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Why Gibson guitars ran afoul of logging rules, and why activists are in Anaheim for NAMM
Southern California Public Radio ^ | Jan. 19, 2012 | Molly Peterson

Posted on 01/20/2012 3:33:45 AM PST by Son House

Over the last few years, guitars and a sort of obscure law against illegal logging have come into conflict. Environmental activists are in Anaheim today, at the National Association of Music Merchants trade show, to do a raising awareness song-and-dance about this. Literally: they've got a musician with them.

The guitars are Gibsons, and the law is the Lacey Act. An NPR colleague reported on this issue from Tennessee last year. Gibson is just a flash point: federal law enforcement officials have investigated the company on the suspicion that it broke laws in India and Madagascar. The Lacey Act makes it illegal to import and trade in illegal timber. (For more about how that's determined, check out the resources from NGO Environmental Investigation Agency.) The idea's to make the supply chain more transparent; U.S. importers of wood products must file a declaration identifying the species name and country of harvest.

Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, has been talking since it's been raided to all and sundry about his frustration at the loss of millions of dollars from the raids, and the (to date) lack of charges filed. "The government has chosen to persecute us," Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson told the Heritage Institute. "We actually have done nothing wrong. No charges have been filed at this point." Juszkiewicz cuts a fascinating figure because he has worked closely with the Rainforest Alliance in the past. In the Huffington Post, he actually has advocated for tougher logging rules.

Remember, conservation laws try to combat illegal logging to protect ecosystems, to protect biological diversity, and to minimize climate impact. In places like Madagascar, there's controversy about corrupt practices, collusion among the "timber mafia" and the government. Despite that, Gibson believes it's on firm ground.

Plenty of people don't agree. EIA's Andrea Johnson told NPR:

"Gibson clearly understood the risks involved," says Johnson. "Was on the ground in Madagascar getting a tour to understand whether they could possibly source illegally from that country. [ed.: she says she meant "legally"] And made a decision in the end that they were going to source despite knowing that there was a ban on exports of ebony and rosewood."

Interestingly, Martin and Taylor Guitars are very vocal in their support for the Lacey Act. “The Lacey Act requires more due diligence on the part of the receiver of the wood than there was in the past. We can’t just take someone’s word that the wood we’re buying is legit," Bob Taylor said. "Even if your act was already clean, you’re going to have to clean it up even more.”

The Gibson case seems to be making people paranoid. Some lawyers are asserting that anybody who travels with a guitar overseas could get it ripped from their hands if it's got old-growth forest wood in it. Congress responds well to this kind of alarm; Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill last fall to loosen Lacey regulation of instruments (more about that in a bit). Even so, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has explicitly said that Lacey Act enforcement won't target individual people, musicians or bands. They say Rosanne Cash is safe. (So do NRDC and legal scholar Jonathan Turley.)

The musician in Anaheim today is Razia Said. (Listen to Seattle-based KEXP's live set with her.) She grew up in Madagascar, in the northeast, Antalaha, and moved as she grew, landing in New York. There she sang jazz standards…until she toured Madagasar again. Now her sound includes some of the traditional stringed instruments of Malagasy music, and guitar. "The Masoala Rain Forest is being looted of it's irreplaceable endemic Rosewood trees. 1,000 trees a day are being ripped out from one of the worlds most bio-diverse habitats. Thousands of species are on the run and risk extinction as illegal loggers continue to strip the forest bare. The only way to stop the plunder is by drawing attention to the crime by involving local communities, Madagascar and the world."

So that's sort of generally why they're here. Tomorrow I'll write more specifically about the legislation that NAMM's lobbyists are pushing to weaken the Lacey Act, co-sponsored by California Republican Mary Bono Mack.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: anaheim; gibson; guitars; namm
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I hadn't heard much lately, but if I can ever afford a Gibson, I want a Les Paul model, Made in America, not Assembled in America from previously manufactured parts overseas...
1 posted on 01/20/2012 3:33:57 AM PST by Son House
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To: Son House

Rosewood doesn’t grow here.


2 posted on 01/20/2012 3:37:54 AM PST by Salamander (Hey blood brother, you're one of our own. You're as sharp as a razor and as hard as a stone.)
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To: humblegunner

Slash ping


3 posted on 01/20/2012 3:38:36 AM PST by Salamander (Hey blood brother, you're one of our own. You're as sharp as a razor and as hard as a stone.)
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To: Son House

“The Masoala Rain Forest is being looted of it’s irreplaceable endemic Rosewood trees. 1,000 trees a day are being ripped out from one of the worlds most bio-diverse habitats. Thousands of species are on the run and risk extinction as illegal loggers continue to strip the forest bare.

What an over reaction to making guitars. Trees on the run, 7000 trees a week ripped out.

Thats a lot of wood, Everyone in China learning to play Stairway to Heaven?

Load of BS


4 posted on 01/20/2012 3:43:18 AM PST by reefdiver ("Let His day's be few And another takes His office")
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To: Son House
Nicely put, Son. I managed to trade my way into my Les Paul last year, although it took some wrangling. While no manufacturer is perfect (thinking of Gibson's Norlin days, quality-wise), the Gibsons that I've seen and gotten into my hands have been great. Wasn't this also partially motivated by Henry's support for republicans? Either way, if I can ever scrape up the requisite funds, I may (someday) pick up another lester. And with the obama administration's persecution of the firm, I find myself more inclined toward them, not less. The heck with the politically motivated devilment. Besides, does anyone on the remember that onbe can actually plant trees, and that they can grow, over time? Apparently not.
5 posted on 01/20/2012 3:45:09 AM PST by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: sayuncledave

oops, there go the early morning typing skills. ;)

onbe = one


6 posted on 01/20/2012 3:46:40 AM PST by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: reefdiver

Unless somewhere in the world they are framing houses with rosewood, this lady is spewing crap.


7 posted on 01/20/2012 3:47:24 AM PST by John Valentine (Deep in the Heart of Texas)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks Son House. NPR carrying water for Zero’s regime, what a surprise.


8 posted on 01/20/2012 3:48:49 AM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: Son House

I go to the NAMM show every year. Gibsons are great but I’m a Stratocaster man myself.


9 posted on 01/20/2012 3:49:25 AM PST by Bullish (Recovery won't begin until Obama loses HIS job.)
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To: Son House

“No charges have been filed”

And none will be.

The federal government now operates by no-knock and warrantless searches, administrative forfeitures, indefinite detention and extorted guilty pleas though years of harassment and penury through court cost fees.

It’s to stop terrorists, don’t you know?


10 posted on 01/20/2012 3:51:15 AM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (REPEAL WASHINGTON! -- Islam Delenda Est! -- I Want Constantinople Back. -- Rumble thee forth.)
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To: Son House
officials have investigated the company on the suspicion that it broke laws in India and Madagascar

But if the fretboards were made in India...everything would be cool...right? Clearcut as many trees as they like.

11 posted on 01/20/2012 3:53:02 AM PST by ROCKLOBSTER ( Celebrate Republicans Freed the Slaves Month.)
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To: Bullish

From a 330 owner : This government angle is all smoke. Gibson is a non-union shop by choice of the employees.

THAT’S what the harrassment is about.


12 posted on 01/20/2012 3:54:39 AM PST by winged1
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To: Son House

What a bunch of crap.

If I see a tree, I cut it down. “Old growth” is a pagan romantic myth. Trees grow like grass - they just do it on a time scale not suitable to human desires.

My whole town is heavily wooded, with lots of forest lands. In 1790, before the news came that there was land in Ohio that didn’t grow granite boulders and didn’t break plows, pictures show a completely bare landscape of open fields and stone walls.

That regulating the growth of these very useful plants in foreign countries is the subject of ANY activity by the government at Washington is sick, sick, sick.


13 posted on 01/20/2012 3:55:44 AM PST by Jim Noble ("The Germans: At your feet, or at your throat" - Winston Churchill)
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To: Son House

1. this is from a Cali NPR station.

2. the author (Molly Peterson) is a Cali Weird Eco Freek.

Her website. Look at her family entries and look at here bio page.

http://www.mollypeterson.org/about/


14 posted on 01/20/2012 4:07:37 AM PST by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: Son House

Why aren’t these countries farming trees? Why does everyone (wrongly) act like trees don’t grow and get old? Today’s young trees are tomorrow’s old growth. It’s an absurdity. There is no reason why climates that grow certain prizes species of trees can’t be planting more. Some trees grow slow and there must be some planning involved, but I see no reason why there cannot be a good stock of rosewood and ebony and whatever other woods we desire.


15 posted on 01/20/2012 4:16:26 AM PST by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Son House

Gibson’s latest run in had nothing to do with illegally harvested trees. The issue was that it had not been worked by Indian workers. And we all know how important Indian workers are to our government.


16 posted on 01/20/2012 4:22:09 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: Son House

If you can’t afford a Gibson, go to work for the DOJ. I can only imagine how many of those have left in trunks. “Guitar Walker” I would guess most intelligent people do not see the DOJ as having integrity.


17 posted on 01/20/2012 4:25:30 AM PST by healy61
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To: Bullish
Gibsons are great but I’m a Stratocaster man myself.

Been a Steinman fan since I saw his senior thesis, "The Dream Engine," in 1968. That's his voice doing the rant on "Bat out of Hell," not Meatloaf...Kind of a tribute to his Fender...

Love And Death And American Guitar lyrics

I remember everything!
I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.I was barely 17 and I once killed a boy with a fender guitar.
I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster,but i do remember
that it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel.
I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster, but I do remember
that it wasn't at all easy.
It required the perfect combination of the right powerchords and the precise angle
from which to strike.
The guitar bled for about a week afterwards and the blood was
ooh...
dark and rich like wild berries.
The blood of the guitar was Chuck Berry red!
The guitar bled for about a week afterwards and it rung out beautifully ,
and I was able to play notes that I had never even heard before.
So I took my guitar and I smashed it against the wall!!
I smashed it against the floor!!
I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader!!
I smashed it against the hood of a car
I smashed it agianst a 1981-Harley Davidson...
The Harley howled in pain, the guitar howled in heat!
I ran up the stairs to my parents bedroom
Mommy and Daddy were sleeping in the moonlight
slowly I opened the door creeping in the shadows right up to the foot of the bed
I raised my guitar high above my head and just as I was
about to bring the guitar crashing down upon the center of the bed
my father woke up screaming:
"stop...wait a minute..stop it,boy"
"what do you think you're doing???
That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument"
And I said "god damn it, daddy!!!You know I love you....."
"BUT YOU GOT A HELL OF A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!"

18 posted on 01/20/2012 4:44:02 AM PST by Peet (Cogito ergo dubito.)
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To: Peet

If the Fed’s charge Gibson (Republican donor), they had damn well go after all the other guitar manufacturer’s (Democrat donor’s) who ALL USE THE SAME WOOD.

This is nothing more than going after a republican donor instead of about wood.


19 posted on 01/20/2012 5:01:03 AM PST by DaveA37
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To: Bullish; Son House

That’s why I finally own one of each. Love ‘em both for different reasons. By the way, my Strat DOES have a rosewood fingerboard, just the way I like it.


20 posted on 01/20/2012 5:02:01 AM PST by jdsteel (Give me freedom, not more government.)
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To: reefdiver

A few years ago I bought about 10 board-ft of rosewood from a custom flooring craftsman for a small sailboat. Man, that is beautiful wood! Anyway, he is out of business now, and it wasn’t from lack of demand.


21 posted on 01/20/2012 5:07:26 AM PST by Jacquerie (No court will save us from ourselves.)
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To: Son House

If you add up all the hectacres of rainforest that the eco-fascists claim have been cut, the Amazon has been completely cleared of all vegetation at least five times and ceased to exist in 1999.

Eco-fascists are a loathesome gang of Nazi pigs who need to be sent to extinction.


22 posted on 01/20/2012 5:08:16 AM PST by sergeantdave
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To: Son House

It seems to me that everyday I investigate the environment even though I am not an agency. Just a hint to the unknowing, look up what is required to become an UN recognized NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). Most of these are what we would consider highly liberal! I would suppose the EIA cited here to be the same.


23 posted on 01/20/2012 5:15:21 AM PST by SES1066 (Government is NOT the reason for my existance!)
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To: reefdiver

That may me laugh.

Seriously, an American standard - Gibson guitars, another victim of a hyper-eco law. As if we don’t have real issues.


24 posted on 01/20/2012 5:27:16 AM PST by SueRae (I can see November from my HOUSE!!!!!!!! 11.06.2012, the Tower of Sauron falls,)
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To: Son House

They can have my Les Paul when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.


25 posted on 01/20/2012 5:34:21 AM PST by Hugin ("Most time a man'll tell you his bad intentions if you listen and let yourself hear"--Open Range)
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To: Son House
Ya know I had a couple strats & teles built outta 200 year old Amer Chestnut; what would they say about an extinct tree?????

I tore a few beams out of a barn built in 1805 at the neighbors place back east. His ancestor had received a revolutionary war grant when they couldn't pay him at the end of the war of independence.

It doesn't sound that much different than any other geetar, hardware really affects sound too, but it sure looks and feels so nice.

26 posted on 01/20/2012 6:05:49 AM PST by Eska
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To: Son House
I thank the US government for my Christmas present last year.

As my personal protest, I finally replaced a Les Paul that was stolen in the 90s with a brand new Les Paul Custom.

My new LP is absolutely beautiful in every way, far and away the best guitar I've ever held and, thanks to the government, an instant collector's guitar.

So FUBO, but thanks for motivating me to finally buy another one of Gibson's beautiful Les Pauls! I wouldn't have done it without your jackbooted intervention!

27 posted on 01/20/2012 6:18:45 AM PST by GBA (Natural Born American)
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To: Son House

Btt


28 posted on 01/20/2012 6:23:07 AM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: Son House

29 posted on 01/20/2012 7:12:43 AM PST by rawcatslyentist (It is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; ~Vattel's Law of Nations)
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To: jdsteel
Yep! Different tools for different jobs. Would a mechanic own only one wrench? A painter use only one color? I think not.


30 posted on 01/20/2012 7:27:58 AM PST by Drew68
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To: reefdiver; John Valentine
Thats a lot of wood, Everyone in China learning to play Stairway to Heaven?

Unless somewhere in the world they are framing houses with rosewood, this lady is spewing crap.

IIRC, most rosewood is used for residential flooring. Even an entire guitar uses very little rosewood compared to the rest of the woods used (yes, there are guitars made entirely of rosewood but these are very rare). A nine pound Gibson Les Paul would have a rosewood fretboard weighing just a few ounces.

31 posted on 01/20/2012 7:35:44 AM PST by Drew68
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To: Son House; reefdiver; humblegunner; Salamander; sayuncledave; John Valentine; Bullish; Jim Noble; ..

It is interesting that the owner of Gibson guitars is a conservative fellow, registered Republican, and has NEVER made a campaign contribution to the Democrats or Obama. The other two companies are owned by Democrats who are Obama campaign contributors. These facts were in several interviews with Gibson’s CEO on various FOX news programs.

This sounds like a purely political persecution. However we all know that Mr. Holder would never do that.


32 posted on 01/20/2012 8:51:02 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: GreyFriar

I’m sure it’s just an amazing coincidence.

/s


33 posted on 01/20/2012 8:57:37 AM PST by Salamander (Hey blood brother, you're one of our own. You're as sharp as a razor and as hard as a stone.)
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To: Peet

Hi there.

Mighty Meat/Steinman fan, here.

The album was “Bad For Good” on which Steinman sang during Meat’s ‘massive issues’ period, although the album was written for Meat.

Here is the song, for those who aren’t familiar with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q8f-XTeZ3I

Great album, even if it is meatless.

:)


34 posted on 01/20/2012 9:04:31 AM PST by Salamander (Hey blood brother, you're one of our own. You're as sharp as a razor and as hard as a stone.)
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To: Drew68; humblegunner
Guitar pr0n ping.


35 posted on 01/20/2012 9:12:13 AM PST by Salamander (Hey blood brother, you're one of our own. You're as sharp as a razor and as hard as a stone.)
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To: GreyFriar
It is interesting that the owner of Gibson guitars is a conservative fellow, registered Republican, and has NEVER made a campaign contribution to the Democrats or Obama.

Not true. He's not remotely conservative. He's an early member of the Clinton Global Initiative ('We are passionate about our commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative'). During the days when every room of the Clinton White House was for sale, Gibson hosted a 50th Anniversary Concert for President Clinton.

Gibson CEO Henry J. was a presenter at MTV's Rock the Vote the year that Clinton won the Lifetime Achievement Award and Barack Obama was recognized.

He's a founding member of the Rainforest Alliance, which believed in man-made global warming but now believes in man-made climate change.

He just made a contribution to Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee; his only other contribution to a candidate or party since 1990 was to Mike Huckabee, according to opensecrets.org.

He's on the board of a group that sponsors poetry slams for diversity and other diversity causes.

His company sponsors the John Lennon bus museum.

And he's on the board of a bunch of environmental groups.

Some Tea Party bloggers said he was conservative because it sounded good in the "Eric Holder's Raids" blogs.

He's a flaming lib, until he needs a press bite after the August raids. I've known him since 1978.

And what other two companies? His major competitor is Fender. Not Martin. Not Taylor, or whomever the other "second" company is.

36 posted on 01/20/2012 11:02:11 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: Son House; All
All of you are familiar with the August 2011 raids on Gibson Guitars and the information provided by Gibson by press release. These raids involved East Indian Ebony (not East Indian Rosewood as has been reported constantly in the press), the changing of the harmonized schedule classification of a product (twice) after it had been exported, the use of a proxy Ultimate Consignee, and other issues. Some of you may be familiar with the first set of raids in 2009, involving Madagascar ebony,

If and when criminal charges are brought, targets are likely to include a large German importer/exporter of rare woods, Theodor Nagel Gmhb & Co KG and its U.S. affiliates, including Luthier Mercantile, Inc. (LMI). It’s not widely reported, but LMI was the importer of the East Indian ebony involved in the August 2001 raids (not Gibson). LMI changed the harmonized schedule classification of the wood after export and before import, as well as the description. LMI failed to complete the Lacy Act declaration. LMI listed its affiliate, Nagel as the ultimate consignee at the address of the Red Arrow Delivery Service warehouse in Nashville. LMI attempted to file pre-dated Lacey Act paperwork showing Gibson as the ultimate consignee.

At Red Arrow, the federal government discovered a shipment of wood imported from India through Canada, addressed to LMI as ultimate consignee, but with an email to Red Arrow saying to disregard the customs paperwork and to treat Gibson as the ultimate consignee.

When wood was seized from Gibson in August 2009, it was because it was contraband based on LMI’s actions. Gibson had, and has, a cause of actions for monetary damages against LMI. Plant products that are imported without a Lacey Act declaration, or under false or fraudulent paperwork are contraband. Although whether that is a reasonable position, it’s entirely different from what has played out in the press based on Gibson’s press releases and a thousand Tea Party bloggers.

The government was no stranger to Theodor Nagel, the falsely listed ultimate consignee, either. Nagel was the target of the investigation that led U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Gibson in 2009. And the combination of Nagel and Gibson raised eyebrows.

I’ve discussed on may other threads the Madagascar government’s 2006 ban on the export of ebony and rosewood.

On September 29, 2009, the USFWS received information from an investigative audit of timber exports collected by a cooperating organization in Madagascar, which revealed that the large German wood import-export company Theodor Nagel Gmbh & Co. KG purchased at least one illegal shipment of sawn Madagascar ebony, exported by Thunam on March 27.

On September 30, 2009, the USFWC received a transcript from a recorded interview with Thunam in which Thunam stated that he had an exclusive arrangement to supply Madagascar wood to Theodor Nagel. The cooperative individual noted that Thunam’s wood was not inventoried or stamped as required under Malagasy law. Thunam stated the wood he supplies to Nagel cannot be legally exported from Madagascar and the Nagel is aware of the status of the wood and the illegality of exporting the wood. Thunam stated that he had traveled to German on many occasions to discuss the legal status, which had delayed timely exports.

If this seems unlikely, note that the October 2010 edition of National Geographic interviewed Roger Thunam as a lumber trafficker in Madagascar and he is quoted as saying he puchases and deals in illegally harvested lumber. Thunam is one of only two invididuals ever to be convicted for lumber trafficking in Madagascar; he had paid a settlement to be released from prison shortly before selling the wood that led to the first, 2009, raids on Gibson Guitars.

On October 5, 2009, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Senior Special Agent found one of the Thunam imports to the U.S. entering the Port of Newark, New Jersey. The purchaser was Gibson Guitar of Nashville. The government checked import records and discovered that Gibson had made other purchases of Madagascar wood from Nagel since the illegal export of wood from Thunam to Nagel.

On October 13, 2009, a USFWS Special Agent conducted a phone interview with Phil Guillery, the Director for the Forest Trust, an organization consulted by companies, including Gibson, to located sustainable sources of rare woods for the manufacture of musical instruments. Guillery had put together a trip, from June 9 through 20, 2008, for representatives from Gibson, C.F., Martin, Taylor, and sustainable wood groups, to tour Madagascar and gather facts to plan the establishment of a low-yield, high-value, managed forest in Madagascar. Guillery stated that all guiltar industry representatives, including Gibson representative Gene Nix, were informed that the harvest of Madagascar ebony and rosewood was illegal and that the export of these woods was also illegal under Malagasy law. Guillery stated that he had provided Nix and the others with a copy of the 2006 Interministerial Order making the harvest and export illegal (the government later found this copy from Guillery at Gibson during the 2009 raid).

Two banks are known to finance all timber exports from Madagascar: the Antalaha Brana of BFV-Société Générale and the Bank of Africa. Government reviews found all exports to Nagel from Madagascar came from Thuman as the exporter.

On October 10, 2009, a USFWS conducted an interview with Andrew Keck of International Resources Group, which hosted part of the June 2008 visit to Madagascar by Gibson Guitar wood specialist Gene Nix and representatives from Martin and Taylor. According to Keck, Nix and the others were informed specifically about Roger Thunam, a convicted Malagasy timber trafficker, and were told that he supplied illegal wood to Theodor Nagel Gmbh & Co. KB. Keck said Nix and others toured Thunam’s site and discussed the violations of law in his wood supply operations. Keck confirmed that all representatives, including Gibson’s Nix, knew that Thunam could not legally export wood to Nagel for sale to any of the companies present on the tour to Magasacar. They toured other sites.

The government has a transcript and digital recording of an interview with Gerald Rambeloario, Former Director General of Forests of the Republic of Madagascar from 2007-2009 (equivalent to the Secretary of the Interior for the United States), which was recorded in Madagascar on May 23, 2011. Rambeloario states that fingerboard ‘blanks,’ sawn to specific sizes are not finished products and are not lawful for export under Malagasy law. Rambeloariso also explains that he was involved in the Music Wood fact-finding trip to Madagascar that was attended by Gibson Guitar (which would be Gene Nix); that Gibson was well-informed about illegal logging; and that the purpose of the trip was to associate with a new partnership for the purpose of high-priced wood from communities that would manage the forests. What was discussed was an emerging program that required a relationship with Gibson Guitar. USFWS determined that some of the Madagascar ebony was in Gibson’s factories and some was stored at a Red Arrow Delivery Service Warehouse in Nashville.

On November 17, 2009, the government executed search warrants on three Gibson factories in Nasville and Memphis and on the Red Arrow Delivery Service Warehouse and confiscated Madagacar ebony, six guitars, and some computers sand files.

From the computers and files it was clear that Gibson knew of the illegality of exporting Madagascar ebony, and of purchasing it from Thunam. Gibson was seeking long-term goal but chose to buy from Thunam despite what Nix had learned in Madagascar.

Rememer that the trip took place in June 2008.

In a September 20, 2007 Trip Justification, Gene Nix wrote: “[t]here are no certified sources of ebony at present . . .” This was significant, because Gibson had a copy of the 2006 Inter-Ministerial Order which only permitted export of wood from certified sources. Gibson sought this wood. As Nix wrote in the Justification: “One of the challenges facing Gibson Musical Instruments in the company’s quest for increasing FSC7 certified wood input is the use of Ebony and Indian Rosewood in production.” According to Gibson’s SmartSource Action Plan, p.7, Gibson was looking for legal sustainable management and conservation measure which could be introduced as a supply chain with progression toward FSC Certification over a long-term time frame.

In a written review of the Madagscar trip, Nix noted that on June 15, 2008, he flew by private plane to Antalaha and visited with private companies in logging and processing, notably Roger Thunam’s business:

Key things we saw [at Roger Thunam’s Madagascar business]- large yard, wood in yard not properly stored; it is under temporary seizure and cannot be moved: substantial stored quantities of cut items for export including blanks for various instruments. Mostly ebony . . .

On August 26, 2008, Gene Nix sent an email to various Gibson executives stating:

I spent two and a half weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],I represented our company along with two other guitar manufacturers. . . . All legal timber and wood exports are prohibited because of wide spread corruption and theft of valuable woods like rosewood and ebony.”
JaraAla is a USAID-funded project that supports reforms in Madagascar to improve sustainable forest management. On February 25, 2009, JaraAla director Andrew Keck emailed Nix and others. An attachment to the email was a filed showing that only Thierry Body has been given the right by the Malagasy government to export ebony under special circumstances. The email noted that Thunam had no legal stock acknowledged by the Malagasy government under official inventory as required by law.

The same day, Gene Nix sent an email to Gibson President David Berryman, saying “[Maderas Barber] has been in the business a long time and may be able to help begin some legitimate harvests. Mr. [Roger] Thunam on the other hand should now be ableto supply Nagel with all the rosewood and ebony for the grey market.” Nix brought back a video of Thuman’s manufacturing facility, which consisted of a couple of individuals with a table saw and a pile of logs. This facility does not appear to be able to rip the logs and produce the raw fretboard blanks Gibson which Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz showed to reporters and referred to as a ‘finished good.’ Gibson knew about the Inter-Ministerial Order of 2006 before the Madagascar Trip. An English translation was part of the trip materials. Problems with Madagascar harvests were discussed in a February 25, 2009 email from Gene Nix, a Review of Trip Program, a Concept and Background Note, the 2007-2012 Gibson “SmartSource” Action Plan, an August 26, 2008 email from Nix re: Trip to Madagascar, a June 23, 2008 emal from Nix to Clay Maxie, a Februay 25, 2009 email from Andrew Keck to Nix, the February 25, 2009 email from Nix to Berryman, and the Program for information-gathering trip to Magascar.

Gibson had long-term plans for a partnership to develop a sustainable yield of Madagascar ebony in partnership with Magadascar. But Gibson also wanted some right away. So Gibson chose to buy several shipments from a convicted trafficker, whom Nix, according to several witnesses, had not only been informed could not legally sell his wood, but had specifically discussed could not sell his wood to U.S. sources through Theodor Nagel. Nix noted that Thunam’s sources were under government seizure.

Gibson bought its wood from Thunam through Nagel anyway.

The importer used by Gibson, Hunter Trading Corporation, an affiliate of Theodor Nagel, Gmgn, had received a tariff ruling in 2005 that sawn ebony thicker than 6mm was to be imported as a Harmonized Schedule 4407 item. As a result, the ebony imported for Gibson was not imported as finished fretboards, but was declared and imported as rough sawn wood, contrary to Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz’s claims.

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz states that Thunam had paperwork to export the Madagascar ebony (illegal traffickers tend to have forged papers, but Thunam wasn’t even that clever). First, after the confiscation of the Madacscar ebony, Theodor Nagel placed a notice on its website that it would no longer trade in wood from Madagacar unless the documentation was reviewed by a third party and determined to be genuine, suggesting its concerns about any paperwork it may have had from Thunam. Second, Thunam had no wood on the inventories of government records in Madagascar and his purported paperwork does not come from the required central ministry; it is a regional declaration (Madagascar was undergoing a coup around this period). Third, Thunam’s purported paperwork is not for the exportation of parts for musical instruments, or fretboards, or rough sawn blanks, but for finished roof joists and wall panes, and similar objects.

After the trip to Madagascar, Martin and Taylor ceased to import Madagascar ebony and rosewood. Martin ceased almost all, if not, the manufacture all standard models in Madascar rosewood. They rely on existing stores (note: Martin dwarfs Gibson in the manufacture of acoustic guitars and maintains huge stocks of wood; Martin makes many more square shoulder D-body-model guitars than Gibson makes acoustic models total) and the prices of their products using the same have rapidly increased. Note that Gibson’s major competitor is neither Martin nor Taylor; it’s Fender. The Gibson factory in Bozeman, Montana, which produces acoustic products and competes with Martin and Taylor, was not raided. Gibson makes few rosewood acoustic guitars. Most of its famous models (J-200, Hummingbird, Dove, Country Western) have either maple or mahogany back and sides.

The civil forfeiture action in the Madagascar ebony case (U.S. v. Ebony Wood in Various forms, No. 3:10cv00747 (Mid. Dist. Tenn.) has been stayed based on an affidavit and other information presented by an attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division, on the grounds that to continue the civil action and permit Gibson to conduct discover would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation (it’s more complicated; Gibson was likely on the cusp of being sanctioned or being dismissed for failure to act in good faith in discovery.).

A motion to stay the civil forfeiture action in the Indian ebony case (U.S. v. 25 Bundles of Indian Ebony Wood, No. 3:11-cv-00913 (Mid. Dist. Tenn.) is pending on the same grounds.

I’ve consulted with three members of the NAMM/industry panel on the Cooper Amendment to the Lacy Act; Gibson Guitars declined to place a representative on that 20+ member panel. I was offered an opportunity to meet with Congressman Cooper’s staff regarding my concerns on the “your first offense is free” (well, that’s a simplification) language to of the amendment.

For those who post that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is a major Republican donor, he made only his second reported political contribution to a candidate or party, ever, to Rep. Cooper (D) of Tennessee, who co-sponsored the amendment. I don’t think Gibson can take advantage of the “slap on the wrist for your first offense” language, because I think it’s clear that in 2009, Gibson knew its purchase of Madagascar ebony was illegal.

I hope this fills in some of the blanks for those of you are seriously interested in the facts and not press releases. The 2011 raids are more complicated, but the party in error is a Nagel affiliate, LMI. Nothing’s quite as simple as a Gibson press release. And if the government ever told Gibson in a pleading that all you have to do is have your product made overseas and the problem will go away, don’t you think Henry J. would have produced that pleading? They’re of public record. I have them all.

I’m perturbed at Henry J’s lies in press releases (it hasn’t kept me from buying a L-200 and a F-5g mandolin, among other Gibson products, since the 2009 raids).

If you have any questions, then please let me know. I’m an attorney (sadly) and I’ve collected guitars for forty years this year. I’ve met Henry J., and Berryman, and Chris Martin, and I remember opening the door for Bob Taylor back when he was delivering guitars out of his car (he and I arrived at a guitar store at the same time). I’m interested in this stuff.

37 posted on 01/20/2012 11:03:02 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: Drew68

Tasty lookin’ setup there, guy. That Strat looks a lot like mine; American Standard Swamp Ash. I use a different head (Mesa Boogie preamp & mono block Peavy Classic 60 power amp), but the same cabinet for my “big” rig. I don’t have a guitar with a P-90 pickup....yet!


38 posted on 01/20/2012 11:26:01 AM PST by jdsteel (Give me freedom, not more government.)
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To: GBA

I know how you feel with the stolen Les Paul. I had one stolen in the 80’s, and it was 20 years before I could bring myself to buy another one. The reasons weren’t all financial, either.


39 posted on 01/20/2012 11:31:19 AM PST by jdsteel (Give me freedom, not more government.)
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To: Drew68

Just seen the Elvis Rosewood Telecaster for sale on ebay recently, seller wanted $350,000


40 posted on 01/20/2012 1:20:37 PM PST by Son House (The Economic Boom Heard Around The World => TEA Party 2012)
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To: Scoutmaster

Luthier Mercantile, Inc. (LMI) has great white glue for instruments.


41 posted on 01/20/2012 1:21:36 PM PST by Son House (The Economic Boom Heard Around The World => TEA Party 2012)
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To: Son House
Luthier Mercantile, Inc. (LMI) has great white glue for instruments.

Yeah. They sell lots of stuff. Lots of wood - and a lot of it no doubt from their affiliate Theodor Nagel Gmbh. I bought exotic veneer from them several times years ago for jewelry boxes and lap desks.

But they botched up their August import from India.

In the year before that, Gibson had imported East Indian rosewood fretboard blanks about eleven times (I can get the exact dates) without a single snafu or raid by the government.

But LMI, among other things:

With the first of those, the changing of the HS, and others, like putting a false description on the paperwork, the wood because contraband, for better or worse. Given Gibson's dealings with Nagel in 1999, the government raided Gibson again.

LMI even asserted a claim in the forfeiture on the grounds that the wood may belong to them and not Gibson. If Gibson's out money (and the government didn't assert a claim to any East Indian rosewood, regardless of what the papers say), then Gibson has a claim against LMI for trying to sell it contraband.

I have some issues with the August 2011 raids, but I firmly believe the government has Gibson dead to rights with respect to 2009. And Gibson knew what it was going; it just didn't think it would be caught. The attitude in the industry is the same. People are uncomfortable with 2011 but think Gibson got what it deserved for knowingly buying illegal wood through a known illegal middleman from an illegal source.

42 posted on 01/20/2012 2:22:41 PM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: Scoutmaster

He has obviously done something to get the current administration mad at him. Of course if they run him out of business, then the Chinese can open up a guitar factory and sell them in the US as Glibsons and thus help give them more money to buy our debt with.

The other two companies were the once mentioned in the article at the beginning of this chain of posts.

I also forgot that the Dems say that every dollar given in unemployment and food stamps generates two dollars in the ecoomy. Causing Gibson to close his plant will put more folks on unemployment and food stamps thus causing the economy to expand. More unemployment, fewer real jobs ought to be this administrations election mantra


43 posted on 01/20/2012 4:04:35 PM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Son House

 

(Has she ever held a real job where she did useful work? Has she ever worked in the dreaded private sector? Yet she presumes to judge Gibson and others who produce useful products and employ American workers. She is a fine example of the over educated eco-left saboteurs who hate American workers. Same as the anti-Excel pipeline fanatics)

 

Andrea Johnson (2004)

Andrea Johnson (2004)'s picture



Fellowship Year: 2004
Academic Background: Yale School of Forestry - MS - (Environmental ScienceSocial Ecology)
Current Position: Forest Campaigns Coordinator , Environmental Investigation Agency
Andrea graduated from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2005 with a Master's in Environmental Science. After previous work on orangutans in Indonesia and macaw ecology in Peru, she shifted focus at Yale towards the social, financial, and political aspects of tropical conservation, conducting thesis work on Peru's Camisea Natural Gas Pipeline controversy and organizing on campus for more transparent endowment investment policies. Andrea's research interests include the role of field stations and other scientific institutions in applied conservation and the role of civil society organizations and North-South networks in environmental conflicts. After a brief stint in 2006 with the Native Species Reforestation Project (PRORENA) at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Andrea has returned stateside. She is currently working as the Forest Campaigs Coordinator with the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO that uses undercover investigation and advocacy to document and expose international environmental crimes. Her focus will be on forests in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Expertise: Int'l Conservation & Developmt

44 posted on 01/20/2012 4:21:31 PM PST by dennisw (A nation of sheep breeds a government of Democrat wolves!)
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To: jdsteel
I don’t have a guitar with a P-90 pickup....yet!

The P-90 is the pickup that punches you in the face!

It may be a single coil but it sounds nothing like the "traditional" glassy, jangly Fender single coil sound. It's a snarling, midrangy beast! Plugging a flat-top Les Paul Junior with a wrap-around tailpiece into a Marshall is one of the definitive sounds of classic rock. Full, ringing power chords and screaming, chirping leads are easily attained on this unsung little "student" guitar.

I love my Junior almost as much as the '58 Historic Reissue right below it. It's a monster of an axe! I bought it in '09 and immediately wondered where this guitar had been all my life.


45 posted on 01/20/2012 4:27:18 PM PST by Drew68
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To: GreyFriar
The other two companies were the once mentioned in the article at the beginning of this chain of posts.

Taylor Guitars was "chosen" as a competitor of Gibson by conservative bloggers because Bob Taylor is an outspoken environmentalist. Is Gibson's CEO?

"The true wood guitar is disappearing quickly. We need to act now because it just won't be around in 10 years," said Henry Juszkiewicz, the chief executive of Gibson. In 2011. Bob Taylor never says stuff like that.

Gibson is an electric guitar company. Think Les Paul. The SG. B.B. King with his ES-355 variant, which he calls "Lucille." Heck, the acoustics are made way off in Bozeman, MT. They're nice, but that's not Gibson's bread and butter and acoustic manufactures are not Gibson's main competitors. Nobody walks in to buy a Les Paul and walks out with a Taylor or a Martin. Nobody.

In Guitar Center, the Taylors and Martins are back in another room, through doors, with a couple of the Gibsons from Bozeman. There's a wall of Gibson electrics with Fenders. And in a large Guitar Center (like three of them close to me), a room with Gibson and Fender high-ends.

Nobody's mad at him. In 2009, the government went after imports from Theodor Nagel from Madagascar. It just happened that Gibson was the company buying from them. Martin and Taylor didn't after the 'boots on the ground trip.' In 2011, the government went after *one* bogus shipment by LMI. If the government was after Gibson, then it would have snagged the other dozen imports from India by Gibson.

Do you realize that Gibson didn't blame politics and the government until *after* several conservative bloggers who were also wildly against Lacey and the idea of 'illegal wood' posted all of the accusations? And printed lies about Henry J's Republican ties?

And there's no "Gibson" to close his plant. Henry J. and David Berryman own it and the amounts they've lost are tiny compared to revenues. Henry J. played this for press and increased revenues. Sales went through the roof once he starting singing the Tea Party Persecution Blues. And Henry J's laughing all the way to the bank - and giving the money to the Rainforest Alliance, the Clinton Global Initiative, the John Lennon bus museum tour, Democrat Representative Cooper, the poetry slam for diversity, and his other causes.

46 posted on 01/20/2012 4:37:31 PM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: Scoutmaster

My objection is that the justice department has seized Gibson assets with out court order or any other legal reason. It is acting as a dictatorial power center in an administration that is pursuing the establishment of a dictatorship through the guise of a people’s socialist “republic.”

Besides, fenders should be on cars, not guitars.


47 posted on 01/20/2012 7:10:40 PM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: reefdiver
1,000 trees a day


Just like the hyperbole of the 70's when we were all told that tens of thousands
of acres of forest a day was being torn down and burned.
Then technology caught up and blew their lie out of the water.
Some treehuggers never got the meme.

48 posted on 01/20/2012 7:56:54 PM PST by MaxMax
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To: GreyFriar
has seized Gibson assets with out court order or any other legal reason.

If you drive from Nevada into California and are stopped an agricultural inspection station, the folks from California will seize your produce without a court order. The legal reason is there's a California law saying you can't bring it is.

In Mexico, you can buy western boots, an belts, and wallets, made from sea turtle. At the border checkpoints in Texas or California, your boots. or belt, or wallet, will be confiscated as contraband. It's illegal to own in the U.S. under CITES (a simplification).

If you are pulled over for a traffic stop and the back of your pickup is stacked with packages of cigarettes that don't have tax stamps on them, they'll be confiscated as contraband, because the law says they're contraband without tax stamps.

If you are arrested for domestic abuse and the cops find a meth lab, they'll seize the meth without a court order to do so.

The seizures at Gibson have gotten publicity, but there are hundreds and hundreds of other Lacey Act seizures. Some involve South Florida landscapers trying to bring in exotic and 'endangered' plants whose export is illegal from the countries of origin. The plants are automatically contraband. That's the 'legal reason' for seizing them. Many others involve wood flooring companies bringing in exotic hardwood flooring made of species which are illegal to export from the country of origin. Again, automatically contraband - and that's the 'legal reason' for confiscating.

The wood seized from Gibson (a) wasn't the product listed on the export papers and was therefore contraband; (b) became contraband when LMI switched the HS codes, twice, from export to import to final declaration; (c) became contraband when LMI (an expert) imported it without a Lacey Act declaration; (d) became contraband when LMI put a false ultimate designee on the customs paperwork; (e) became contraband when LMI put a false written description of the contents of the containers on the import paperwork; and (f) a few other reasons.

One USFWS was called in they saw three things: (a) contraband; (b) Theodor Nagel Gmbh, LMI (a Nagel company, and Gibson involved - the same parties from the 2009 transaction in which Gibson employee Gene Nix had alerted Gibson that the purchase from Nagel and Thunam was illeal; and (c) another LMI/Gibson shipment through Canada, also with bogus paperwork.

Gibson had a search warrant. Gibson had to file its seizure notice with a federal judge and Gibson (and LMI and Nagel) had a chance to protest the seizure.

And Fenders should be in Stevie Ray Vaughn's hands, or Jimi Hendrix's, God rest their souls.

49 posted on 01/21/2012 2:21:52 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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To: MaxMax
Some treehuggers never got the meme.

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is a treehugger. The bloggers who wrote about the August 2011 raids never did their homework on Henry J.

He once sat for an interview with The Independent:

The head of Gibson, home of the Les Paul guitar, has warned that the rare and exotic woods used to craft the best instruments are running out at such a rate that the guitar could become an endangered species.

"The true wood guitar is disappearing quickly. We need to act now because it just won't be around in 10 years," said Henry Juszkiewicz, the chief executive of Gibson, whose instruments are brandished by rock legends including Slash, Dave Grohl and Jimmy Page. The wood traditionally used to fashion premium guitars – rosewood, maple, ebony, mahogany and spruce – is being lost as a result of over-harvesting and the depletion of rainforests.

Henry J. is a founding member of the Rainforest Alliance and was on the Board of Directors until Gibson was busted for buying illegal Madgacar ebony in 2009. Henry J. is still a member. The Rainforest Alliance believes in man-made global warming and has programs and literature to promote this idea.

Henry J. is a founding member of a group that set up a program to set up a certification program for the harvesting of rare trees (although Gibson didn't follow that protocol in 2011, but claimed it did in the press release, and the group had to issue a disclosure on its website).

According to Gibson's website:

Gibson, the celebrated US guitar manufacturer, has pledged to eliminate illegal timber from its supply chain and has made a commitment to source all timber from FSC-certified forests in the near future.

1,000 trees a day? The FSC- group that Gibson has aligned itself with directly - and aligned itself through the Rainforest Alliance with over a dozen years ago back when Henry J. helped found the Rainforest Alliance, says:

Every year an area half the size of the UK is cleared of natural forests: temperate and tropical, North and South and on every continent.

If you want a treehugger, you don't have to look any further than Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz.

50 posted on 01/21/2012 8:54:40 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it)
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