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Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory

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GUEST,jeff 31 Aug 11 - 08:40 PM
Charley Noble 01 Sep 11 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Sep 11 - 09:10 AM
dick greenhaus 01 Sep 11 - 01:54 PM
Big Mick 01 Sep 11 - 01:59 PM
Desert Dancer 01 Sep 11 - 04:35 PM
Charley Noble 01 Sep 11 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,999 01 Sep 11 - 06:02 PM
Songwronger 01 Sep 11 - 07:12 PM
dick greenhaus 01 Sep 11 - 08:15 PM
pdq 01 Sep 11 - 08:54 PM
MarkS 01 Sep 11 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,josepp 01 Sep 11 - 11:07 PM
Charley Noble 02 Sep 11 - 09:07 AM
Desert Dancer 02 Sep 11 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 02 Sep 11 - 05:07 PM
DebC 02 Sep 11 - 05:09 PM
pdq 02 Sep 11 - 06:00 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Sep 11 - 06:05 PM
Shanghaiceltic 02 Sep 11 - 06:08 PM
JohnInKansas 22 Sep 11 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 22 Sep 11 - 04:58 AM
michaelr 10 Oct 11 - 10:39 PM
ollaimh 11 Oct 11 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,beardedbruce 13 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM
John MacKenzie 13 Oct 11 - 07:50 AM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 12 - 04:07 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 12 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Charles Macfarlane 06 Aug 12 - 05:39 PM
Charley Noble 06 Aug 12 - 10:06 PM
JohnInKansas 07 Aug 12 - 04:00 AM
Henry Krinkle 07 Aug 12 - 05:10 AM
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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,jeff
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 08:40 PM

This thread underscores my assertion that carbon fiber ala Rainsong Guitars is the guitar making material of the future. No chance of being confiscated and impervious to humidity. Great combination.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 08:57 AM

I guess it does make sense to bring whatever documentation you might have with your vintage instrument if you're traveling across the US border. All my instruments are vintage but there have been major repairs, in one case totally rebuilding necks of my travel Stewart banjo. Lord knows where the ebony fingerboard came from.

Maybe I'll have to buy a nice plastic travel banjo.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 09:10 AM

Setting aside the legal questions, I think anyone would be nuts to engage in international travel with a vintage guitar. Travel is too hard on them.

Heat, cold, vibration, collisions, rough handling, theft...

Why would you risk it?


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:54 PM

I'd like to hear from anyone who was stopped at the border, and questioned, whether or not the guitar in questioned was confiscated.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:59 PM

Same here, Dick. I have heard many tales second hand but have never met anyone who had to answer anything more than cursory questions. I do wonder if my Mahogany Larrivee is ever going to have problems.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 04:35 PM

Famed Guitar Maker Raided by Federal Agents
JAMES C. MCKINLEY JR.
New York Times
31 August 2011

Tracing what they say is an illegal shipment of Indian hardwood, federal agents raided offices and factories belonging to Gibson Guitar Corporation last week for the second time in two years, seizing documents, computer hard drives, pallets of wood, guitars and tools.

Henry E. Juszkiewicz, Gibson's chief executive and part-owner, accused the federal government of bullying the famed guitar maker. He said the agents had misread Indian laws regarding the export of ebony and rosewood fingerboards.

"It's baloney," he said. "It seems to me they are gunning for us. They are just looking for us to make a mistake or do something wrong."

Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said the raid was part of an investigation into possible violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import wood that was exported illegally under another country's laws. He would not comment on the details of the investigation, except to say it was continuing.

The raid on Aug. 24 disrupted production at two Gibson factories and an Epiphone plant in Nashville, wreaking havoc with supply lines and crimping production, Mr. Juszkiewicz said. The plants produce hundreds of guitars a day, and rosewood and ebony fingerboards, mostly imported from India, are essential components.

A privately held company, Gibson is one of the largest guitar makers in the world, whose instrument is woven into the history of popular music in America. Among the iconic instruments its luthiers have created are the Les Paul electric guitar and the acoustic-electric dreadnought John Lennon strummed. They also make banjos, mandolins and dobros, as well as pianos under the Baldwin name and less expensive guitars under the Epiphone brand.

It was not the first time the federal government scrutinized the woods being used at Gibson plants. In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons burst into a Gibson factory in Nashville and seized pallets of ebony fingerboards from Madagascar. Since then, the company has been fighting the seizure in court, arguing that the wood was exported legally from that African country. No one has been charged with criminal wrongdoing in connection with that raid.

The investigation that led to the searches last week began when a customs official intercepted an air shipment of 1,250 ebony fingerboards in Dallas on June 22, according to an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant. The shipment was mislabeled as "finished parts of musical instruments," which are legal to export, the affidavit said.

The paperwork with the shipment did not say the wood was going to Gibson Guitar Corporation in Nashville. Agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service interviewed officials at a Canadian import company listed on a manifest and a storage company in Nashville where the wood was to be warehoused. They determined that the Gibson factories were the final destination.

The affidavit maintains that unfinished fingerboard blanks that are more than a centimeter thick cannot be exported under Indian law; only finished pieces of veneer, about half as thick can be exported. The intent of the law is to protect woodworking jobs in India.

But Mr. Juszkiewicz disputes this interpretation of the Indian statutes and the international tariff code. Gibson has been importing fingerboards from India for more than 17 years, he said, without any objections from the Indian government. He added that as recently as July the company's agents in India received a ruling from Indian trade officials stating that the fingerboards could be exported. Many American guitar makers use fingerboards from India, and a ban on their import could affect other manufacturers here, he said.

Even if Gibson has imported goods that could not legally leave India, Mr. Juszkiewicz said, the raid by the Fish and Wildlife agents was heavy-handed. "They are coming in with guns, and they have treated us like drug people," he said. "It's not appropriate. If you want to sue us, or indict us, O.K., but to come in with weapons and close the factories — they have done it twice — that's inappropriate."


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 04:45 PM

Martin Guitars had no objections to the raiding of Gibson.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,999
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 06:02 PM

Regarding individual seizures of instruments: A large international bluegrass association informed me today that they haven't heard of any.

I think AF of M would know, also.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Songwronger
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 07:12 PM

The CEO of Gibson (Henry Juszkiewicz) was interviewed on a radio program:

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 a pleading.

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

HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: Yes

http://www.redstate.com/aglanon/2011/08/31/doj-advises-gibson-guitar-to-export-labor/

This article is on a website called "Red State." The government and media are trying to make the Gibson harrassment look political. Gibson donates to Republicans, so the Democrats raid them. But that's not what's going on.

America is being deindustrialized. Gibson is being told to ship its jobs overseas. The General Motors bailout paid a billion dollars to relocate factories overseas. General Electric just announced it's sending a large part of its remaining production to China. The Gibson situation is just more of the government's (under the Democrats and the Republicans) deindustrialization of America.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 08:15 PM

Charlie-
I sincerely doubt that Martin (or any other manufacturer of instruments) is in favor of such raids. I've been trying to find out if there's any report of a seized personally-owned instrument. So far, I've found only one---a piano that wa stopped by Homeland Security in 2001 because the glue "smelled funny", and they feared explosives. THe piano was destroyed, and nothing was found. I don't believe the touring pianist was recompensed. And this was almost a decade before the evil forces of Obama appeared on the scene.
Does anyone know a reliable online dealer who markets tinfoil hats?


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: pdq
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 08:54 PM

Aug 31, 2011 - yesterday by ? Michael Billy - 6 comments

CEO of Gibson Guitar says Fed raid cost company up to $3 million

By Michael Billy.

When dozens of federal agents raided two Gibson guitar factories – one in Nashville and one in Memphis – and seized several pallets of wood they cost the company a lot of dough, according to Gibson's CEO.

DailyCaller.com is reporting that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said, regarding the cost of the raid, "my personal guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million to $3 million."

While the feds are staying muted on the situation, a Gibson press release has revealed some details of the raid.

The raid has resulted in both factories being shut down after dozens of federal agents executed four search warrants.

Gibson employs 2,000 people in the United States, according to Juszkiewicz.

The government is fretting the maker of the famous Les Paul guitar because of alleged violations of recent amendments to the 1990 Lacey Act, which outlaw the import of foreign plants that break a law of the country of origin.

The press release says the U.S. Department of Justice is claiming that the wood in question violates an Indian law that requires the wood to be finished by Indian workers. It also points out that the raid was not supported or sanctioned by the Indian government.

The release, however, also notes that the wood was from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier.

Juszkiewicz says the feds are focusing in on his guitar company like they are a solo act while, in reality, there's a full band of companies that import the same wood.
"We don't what is motivating it," Juszkiewicz said. "It is one, clear to me that there is some terrific motivation because we are not the only company that uses this type of wood.

Virtually every other guitar company uses this wood and this wood is used prominently by furniture and architectural industries, and to my knowledge none of them have been shut down or treated in this fashion."

This is not the first time this has happened, either. The release notes that a similar seizure took place in 2009:

    In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons invaded the Gibson factory in Nashville. The Government seized guitars and a substantial amount of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar. To date, 1 year and 9 months later, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson's property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated.

Gibson is attempting to have its property returned in a civil proceeding that is pending in federal court.
        
When dozens of federal agents raided two Gibson guitar factories – one in Nashville and one in Memphis – and seized several pallets of wood they cost the company a lot of dough, according to Gibson's CEO.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: MarkS
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 10:11 PM

Hey, George Orwell, call your office.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 11:07 PM

Now that I think about it, I passed through Detroit airport to Charleston, SC and back again with a fiddle about 4 years back. They xrayed it and may have opened the case--not sure--but never even questioned me about it much less confiscated it. And it had no documentation.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 09:07 AM

Dick-

I overstated the remarks from the Martin Guitar Co. CEO, but he does support rigorous enforcement of the Lacey Act:

Chris Martin, Chairman and CEO of the C.F. Martin Guitar Co. in Nazareth, Pa., says that when he first heard guitars built from Madagascar rosewood, he dreamed it might be the long-sought substitute for Brazilian rosewood, whose trade was banned in the 1990s due to over-harvest. Then the situation in Madagascar changed.

"There was a coup," Martin says. "What we heard was the international community has come to the conclusion that the coup created an illegitimate government. That's when we said, 'Okay, we can not buy any more of this wood.'"

And while some say the Lacey Act is burdensome, Martin supports it: "I think it's a wonderful thing. I think illegal logging is appalling. It should stop. And if this is what it takes unfortunately to stop unscrupulous operators, I'm all for it. It's tedious, but we're getting through it."


Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 11:18 AM

pdq -- article source??


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 05:07 PM

This was sent to me and I copied it directly out of my email. I agree with this statement 100%. Let the flames fly.

Don





Time to Repeal The Lacey Act

Posted by Lee Stranahan Sep 1st 2011 at 4:58 am in Economics, Environment, Featured Story, Mainstream Media,New York Times, media bias | Comments (109)
By now, you've probably heard a bit about the Obama DOJ's two raids on iconic American manufacturer Gibson Guitars. The story has made headlines around the world as another shocking example of how far the current administration is willing to take their antipathy for successful businesses. If you need to get caught up, the Bigs have broken news on this story, including two exclusive interviews with Gibson's CEO (one by me and a must-hear interview by Dana Loesch) plus an important piece by John Nolte (and this latest via RS McCain wherein Gibson's CEO says the government told him not to use American labor.)

As much as the Obama Administration deserves scorn for their overzealous prosecution, I've been researching the background of this story and have found that there's another culprit – the entire United States Congress and their passage of an amendment to The Lacey Act back in 2008 that's a prime example of an awful, anti-business law done in the name of environmentalism.
When you learn the details of the Lacey Act Amendments I think you'll agree that they need to repealed as soon as humanely possible.
The amendments were passed in 2008 as part of the behemoth omnibus Farm Bill. The problem they were trying to address was the deforestation in countries like Madagascar, where 'exotic woods' like rosewood and ebony come from. Some of these problems resulted from political instability in the country, which created a grey market for these woods where the new ruling governments looked the other way and profited from the illegal wood harvest.
Where is all this wood going? Interestingly, 95% of it is going to China – not for re-export but for domestic use. The wealthy in China love rosewood and ebony furniture. In fact, the next time you hear a liberal attack the Koch Brothers or whatever rich-person-of-the-moment that they want to attack, picture someone in China who sleeps in an $800,000 bed. That's not a misprint – if you want to see a picture of what a nearly million dollar bed looks like, you might want to check out this stylish report – it's on Page 11. There's a million dollar Chinese bed on page 16, too. And the report makes mention of the first Gibson raid on page 9.
So how have papers like The New York Times reported on this? Do you think they might possibly use misleading or even blatantly false reporting to try and guilt out their environmentally hip urban left wing readership? This is from a 2010 article on their 'Green Blog'…
..it is not only the Chinese who covet the rich look of rosewood. Much of the furniture gets exported to the United States and Europe. Some of it appears in the polished contours of beautiful guitars.
Let's parse those three short sentences.

It's true – it's not ONLY the Chinese who like rosewood. They are only responsible for a mere 95% of it. And when the Times says 'much of the furniture' gets exported to the U.S. and Europe…well, that's not at all what the report says. Go look at top of Page 5, which uses the phrase 'small quantities'. And to finish – they mention guitars. You know, guitars like the ones Gibson makes.
So, we have the New York Times providing false ideological cover and justification for the Lacey Act amendments and their enforcement. The goal is to create a smokescreen of false equivalence when, in fact, this is almost exclusively a problem caused by the Chinese – and China doesn't seem to have passed any laws or made any agreements related to this issue at all. I looked and I couldn't find any.
Meanwhile, the United States Congress passed Amendments to the Lacey Act to put the hammer down on whatever small part of the 5% that anyone in the United Starts is responsible for. If the penalties weren't so draconian it would be another laughable example totally ineffective environmental symbolism. Remember, even if the U.S. were to stop every single import of rosewood, it wouldn't actually solve whatever problem may exist in Madagascar at all.
How bad are the Lacey Act Amendments?
While China does nothing, the U.S. Congress saw fit to punish U.s businesses with fines of $500,000 and jail sentences of 5 years. This can't be emphasized enough because it's a real human consequence – the Federal Government is on the verge of possibly putting the CEO of Gibson Guitars in prison and doing enough economic damage to shut down the company for good.
I'm not even mentioning the new bureaucracy and paperwork requirements. I'm not going into the fines of $100,000 and a year in prison for unknowingly violating the Lacey Act Amendments. I'm ignoring the cost to the taxpayers of this enforcement. You can read all about those disgusting elements in the cartoony Primer that your tax dollars paid for and you'll see I'm not joking about the cartoons.
The consequences of this awful, ineffective law are no joke, either. It's happening to Gibson Guitars right now. I don't grant the government the facts for second; Gibson is innocent until proven guilty and they haven't even been charged. But remember what's at stake. A man might go to prison. People will lose their jobs. And the rosewood of Madagascar will still be sent to China to make $1,000,000 beds.
Unless …
Unless we do something about it. Unless we draw a line in the sand and say enough. Unless some politician or Presidential hopeful picks up on this as the perfect example of government versus U.S. business. Herman Cain? Rick Perry? Rep. Bachmann? Mitt Romney? Thad McCotter? Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: DebC
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 05:09 PM

Response from NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants)

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: pdq
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

Here is an eplanation of the reqirements of the 2008 amended Lacey Act...

                                                                           http://ezinearticles.com/?Lacey-Act---Declare-Your-Plants&id=2138870


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 06:05 PM

Don Meixner, your suggestion is along the lines of baby and bathwater.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 06:08 PM

This appeared in the latest Economist:

Guitars and the law
Guns N' Rosewood
Confusing environmental rules harm more than guitarmakers
Sep 3rd 2011 | NASHVILLE | from the print edition

MAYBELLE CARTER strummed one with a smile. Slash, the lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses, thrashed one with a snarl. One would be hard-pressed to find two carbon-based life forms more different than Carter and Slash (pictured), but they both loved Gibson guitars, as do thousands of amateur bards. So it struck a jarring chord when federal agents raided Gibson's factories in Nashville on August 24th.

Agents barged in and shut down production. They were hunting for ebony and rosewood which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) alleges was imported from India in violation of the Lacey Act, a 1900 law originally designed to protect fauna from poachers. This law has metastasised: it now requires Americans, in essence, to abide by every plant and wildlife regulation set by any country on Earth. Not having heard of an obscure foreign rule is no defence. Violators face fines or even jail. FWS claims the ebony sent from India was mislabelled, and that Indian law forbids the export of unfinished ebony and rosewood. Gibson denies wrongdoing.

This is the second time in two years that federal agents have raided Gibson. In November 2009 they seized guitars and ebony which they say may have been illegally imported from Madagascar, an island of rainforests. Gibson has filed sworn statements and documents from Madagascar's government which, it claims, show the wood's importation was legal. Nearly two years later, no charges have been filed, but the government still has Gibson's wood. Gibson has sued to recover it.

Guitarists now worry that every time they cross a state border with their instrument, they will have to carry sheaves of documents proving that every part of it was legally sourced. Edward Grace, the deputy chief of the FWS's office of law enforcement, says this fear is misplaced: "As a matter of longstanding practice," he says, "investigators focus not on unknowing end consumers but on knowing actors transacting in larger volumes of product." But Americans have been jailed for such things as importing lobsters in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes, in violation of a Honduran rule that Honduras no longer enforces. Small wonder pluckers are nervous.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 12:15 AM

Feds won't target unwitting owners of illegal wood

By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press
9/21/2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Owners of musical instruments made with illegally imported wood don't face prosecution, two federal agencies say in a letter that addresses fears stirred up after a major Tennessee guitar-maker was raided.

"The federal government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them," the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department wrote to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Blackburn and other congressional Republicans have been pressing the federal agencies to meet with them about Aug. 24 raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville where agents seized pallets of wood, guitars and computer hard drives. Gibson chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly blasted the raids as an example of the federal government risking U.S. jobs with over-zealous regulation.

After the raid, Juszkiewicz attended a speech by President Barack Obama as a guest of Blackburn and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and Christopher J. Mansour, director of legislative affairs at Interior, said those who "unknowingly possess" an instrument made from illegally imported materials don't have a criminal problem.

"I am glad to see administration officials stating on the record that they won't treat unsuspecting musicians as criminals," Blackburn said in a statement.

But Blackburn added that she doesn't understand why the same "unknowing" standard isn't applied to instrument makers like Gibson.

An affidavit supporting the search warrant for the recent raids alleged that shipments of imported Indian ebony and rosewood were given false labels to circumvent import restrictions. Juszkiewicz has denied wrongdoing and complained that the federal government has implicated Gibson, which also manufacturer Baldwin pianos, without filing charges.

A meeting between Juszkiewicz and federal prosecutors scheduled for Wednesday was delayed, and the company also canceled a press conference the same day that was to announce a new mahogany deal with Fiji.

The letter to Blackburn said the federal agencies can't provide specifics of an ongoing investigation to Congress.

"I will continue to hold the Obama Administration's feet to the fire until we receive more adequate answers," Blackburn said.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee was the chief Republican co-sponsor of the 2008 measure to add illegally harvested wood to the existing Lacey Act covering fish, wildlife and plants.

"This bill rewards U.S. producers — like those in the Southeast where we have large paper companies — for harvesting the right way," Alexander said at the time.

Alexander has cited Senate ethics rules in declining to comment on the Gibson case, but said he would consider changes to the statute.
"I'm reviewing the Lacey Act to see if it requires changes or improvement so that Gibson and other musical-instrument companies can get the wood they need to make their instruments while at the same time preventing illegal logging," he said in statement Wednesday.
Gibson had been the subject of a similar raid in 2009 over ebony imported from Madagascar through a German firm called Theodor Nagel GmbH, and has been fighting that seizure in federal court. Federal authorities say in court filings that the wood was exported illegally from Madagascar. Gibson and Nagel dispute that.

The company's fierce condemnation of the raids led to a conference call Tuesday by others in the industry who defended the Lacey Act.
"If you've been under investigation for bringing in illegal ebony from Madagascar from a German importer called Nagel who was clearly doing illegal wood, why would you keep buying from that same importer?" said Jameson French, CEO of Kingston, N.H.-based Northland Forest Products.

French, who also serves on the board of The Hardwood Federation, said 2008 changes to the Lacey Act to include wood products have protected the American lumber industry from unfair competition. He said allegations that the import restrictions hurt American jobs are false.
"Perhaps they didn't do the research before they jumped on the bandwagon," he said. "Because I can assure you that the large number of 13,000 small family companies that are represented by the Hardwood Federation have had positive benefits from the Lacey Act amendment."

Charlie Redden, supply chain manager for El Cajon, Calif.-based Taylor Guitars, said his business hasn't seen much disturbance.
"We travel to these places and meet with the woodcutters and we ask some of those tough questions about where they're getting their wood from, and physically see where the wood comes from," Redden said.
Mark Barford, executive director of the Memphis-based National Hardwood Lumber Association, said the limits on illegal wood sales in the United States and in other countries help maintain both the domestic and export markets.

"There are many hundreds and hundreds of small operators, even in the state of Tennessee, that count on fair trade and honest trade in order to stay competitive on the world market," Barford said.
Andrea Johnson, Forest Campaign Director for the Environmental Investigation Agency, a research and advocacy group, said although the industry uses the rarest and most endangered species — including wood, ivory and mother of pearl — fears about instruments being seized are misguided.

"Let's be very clear here: No one is coming to take your Les Paul guitar," Johnson said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

[Although statements by commentators are reassuring, the Federal statements say only "no prosecution" without mention of whether or not confiscation may still be a possibility. Caution pending further clarification might still be advisable(?).]

John


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Fac
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 04:58 AM

These articles only concern ivory - however - rosewood, tortise shell and hundreds of other items are banned

Excert FROM - webpage - peabody.jhu.edu/3572

TOOLS OF THE TRADE - The Piano That Purred (John Hopkins University)

It's a grim decision no musician should ever have to face: If you want to keep playing a beloved instrument, it will have to suffer an irreparable change. For Jeffrey Sharkey, director of Peabody Institute, that decision came in 1989, and it involved his beloved ivory-keyed Steinway S grand piano, which he had played since age 12.

After graduate school, he made plans to move to England to be with his now-wife Alison Wells, a member of Peabody's cello faculty.

"I wanted to bring my piano over," he says. "I had one year to do it without paying an import tax because of my visa's window with Her Majesty's custom and excise regulations—but the U.N. had imposed a ban on importing ivory." And there were no exceptions, even for the Steinway's documented and legal 1940s-era ivory.

"Customs had the right to confiscate the piano if they wanted to," he says.

He couldn't take that risk. "So I had the piano shipped to Steinway, and they put on plastic keys. The 88 ivory keys are now in my dad's house," he says, all smashed and rendered unusable during the difficult removal process.

NOT a BELIEVER Yet?
You should ALSO read this article about the "Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species" and traveling with contraband instrument parts.

bluegrasswales.org/CITES.htm

OR - How About?
Apr 20, 2011 ... Pianos bearing ivory keys arriving without a certificate are confiscated or impounded. If confiscated, your piano may be lost to you permanently. ...

squarepianotech.com/?page_id=320

OR .....Spring 2011 ....The owner of an Atlanta piano import/export company was sentenced in March for illegally smuggling internationally protected elephant ivory into the U.S. Fish and Game officers raided the company after being tipped off by the CITES Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland

awionline.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/40261/pid/40234

OR

CITES, and by definition Lacey, applies to new and old instruments alike, and have no “di minimus” requirement, so an instrument crafted entirely out of endangered woods, or one with a single ivory fret dot, are both in violation and subject to confiscation.

....But the risk remains that instruments could be confiscated, and business people could be hit with fines of up to $10,000 per instrument for “knowingly possessing” a noncompliant instrument. In effect, the amendment makes those in the music industry like drug dealers....

http://www.harmonycentral.com/docs/DOC-2046?decorator=print

OR

Krystian Zimerman, the great Polish concert pianist's piano was confiscated by customs officials at New York's JFK airport, who thought the glue smelled funny. They subsequently destroyed the instrument.

In 2006 he tried to travel with his own piano again, only to have it held up in customs for five days and disrupt his performance schedule.

April 2009, The Guardian - guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/28/krystian-zimerman-missile-defence-poland

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Obama's Momma has NOTHING to do with it....first they came for the accoridians and I said nothing.


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Subject: Gibson raid local angle; luthiers worry
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Oct 11 - 10:39 PM

It turns out there is a local angle here in Northern California to the recent Indian rosewood/ebony raid of Gibson Guitars by the feds. The wood in question, allegedly imported illegally, was sold to Gibson by Luthiers Mercantile, Inc. (LMI) of Healdsburg, which also supplies numerous luthiers in the area. North Coast luthiers are worried their supplies of exotic woods may be deemed illegal and be prone to seizure by the government.

Here is a link to Sunday's article in The Press Democrat, and here are the opening paragraphs:

A Sonoma County-based supplier of guitar-making parts is ensnared in an international smuggling investigation after federal authorities seized 24 pallets of exotic wood that it had imported from India.
The case involves world famous Gibson Guitar and is rattling the North Coast's tight-knit artisan guitar trade, with many guitar makers, whose instruments can sell for as much as $30,000, now unsure whether their own supplies include illegal woods.
The federal actions, including a raid on Gibson warehouses and offices, have cause a political fight on the national level and spotlighted arcane international and domestic trade laws.
Windsor-based Luthiers Mercantile International, or LMI, imported the $200,000-worth of Indian rosewood and ebony to sell to Gibson, which uses it for fingerboards, which overlay guitar necks.


There are several other articles (by Jeremy Hay) in Sunday's Press democrat relevant to this case, which don't appear to be online, and which I'm summarizing here:

The Lacey Act was passed in 1900 to prohibit illegal trafficking of birds, and was amended in 2008 to include wood products. The aim was to protect threatened woods by preventing the importing of illegally logged timber and to shield the U.S. timber industry from unfair overseas competition.

It allows U.S. authorities to bar and seize imported wood if sending it abroad violated laws in its country of origin. Factors include forestry practices, the wood species, its dimensions and how finished it is before export.

The 2008 amendment made it critical for importers to know the provenance of the wood they buy. Here is what happened in LMI's case, which critics say illustrates the law's faults.

The rosewood and ebony fingerboards that LMI imported can only be exported from India under the 9209 tariff code. But it is only legal to import that product into the U.S. using the 4407 code.

For about 20 years, LMI has exported wood from India using the 9209 code, and brought it into the U.S. under the 4407 code. This June, LMI bought a shipment of 1,250 Indian fingerboards worth about $20,000 and imported it into Dallas. But a clerk at the import broker that LMI uses to handle its paperwork marked the shipment with tariff code 4408, which classified it as a shipment of veneers.

That caught the attention of customs agents, who asked why the wood wasn't marked with the correct code, 4407. The wood was seized and LMI was sent an affidavit which effectively named them smugglers. A special agent wrote in the affidavit that the false description and code fraudulently presents it as a shipment that would be legal to export from India and would not violate U.S. law.

Two months after this shipment, federal agents on August 24 seized $200,000 in Indian rosewood and ebony fingerboards that LMI had imported to sell to Gibson.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipac University in New York and vintage guitar collector who is following the case, said, "I'm convinved that what happened was Fish and Wildlife looked at this and said, 'There must be something fishy going on', and... moved in.

"Suddenly LMI is thrown in the same group as some suspicious characters, and I don't know of any other company that tries as hard to get it right" in regards to importing only legal woods, Thomas said.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: ollaimh
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 11:27 AM

i useually onlt travel to the us with renaissance or celtic instruments. so they are made of woods that are ok. however if i take a guitar i don't take my hand made with brazillian rosewood back and sides. i take my yamaha fg180. an amazing plywood guitar!

my hand mmade was made from wood cut and dried fifty years ago(the builder bought a store room of wood from the estate of a deceased luthier--a real score) so it met canadian regulatons easilty. i don't know about american but i am not going to risk it.

when john lariviere was building guitars in vancouver bc, he had shipments seized for the bone nuts. and ormintation. the customs guys claimed it was ivory. it took a long time to sort it out so you have to be carefull. some times border guards are not well educated in these arcane issues. they are usually nnore concerned with drugs guns etc.

it seems likely gibsom was circumventing the rules. they were likely also manipulating the madagascar republics officials to get madagascar rosewood that should be under their export ban but they got a lot released by paper switching.

i am a little worried about my celtic cittern with indian rosewood back and sides. i better get paper work if i ever take it south again. i think people should start usuing north american woods. maple makes a lot of good instruments and walnut. there is way too much fixation on certain mahagony and rosewood strains.

and there are good artificial materials for nuts and bridges and saddles. mycarta etc


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: GUEST,beardedbruce
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM

And no one has said yet how ** I ** prove that the rosewood tailpiece I carved from a defective guitar fretboard for my chincello is NOT illegal.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/12/us-guitar-idUSTRE79B7PT20111012


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:50 AM

UK article in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 04:07 PM

Gibson Guitar Settles Criminal Case Over Exotic Wood Imports
by Mark Memmott, NPR

"After years maintaining innocence," as Nashville Public Radio says, Gibson Guitar Corp. has agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty, donate $50,000 to a conservation fund and give up its claims to ebony and rosewood worth nearly $262,000 to avoid being criminally prosecuted for importing exotic woods.

NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast Desk that "it's a crime to bring endangered plants and wood into the U.S. if the materials are protected under the laws of other countries. Under the terms of a deal announced today by the Justice Department, Gibson also promises to beef up its compliance programs."

The Justice Department's moves against Gibson in 2011, which included a raid on the company's factory and seizure of some ebony and rosewood, turned the guitar company into "the poster child for the Republican Party's campaign against burdensome regulations," as The Hill has written. Gibson hired lobbyists to make its case on Capitol Hill.

In a statement, Justice says:

"In light of Gibson's acknowledgement of its conduct, its duties under the Lacey Act and its promised cooperation and remedial actions, the government will decline charging Gibson criminally in connection with Gibson's order, purchase or importation of ebony from Madagascar and ebony and rosewood from India, provided that Gibson fully carries out its obligations under the agreement, and commits no future violations of law, including Lacey Act violations."


Andrew Revkin at the New York Times is both an environmental reporter and musician. He had a good blog post that I missed when it first came out, with a good explanation of the Lacey Act's functioning. He flagged it today on Facebook with the news update.

From the second item, to add emphasis: "... federal officials have recently announced that they won't enforce the Lacey Act against consumers."

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 04:11 PM

I should have added, both of the articles that I linked have quite a few links in them that are worth checking.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: Gbson Fined Peanuts For Illegal Timber
From: GUEST,Charles Macfarlane
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 05:39 PM

"The US government has settled its legal case against the iconic Gibson Guitar company over use of illegal timber from Madagascar in its instruments

Nashville-based Gibson, whose products are used by artists in every genre of music, will pay a $300,000 (£190,000) fine and a $50,000 community payment."


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 10:06 PM

Well, I'm pleased to hear that Gibson has decided to pay its fine and abide by the law in the future.

I still have problems with customs officials trying to enforce such laws with regard to vintage instruments. Who can prove where the ebony came from in 1896? What's being produced now is what should be carefully monitored.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 07 Aug 12 - 04:00 AM

Additional (?) info on the settlement at:

Gibson Guitar hit with penalty for importing rare woods

The maker of Gibson guitars agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a federal case alleging it illegally imported rare woods used in the manufacture of its instruments.

By ERIK SCHELZIG, The Associated Press

Federal prosecutors on Monday announced a deal to drop a criminal case against Gibson Guitar Corp. after the instrument maker acknowledged its importations of exotic wood violated environmental laws.

Nashville-based Gibson agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty, forfeit claims to approximately $262,000 worth of wood seized by federal agents and contribute $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the conservation of protected tree species.

"The agreement is fair and just in that it assesses serious penalties for Gibson's behavior while allowing Gibson to continue to focus on the business of making guitars," U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin said in a statement.

Gibson didn't immediately respond to messages left Monday seeking comment. The privately held company is considered one of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul, introduced in 1952.

Gibson's decision to cooperate with the federal Lacey Act banning the import of endangered wood products stood in contrast to a publicity campaign mounted in protest after agents raided Gibson facilities in Memphis and Nashville.

Republicans and tea party members had rallied behind CEO Henry Juszkiewicz at the time he denounced the raids as overzealous federal regulation that threatened American jobs.

"We feel totally abused," Juszkiewicz said immediately after the August 2011 raid. He vowed at the time the company would "fight aggressively to prove our innocence." Soon afterward he was invited by House Speaker John Boehner to attend a joint session of Congress in which President Barack Obama delivered a speech on jobs.

A few weeks later a company spokesman claimed that a federal agent had "lied" in affidavits claiming the CEO knew the wood seized by authorities was illegally imported.

Those affidavits supporting the search warrant that authorized the raids alleged that shipments of imported Indian ebony and rosewood were given false labels to circumvent import restrictions.

The settlement says a Gibson employee learned during a 2008 trip to Madagascar — the source of some of the ebony wood that was seized — that it was illegal to import unfinished wood and sent a report about it to his superiors, including company President David Berryman.

The exotic woods used in such guitars are considered integral to the sound they produce. And artists who have played Gibson instruments range widely from country stars Chet Atkins and Maybelle Carter to rockers Pete Townshend of The Who and Eric Clapton to jazz artists Larry Carlton and Les Paul.

George Gruhn, who owns a vintage guitar shop in Nashville, said he wasn't surprised that Gibson officials accepted the settlement.

"Regardless of the merits of the case on either side, it would have cost more than that by far to pursue it," he said. "Even if they thought they conceivably they could win, it would have probably cost more than $1 million to do it."

Gruhn said the resolution of the Gibson case doesn't ease his concerns about the Lacey Act, which initially halted the trade in endangered wildlife goods, like ivory, but in 2008 added rare woods to the import ban.

"The problem is that virtually every instrument prior to 1970 contains Brazilian rosewood," he said. "Even on a Gibson LGO, which was their cheapest student guitar."

Justice and Interior Department officials said in a September letter that those who "unknowingly possess" an instrument made from illegally imported materials don't have a criminal problem.

Last year, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, and fellow U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, a Democrat, introduced legislation they said would protect people from charges for unknowingly possessing illegally imported wood, and would require the federal government to establish a database of forbidden wood sources.

A coalition of environmental, logging industry and musicians' groups oppose the measure.

John


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Subject: RE: Who will stand up: Feds Raid Gibson Guitar Factory
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 07 Aug 12 - 05:10 AM

Gibson has outsourced so many jobs to Red China that I don't care what happens to them. And I love the Gibsons that I own.
(:-( P)=


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