Tuesday, December 08, 2015

US GOVERNMENT - Christmas 2015

1. NEW YORK — Private Museums Tax Status Gets Examined by Senators: The Senate Finance Committee is looking into some dozen private museums owned by individual collectors, asking if their tax-exempt status is deserved or not by their larger public benefit. The Brandt Foundation Art Study Center, Glenstone Museum, and Eli and Edythe Broad Museum are among the establishments coming under scrutiny. [NYT]

2. WASHINGTON DC ISIS and Antiquities Sales: Fact or Fantasy? November 13, 2015  By Peter K. Tompa*. The archaeological lobby and the media, particularly CBS News, have pushed the story that antiquities provide a major funding source for ISIS. While ISIS is probably making at least some income from either antiquities sales or from taxing looters, the amounts that it has derived from these sources probably amount to no more than 1-2% of its estimated total funding of from $1-2 billion dollars. A CBS News Report, “ISIS Cashing In on Selling Plundered Antiquities to Fund Terror,” CBS News, September 29, 2015, has been a major source for these claims, but the report is deeply flawed. The report is purportedly based on documents seized from ISIS financier, Abu Sayyaf, who was killed in a special operations forces raid last May. First, the report states that documents seized from Abu Sayyaf prove that ISIS has made hundreds of millions of dollars from stolen antiquities. However, according to an article by archaeologist and researcher Christopher Jones, the documents themselves only support a far lower number, $1.25 million. Second, the CBS story again suggests that Apamea has been looted by ISIS.  In fact, the city has been in the hands of the Assad government since the beginning of the conflict. This is part of a pattern of other exaggerations and grossly inaccurate claims, starting with a report that ISIS had made $36 million from stolen antiquities from one area in Syria alone. However, the report was later found to refer to money made from all types of looting in the al-Nabuk region of Syria, not only the looting of archaeological material. More http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/isis-and-antiquities-sales-fact-or-fantasy/
3. WASHINGTON DC November 30, 2015. The Committee for Cultural Policy.. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, which purports to “protect and preserve” antiquities in regions of crises, needs serious reworking before the Senate takes up the measure. As it is written, the bill does not have a firm factual basis for its assumptions – and without the real facts it will never be able to achieve its worthy goals. In short, by accepting without question the media hyperbole and discredited, phony numbers for ISIS’ trade in looted art – Congress will let slip the opportunity to focus on the true funding sources for terrorism.
H.R. 1493/S.1887 opens the door to a one-sided US policy that ignores the needs of US museums, collectors, and small businessmen and women. It will encourage anti-art trade activists to make every political upheaval around the globe into an excuse to stop the trade in cultural goods. As written, the proposed legislation is simply a recipe for dismantling the lawful trade in antique, ethnographic, and ancient art.  The bill creates a new Coordinating Committee on International Cultural Property
Protection, staffed without guaranteed representation of all stakeholders, which supplants the existing mechanisms already in place to combat the entry of looted materials into the US. Existing regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, both at the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) at the Department of State and in Customs, have already shown bias against both private and public museum collecting through a focus on forfeiture and the routine renewals of agreements halting the trade for fifteen and twenty years at a time. Congressional attempts at oversight have been sporadic and met with stonewalling; complaints have had little effect, despite statements by the State Department’s former Deputy Legal Adviser as well as statements of former CPAC members expressing concerns about how the State Department is handling its administration of the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).
H.R. 1493/S.1887 should be “tweaked” so the new State Department bureaucracy that is proposed is more inclusive.  More .. http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/protect-and-preserve-international-cultural-property-act-h-r-1493s-1887-saving-syrian-antiquities-or-crushing-the-legitimate-art-trade/

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