Thursday, March 29, 2018

State Department Rushes Through China MOU Renewal as Well as New MOU for Ecuador

The US State Department has announced a CPAC meeting to discuss the renewal of a major MOU with China as well as a proposed new MOU with Ecuador.

There is as yet no Federal Register notice with a link for public comment, but it appears that a short  comment period will end on April 15th and that only an hour will be reserved for public comment before CPAC on May 2, 2018.

It's unclear why there is such a rush to hold a CPAC hearing for a MOU that will not expire until January as well as for yet another MOU with yet another Leftist Latin American country that has opposed U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Could it be the State Department bureaucracy wants to push through the Chinese renewal and a new  MOU with Ecuador to benefit its friends and allies in the archaeological establishment before anyone in the Trump Administration starts asking too many questions about whether such MOUs really benefit America as a whole?

If so, hopefully the embarrassing revelation that more than one-half of the "Terracotta Warriors" in the Franklin Institute's popular exhibit from China were replicas will prompt some soul-searching as to the so-called benefits of such "cultural exchange" that builds in expensive loan fees paid to Chinese interests.  Such fees, of course, are then passed along to the American public who pays top dollar while being led to believe that it is seeing the "real thing."

Surely, America deserves a better deal, one where China at least lives up to its promise of providing  loans of real, ancient artifacts at no or low cost, along with allowing for the legal export of ancient artifacts of the sort that are legally available to Chinese collectors.

If China is not living up to its end of the deal, the Trump Administrations should simply scrap it.

Update (4/5/18):  The website is now taking public comment on the China renewal and new MOU for Ecuador through 4/15/18.  To comment, see this link:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Oral Argument in ACCG Forfeiture Case

Last Thursday, I partipated in an oral argument before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on behalf of the ACCG in its long running forfeiture case.  As was confirmed by the tenor of the Court’s questions, it remains an uphill battle against the government whose actions too often are afforded great deference.  We will see what happens!