Thursday, 1 September 2011

Reality vs Patriot/Truther Conspiracism

I'll do this in reverse, for once.

Here are some of the facts of the matter (which took all of 10 minutes to find): Gibson Guitars have been raided under suspicion of trading in illegal wood. Again.

This from just one source of many:
Gibson Guitar under federal investigation for alleged use of illegal rainforest timber from Madagascar
November 19, 2009

Federal agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raided Gibson Guitar's factory Tuesday afternoon, due to concerns that the company had been using illegally harvested wood from Madagascar, reports the Nashville Post.

No one from the company was arrested during the raid but agents seized boxes of guitars, wood, computers, and boxes of files. The Fish and Wildlife Service took action under the Lacey Act, which holds U.S. companies to environmental laws in the countries from where they source plant and wildlife products.

Madagascar's rainforests have been plundered in recent months for rosewood and ebony, the woods Gibson Guitar is accused of using. The illicit harvesting to hardwoods in Madagascar has occurred in the aftermath of a coup which disposed the island nation's president. Illegal logging has also been linked with the slaughter of endangered lemurs.

U.S. authorities have recently intensified customs monitoring and inspection of wood products from Madagascar to stem illegal trade.
So it's not the first time they have been investigated. This was the second time Gibson have been investigated for these offences. More on the previous investigation:
In September 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported to a U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agent the import of a shipment of Madagascar ebony wood at the port of Newark, N.J., from a Germany company called Nagel to Gibson Guitars.
Its import declaration package and invoices were for 5,200 pieces of sawn ebony and 2,133 pieces of sawn Madagascar black ebony, with a total value $76,437.
Gibson had placed the order via Nagel GMBH and Co KG of Hamburg, Germany, which exported the ebony through its affiliate Hunter Trading Corp. of Westport, Conn.
When the wood entered the U.S. en route to Gibson, it was missing the plant products declaration required by the Lacey Act. This looks like it's where Gibson got caught.
When the declaration was made a day later, it was listed as ebony harvested from Madagascar.
Madagascar has had rules in place restricting the harvest and export of ebony and rosewood since 2000. From what I've read, it does authorize some shipments of fallen timber. But mostly, that ebony is illegal timber.
Nagel has been Gibson's exclusive supplier of imported Madagascar ebony since 2006 and continued to import from it after the Lacey Act Amendments came into effect on May 22, 2008.
Nagel purchased the timber from its exclusive supplier of Madagascar timber, Roger Thunam, whose business dealt "almost exclusively in sawn wood or logs which at least as of 2006 were illegal to export from Madagascar," court documents said.
How much did Gibson know about this?
"[A] Gibson employee…wrote that '[t]he true Ebony species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is found only in Madagascar (Diospryos perrieri). This is a slow-growing tree species with very little conservation protection and supplies are considered to be highly threatened in its native environment due to over exploitation.' In fact, [he] 'spent two and a half weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],’ writing on his return, '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.'"

The federal prosecutors say that while Gibson knew of the questionable timber, and even acknowledged it as such, the guitar-maker went ahead with buying ebony from Nagel, a supplier in Germany.

"Gibson sourced its unfinished ebony wood in the form of blanks (for use in the manufacture of fingerboards for Gibson guitars) from Nagel (in Germany), which obtained it exclusively from Roger Thunam (a supplier in Madagascar). Madagascar prohibits the harvest of ebony wood as well as the exportation of unfinished ebony wood."
Clearly a case to answer, on the face of it.

But let's look at how the Patriot/Conspiracist movement reports it?

Here's how the story appears at WhatReallyHappened, with a comment by Mike Rivero:
US Department of Justice orders Gibson Guitar to SEND JOBS OVERSEAS!!!!!!!!!
It seems that the Department of Justice wasn’t satisfied with merely raiding the law abiding factories of Gibson Guitar with armed agents, shutting down their operation costing them millions, and leaving the American company in the dark as to how to proceed without going out of business.

Now, according to CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, agents of the United States government are bluntly informing them that they’d be better off shipping their manufacturing labor overseas.

Mike Rivero: The government hands Trillions of YOUR dollars to Wall Street with the promise that somehow this will create manufacturing jobs for Americans, and then that same government orders a US company to send their jobs overseas?
The link leads to an article in which the CEO of Gibson is interviewed, claiming that:
The Gibson Guitar saga has taken a sinister turn. .... In an interview with KMJ AM’s “The Chris Daniel Show,” Juszkiewicz [Gibson] revealed some startling information.

CHRIS DANIEL: Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?

HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.

CHRIS DANIEL: Excuse me?

HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that it [sic] a pleading.

CHRIS DANIEL: That your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of our labor?


Sinister? It's ridiculous and senseless not sinister. And why say Gibson is "law-abiding"?

Isn't it easy to turn any story into some sinister extension of the police state? Rivero and co include this story so as to suggest just such a creeping Police State, and they thereby completely distort the import of it. Ha - illegally imported wood, from rainforests being plundered in wake of political turmoil and an ABSENCE of government and regulation. Not the point they'd ever seek to make.

The story is filed under "Dictatorship" at WRH.

So, what's Freedom mean then, if not to plunder Madagascar? Freedom is relief from laws preventing the plunder of wood from Madagascar. Right.

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