Much more comfortable. The Coalition’s shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison strikes me as a much happier fellow now that he has a boat people policy that has some semblance of principle about it. He has looked far more comfortable in his public appearances since being able to argue for off-shore processing only to be allowed in countries that are signatories to the UN refugee convention. He is fast emerging at the top of the list of the next generation of Liberal Party leaders.

When the people won’t pay. A large part of the financial mess that is Greece is the result of the Greek people making an art form of tax avoidance. The black economy has run riot for years and income tax for many outside the bloated ranks of the public service appears to have been an optional extra. Yet despite this terrible record, the politicians from the European countries drawing up the plans to prevent the total financial collapse of Greece keep assuming that the new taxes they are demanding will somehow prove different and actually be collected.

A number of articles I have read over the weekend suggest that this will prove to be wildly optimistic. Der Spiegel under the headlines We won’t pay: Greece’s Middle Class Revolt against Austerity writes of a movement of business people whose “absolute refusal to pay any taxes resembles an uprising of the ownership class, rather than the working class, a rebellion of the self-employed business owners who have long been the backbone of Greek society.”

The International Herald Tribune tells a similar story:

Bringing home the top half. They’ll soon be putting the Farnese Hercules together again. Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan returned home from the United States at the weekend with the top half of the Weary Heracles sculpture to rejoin the bottom half at a museum in the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya.

Safe Corner blog, which features items of cultural heritage in danger, says the statue of Hercules (who leans wearily against his club after performing his Labors) is a textbook illustration of dubious provenance: ownership attributed to the dealer’s mother who got it from some other dealer before her, right from the start. But, “[t]he best evidence for pillage … is the fact that the upper half of the torso was unknown to the world before 1981,” wrote Roger Atwood in the book Stealing History:

What we do know about the statue is that it was discovered before 1980 at Perge, near the Turkish town of Atalya, by looters who took the upper half, which was then smuggled and sold to the US collectors Leon Levy (now deceased) and Shelby White in 1981, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where it remained on display for many years.

When Turkish authorities discovered the bottom half of the Herakles in the ground at Perge, they demanded the Boston MFA return the upper half. After the Museum denied their fragment came from Turkey, the Turkish authorities shipped an exact replica of the lower half of the statue to Boston.

Even though the two halves fit together perfectly, the Boston MFA continued to deny Turkey’s claim, earning the museum a place on Colin Renfrew’s list of “quite disgraceful” museums for “supporting and financing the destruction of the world’s archaeological heritage.”

Peter Fray

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