Emma hosts Alex Sammon, staff writer at The American Prospect, to discuss his recent piece in the New Republic “IKEA’s Race for the Last of Europe’s Old-Growth Forest.” Alex dives right into his surprisingly high-risk coverage of the rampant illegal deforestation going on in Europe’s last old-growth forest in Romania, first situating his research within stories relayed to him a few years ago regarding the multiple murders of forest rangers in the region, and countless recorded assaults of folks documenting the illegal logging. Next, he and Emma jump back to 1989 and the fall of the USSR, as Romania, alongside many other countries, was opened up to neoliberalism and expansive privatization, with the Harvard University endowment jumping on the opportunity and (illegally) buying up a majority of land in the post-communist country, before selling it off to Ikea to dump the legal battles. They then accelerate to Romania’s acceptance to the EU in the oughts, which provided a perfect example of the contradictions of the union when it came to deforestation, as the increased neoliberalization and bolstering of the privatized regimes ramped up the logging, while the developing environmental “pledges” centered the forest as a key ecosystem. This finally brings us to the last decade and a half, as Alex takes on the facade of regulation offered by environmental Non-Governmental Organizations in the region, and walks through the myriad steps of the supply chain, all of which helps Ikea to obscure the illicit activities along each step of the way. Of course, this is further supported by a complete lack of regulatory capacities in the forest itself – resulting in a majority of wood from the region being produced by illegal logging – and the countless stories of violence, from full murder to attempted assault, which all make cracking down on the deforestation incredibly difficult. They wrap up the interview by looking at the future of the furniture industry, as production is expected to ramp up, and Ikea completely vacating the Russian market putting even more pressure on Romania’s forest. Emma also covers the incredibly devastating developments in Texas as the state begins investigating parents for providing gender-affirming care for their trans children, diving into the stories of actual trans children and their families, and the fear and anxiety that has suddenly been forced on them, before they touch on updates in Ukraine, as deaths continue to mount, and briefly explores stories of anti-war protestors in Russia and the inhumanity involved in blanket blaming citizens for the horrors of their government.
And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Matt and Brandon as they take on the incredibly unsurprising attack on Biden and the defund movement by the right, just days after Biden himself tried to do the same thing. Phil from the Chicago suburbs calls in to chat about the mineral industry and the domestic Russian politics that might be slowing down their invasion, Ron DeSantis yells at high schoolers for their PC theater, Alex from NYC talks school choice, and Brandon one-ups Ben Shapiro on pointless political analogies. Brian in Germany inquires on potential ends to the conflict in Ukraine, Kowalski gives his agriculture update, supply chain and all, and Zack from East TN grapples with aligning national progressive movements with those that already have roots in his region, plus, your calls and IMs!
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