Adele is the pop princess, queen, what have you. I noted that when I reviewed 30 and some people took offense for 'poor' Taylor Swift.
Honestly, I went after Taylor in my original review. I ended up pulling some of that because it was defocusing. But I'll tell you what I pulled.
Taylor was accused of being racist. To stop the criticism, she came out against Donald Trump.
What else did she do though?
I mean, it's not like she picked up the phone and said, "Hey, Diana Ross, I'd love to write a song for you."
But, damn, every time I turn around she's saluting another White woman. Carole King, Carly, this ond and that one.
I see it and I get why Aretha Franklin made it clear that she was not impressed with Taylor.
Taylor also can't sing. I left that in the review.
So Adele news:
Adele’s 30 is the first album released in over a year to sell a million copies in the U.S.
30 has sold just over 1 million in traditional album sales in the U.S., across all of its formats (CD, vinyl LP, cassette and digital album download), through Dec. 6, according to initial reports to MRC Data. The album was released on Nov. 19.
30 sold 692,000 copies in its first week in the U.S. (week ending Nov. 25), and then sold 225,000 copies in its second week (ending Dec. 2).
The last new released album to sell a million copies in the U.S. (i.e., excluding catalog [older] albums that may have hit the threshold) was Taylor Swift’s Folklore, which was issued on July 24, 2020. It surpassed 1 million sold in the week ending Oct. 22, 2020. Its total sales stand at 1.55 million through Dec. 2. Folklore was the only album released in 2020 to sell a million copies in the U.S.
Do you get that in less than one month, Adele sold 1 million copies. Taylor sold a million copies in 2020 -- it took her three months though.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, December 8, 2021. Thieves and liars are the focus of today's snapshot.
Starting with the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet in Iraq. A part of it has been returned to Iraq after being illegally purchased by the Hobby Lobby family. The courts had to force its return. ALJAZEERA reports in the video below.
The clay artefact bears part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world's oldest surviving works of literature.
It was looted from an Iraqi museum during the 1991 Gulf War and smuggled through many countries before ending up at Washington DC's Museum of the Bible.
US authorities seized the tablet in 2019 and handed it over to the Iraqi embassy in September.
It is one of 17,926 artefacts recovered by Iraq from the US, UK, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands over the past year, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.
And, to be clear, though the above is with regards to Hobby Lobby, it's not just them stealing. Monday, the following press release was issued:
Seized Artifacts will be Repatriated to 11 Countries
Steinhardt Agrees to Unprecedented Lifetime Ban on Acquiring Antiquities
Pictured (from left to right): The Larnax, a Death Mask, and Stag’s Head Rhyton.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. today announced that MICHAEL STEINHARDT, one of the world’s largest ancient art collectors, has surrendered 180 stolen antiquities valued at $70 million and received a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities, following the resolution of a multi-year, multi-national investigation into his criminal conduct. The seized pieces were looted and illegally smuggled out of 11 countries, trafficked by 12 criminal smuggling networks, and lacked verifiable provenance prior to appearing on the international art market, according to the Statement of Facts summarizing the investigation.
“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,” said District Attorney Vance. “His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection.
“Even though Steinhardt’s decades-long indifference to the rights of peoples to their own sacred treasures is appalling, the interests of justice prior to indictment and trial favor a resolution that ensures that a substantial portion of the damage to world cultural heritage will be undone, once and for all. Accordingly, this agreement guarantees that 180 pieces will be returned expeditiously to their rightful owners in 11 countries rather than be held as evidence for the years necessary to complete the grand-jury indictment, trial, potential conviction, and sentence. This resolution also enables my Office to shield the identity of the many witnesses here and abroad whose names would be released at any trial, to protect the integrity of parallel investigations in each of the 11 countries with whom we are conducting joint investigations, and to avoid over-burdening resource-scarce nations who would be called upon to provide witnesses in any grand jury or trial. Finally, this agreement establishes that Steinhardt will be subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.
“I want to thank our Antiquities Trafficking Unit, our partners at Homeland Security Investigations, and the international law-enforcement authorities who collaborated with us on this case for their remarkable efforts in this extraordinarily complex and time-consuming investigation.”
“Steinhardt viewed these precious artifacts as simple commodities – things to collect and own. He failed to respect that these treasures represent the heritage of cultures around the world from which these items were looted, often during times of strife and unrest,” said HSI New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel. “The outstanding collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations revealed the breadth of Steinhardt’s plundering and this collaborative effort has yielded the remarkable results announced today.”
According to documents filed in court, the criminal investigation into STEINHARDT began in February 2017. While investigating the Bull’s Head stolen from Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, the D.A.’s Office determined STEINHARDT had purchased the multi-million-dollar statue then subsequently loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Months after seizing the piece, the D.A.’s Office announced the formation of its Antiquities Trafficking Unit with the repatriation of the Bull’s Head and the Calf Bearer, a second multi-million-dollar marble statute seized from STEINHARDT, to the Lebanese Republic in December 2017.
In the process of uncovering the Lebanese statues, the D.A.’s Office learned that STEINHARDT possessed additional looted antiquities at his apartment and office, and, soon after, initiated a grand jury criminal investigation into his acquisition, possession, and sale of more than 1,000 antiquities since at least 1987. As part of this inquiry into criminal conduct by STEINHARDT, the D.A.’s Office executed 17 judicially-ordered search warrants and conducted joint investigations with law-enforcement authorities in 11 countries: Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey.
Of STEINHARDT’s acquisitions, the D.A.’s Office developed compelling evidence that 180 were stolen from their country of origin. In addition to their universal lack of provenance, the pieces exhibited numerous other evidentiary indicators of looting. Prior to STEINHARDT’s purchase, 171 of the 180 seized antiquities first surfaced in the possession of individuals who law-enforcement authorities later determined to be antiquities traffickers—some of whom have been convicted of antiquities trafficking; 101 first appeared dirty (or unrestored) in photographs; and 100 appeared covered in dirt or encrustations prior to STEINHARDT’s purchase. Many of the seized antiquities were trafficked following civil unrest or looting.
Among the pieces surrendered in this agreement:
- The Stag’s Head Rhyton, depicting a finely wrought stag’s head in the form of a ceremonial vessel for libations, purchased from The Merrin Gallery for $2.6 million in November 1991. The item, which dates to 400 B.C.E., first appeared without provenance on the international art market after rampant looting in Milas, Turkey. In March 1993, STEINHARDT loaned the Stag’s Head Rhyton to the Met, where it remained until the D.A.’s Office applied for and received a warrant to seize it. Today, the Stag’s Head Rhyton is valued at $3.5 million.
- The Larnax, a small chest for human remains from Greek Island of Crete that dates between 1400-1200 B.C.E., purchased from known antiquities trafficker EUGENE ALEXANDER via Seychelles-headquartered FAM Services for $575,000 in October 2016. ALEXANDER instructed STEINHARDT to pay FAM Services via SATABANK, a Malta-based financial institution later suspended for money laundering. While complaining about a subpoena requesting provenance documentation for a different stolen antiquity, STEINHARDT pointed to the Larnax and said to an investigator with A.T.U.: “You see this piece? There’s no provenance for it. If I see a piece and I like it, then I buy it.” Today, the Larnax is valued at $1 million.
- The Ercolano Fresco purchased from convicted antiquities trafficker ROBERT HECHT and his antiquities restorer HARRY BÜRKI with no prior provenance for $650,000 in November 1995. Depicting an infant Hercules strangling a snake sent by Hera to slay him, the Ercolano Fresco dates to 50 C.E. and was looted in 1995 from a Roman villa in the ruins of Herculaneum, located near modern Naples in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. It first appeared on the international art market on November 10, 1995 when HECHT’s business partner wrote STEINHARDT regarding a “crate being delivered to you soon” with the artifact inside. Today, the Ercolano Fresco is valued at $1 million.
- The Gold Bowl looted from Nimrud, Iraq, and purchased from SVYATOSLAV KONKIN with no prior provenance for $150,000 in July 2020. Beginning in 2015, objects from Nimrud were trafficked when the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targeted cultural heritage from Nimrud, Hatra, and Khorsabad, particularly ancient objects made of gold or precious metal. The Gold Bowl, which is crafted from gold with a scalloped flower design, first surfaced on the international art market in October 2019, when a Customs and Border Patrol officer notified the D.A.’s Office that KONKIN was on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark, New Jersey, hand-carrying the Gold Bowl for STEINHARDT. Today, the Gold Bowl is valued at $200,000.
- Three Death Masks purchased from known antiquities trafficker GIL CHAYA with no provenance whatsoever for $400,000 in October 2007, less than a year after they surfaced on the international art market. The Death Masks (circa 6000 to 7000 B.C.E.) were crafted from stone and originated in the foothills of the Judean mountains, most likely in the Shephelah in Israel. They appear soil-encrusted and covered in dirt in photographs recovered by Israeli law-enforcement authorities. Today, the Death Masks are valued at $650,000.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, Chief of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit and Senior Trial Counsel, handled the investigation with Investigative Analyst Apsara Iyer and Special Agent John Paul Labbat. Additional support for the investigation was provided by the late Jill (Gilda) Mariani, Senior Investigative Counsel, Investigative Analysts Giuditta Giardini, Alyssa Thiel, Mallory O’Donoghue, and Daniel Healey, and former Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hirsch. Zeynep Boz of the Combatting Illicit Trafficking Department at Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Patty Gerstenblith, Dr. Eitan Klein of the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Warrant Officer Angelo Ragusa of the Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale of the Italian Carabinieri, Dr. Daniela Rizzo, and Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis also assisted in the criminal investigation.
Manhattan D.A.’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit
To date, the D.A.’s first-of-its-kind Antiquities Trafficking Unit has recovered several thousand stolen antiquities collectively valued at more than $200 million. More than 1,500 of these priceless artifacts have been returned to their rightful owners and repatriated to their countries of origin, including a total of 717 objects to 14 nations since August 2020. Many hundreds more are ready to be repatriated as soon as the relevant countries are able to receive them amid the pandemic. But more than a thousand must be held awaiting criminal proceedings against the traffickers. The items already returned include a pair of statues of Buddha to Sri Lanka; an Egyptian limestone stele dating back to 664 B.C.E.; 45 antiquities dating back to the 2nd Century to Pakistan; a gold coffin stolen from Egypt in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011; a Roman mosaic excavated from the Ships of Nemi; an Etruscan relic stolen from the site of a historic necropolis known as the “City of the Dead”; a marble sarcophagus fragment; a Buddhist sculpture stolen from an archaeological dig site; a pair of 12th century Indian statues; a collection of 8th Century B.C.E. bronze statues; and a set of ancient Greek coins, among others.
Steinhardt was able to get away with theft. And others helped him. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was only one of the outlets happy to display stolen artifacts in the past -- including stag's head that is now being returned. In addition, many people honored Steinhardt and treated him as something other than the theif he actually is. Like Hobby Lobby's Steve Green, a lot of people let Steinhardt get away with his theft. Dan Price Tweets:
Nicholas Mirzoeff offers this thread:
Imagine one of those smash-and-grab robbers all over TV news had an NYU school named after them and you've got my workplace. Plus, of course, he's a serial sexual harasser. 3/3
Okay, let's stay with liars. There are two who need to be called out this morning.
Kearn Beare, come on down, you damn liar. And let's call out COUNTERPUNCH. It's gotten way too sloppy in what it accepts and prints -- and remember, this is the outlet that published Jason Leopold, so that's really saying something. This is the garbage that they run by Beare. He's asking you to reach in your inner self and help. Be like this CIA analyst and her foundation. Be like them? Because the CIA did such noble work in Iraq, right? Which is where the woman was stationed. Bearne is also promoting his own book.
I don't just question the motives, I question all of it Including who did the proofing of his book. It only took a few paragraphs before I was thining, "Isn't this awfully similar to the report THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR did in 2020?" Yes, it is. And, I checked, that article was written by Mark Sappenfield. Mark's an editor so he understands the importance of facts. Which is why he's able to identify as what she was a "counterinsurgency officer."
Oh, so COUNTERPUNCH is now in the business of promoting counter-insurgency? Jeffrey, Alex must be rolling over in his grave. How the hell did you end up with that garabage article promoting a counter-insurgency officer? (Not to menion one that reads very similar -- to the point of plagiarism -- to an article THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR published a year prior.)
It's garbage and so is Kern Beare. Shame on him. COunter-isnurgency was rightly decried for what it actually was in the 20th century. It was left to a few of us in the 21st century to call out and to expose. COUNTERPUNCH Is supposed to be an oultet for the left and I know people who've been published there who have worked to remind people what counter-insurgency actually is. I doubt that they will be thrilled to read the 'gentle' portrait COUNTERPUNCH has done on this War Criminal.
"Say yes to the river!" prancing Beare insists -- like some even more simplistic version of Oprha Winfrey. And, by the way, 60 MINUTES and Oprah? We're all going to pretend she's a journalist and overlook how she not only promoted Judith Miller's lies about the Iraq War, Oprah also verbally attacked one of her own audience members when they called out Judith Miller. I guess everyone who whored to start the Iraq War gets rewarded.
Moving to out other liar, at EUROASIA TIMES, Osama al-Sharif writes a puff piece on Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. He puffs so hard, I bet his lips are swollen. Did you know that Moqtada's decried corruption and only Moqtada -- well aomng the Shi'ites, only Moqtada. What a load of crap. I'm struggling to name one Shi'ite politician who has been silent on corruption. Even the corrupt Nouri al-Maliki has called out corruption -- both in the past and in the present, he has called it out.
But the reality is that Moqtada is so unremarkable that after you detail his family's accomplishments and are left with just him, you either get honest about what a disappointment the slubmlord actually is or you have to lie. So Osama al-Sharif choose to fall to his knees.
Nor do I believe that the future of Iraq is dependent upon Moqtada or, for that matter, any one person. Omar's a real drama queen. Not miuch of a truth teller and he's highly allergice to facts, but he owns the drama, let's give him that.
The following sites updated: