Scholars Give First-Hand Accounts of Archaeological Looting in Peru

Friday, December 30, 2011
Terraces at Choquequirao, Peru
Photo by Harley Calvert.  CC 
As the January 3 deadline approaches for submitting comments to CPAC (the Cultural Property Advisory Committee) regarding Peru's renewal request for import protections, some scholars have supplied firsthand accounts of the threats to cultural property in that country.

Brian Bauer of the University of Illinois remarks to CPAC:
"I am a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and have conducted archaeological research in Peru for more than 30 years. Looting is a huge problem in Peru and every day the archaeological record of its past civilizations becomes smaller as sites are destroyed. Much of the looting is fueled by the demand for artifacts, in both the art and antiquities market. The current restrictions on the importation of artifacts from Peru into the USA plays an important role in curbing the demand for these artifacts and helps to preserve archaeological sites. I urge you to continue as well as further strengthen these [regulations]." 

Dr. Margaret Jackson of the University of New Mexico writes in her public comments to CPAC:
"This message is in support of the proposed extension of the ban on archaeological and cultural properties from Peru. As a scholar specializing in art and cultural materials from the Andean region, I can personally speak about the kinds of damage caused by the illegal traffic in antiquities. I've witnessed it firsthand. When people think of ancient Peruvian culture, they often think of the pristine mountain fastness of sites like Machu Picchu, but unfortunately, the actuality is rather different. To supply a voracious art market, site after site will be chewed up by looters, bones and burials desecrated, architecture obliterated, fragile murals and other remains turned to rubble and cast aside. This happens at sites large and small all over Peru. Placing legal restrictions is the only way to curtail the destruction. I strongly support any measures toward this end."

And Maya Stanfield-Mazzi of the University of Florida describes:
"As a professor of art history at the University of Florida, I request that you renew the MoU with Peru to protect that country's cultural heritage. I have conducted research in Peru for several years and have seen the damaging effects of the theft and destruction of that country's heritage, both Pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial. These losses are damaging to the Peruvian people as a nation and to the Peruvian economy. It is important to the standing of the United States that it not be seen as complicit in the trade of illicit art and artifacts. Please continue to support Peru's efforts to conserve its heritage."

Comments regarding the Peruvian request for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States that would renew import protections pursuant to the Cultural Property Implemantaion Act (CPIA) may be submitted by clicking here.

Clear As Mud

When is selling not selling? Where is the line between helping your customer and primarily helping yourself? Determining that becomes harder each day.

One of my clients needed to talk. She had received a disturbing phone call at her home and wanted to know if she had handled it correctly and if I knew the back story. Mary (not her real name) was contacted by a national pharmacy. We’ll call the pharmacy chain Mega Rx. Mary was advised that her insurer would no longer cover medications for her and her family from their local Mega Rx. Since they knew that Mary would hate to loose access to Mega Rx, they would be happy to connect her to someone who could help her find an insurance policy that would allow her to retain them. All she had to do was stay on the line. Mary thanked them but said that she already had an agent and hung up.

Think about this for a second. The national drug store chain had fought and lost a battle with a national insurer. They were mining their records for anyone who had that insurer and had had a prescription filled in the last year or so. And if Mary was gullible and not paying attention, she might have somehow been talked into different insurance that would have definitely covered Mega Rx, but might not have covered her doctor, or given her and her family the same level of coverage.

The appointment to change individual health insurance policies usually takes an hour in my office and involves a lot more than whether or not Mega Rx is in the network. This silliness is taking place under our current set of rules. The states and the federal government are still writing the new rules. Some people don’t think we really need licensed agents. Why not let anyone sell insurance?

I just spent twenty minutes completing my application to renew my license to sell life and health insurance. I had to prove that I had completed 21 hours of continuing education and 3 additional hours of ethics training in the last two years. I actually had a total of 42. That does not include the 7 to 9 hours per year for Medicare products or the mandatory additional training for long term care coverage. I then attested that I haven’t been convicted of any crimes, haven’t had my insurance license suspended or revoked, and that I don’t owe back child support. This is true. You can not sell insurance in the State of Ohio if you owe back child support. I paid my $5 and I should get an approval notice some time next week.

All states have seen a value in licensing insurance agents. It is obvious that one value of the requirements is to weed out the part-timers. The public is better served by committed professionals who are willing to take the time and effort to stay current. And though insurance agents (me included) will never be confused with rocket scientist, we do serve an important function in the market as we help the insured public acquire coverage and navigate the process to get the most from their contracts. The insurers long ago (begrudgingly) accepted our value.

This brings us to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The authors of this legislation did not believe that the public is capable of calling an insurance agent or company or shopping online to purchase health insurance. Since finding health insurance was so difficult, insurance exchanges, a marketplace, would be created in each state. As you can see from the Obama administration’s website, the exchanges, an additional layer of bureaucracy, is going to save you money. And how will you get to the exchange and who is going to help you choose the right type of policy for you? That would be the Navigators.

The PPACA is pretty sure that almost anyone that can fog a mirror is capable of doing my job. Any employee of trade association or union can walk you through the process. In fact, the PPACA spends more time on the notion that the Navigators can not be compensated by the insurers than it does on training or qualifications.

A well publicized letter from David M. Casey, Senior Vice President of MAXIMUS, a company that specializes in Medicaid enrollment, details the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s aversion to professional insurance agents.

John Doak, the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, is succinct in his judgment. He has consistently challenged the federal government’s intrusion into insurance regulation and health insurance. He has asked what kind of training the Navigators will have in insurance products, health information privacy regulations (HIPAA), or ethics. And of course we already knew the answer, none.

The other question is “Who will be paying the Navigators”? You have two choices. Either the Navigators eventually become employees of an endlessly growing government program, or they are employees of organizations who have something to gain by you and I being steered into one policy versus another. And that brings us back to Mega Rx. The major pharmacy chains are currently exploring ways to have employees become Navigators under the future exchange program. Will they be impartial? Will they be looking out for your best interest? Will the sun rise from the west tomorrow morning?

This is too easy and way too transparent a case of conflict of interest. What if a major insurer is donating money to your local trade group? The employee of that trade group would work to navigate people to that company’s policy. There is a lot of money involved. This won’t be subtle. And it won’t be easily traced.

So when you get that phone call from the drug store, or the doctor’s office, or the Chamber of Commerce, and you will one day, ask yourself why. Slow the process down and try to determine who is getting paid and for what.

In the interest of creating transparency and simplicity, we have failed at both.

DAVE

www.bcandb.com

Alltop Lists Cultural Heritage Lawyer As Best of the Best - Thank You

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Alltop, all the top stories

Merry Christmas to all my readers.  Courtesy of your interest in and subscriptions to this blog, an early gift arrived today.  Alltop placed Cultural Heritage Lawyer on its Top Archaeology News site.  This blog is honored to join the ranks of such prestigious publications as Archaeology magazine, ScienceDaily, and Looting Matters on Alltop's list.  Thank you to all my readers.

Brogan Museum To Close on January 15

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Brogan Museum
Source: Ebaye
Just a little over a month after authorities seized the Cristo Portacroce from the Brogan Museum in Florida (see here), directors announced that they will close the doors to the museum indefinitely on January 15 because of financial problems.  Watch the WCTV report here.  It remains to be seen if the museum will reopen.

Landau Files Motion to Suppress in Theft of Major Artwork Prosecution

Monday, December 19, 2011
Baltimore Division courthouse.
Source: US District Court of Maryland
Lawyers for Barry Landau have filed a motion to suppress the evidence the government obtained from a search of Landau’s home.  Landau is charged in Maryland federal district court with conspiracy and theft of major artwork. See here for background.

Landau is scheduled for trial in February and is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  His co-defendant, Jason Savedoff, entered a guilty plea earlier this year.  Find more information at this
 link.

Federal agents executed a search warrant on July 12, 2011, reportedly seizing historical documents from Landau’s New York City apartment.  But Landau claims, through his counsel, that the search warrant lacked sufficient probable cause and, therefore, the evidence seized cannot be admitted by the government at trial.

The motion to suppress contends that police observed Savedoff acting suspiciously at the Maryland Historical Society (MHS), and it was Savedoff who was found with historical documents after being arrested.  Despite the fact that Landau was not seen to have acted suspiciously and that Landau did not have possession of any historical documents, police unlawfully placed Landau under arrest and acquired a search warrant based on specious facts, the motion argues.  The motion to suppress explains:

"The affidavit provided to Judge Katz in support the respective applications for search and seizure warrants failed to establish probable cause to permit the searches authorized.  Because there was no evidence recovered from Mr. Landau, and no one observed him stealing any documents or acting inappropriately while at the MHS and prior to his arrest, there was no probable cause to allow a search of his residence and all evidence seized at this apartment pursuant to the search warrant should be suppressed."

"Lava Treasure" Prompts INTERPOL Alert to Dealers and Collectors

Sunday, December 18, 2011

INTERPOL (the International Criminal Police Organization) has issued an alert to specialist dealers and coin collectors.  The agency seeks to recover gold coins and plates discovered off the coast of Corsica more than 25 years ago.  The 1700 year objects are part of the "Lava Treasure."

Authorities have been attempting to reclaim the Roman-era items after identifying divers who made off with the find from French waters and then sold the haul for millions.  France prosecuted eight people implicated in the case, and the nation recovered coins and a plate from the treasure last year worth up to nearly three million dollars.  Many unrecovered items could still be on the market.  Click here for more background on the case.

Anyone with information about gold coins or plates from the Lava Treasure should contact INTERPOL here.

Peruvian Archaeology, The Costs of Cultural Property Repatriation, and Satellite Imagery to Combat Looting

Friday, December 16, 2011
While Peru currently pursues its request for an extension of American cultural property import protections under the Cultural Property Implementation Act (see this post for background), PRI’s The World and the BBC reported on yesterday’s repatriation of artifacts to Peru by Yale University.  You can listen or read the news item by clicking on the links.

Naturally, the ongoing problem of archaeological site looting was mentioned in the reports by Mattia Cabitza.  Two observations bear some attention.

First, it is not often that we hear about the specific monetary costs of repatriation.  Blanca Alva of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture is quoted as saying: "The problem is that repatriations are expensive."  "They involve a court case, and you need to pay lawyers, transportation, packing, insurance, laboratory tests, etc.”  Cabitza informs us that “[i]n 2007, the Peruvian government estimated that it spent $625,000 (£400,000) on the repatriation of some 400 antiquities.  Ms Alba believes repatriating antiquities is, in the long term, a price worth paying, but she would prefer it if more was done to fight looting.”

Second, there was a discussion about using satellite imagery to combat clandestine archaeological looting.  The idea has been mentioned many times before and bears repeating.  Indeed, Cabitza writes that “Nicola Masini of Italy's Institute for Archaeological and Monumental Heritage has been using satellite imagery in Peru since 2007. . . . Mr Masini believes satellites could also be used to combat looting, because they reveal the presence of fresh excavations.”

Satellite monitoring should be used as a tool for detecting site looting around the globe and for collecting evidence in order to both deter clandestine digs and to prosecute illegal antiquities trafficking.  Commercial satellite imagery can be expensive, but the technology has shown early results when used to expose war crimes (see the Satellite Sentinel Project).  Satellites may be used in a similar fashion to combat crimes affecting cultural heritage.  Global Heritage Network (GHN) announced that it started using satellites this year to monitor endangered cultural sites, and Google Earth is being utilized in some places as a cheaper alternative.  But there should be more widespread discussion about investing in the higher resolution images that can be provided by a commercial company like DigitalGlobe, which furnishes GHN's images.

Satellite image of the famous site of Macchu Pichu in Peru.
CONTACT: http://www.culturalheritagelawyer.com/.

Cultural Heritage and War: A Video Report on Libya

Thursday, December 15, 2011
A recent video produced by NATOchannel.tv reports on cultural heritage in Libya in the context of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.  The short, two part film titled NATO and Libya - Cultural Heritage in Times of Unrest can be viewed below.

One important remark is made by Dr. Joris Kila, Chairman of the International Military Cultural Resources Work Group.  He explains that friendly military forces committed to protecting cultural property can deny enemy forces a potential reservoir of military financing.  The comment is another reminder that meaningful investigation to uncover the connection between illegal antiquities trafficking and weapons purchases is sorely needed.

Part I

Part II

CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com.

The Day After The House Burned Down

This is a post about someone with cancer. I have not met Ms. Ward, nor do I think that I ever will, but I wish her a successful recovery. This post may take issue with some of her choices and many of her conclusions. These differences should not be interpreted as personal. They are not. Too many of our discussions have devolved into the personal as they abandon fact and reason. This blog champions a polite discussion of the facts.

Spike Dolomite Ward has cancer. Ms. Ward is a forty-nine year old married mother of two. She lives in California. This past Sunday’s Plain Dealer included an article she wrote that initially appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Ms. Ward explained why she hasn’t had health insurance for over two years. Trust her, it is not her fault.

The key element, the point that requires ten paragraphs to justify, is that she has been saved by President Obama and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). How you ask? Will the President be administering the Chemo? No, but close. As we have discussed before, the PPACA included the creation of guaranteed issue policies that cover pre-existing conditions for people who have been uninsured for over six months.

  • Significant medical condition like cancer? Check.

  • About to have lots of expensive treatments? Check.

  • Uninsured for over six months? Check.

  • Insurance now seems like a really, really good idea? CHECK.


I completely understand the need to purchase homeowners insurance now that my house has burned to the ground.

Please read Ms. Ward’s article. It is entirely possible that the laws in California are very different from those here in Ohio. It is also possible that there is a touch of exaggeration and hyperbole in those first ten paragraphs. Don’t get lost in the details. They aren’t relevant. This post is about the uninsured and the individual mandate.

We are, or at least should be, responsible for our choices. Ms. Ward is not alone. There are millions of uninsured Americans. The poor have Medicaid, a program that should have received a lot more attention in the last two years. It is the working poor that are falling through our system’s cracks. There is also a large segment of the population who simply choose to spend the money on other stuff. I refuse to speculate as to Ms. Ward and her family’s status.

Ms. Ward is correct. Her life choices, her insurance choices, her and her husband’s job choices could have had devastating consequences. Instead, someone else, you, will pay the bills. Any solution that includes guaranteed issue and the complete coverage of preexisting conditions must include a mandate that requires everyone to have insurance.

The individual mandate has been both championed and disparaged by everyone from Newt Gingrich to Barack Obama. One day they embrace it. The next day they flee from the concept. As an agent, as someone in the system for thirty-three years, I am convinced that requiring people to participate is the only way a guaranteed issue plan would work. This is not limited to private insurance programs. A government plan is just as dependent on universal participation. That is why Medicare Part B and Part D penalize late enrollees.

All of the candidates expressed their hatred of the individual mandate at last week’s Republican debate. I understand. They are running for president. But the time has come to stop telling us that you hate “Obamacare” and to instead offer a realistic alternative. Better yet, there are lots of serious people waiting to hear any viable option that doesn’t include an individual mandate.

Whether or not an alternative is ever proposed and passed, we wish a full and speedy recovery to Ms. Ward. And we wonder how in the world we can afford all of the other Spike Dolomite Wards we are going to be supporting.

CPAC Will Meet to Consider MoU Extensions with Cyprus and Peru - Public Comments Period Open

Thursday, December 8, 2011
Extensions of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Cyprus and Peru will be taken up by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) at their next meeting in Washington, DC.  A public session will be held on January 18, 2012 to consider extending the bilateral agreements the United States has with these nations, which implement US import protections covering jeopardized cultural property.

An MoU is enacted pursuant to Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention (the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property).  The treaty is implemented in the US by the federal Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).  Import protections granted under the CPIA last for five years and may be renewed.

To attend the public session, reserve your place by calling  the Cultural Heritage Center of the Department of State at (202) 632–6301 by 5 p.m. EST on January 3.

Byzantine bronze cross from Cyprus
subject to US import protections.
Source: US State Dept.
Public comments may be submitted electronically to CPAC.  Click here to comment on the Cyprus MoU extension, or here to comment on the Peru MoU extension.  Comments are due January 3 by the end of the day.  If you encounter any problems, visit the eRulemaking web site at http://www.regulations.gov/.  Enter docket number DOS-2011-0135 for Cyprus or docket number DOS-2011-0136 for Peru and follow the instructions on the web site.  Be aware that the electronic submissions process sometimes can be cumbersome.  Comments may also be mailed to:

Cultural Heritage Center (ECA/P/C)
SA-5, Fifth Floor
Department of State
Washington, DC 20522-0505

The comments must address one, some, or all of the four determinations outlined by the CPIA.  Quoting 19 USC 2602, the four determinations are:

(A) [whether] the cultural patrimony of the State Party is in jeopardy from the pillage of archaeological or ethnological materials of the State Party;

(B) [whether] the State Party has taken measures consistent with the Convention to protect its cultural patrimony;

(C) [whether] --

(i) the application of the import restrictions . . . with respect to archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party, if applied in concert with similar restrictions implemented, or to be implemented within a reasonable period of time, by those nations (whether or not State Parties [to the 1970 UNESCO Convention]) individually having a significant import trade in such material, would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage, and

(ii) remedies less drastic than the application of the restrictions set forth in such section are not available; and

(D) [whether] the application of the import restrictions . . . in the particular circumstances is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.

European Union Seeks Comments Relating to Cultural Property Protection

The European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU) says in a November 29, 2011 press release that it is seeking comments on "on ways to improve the safe-keeping of cultural goods and the return between Member States of national treasures unlawfully removed from their territory."  The EC consists of a representative group of Commissioners who serve as the executive body of the EU.

The European Commission's public statement adds that it "launched a public consultation on ways to improve the safe-keeping of cultural goods and the return between Member States of national treasures unlawfully removed from their territory. The consultation will provide an insight into the views of public authorities, citizens and other stakeholders on the most effective way to facilitate such return."

Vice President Antonio Tajani
EC Vice President Antonio Tajani is quoted as saying: "Today, the illicit trafficking of cultural property is a major problem, going beyond a significant economic dimension, to affecting the core of our cultural identity. I share the increased concern of citizens and Member States and I am working to improve the situation. Please be a part of this effort and let us have your comments and ideas".

Contact information regarding where to send comments may be found here [Update 1/24/12: this link apparently has been suspended].  The deadline is March 5, 2012.

MoU Extended With Bolivia - US Customs Issues Final Rule

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Tamucumira Mask.
One of the Bolivian objects subject to
CPIA import regulations.
Photo courtesy US State Dept.
The US government has extended import protections over archaeological and ethnological objects from Bolivia. The two governments entered into a bilateral agreement  in 2001 pursuant to the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA), which gives force to the 1970 UNESCO Convention (the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property). Import restrictions under the agreement last five years and may be renewed each period.

Bolivia received emergency protection under the CPIA in 1989.  A bilateral agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was finalized in 2001, and the US government renewed that MoU in 2006.  The latest renewal occurred earlier this year.  The Federal Register reports:

"On August 26, 2011, after reviewing the findings and recommendations of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State, concluding that the cultural heritage of Bolivia continues to be in jeopardy from pillage of certain archaeological and ethnological materials, made the necessary determination to extend the import restrictions for an additional five years. On November 10, 2011, diplomatic notes were exchanged reflecting the extension of those restrictions for an additional five-year period."

On December 1, 2011, US Customs and Border Protection published its final rule describing the specific import regulations.  The rule may be found here.

Thanks go to Gary Nurkin for news of the rule's publication.

Discipline

Monday, December 5, 2011
We all know people who have invested in $2,500 clothing racks. OK, the store called the equipment an exercise bike or a treadmill. But sitting idly in the bedroom with clothing draped over it, the apparatus is obviously a clothing rack. What a waste of money! If only these people had the discipline to take full advantage of their investment.

Recent studies performed by researchers at Duke University have proven that the above problem may not be shared by physicians. If a doctor purchases equipment, such as expensive heart-testing or imaging equipment, they use it. In fact, it appears that these doctors may be using their equipment regardless of whether the patient needs the testing or not.

That’s what I call discipline.

USA Today reported this past week about a Duke University study of 500 MRI scans that had been performed on patients with lower back pain. The researchers were trying to determine whether doctors who own the equipment order more tests than those who don’t. You bet they did. Almost twice as many normal results (106 vs. 57) were found on scans ordered by doctors with an economic incentive than by those who didn’t.

The article notes that MRI scanning equipment carries a price tag of over $1,000,000 and that the patient or insurer is charged about $2,000 per test. Once you’ve got the equipment, you might as well use it, just to be safe.

Consumer Reports carried a similar story in early November. Duke University researchers reviewed the health insurance records of 18,000 health patients. The original study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“…the researchers found that patients of doctors who billed for both technical and professional fees – an indication that the doctors owned the medical equipment themselves – were more than twice as likely to undergo a nuclear stress test and more than seven times as likely to undergo stress echocardiography than patients of doctors who did not bill for those fees.”


A July 25th article in Washington Post notes that unnecessary tests don’t just waste money. There are also the risks of false positives that lead to further unneeded procedures including surgery.

Whether we are discussing lower back pain or heart problems, the patient is always his/her best advocate. But when you are in pain or when you have been diagnosed with a heart problem and coming to terms with your own mortality, are you going to ask the doctor if a test is really necessary? Or, are you going to do what you are told, especially if the test is being paid by your insurance?

This is part of cost containment. It doesn’t matter whether insurers or the government is paying the bill. An aging population is going to have more conditions, not less. And doctors, unchecked, are going to order more tests, not less.

There are doctors that will point to the risk of lawsuits as for their motivation to order so many tests. Yes, tort reform is also an important part of cost containment.

As of today, December 5, 2011, there has been precious little done to control costs. The authors of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may not understand why the price of health care continues to rise. But then again, there are lots of suburbanites who don’t understand why they haven’t lost any weight. They bought the StairMaster. It is in their bedroom. Under the towels.

DAVE

www.bcandb.oom

US-Greece MoU Produces Final Cultural Property Import Protection Rule

Thursday, December 1, 2011
United States Customs and Border Protection today issued the final administrative rule covering import restrictions covering archaeological and ethnological material from Greece. The rule follows the July 17, 2011 adoption of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the United States and Greece under the Cultural Property Implementation Act in accord with the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The MoU entered into force on November 21, 2011 and can be found here.

Greek mosaic.
Source: Bijan.  CC.
Import protections are now in place on Greek archaeological and ethnological cultural items dating from around 20,000 B.C. through the 15th century A.D. These restrictions last for five years and were instituted in order to "control illegal trafficking of such articles in international commerce" and to protect "endangered cultural property," according to the rule.

Ancient objects subject to seizure at the American border include those made of stone, metal, ceramic, bone, ivory, glass, faience, textile, papyrus, paint, mosaic, wood, glass, and parchment. The import restrictions cover sculptures, sarcophagi, reliefs, furniture, vessels, tools, weapons and armor, coins, beads, pottery, musical instruments, documents, paintings, floor mosaics, and more.

Lawful entries of these specified cultural objects are permitted in certain cases. For example, a valid export permit from Greek authorities would allow an archaeological or ethnological cultural object to enter the US border.

The Federal Register has published the rule at 19 CFR Part 12.  Click here for the full text.