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Europe Edition: ‘Brexit,’ Uber, Cristiano Ronaldo: Your Thursday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Benjamin Cremel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images • In France, President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled the cabinet after François Bayrou, the justice minister, and three others resigned. Above, Florence Parly, the new defense minister. [The Guardian] • Weary survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in London learned that some of them would be housed in a luxury complex. [The New York Times] • A top firefighter in Portugal said “a criminal hand” had probably started the forest fire that killed 64 people there last weekend. [The New York Times] • In Washington, Democrats were scrambling to regroup after losing a Georgia House election that came to be seen as a referendum on politics in the age of Trump. [The New York Times] • Romania’s prime minister was ousted in a no-confidence vote initiated by the main governing party. […]

U.S. Illegal Timber Imports Are Down, But More Work Remains

Last week hardwood flooring giant Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia to one felony and several misdemeanors for importing illegally sourced wood into the United States. This is great news for the 450 Siberian tigers remaining in the wild, as much of Lumber Liquidators illegal oak flooring was taken from their habitat in the Russian Far East. It is also a strong message that the United States intends to crack down on the illegal timber trade using the Lacey Act, a landmark conservation law that prohibits the import of illegally sourced wood products. Unfortunately, new evidence shows that illegal logging continues at a torrid pace around the globe. With illegal logging decimating forests around the world and imports of illegal wood products undercutting American businesses, bipartisan majorities of Congress came together in 2008 to combat the illegal timber trade by amending the Lacey Act. Originally passed in 1900 to outlaw trade in poached wildlife, the amendments expanded these protections to plants, making it illegal to import illegally sourced wood products into the United States. This month, Lumber Liquidators became the first major U.S. company to plead guilty to smuggling timber under the Lacey Act. A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists provides further evidence that these protections are working. According to their estimates, imports of illegal timber into the United States have dropped 32 to 44 percent since the Lacey Act amendments went into effect. Around the world, more must be done to combat illegal logging. In Southeast Asia, Laos has experienced widespread deforestation, with forests cleared for roads, dams, plantations and mines. In many cases, the government, particularly the military, profits from the flow of the resulting timber into neighboring China and Vietnam. Recently, a leaked report from the World Wildlife Fund found that Laos exported 1.4 million cubic meters of timber to China and Vietnam in 2013, 10 times more than the allowable legal harvest. Some of this wood finds its way to the United States. U.S. imports of wood from Vietnam, virtually all of which is illegally sourced, have more than doubled since 2007. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 9 percent of illegal wood imported into the United States comes from Vietnam. Halfway across the world in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, some of Europe’s last virgin forests are being threatened by illegal logging. These beech and oak forests are home to lynx, wolves and bears. A 2012 report by Greenpeace Romania found that more than 3 hectares (about 4 soccer fields) of Romanian forest are disappearing every hour, with almost half of the deforestation occurring in protected areas. Now, a two-year investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency finds that Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer has been profiting from exporting illegal Romanian timber for years. In its investigation, EIA documented multiple instances of illegal timber ending up in Schweighofer’s Romanian mills, including purchasing wood harvested illegally in Romanian national parks. As we wrote recently, strong environmental protections only work if they are enforced. By holding Lumber Liquidators accountable, the United States has put other companies on notice that they must take precautions to source their products legally. This is a welcome step, but clearly there is more work to be done. If you haven’t yet, take a minute to thank the Obama administration for enforcing the Lacey Act and ask them to continue combating the illegal timber trade. This post originally ran on the Sierra Club’s blog, Lay of the Land. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert Talks Greenpeace And Awakening His Environmental Awareness

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert is a long time friend and comrade in photography. He lived too many years to remember here in Tokyo, before returning recently with his wife and daughter to his native Scotland. We have had long, coffee-fueled talks about photography and the EverydayClimateChange Instagram feed (@everydayclimatechange) has deepened our sense of common interest. Since the feed was launched in January, Jeremy has been instrumental in suggesting ways to streamline the process and reach out beyond the photo world. His work has been featured in magazines and newspapers around the world. His long-term project on the Roma people of Romania is enlightened, timeless and now an important historical document. He has also shown work as part of the annual Open Walls exhibition for the Open Society at the Soros Foundation. Recently, Jeremy and I talked about how he came to document the environmental changes around us. (Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert @JshPhotog for @Greenpeace & @everydayclimatechange — A child with a flower in his hair, in the “garden”, an area formerly used for growing crops, but now barren and destroyed by salt sea water waves, on Puil Island, Carteret Atoll, Papua New Guinea.) “I first became aware of the environment in 1999”, Sutton-Hibbert recalled, “unusual perhaps to remember so distinctly the year one becomes aware of the world around them and how fragile it is, but I remember distinctly as that was the year I began photographing on assignment for Greenpeace.” “Until then I had of course taken an interest in life, in countries and cultures, but I don’t remember really thinking about the fragility of the planet we live on. And then, on my first assignment for the environmental organization I went by boat out to the archipelago of St […]

Innovation Earth: Bringing NASA Technology Back to Earth

Harnessing asteroids. Sending humans to Mars. NASA has laid out some pretty sci-fi sounding plans for the next 20 years of space travel, but a more critical mission — at least for the sustainability of human life here on earth — may be the one it launched in Mountain View, California, just over two years ago: The Sustainability Base at the NASA Ames Research Center. The 50,000-square-foot lunar-shaped structure is the greenest government building ever built, as well as both a testament to and test bed for NASA aerospace technology. The Base produces more energy than it consumes, powered in part by fuel cell technology developed to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. It will eventually use 90 percent less water than a conventional building, recycling its water via a version of a system deployed on the International Space Station. […]

Overlooked European Cities You Must Visit In Your Lifetime

Everybody loves a European adventure. But when we are going abroad we tend to overlook smaller cities for enduring favorites like Paris, London, Venice and Rome.

Once you’ve visited the classics, it’s time to head to one of these underrated cities in Europe.

Cork, Ireland

Cork is often referred to as the “real capital of Ireland.” Dublin, the actual capital, is great. But if you’re looking for a city that is easy to navigate, with locals that are friendly and welcoming, and a laid-back vibe, Cork is for you. The city is also known for its “foodie” restaurants, pubs and live music.

Lyon, France

With vibrant nightlife, cultural life, an array of museums and lots of shopping, Lyon gives Paris a run for its money. Make sure to check out the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon and Parc de la Tête d’Or, France’s largest park.

Helsinki, Finland

Set on the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki is a sea town with a quirky personality. Explore the harbor and watch ferries come in and out of port, check out museums, have a classic Finnish sauna experience or hang out in one of the city’s many parks and green spaces.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is gaining traction as a new favorite for travelers. It’s often considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with its distinctive architecture and romantic setting on the Danube River. Sample Hungarian cuisine, soak in the hot springs and explore the city’s complex history.

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Freiburg is a university town surrounded by nature. It has a medieval story-book feel, yet is also one of the greenest cities in the world. The city is known for its eco-friendly housing, use of solar power and lack of cars. Freiburg is also perfectly located at the entrance to the stunning, mythical-sounding Black Forest.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg (or, Göteborg) is basically a cooler, less expensive version of Stockholm. Hip cafes, eye-catching architecture, street art and artisan shopping all contribute to the city’s creative atmosphere. There’s also Liseberg amusement park, museums and tons of parks to check out. Nearby archipelagos welcome explorers.

Porto, Portugal

The history of Porto dates back to Roman times, and today it’s a colorful, romantic port city with rich history and culture. Visitors should check out the city’s historic center (also known as the Ribeira district), the Museu de Arte Contemporânea and Casa da Música. Porto is also the birthplace of port wine, so get ready to drink.

Grenada, Spain

Andalucía just sounds magical, doesn’t it? The city of Granada is located in the autonomous community of Andalucía, Spain. Grenada’s main attraction is the Alhambra, a Moorish palace and citadel. Beyond the Alhambra though is a youthful city with a complex, multicultural history.

Maastricht, The Netherlands

Maastricht is really, really pretty. A university city, Maastricht is youthful yet sophisticated. There are two main squares: Vrijthof is known for its cathedral, bars and restaurants, and Markt is home to the town hall. Maastricht also draws in history buffs with its fortified walls and an underground network of tunnels that visitors can tour.

Ghent, Belgium

Visitors to Ghent will quickly fall in love with this cosy little city. Ghent is modern with a historic backdrop and stunning canalside architecture. Check out Gravensteen castle, the Belfry, and St. Peter’s Abbey.

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest’s nickname was once “Little Paris” and it’s not hard to see why. The city features wide, tree-lined streets and Belle Époque-style architecture indicative of its elegant past. Today, Bucharest is home to some of Romania’s best museums, manicured parks and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol region, in the western part of Austria. The city sits in a valley, with mountains towering above it. On any given day in Innsbruck visitors can tour the awe-inspiring Imperial Palace, ride the funicular up to the slopes and spend the evening chilling in pub among the locals.

Genoa, Italy

Italy has no shortage of awesome cities, but one that often gets overlooked is Genoa. The hilly, ancient maritime city is known for its winding streets, colorful buildings and waterfront location. Genoa’s old port, Porto Antico, features palm tree-lined promenade, cafes and an aquarium. The old town will immediately transport you to medieval times, with its narrow cobblestone streets and the San Lorenzo Cathedral.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava perfectly combines nature and urban life. The Danube River winds through the city and the Small Carpathians are only a stone’s throw away. Starý Mesto (the old town) features 18th-century buildings, cozy cafes and Bratislava Castle.

Odense, Denmark

Odense is the quirky little capital of Funen, the third largest island in Denmark. The fact that Hans-Christen Andersen was born here makes this storybook town even more quaint. The town’s main attractions are open-air museum Funen Village and the Odense Zoo, along with many restaurants and cafes.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana may be the prettiest city you haven’t been to yet. The capital city of Slovenia boasts a blend of cultures, including German, Slovenian and Mediterranean. A medieval castle hovers over Ljubljana, just outside the city center.

Basel, Switzerland

Basel sits on the Rhine River, near the borders of Germany and France, giving the city a unique multi-national flair. The city is a culture buff’s heaven — Basel has the largest concentration of museums in Europe.

Manchester, UK

Manchester is famous for its unwavering love of its soccer team, the lively music scene (Manchester is the hometown of the Smiths and Oasis) and its welcoming atmosphere. Be sure to visit The Lowry art center, do some shopping at Affleck’s Palace market and round out your day with a trip to the pub to take part in Manchester’s spirited nightlife.

Split, Croatia

A seaside town with a ton of historic wonders, Split has the best of both worlds. The city is home to Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with bars, restaurants and shopping. The city’s coastal mountain backdrop can’t be beat.

Brno, Czech Republic

Located in the province of Moravia, Brno is kind of the anti-Prague. Here, wine is the drink of choice, there are way fewer crowds and cultural activity abounds. Visit crypts, castles, churches and museums, then sample Moravian wines and local cuisine at a restaurant.

Toru?, Poland

Who doesn’t want to hang out in a walled Gothic city? Toru? is a great change of pace from overcrowded Warsaw and Krakow and has plenty of history, culture and activity to enjoy. Toru?’s claims to fame include being the birthplace of Copernicus and being founded by the Teutonic Knights. You can still visit the Teutonic Knight’s Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, today — well, you can visit the ruins.

Bergen, Norway

When you think of Norway you probably picture lots of gorgeous outdoorsy locations and Oslo. But Bergen definitely deserves some attention. Bergen is a lively city with excellent nightlife and restaurants, and a beautiful waterfront. Also, it’s at the gateway to those famous fjords, including Sognefjord.

Rhodes Town, Greece

Surrounded by some of the bluest waters you probably will ever see, this Rhodes Town is bursting with historic sites and modern indlugences. In the Old Town you’ll find a maze of ancient streets, Roman ruins, medieval castles and Byzantine mosques. In the New Town, shop the upscale boutiques, bistros, bars and an awesome beach. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Mandraki Harbor.


Romania Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Romania has become the tenth country in the EU to legalize medical marijuana. This is welcome new for those that are suffering from various ailments in Romania. Up until now people have had to either use medical marijuana illegally or use harmful pharmaceutical drugs. Other European countries that have legalized medical marijuana include Austria, Finland, [Continue Reading] […]

Europe: 22,300 premature deaths are cause by coal pollution… every year

Thanks to a sophisticated health impact assessment model, the scientists were able to estimate both the health and economic impact of the 300 biggest coal plants in Europe, as well as the potential impact of 50 projects still in the planning phases. […]