_img By David MalakoffMay. 28, 2019 , 6:00 PM Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country A physicist who spent 2 decades at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico today pleaded not guilty to federal charges of lying about his involvement in a research funding program run by the Chinese government. Prosecutors allege that Turab Lookman, who worked at LANL from 1999 until recently, repeatedly denied involvement with China’s Thousand Talents Program, despite having agreed to join it “for personal compensation.”“We look forward to presenting a vigorous defense,” Lookman’s attorney, Paul Linnenburger of Rothstein Donatelli LLP in Santa Fe, tells ScienceInsider. Lookman, who has a doctorate in theoretical physics and was awarded a prestigious LANL fellowship in 2017, presented his plea to a federal magistrate judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico.A federal grand jury on 22 May indicted Lookman on three charges of making false statements about his contacts with the Thousand Talents Program, which since 2008 has used offers of salaries and other support to establish ties with scientists working outside of China. Prosecutors allege that Lookman lied about his interactions with the program on a computerized employment form in 2017, as well as during conversations last year with a LANL counterintelligence officer and an investigator from a federal agency that conducts background checks. Specifically, prosecutors allege that “a foreign national had … asked [Lookman] to apply for” the Thousand Talents Program sometime before November 2017, and that he had “applied for, and been accepted to participate in” the program before June 2018. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The Thousand Talents Program has drawn extensive attention from U.S. officials in recent years, with some alleging that it has become a vehicle for the Chinese government to take unfair advantage of U.S.-funded research. Several thousand scientists, many of them ethnic Chinese or Chinese Americans living in the United States, have been supported by the program over the past decade. Prosecutors in the Lookman case characterized Thousand Talents in a 24 May press release as “a program established by the Chinese government to recruit people with access to and knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property.”As a result of such concerns, the Department of Energy has moved to bar researchers it funds from participating in the program and similar talent recruitment efforts run by other nations. And some biomedical researchers who participate in Thousand Talents and have funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been investigated by their universities after NIH asked whether they may have violated federal rules requiring disclosure of foreign ties. At least two institutions, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and Emory University in Atlanta, have ousted researchers involved in Thousand Talents after NIH raised concerns. In China, the controversy has reportedly prompted officials to advise participants to remove mention of their involvement from websites and resumes.According to a 2017 LANL press release, Lookman worked in the laboratory’s theoretical division and was “an expert in the computational physics of materials, complex fluids, and nonlinear dynamics. His recent work on materials design and informatics applies data science to the discovery of materials with new, beneficial properties. … He is co-author of two books and more than 250 publications.”At today’s hearing, Lookman, who had been in federal custody since 23 May, was released to home detention with a GPS monitoring bracelet after posting a $50,000 bond.last_img read more

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