March 10, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
[Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of Latino Advocacy], accused GEO Group of exploiting detainees at the facility by paying them $1 a day for performing services that include working in the kitchen and janitorial work.'It's just ironic that the government is detaining people for working without a social security number; meanwhile, they allow this company to exploit their labor,' said Villalpando.
Coordinated actions by immigration advocates and detainees signify a new front in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House last July.Activists have shifted their focus from Congress to President Barack Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the around 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.A national campaign dubbed 'Not One More Deportation,' organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, is sponsoring events around the country to halt the deportations.
March 4, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
Sunday was a big night in Hollywood, and not just for the movie stars attending the Academy Awards ceremony. Outside the event at the Dolby Theatre, 50 security guards and supporters gathered to oppose the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' use of non-union security guards from a company called Security Industry Specialists (SIS).
As Los Angeles Times reports, union activists believe that SIS has mistreated workers across the board. They outlined their grievances in a letter addressed to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs:
"SIS is an irresponsible security firm that falls short of the high standards the Academy has traditionally set for the Oscars," the Service Employees International Union wrote in the letter.According to the letter, SIS has been the subject of numerous lawsuits by current and former officers "who have accused the company of engaging in wage theft, racial and gender discrimination and worker spying and intimidating."Though the academy did not change its security firm for the event, the protesting security guards said they want to draw attention to the issue.Daivon Young, a 28-year-old SIS officer from Seattle, came to L.A. specifically to help protest during the Oscars.“As security guards we just want to be equal, treated fairly just like anybody else,” he said. “Obviously the Oscars are very known—everyone’s TV is on right now. We want to put the attention on us.”
March 3, 2014 · Posted by Danayit Musse
Nearly 400 people—many of them students—protesting the Keystone XL pipeline were arrested outside the White House on Sunday. The protest, which began at Georgetown before continuing to the White House, was organized by XL Dissent, a student-led organization that believes “the decision on Keystone XL will be the definitive test of President Obama’s character and integrity.” The Chicago Tribune reports:
Organizers estimated 1,000 people protested and said several hundred agreed to risk arrest by refusing to leave the sidewalk in front of the White House. Citing U.S. Park Police figures, the organizers said later that almost 400 people were arrested.
"If the Democratic Party wants to keep our vote, they better make sure President Obama rejects that pipeline," said Nick Stracco, a 23-year-old student at Tulane University in New Orleans…
Organizers said they intended to remind the White House that young people are a key voting demographic of the president's party and their peers do not want to inherit environmental damage caused by current leaders.
"Our future is on the line. The climate is on the line," said Aly Johnson-Kurts, 20, who is taking a year off from Smith College in Massachusetts. She said she had decided to get arrested on Sunday. "When do we say we've had enough?"
According to Politico, the protestors locked themselves to the White House gate using plastic zip ties, chanting phrases like “Hey, Obama, we don’t want no pipeline drama." Others held signs that read “There is no planet B” and “Columbia [University] says no to fossil fuels.”
February 26, 2014 · Posted by Alex Wolff
Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a prominent civil rights activist and attorney with roots in the black revolutionary movement, died yesterday at the age of 66. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Lumumba became mayor of Mississippi's capital city only last July but had already accomplished a great deal during his tragically brief tenure—most notably implementing a sales tax to infrastructure, including sewers and roads. He was the city's third black mayor and among the nation's most prominent politicians with ties to black radicalism, having served as the Republic of New Afrika movement's vice president as a young man.
Al Jazeera reports:
Lumumba believed that dealing with infrastructure was a radical act that would secure the city’s autonomy and protect it from the kind of takeover that befell Detroit, his birth city. But his vision extended further. It encompassed cooperatives, recycling, alternative energy and other tools to create a “people’s economy” with local investment and employment.
This vision’s most ambitious expression was the Jackson-Kush plan, an agenda prepared by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which Lumumba co-founded in the 1990s and which provided the organizing engine for his campaign. The plan promoted a sustainable economy and progressive community organizing. It had a political component as well: People’s Assemblies, a kind of decision-making town meeting, which the group held in Lumumba’s ward while he was councilor and was hoping to expand to the city.
In his eight months as mayor, Lumumba maintained his balance between radicalism and pragmatism in a manner that suggested they were a natural combination. Confident and frank, he participated in a warm “conversation about community” with former Gov. Haley Barbour in November, and he gave the state legislature an effusive welcome at the start of its 2014 session. In truth, parts of his vision—the emphasis on self-determination and local enterprise—were compatible with small-business conservative ideas, if reached through a very different journey.
State law says the City Council must hold a special mayoral election within the next two months. Council president Charles Tillman has taken the helm of mayor in the interim.
February 26, 2014 · Posted by Andrew Mortazavi
President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the Midwest will soon be home to two new manufacturing and innovation centers. The project represents a public-private collaboration to jumpstart industry and innovation in the region by supporting centralized research and development alongside manufacturing in an effort to foster collaboration.
Obama first proposed government support for such hubs in 2013. The first hub, announced in January of this year, is based in Raleigh, NC and will work on developing next-generation computer chips. The Chicago and Detroit hubs will focus on digital manufacturing/design and developing modern composite and metals manufacturing, respectively.
The two new hubs will advance the region’s economic and technological positions, as well as bring new jobs and industry to the Midwest. According to Reuters:
Obama, who calls Chicago his home town, is seeking ways to find jobs for middle-class Americans and raise their incomes the U.S. economy continues to recover from a brutal recession. In the absence of a consensus in Congress on how to proceed, he has pledged to act on his own when he can.
Part of that push is an effort to expand manufacturing jobs, many of which were lost in preceding decades as U.S. companies searched for cheaper labor abroad.
Both of the institutes will be led by the Defense Department. They will be supported by $140 million in federal funds and another $140 million from businesses and universities.
The public-private partnership will enable the hubs to address different issues than either sector would do alone. According to the Brookings Institution: “The centers will seek to accelerate technology deployment, operate demonstration facilities and test beds, support education and training, and perform applied research on new manufacturing processes—all unlikely activities for private industry on its own.”
February 25, 2014 · Posted by Danayit Musse
In protest of the controversial anti-gay bill signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s on Monday, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway have decided to suspend aid to the sub-Saharan African nation.
The “draconian law” contains punishments of 14 years in prison for first time offenders of “homosexual acts”. Convictions for “aggravated homosexuality” carry a sentence of life in prison. The Wall Street Journal reports:
On first conviction for so-called homosexual acts, offenders face a 14-year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions for "aggravated homosexuality," which include homosexual acts committed by an HIV-positive person, could bring a penalty of life in prison.
An official at the Norwegian embassy in Kampala said that the measure would immediately affect at least $8 million in aid to Uganda's legal system. Norway extends more than $64 million to Uganda every year. The bulk of western aid has been going directly to the Ugandan government, which would then earmark it for spending in different departments—notably, health, education and the military.
The Netherlands and Denmark said they would redirect nearly $20 million of aid to Ugandan-based private aid agencies and rights groups. The U.S. and Canada, some of the Uganda's largest donors, said they had started reviewing their relationship with Kampala.
The diplomatic moves represented the first fallout of Uganda's controversial antigay bill. Although the bill is politically popular in Uganda, it could cost the government of President Yoweri Museveni. Western donors give up to $2 billion in aid to the country.
In 2011, a well-known Ugandan gay activist was killed after tabloid included his name in list of gay people. On Tuesday, another Ugandan tabloid, The Red Pepper, printed a list of Uganda’s “top 200 homosexuals,” leaving gay activists fearing similar acts of retaliation. “The newspapers are inciting the public against homosexuals and unfortunately, government cannot protect us,” Kash Jacqueline, a Ugandan gay activist, told the Wall Street Journal.
February 25, 2014 · Posted by Andrew Mortazavi
Trade unions, representing both public and private sector workers, laid down their tools on Tuesday as part of a massive nationwide strike in Croatia. Reuters called the brief two-hour strike a warning shot against the Croatian government, which plans to reform current labor rules to make it easier for employers to fire and re-hire workers at will, as well as remove protections that ensure reasonable and consistent working hours.
According to Reuters:
The unions said the strike, which began at midday, was a signal to the two-year-old Social Democrats-led government that it had to change its economic policy or step down.
It is unclear how many people joined the stoppage, but the unions earlier said they expected at least 100,000 people to down tools for two hours.
As a sign of solidarity, the public transport in the capital Zagreb halted at midday for five minutes. Local trains across the country were stopped during the strike.
The unions have threatened to step up industrial action, including calling a general strike and demanding an early election, if the government does not withdraw the proposals and focus more on growth than austerity measures.
Croatia has an unemployment rate topping 22 percent and an economy that has undulated between retraction and flat growth for years. Labor leaders put the blame not on labor rules, but failed government policies that reduce the debt gap at the expense of economic growth.
The strike comes on the heels of social unrest in neighboring Bosnia, where massive anti-government protests have broken out against unemployment and government corruption.
February 25, 2014 · Posted by Alex Wolff
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled the Pentagon's plans to cut enlistment in the United States Army to its smallest size since the onset of the Second World War.
Hagel's five-year budget plan, announced yesterday, would also close military bases and reduce certain benefits. Officials are calling it the first Pentagon budget to aggressively distance itself from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The proposal comes one week before President Barack Obama submits his 2015 budget plan to Congress.
Al Jazeera reports:
Under the Hagel plan—which Congress could change—the active-duty Army would shrink to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers, from its current 522,000. That would make it the smallest since just before the U.S. entered World War II.
Army leaders have said for months that they expect their numbers would drop as the nation prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan this year.
Hagel's outline won't necessarily be the death-knell for current American militaristic intervention practices, though. The proposal counters some of its downsizing by raising special operations enlistment to 70,000, thereby aligning with present trends favoring fluidity over extended foreign occupations.
February 24, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
Temporary workers in the United States are some of the least protected in the developed world, according to a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the wake of the recession, American companies have increasingly relied on workers from temp agencies. These workers often labor for years without ever being hired on full time and are frequently assigned to dangerous jobs with little training. The OECD data shows that other developed countries provide extensive legal protection for temporary workers. Pro Publica reports:
In contrast, countries around the globe have responded to similar abuses by adopting laws to protect the growing number of temps in their workforces. These include limiting the length of temp assignments, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work and restricting companies from hiring temps for hazardous tasks.“The lack of basic protections for temporary workers in this country is shameful,” Rep. George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, said in a statement. “It is important that the U.S. examine some of these provisions and consider whether they can serve as models for statutes to help protect American workers.”...Almost half of the 43 countries that the OECD collects data on restrict the duration of temp assignments. In Brazil, assignments are limited to three months unless the ministry of labor grants an extension. In Japan and Italy, the limit is three years. In the Czech Republic, it’s 12 months.
In the United States, temp workers often hold such jobs without recourse for years.
February 24, 2014 · Posted by Danayit Musse
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay bill into law on Monday, provoking international criticism and condemnation. Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda and the new law, which was passed last December, is extraordinarily repressive. According to Al Jazeera, first time offenders receive 14 years in prison and acts of “aggravated homosexuality” are punished with life in prison.
Museveni cited Western interference as a reason for the bills necessity, arguing that Western groups were attempting to push Ugandan children towards homosexuality. Al Jazeera reports:
President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report — which found that there is no genetic basis for homosexuality — Museveni has cited as his reason for backing the bill.
"We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone," he said, referring to Western pressure not to sign the bill.
Museveni said he previously thought homosexuality was merely "abnormal" sexual behavior that some people were born with — the reason he once was opposed to harsh penalties against gays. Now he said he is convinced that it is a choice made by individuals who may try to influence others. Africans are "flabbergasted" by homosexual behavior, he said.
Government officials applauded after he signed the bill, which was influenced by the preachings of some conservative American evangelicals.
President Obama condemned the law and has been a strong opponent of it since its introduction in 2009, as did Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who argued "there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. ... There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination." Like the anti-gay law signed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last January, the law is popular in Uganda where, like most of sub-Saharan Africa, anti-gay sentiment is widespread.
February 19, 2014 · Posted by Alex Wolff
Volkswagen's head labor representative announced Wednesday morning that the German auto manufacturing company may look to build future plants in union-friendly pockets of the country.
It's a hopeful turn of events for members of the labor community, who had been dealt a bitter blow last Friday when workers at VW's Chattanooga plant voted against unionizing with the United Auto Workers (UAW). The union and progressives nationwide largely blamed the defeat on loaded anti-union comments from the state's right-wing politicians prior to the election.
German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined "co-determination" principle, which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth.
Chattanooga is VW's only factory in the U.S. and one of the company's few in the world without a works council.
"I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again," said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW's works council.
"If co-determination isn't guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor" of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW's supervisory board, said.
Should Volkswagen establish a works council in Chattanooga, it would be the first on American soil.
February 19, 2014 · Posted by Danayit Musse
Los Angeles City Council members have proposed a plan to increase the minimum wage for city hotel workers to $15.37 an hour. The increase, which would almost double the current $8 minimum wage in California, comes in the wake of President Obama’s proposal for a $10.10 hourly federal minimum wage. Al Jazeera reports:
The living wage proposal, applicable to about 11,000 workers employed by Los Angeles hotels with more than 100 rooms, would help to lift employees out of poverty and benefit the city economy, proposal supporters said on Tuesday when the proposal was introduced. ...
Three council members—Mike Bonin, Nury Martinez and Curren Price, representing the city's affluent Westside, the San Fernando Valley and downtown, respectively—introduced a motion on calling for a study of the issue.
They pointed to city Economic Development Department findings that 43 percent of hotel workers in Los Angeles earn wages that leave them far below the federal poverty line, which has been a drag on the city's economic recovery.
According to Economic Policy Institute research cited by living-wage backers, Los Angeles stands to gain more than $70 million in economic activity from raising the pay of hotel workers, giving them more disposable income to spend.
"Study after study tells us that poverty, unemployment, and income disparity are plaguing Los Angeles," said Price, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, which will vote next week on the motion for a study.
Opponents of the hike argue that it unfairly targets a single sector, and would result in hotels cutting back on employee hires. In general, however, economic theorists have disputed the claim that raising the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs. And if the City Council members are successful, wages for LA hotel employees would be some of the highest nationwide.
February 18, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
In long message [on Facebook], Mr. Wurzelbacher said, “I was just recently hired on at Chrysler,” and explained that while he's known as a conservative, he's not an enemy of private unions.“In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice—it’s a union shop—the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” he wrote. ..."Yes, I have a website that puts out conservative news. Yes, I am part owner of a gun company. Yes, I’m a Republican who was cast into the limelight for having the temerity to confront Barack Obama on the question of redistributing wealth … But I’m a working man and I’m working,” he wrote.
February 18, 2014 · Posted by Andrew Mortazavi
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the musical and protest group Pussy Riot, were among a dozen activists and journalists detained for three hours by Russian police in Sochi on Tuesday. Though they were in Sochi to record a protest film called “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” according to other detainees, the group was simply walking down the street at the time of arrest.
Russian authorities say the arrests were part of an investigation into the theft of a handbag at a hotel, an investigation which has since concluded with no charges filed. Tolokonnikova denied involvement, insinuating that the crime was fabricated.
The pair also accused the police of brutality. According to Reuters:
Alyokhina, 25, said they and others detained with them were questioned without lawyers present, and Tolokonnikova said that police had used violence during questioning inside the police station.
"They dragged me across the floor of the police station assembly hall office by my face, they twisted my arms and threw me to the floor. Putin will teach you to love the motherland!" the 24-year-old said on her Twitter microblog.
The arrests come only two months after Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were released from prison as part of what the Guardian called “a wide-ranging amnesty approved by President Vladimir Putin that was seen as a way to boost Russia's image ahead of the Olympics.” In August 2012, the two had been charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for staging a Pussy Riot performance critical of Putin and sentenced to two years in prison.
Also arrested in Sochi this week were a transgender Italian politician, who was detained for carrying a rainbow flag that read "Gay is OK,” and David Khakim, an environmentalist protester, among others.
February 13, 2014 · Posted by Danayit Musse
Though "Technology, Entertainment, Design" (TED) conferences were established as a platform for "ideas worth spreading," apparently those don't include abortion rights. The absence of pro-choice TED talks isn’t just a coincidence; according to officials, it’s the result of a conference ban.
The Nation’s Jessica Valenti broke the story on Wednesday with a report on her experience at TEDWomen, a TED conference spin-off with a female-empowerment twist. Valenti writes:
I realized I hadn’t heard anyone mention abortion—an odd lapse in a conference on women’s rights. Soon after, I discovered that TED and TEDWomen have never featured a talk on abortion. (Two TEDx events have, but these local, independently organized conferences are not conducted under the auspices of TED.)
When I asked around, the consensus was that the omission was simply an oversight. But it turns out TED is deliberately keeping abortion off the agenda. When asked for comment, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion did not fit into their focus on "wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights."
On Thursday, NARAL Pro-Choice America requested that TED lift the ban. In a letter penned by President Ilyse Hogue, Hogue wrote:
It is precisely because an honest conversation about reproductive freedom and access to all methods of family planning explores core issues of autonomy, self-determination and sovereignty that we feel it fits squarely within TED's mission of spreading ideas with the power to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. The intersection of abortion access and human rights is at the forefront of the cultural conversation … [and] the hesitation to discuss these issues among inspired thinkers, writers, scientists and advocates prevents us from moving forward into an enlightened future.
February 13, 2014 · Posted by Andrew Mortazavi
Washington has joined a growing number of other states that are moving away from the death penalty. Though capital punishment is still legal in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday that the state would not go forward with any executions while he remains in office.
According to the New York Times:
The death penalty is legal in a majority of states, although 18 states have outlawed it, including six that have done so in the last six years. For governors who oppose the death penalty, refusing to order executions may be an easier way to make a point than to try to reverse a law.
"There are too many flaws in the system," Mr. Inslee said on Tuesday. He noted that since the state’s current capital punishment laws were enacted in 1981, more than half of the 32 death sentences imposed in Washington had been overturned. "And when the ultimate decision is death, there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system."
He added, "With my action today, I expect Washington state will join a growing national conversation about capital punishment."
Thanks to Inslee, that conversation is indeed buzzing in Washington. Republican lawmakers have criticized the governor for encroaching on what they say should be left up to state legislatures. And anti-death penalty advocates may feel that Inslee's action wasn't strong enough: While the governor promised that all inmates facing execution will receive his reprieve (though they will not, of course, go free), the death penalty remains on the books in Washington. A future governor is free to resume allowing executions at will.
February 13, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
Early Thursday morning, a gas pipeline exploded in Knifley, Kentucky, sending at least two people to the hospital and leaving behind a 60-foot crater. Though the root cause of the explosion remains unknown, it comes on the heels of three other serious fossil-fuel accidents this week. Common Dreams reports:
The incident in Kentucky follows two fossil fuel disasters on Tuesday this week: a coal slurry spill in West Virginia that turned a local river "black" with toxic compounds and a dramatic explosion of a fracking well in western Pennsylvania. On Monday night, a similar explosion to what has happened in Kentucky occurred when a natural gas pipeline "ruptured and exploded" causing a massive fire in North Dakota.
Jamie Henn, the director of strategy and communications for the environmental group 350.org, said the explosion was symptomatic of the larger problem of overreliance on dangerous fossil fuels. In an email to Common Dreams, Henn wrote:
"The fossil fuel industry is like a giant robot at the end of a horror movie—falling to pieces and lashing out as it strains for ever more resources. ... The latest string of disasters bolds and italicizes a basic fact: fossil fuels aren't safe. Not for our communities, not for our environment, and certainly not for our climate. ... It's time [for] politicians to stand up and reject catastrophes like the Keystone XL pipeline and start promoting things that don't blow up or leak, like solar panels and wind turbines."
Several hours after the story broke this morning, a train carrying crude oil and propane through Western Pennsylvannia derailed. Although the details are still developing, a county spokesperson reported that the resulting "small" leak had been contained.
February 10, 2014 · Posted by Alex Kogan
The University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty (UICUF), UIC's union for full-time tenure and non-tenure faculty, has filed notice of its intent to strike if contract negotiations remain at a standstill. The union says that it will stage a two-day walkout on Feb. 18 - 19 if no progress is made before then. A flyer professors handed out to students this week claims that 16 months and 65 negotiation sessions have yielded "almost no progress on key issues." Faculty will be refusing to "teach classes, hold office hours or perform other duties on those days," and students are being encouraged not to attend class and instead to join professors on the picket line.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
In explaining the decision to strike, the union told its members that bargaining sessions have been unproductive, and that the two sides have met for just one hour during the past two weeks. The union contends that the administration’s compensation proposal is less than half of the union’s proposal, and that little progress has been made on issues such as multi-year contracts for nontenure-track faculty.
February 10, 2014 · Posted by Alex Wolff
Glenn Greenwald—the reporter who broke news of U.S. government surveillance in The Guardian last year—launched a new online magazine Monday morning with fresh revelations regarding the National Security Agency’s role in the federal government’s drone strike program.
The Intercept debuted with an article that exposes the government’s reliance on complex electronic data analysis—rather than human intelligence—in its determination of drone strike targets.
A former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command credits this approach with instigating the deaths of innocent or unidentified civilians, raising grave questions of reliability. The Intercept reports:
The agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.
Many targets have become privy to this practice of “geolocation” and taken measures to evade attack, sometimes at the expense of individuals who aren’t considered “unlawful enemy combatants.”
The piece was based on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. The Intercept will continue to focus on reporting more of his disclosures in the short-term.
February 10, 2014 · Posted by Sarah Berlin
Bangladesh’s garment industry is extraordinarily powerful, both economically and politically, and in the past the state has sought to protect their interests. Factory owners are rarely held responsible for safety violations. After the Tazreen fire, the police initially said they did not have enough evidence to bring a case against Mr. Hossain, and investigators suggested that the fire might have been set by saboteurs.But after activists and lawyers submitted a petition, the country’s High Court ordered officials to investigate further. The high-level government investigation that followed accused Mr. Hossain of “unpardonable negligence,” noting that some of his managers closed collapsible gates to block workers from running down staircases. The investigation also found that the factory lacked a mandatory closed-circuit television monitoring system, that none of the building’s fire extinguishers appeared to have been used and that the factory did not have a valid fire safety certificate.