Art and Dance at the Falls

Friday, January 29, 2010
If you are near the southeastern part of New Hampshire on February 4 from 6 to 9 pm, make sure you check out First Thursday at the Falls, a vibrant collection of the arts to make you dance and stir your soul. See them at or by going to Rollinsford, NH at the Lower Mill at Salmon Falls and on Front Street.

I Don't Quit

Thursday, January 28, 2010
A threat? A promise? President Barack Obama ended his State of The Union speech with a clear statement of his personal resolve and optimism. He was forceful. He was clear. For one hour last night, Barack Obama was the guy who ran for the presidency last year. It was a strong performance.

How strong? The initial reaction on Fox News was subdued and restrained. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews seemed reinvigorated and emboldened.

This blog, Health Insurance Issues With Dave, deals with one particular issue, health care, So what did the President say about our issue last night? The quick answer – not too much.

Thirty-two minutes into his speech, President Obama touched upon health care. He mentioned that he had gotten close to passing legislation. He noted that his plan was not politically popular. He admitted that they, he and the Democrats in Congress, had handled this badly. He acknowledged emerging trust issues. He dared the Republicans to offer alternate suggestions. But that’s it.

There were no specific goals. No mention of shared sacrifice. No direction. And in the end, at no point did President Obama take the time to explain what he was going to do to make changes in our health care system more possible, productive and palpable. He threw the ball back to Congress where the Democrats will muck it up and the Republicans will dig in their heels.

President Obama said that he won’t quit. Great. I don’t want him to quit. I want him to start.


Antiquities traffickers deal with ancient coins

Monday, January 25, 2010
There is much controversy today about the inclusion of ancient coins under the auspices of laws that protect archaeological objects. Some say the laws should not regulate ancient coins at all. Consider two items in the news, nevertheless, that show how ancient coins are part of the traffickers' loot.

Yahoo! News reported today via the Associate Press that Cypriot authorities rounded up antiquities traffickers in the largest case of its kind in terms of the amount. The traffickers apparently had an undisclosed buyer and planned to move the pieces for %15.5 million (US) dollars--which means the items together were likely worth even more. Among the urns, gold, and other cultural objects were ancient coins.

In another unrelated story, ancient coins were discovered when a man was arrested in the United Kingdom. UKPA reported that a "large volume of items of 'considerable antiquity' were seized at a house by officers who executed a search warrant in Barnham, near Chichester, West Sussex. Police said some of the artefacts were suspected of being stolen by "nighthawking" from an undisclosed site in the Chichester area and elsewhere recently. The items found so far include medieval and Roman coins, ivory and silver, and one gold Iron Age coin, brooches, buttons and horse equipment of similar ages."

In the same way that drug traffickers deal with quanities of of a variety of illegal drugs, antiquities traffickers deal with a variety of looted archaeological objects--including coins.

Old Masters Week at Sotheby's NY

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Old Masters Week is currently going on at Sotheby's in New York. You can see the events going on at

Fakes on the Market, Looting on the Decline...

Thursday, January 21, 2010
MSN posted an insightful piece of interest to collectors, dealers, and archaeologists. It is reported that the production of fakes is easier than looting authentic archaeoligical objects, thereby reducing looting from archaeological sites.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Ebay & Looting

Peruvian archaeology has found an unusual ally in the battle against looting in the internet and websites such as eBay. This is according to Charles Stanish, a UCLA archaeologist, writing in the June 2009 issue of Archaeology. Stanish has excavated for 25 years at fragile archaeological sites in Peru. It was feared that online auction sites would increase looting as the looter could sell directly to the buyer eliminating costly middlemen. In fact, online auction websites have actually helped reduce looting as the average looter or craftsman can now make more money selling cheap fakes online rather than spend weeks digging for the real thing and running the risk of not finding anything. It is less costly to transport a fake and the risk of arrest is removed. Moreover, workshops churning out cheap fakes and replicas can also produce elaborately detailed fakes which can be so authentic even experts are deceived. Locals can use original ancient moulds, often found during excavations but of no real value themselves, to create exact replicas using clay from original sources and local minerals to make paint fordecorating the pottery. The only way to know for sure if a piece is genuine is through thermo-luminescence dating which calculates when the pottery has been fired. But this is expensive for the buyer and many sellers will not offer refunds on pottery that has undergone “destructive” analysis. Ten years ago the ratio of real to fake Peruvian artefacts for sale online was roughly 50:50. It is now thought that only 5% of items are authentic, 30% are fakes and the rest are too difficult to judge from online photographs. This turnaround emphasises how paradoxically online auction sites have helped to combat the trade in illicit antiquities. Also, its not just Peruvian fakes that are flooding the illicit antiquities online market; Chinese, Bulgarian, Egyptian and Mexican workshops are also producing fakes at a frenetic pace.

Blue Shield Statement on Haiti

The Blue Shield has posted a statement concerning the tragedy in Haiti

Haiti. Blue Shield Statement. 14th January 2010

The Blue Shield expresses its sorrow and solidarity with the population of Haiti for the loss of lives and the destructions caused by the earthquake which occurred on 12th January. Culture is a basic need, and cultural heritage a symbolic necessity that gives meaning to human lives connecting past, present and future. Cultural heritage is a reference full of values helping to restore a sense of normality and enabling people to move forward. Cultural Heritage is fundamental in rebuilding the identity, the dignity and the hope of the communities after a catastrophe. The Blue Shield Mission is “to work to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict, natural and man‐made disasters”. While it appreciates that the immediate priority is to find the missing, and to help the injured and homeless, it places the expertise and network of its member organisations at the disposal of their Haitian colleagues to support their work in assessing the damage to th
e cultural heritage of their countries including libraries, archives, museums and monuments and sites, and subsequent recovery, restoration and repair measures.

The Blue Shield calls on the international community, responsible authorities and local population to give the fullest possible support to the efforts, official and voluntary, underway to protect/rescue the rich and unique heritage of Haiti. The member organisations of the Blue Shield are currently liaising with Haitian colleagues, to obtain further information on both the situation in the area and on the possible needs and types of help required so as to mobilise our networks accordingly. A more complete report on damages, needs and actions will be published subsequently, to facilitate coordination.

The Blue Shield
The Blue Shield is the protective emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention which is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. The Blue Shield network consists of organisations dealing with museums, archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, monuments and sites. The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), founded in 1996, comprises representatives of the five Non‐Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in this field:
- The International Council on Archives (,
- The International Council of Museums (,
- The International Council on Monuments and Sites (, and
- The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (
- The Co‐ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (

National Blue Shield Committees have been founded in a number of countries (18 established and 18 under construction). The Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS), founded in December 2008, will coordinate and strengthen international efforts to protect cultural property at risk of destruction in armed conflicts or natural disasters. The ANCBS has its headquarters in The Hague. Contact Information:

The Lender Collector

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
NPR has an insightful story on a recent trend: lending an art collection.

Art thief sentenced for stealing works by Chagall and Picasso

Monday, January 18, 2010
Last week a federal district court sentenced Marcus Patmon, 38, to 23 months in prison after he pled guilty to mail fraud, attempted wire fraud, and the interstate transport of stolen goods. See for details.

Patmon stole a Chagall lithograph and a Picasso etching from Galerie Lareuse in Washington, DC in 2007. He sold them for approximately $63,000. He also stole two other Picasso etchings from Gallery Biba in Palm Beach, FL in 2008. State authorities prosecuted Patmon for the Florida theft.

Fakes and Forgeries

Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Associated Press reported in today's NY Times that Italian authorities last year recovered thousands of looted art and antiquities valued at close to $240 million US dollars. The story said: "Police figures show the number of illegal archaeological excavations discovered in 2009 decreased dramatically, from 238 in 2008 to just 58 in 2009. But at the same time, the number of people charged with falsifying artwork rose more than 400 percent."

The fact is that forged art exists in the marketplace, and this newspaper report serves as a caution to stay alert. Authenticating artwork is an essential component to ethical collecting. One should take time to ensure that a piece is not just looted or illegally exported, but that it is genuine.

Crossing The Line

“They’re doing it behind closed doors!” roared Susan Robinson. “Did you hear Nancy Pelosi say that the promise of transparency was just campaign talk?”

A lifelong resident of Bay Village, a lifelong Republican, Susan Robinson (yeah, yeah, yeah I changed her name) registered as a Democrat in the spring of 2008 and voted for Hillary Clinton in the Ohio primary. It is one thing to cross party lines and to cast one’s ballot, in the privacy of the voting booth, for a member of the other party. Susan Robinson did more. She publicly self-identified as a Democrat. She has the junk mail to prove it. And now she is a sort-of Democrat, a sort-of Republican, and totally ticked off.

Disillusioned and betrayed, Susan Robinson and countless others voted for change. It was as if the voters approved Issue 6 to reorganize Cuyahoga County government and then installed Jimmy Dimora as the new chief executive.

The latest news, appropriately for this discussion leaked by a nameless Democratic official, is that the President, the Senate and the House may have reached a compromise on the plan to tax so-called “Cadillac” health plans. As always, the words compromise means that the House caved. The deal is that the tax would be on family plans that cost $24,000 per year instead of $23,000. The other part of the deal is that the employees of state and local governments and all union employees would be exempt until 2017.

Feel free to take a moment to reread the last sentence. Do you understand why a tax should apply to everyone but state and local government employees and members of a union? Neither do I. Will the law specify which unions are official skip the tax unions or will any old union do? Can we form our own unions? Can each of us create our own unique, self-contained, tax avoiding union?

We’ve now crossed the line from short-sighted and ill-advised to just plain dumb. Divisive, too.

Please, somebody tell me, what happened to helping the working poor acquire affordable health insurance?


Legal Tools for Artists

The Carving Studio in Vermont is holding a workshop in July. It is titled Legal Tools for Artists. Go to the link at

Opposites Attract

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
“Goals. Why do you keeping harping about goals, Dave? The President said that we are going to cover the uninsured, make health care affordable, and we can keep our current insurance. Aren’t those the goals?”

Those are goals. In that same vein, I would like to start each day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Real goals, well defined and achievable, are in short supply. This past Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer illustrated our current goal-less struggle.

Let’s begin on Page 5 of Section A. A Chicago Tribune story entitled “Health bills can sink even those insured” comes with a picture of a kindly older gentleman helping out at a Christmas pageant. Even though he has insurance, he is getting clobbered with the copayments from his prescriptions following his heart transplant. Forget the fact that what Mr. Fraas really needed was disability insurance because his real problem is a lack of income, the theme of the article can be found in this sentence: “Meanwhile, Fraas learned that even with good insurance, medical care can break a family’s bank.”

We have heard before how unfair it is for unhealthy people to also suffer financially. So it must be safe to say that one of our goals is really comprehensive coverage that totally protects a family, NO MATTER WHAT.

Not so fast.

On Page 2 of Section G that same Plain Dealer had “A less than-honest policy is taxing” written by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. This editorial page article discusses one of the more controversial details of the recently passed Senate bill, the tax on so-called Cadillac health plans. An excise tax of 40% will be imposed on family policies that cost more than $23,000 per year and individual plans in excess of $700 per month.

The Joint Committee on Taxation projects that this tax will generate over $150 billion over the next ten years. How? The deep thinkers behind this scheme think that your boss will refuse to pay this tax, buy a cheaper insurance policy, and since he or she just saved so much money, you will get a raise! The government will collect billions of dollars in new income tax. You will be forced to migrate to a health insurance policy with higher deductibles and copayments. You will be forced to become a better consumer.

So our goal is to have consumers (us) pay more of our health care expenses?

What do Hollywood romantic comedies and bad legislation have in common? The plot lines always revolve around the theory that opposites attract. Just because I really enjoyed Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard in Moonlighting, doesn’t mean I can suspend my disbelief about this bill.