Romanian expatriates stage anti-govt protest in Bucharest

Romanian police spray protesters with pepper spray in front of government offices in Bucharest. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Romanian expatriates stage anti-govt protest in Bucharest

  • More than 1,000 protesters waving Romanian and European Union flags, booed and yelled Justice, not corruption!
  • Many of the estimated 3 million Romanians living abroad say they left because of corruption, low wages and lack of opportunities

BUCHAREST, Romania: Romanians who live abroad flocked to an anti-government protest in Bucharest on Friday, urging the left-wing government to resign and call an early election.
The expatriates, some of whom drove across Europe to attend the demonstration, are angry about how Romania is governed. Many of the estimated 3 million Romanians living abroad say they left because of corruption, low wages and lack of opportunities.
More than 1,000 protesters waved Romanian and European Union flags, booed and yelled “Justice, not corruption!” outside government offices in the capital.
Protesters briefly scuffled with riot police when they tried to break through a police line guarding the government offices. At least one man was detained.
The protests were to continue into Friday evening.
Since the Social Democrats won power in 2016, Romanians have regularly protested government moves to put in new laws that critics say weaken the nation’s fight against corruption.


Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

Updated 18 min 2 sec ago
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Solomon Islands’ forests felled fast to feed China demand — Global Witness

  • Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017
  • Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels
SYDNEY, Australia: The South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands is felling its tropical forests at nearly 20 times a sustainable rate, according to research by an environmental group published on Thursday, driven by insatiable Chinese demand for its lumber.
Export volumes of the archipelago’s single largest export commodity leapt more than 20 percent to just over 3 million cubic meters in 2017, central bank figures show, worth $3 billion Solomon Islands dollars ($378 million).
Environmental and rights group Global Witness said this was more than 19 times higher than sustainable levels, and if continued could denude the country and soon exhaust the single biggest contributor to the Solomons’ economic growth.
Deforestation also removes wild fruits and vegetables that are a local food source and destroys the habitats of animals.
Global Witness’ analysis of import data also found that the overwhelming majority of the lumber was sent to China, the world’s top importer of timber, which it said underscored the urgency for Beijing to regulate imports and probe their origins.
“The scale of the logging is so unsustainable that natural forests will be exhausted very soon if nothing changes,” Beibei Yin, who led the research team that compiled the report, told Reuters by phone from London where Global Witness is based.
“The Chinese companies which import most of the wood are so significant that if all of them together stop buying there is still a chance to revert back,” she said.
Global Witness took 155,000 cubic meters as a sustainable log export volume from the Solomons, which is the lowest but most recently calculated of several government and expert analyzes, with the highest being approximately 300,000.
It gave no date of its own for the possible exhaustion of forests but cited a preliminary estimate of 2036 which was made in 2011 by the Solomons’ forestry ministry.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s office directed Reuters to the secretary for the Forestry Minister, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
China’s commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
The Solomon Islands has more than 2.2 million hectares (5.4 million acres) of forest covering approximately 80 percent of its land area, which is spread over some 990 islands.
Though the country’s forestry ministry has previously said it had toughened regulations to combat illegal logging, Global Witness said a lack of enforcement capacity increased the risk of loggers cutting more than permitted.
Global Witness’ satellite analysis of logging roads showed 669 km (416 miles) lying above 400 m (1,300 feet) elevation, where logging is nominally restricted.
Interpol estimates the global trade in illegal lumber to be worth more than $50 billion annually. ($1 = 7.9381 Solomon Islands dollars) (Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; additional reporting by Elias Glenn in BEIJING Editing by James Dalgleish)