Clear-Cutting (in the Valcea region of the Carpathian Mountains) in Romania

Logging Threatens One of Europe’s Last Virgin Forests – Published on Spiegel Online International, by Nils Klawitter, May 8, 2015 (Photo Gallery).

One of Europe’s most beautiful forest areas is disappearing piece by piece in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Some of the logging is illegal. The wood is then sold to make flooring or heating pellets that are sold in Germany and other countries.

It’s not easy to fight for your cause with pepper spray in your mouth and eyes, but Gabriel Paun tried it anyway in front of the gate of a huge sawmill in the Romanian town of Sebes. On that day last winter, Paun had followed a truck loaded with lumber after the vehicle left the Retezat National Park, located in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains – one of Europe’s most beautiful forested regions – and in the heart of a threatened world … //

… A Dramatic Increase in Deforestation: … //
… Driving Out the Competition: … //
… Audacious Consumer Deception: … //
… The ‘Driving Force’ Behind Clear-Cutting? … //

… Romanian Politicians Respond:

Now, the Austrians’ monopolizing power has started to unnerve Romanian politicians. Last year, former minister Doina Pana introduced a lumbering bill that is currently the subject of heated debate. Schweighofer is particularly unhappy with a clause that stipulates that a group of companies is not allowed to process more than 30 percent of the volume from a single species of tree.

The Austrians have used all their lobbying muscle to fight the proposed legislation. In a letter to Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Gerald Schweighofer even threatened with lawsuits and mass layoffs. The company CEO maintains that the legislation would violate EU laws and the free trade of goods. While Ponta’s Social Democrats have remained relatively unimpressed, the new Romanian conservative president, Klaus Johannis, is alarmed and has written on his Facebook page that, in his opinion, the planned regulations violate the principles of the country’s own constitution.

Former minister Pana finds such notions laughable. She always carries the text of the Romanian Constitution in her handbag and pulls out the dog-eared page with Article 135, which she has evidently looked up many times before. The text says that the state is obliged to protect national resources. It may be that Schweighofer has created 3,150 jobs in Romania, as he claims in the letter to Ponta, “but we have lost 50,000 jobs in small and medium-sized companies in the lumber industry,” she says.

Investor of the Year:

None of this appears to have damaged Schweighofer’s reputation — at least not for the time being. Only a few months ago, the company was honored as “investor of the year” in Romania. The lumber from forests harvested by the dubious subsidiary Cascade even bears the coveted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of sustainability, although an FSC spokesman says that the organization intends to review this status.

Delivery lists that SPIEGEL has obtained reveal the full extent of the market that is supplied with Schweighofer products. The German company Classen, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of laminate flooring and a supplier of DIY stores, features on the list along with Denk GmbH, which provides furnishings for executive offices and company headquarters. Classen denies purchasing wood from Romania and Denk has made no comment.

The supermarket chain Spar Österreich — which recently received a helping hand from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in presenting itself as an environmentally conscious company, even though it sells wood briquettes from Romania — praised Schweighofer’s strict “tracking rules.” A spokeswoman for the supermarket said last Tuesday that there was “no substance” to the allegations concerning Romania. One day later, she retracted the statement. “Of course,” she said, her company would “immediately look into the matter again.”
Schweighofer’s largest customers include Austrian manufacturers of wood pellets, who also supply Germany. Their monthly purchases from Schweighofer amount to over €1 million.

Meanwhile, activist Alexander von Bismarck says he simply cannot get it into his head that one of the last European virgin forests is being illegally cut down so it can be sold to heat homes in Austria.

(full long text).


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MILLION MOM MARCH – Mothers of dead police brutality victims march in DC, on Russia Today RT, May 9, 2015: Video, 3.48 min;

Home (and Solvency) Bias at the Fed, on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, May 9, 2015;

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Theses on Podemos and the Democratic Revolution in Spain, on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 1113, by Raul Zelik, May 7, 2015 – Translation by Eric Canepa;

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Video: New Democratic Party Ends 43 Year Conservative Domination in Alberta, 10.02 min, on The Real News, May 6, 2015: The victory of the new Premier-elect of Alberta Rachel Notley and the loss of the bastion province of the conservative Harper government is analyzed by Notley’s former professor Gordon Laxer of the University of Alberta (with Bio and Transcript);

En perte de vitesse, Podemos rétropédale, dans Libération, par François-Xavier Gomez, le 6 mai 2015: en Espagne, le parti anti-austérité propose des mesures édulcorées par rapport à son programme initial;

France: Comment déclarer les revenus de livrets bancaires, dans Tout Sur Les Impots, par Thibault Lamy, le 6 mai 2015;

Canada: Budget starts meaningful reform, dans Winnipeg Free Press, by David Northcott, May 5, 2015;

Left and Independent Political Action Conference, Unprecedented Cooperation, on, by Dan La Botz, May 5, 2015;

France: Le patron de Microsoft Satya Nadella se donne 3 ans pour tripler les revenus de Microsoft dans le cloud, publié dans l’Usine digitale, par Nora Poggi, le 4 mai 2015;

US: David Brooks Makes Basic Poverty Mistakes, on, by Matt Bruenig, May 4, 2015;

UK – Money Made Easy: Your quick guide to charitable donations, on The Sunday, by Ali Hussain, May 3, 2015;

Canada: Seniors win big in federal budget, on North Shore News, by Tom Carney, May 3, 2015: though not all groups pleased with way things played out;

Message de la jeunesse de Syriza (1er mai), dans, par Dominique C., le 3 mai 2015;

Volker Pispers vom 90. WDR-Kabarettfest aus Bonn 2015, 27.00 min, von Ma Ko am 23. April 2015 hochgeladen.

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