Into Antiques?

On ebay you'll find over 100 categories covering the Medieval and Renaissance periods, through Georgian, Regency and Victorian, to Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Antique Dealers in California

Linda Stamberger

Linda Stamberger, author of "Antiquing In Florida", is a Florida expert and freelance writer of many genres. Visit this site to read her articles - some of which are available for purchase - as is her book.

Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records

Brooks Novelty is an all-vinyl record store. We specialize in: jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, antique slot machines, pin balls, arcade games, neon clocks and signs, rare concert posters, old advertising signs and much more!

The Antique Company

Established in the late 1900's, we occupy a huge corner building with a small garden area that leads to another 1000 sq foot store (called TAC) that contains our Mid Century collection.

Vintage Westclox

Westclox photo identification gallery and history and information of clocks, watches and other timepieces. This site primarily displays American clocks made by Westclox that were made from the early 1900's up to about the 1960's.

Antique Appraisals On-Line

We are one of the country's largest, oldest, most qualified and respected appraisal services. The majority of our appraisals are estate and personal property evaluations for valuation documentation purposes. However, we have evaluated goods and personal property for natural disaster losses (hurricanes), theft, fire, freight and shipping damage after the loss has occurred.

Connoisseur Antiques

Featuring fine antique furniture, Connoisseur Antiques is a Los Angeles Antique Furniture Showroom specializing in antique clocks and mirrors, European and French antiques, Antique Lighting, Chandeliers, Sconces, Armoires and much more.

Liz's Antique Hardware

Antique Hardware is the backbone of our business. We offer a complete selection of door, window and furniture hardware, lighting and accessories circa 1890 to 1970.

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall is the largest antique mall in northern California. We opened our doors in October 1997 with 75 dealers and today we have over 200 of San Francisco's most professional antique specialists.

Ambiance Antiques

Importer of 18th and 19th Century French Antiques

C'est La Vie Antiques

European Antique and Accessories in San Diego, CA.

Lang Antiques

We carry a large selection of fine antique jewelry, antique rings & antique engagement rings. We also have vintage estate jewelry, vintage estate rings & vintage estate engagement rings from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian & Art Deco style periods.

Once in a Blue Moon Online Thrift Store

We are an online thrift store featuring new, used, and unusual items.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

California’s Train to Oblivion - RedState

California’s Train to Oblivion - RedState

I recently listened to a (perhaps disingenuous) pitch from my Congressperson, Nancy Pelosi,  to the effect that budgets are important in that they reflect moral choices of society. I then listened to a group of California Democrats (and even a few Republicans) praising California’s high speed rail project which will cost somewhere between $70 and 100 billion dollars in capital over the next two decades. How to reconcile the two?

A bit of background:

-  In 2008 the state’s voters approved a $10 billion bond measure to start a $40 billion project to build high speed rail (200+ mph) between Los Angeles and San Francisco by way of the Central Valley. By 2012 the cost had escalated to $100 billion; the federal Stimulus Plan had kicked in $ 3.3 billion; Governor Brown had been elected; and the project was downsized to a $70 billion connection between upgraded commuter rail systems in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The long term vision remained the same, but it would be built in stages – the first being a non-electrified stretch roughly between Bakersfield and Fresno; a few billion would be spent upgrading the bookend commuter systems.

-  At this point there are a few weak spots in the plan:

–  Passengers will have to change trains to make the full trip – but just until 2028;

–  The claim is that ridership fares ($ 81) will cover the operating costs, but similar systems in Japan and Europe require subsidies at twice the fare rates and higher ridership;

–  California has agreed to take $ 3.5 in Stimulus funding turned down by other states, and $10 billion in voter-approved state bond funding. The remaining $55 billion is to come from an unidentified mix of federal and state funds, diversion of funds to be taken from utilities and industry in the voter-approved “cap and trade“system to go into effect by 2020, and private investments.  The presumption is that once started, the federal and state authorities will be unable to turn it off. (Implicitly, the Democrats will regain control of the US House and hold the presidency.)

-   And the trade-offs that California’s political class is making:

–  The current state budget has reduced the k-12 school year from 180 to 175 days; next year it could be reduced to 160.

–  Tuition in the state university system has doubled in the past five years. Next year state grants for high achieving, low income students will be reduced by 18%.

–  The prison system is being realigned by pushing thousands from state facilities to county jails (without commensurate funding).  Funding for the court system is down 24% in the past four years and will be cut another $544 million in the next budget.

–  The governor is proposing increasing the state sales tax to 7.5 % – the highest in the nation – and the top income tax rate to 13.3 %. Gas taxes are already the highest in the nation. California ranks 50th in business climate according to Chief Executive Magazine.

–  And the social safety net is being shredded – MediCal; job training; children services; everything.

So, why the train? And what lessons can be drawn by folks in other states?

1. Trains are cool. My grand-kids love Thomas. If they can run on electricity derived from solar and wind power they are uber ecological.

2. Politics are messy. “Free” seed money leads to addiction. Local politicians can be bought by a few construction contracts and the promise of a local station. Construction industry companies and unions are powerful everywhere. In a one party state, nobody crosses the machine.

3. Californians still dream of the era when they were national leaders. Prior generations – including the current governor’s father – built roads, water systems, and airports. Current leaders want a legacy.

While others wait for June answers to the Supreme Court Obamacare decision, the Wisconsin recall outcome, and the euro Greek eviction notice, out here on the Left Coast we wait to see if the Democratic state senate and the Democratic state assembly are willing to cross the Democratic governor and go with the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and effectively pull the plug.



This week’s video (provided by a vigilant reader) has two parts, a trailer for “2016″, a political movie to be released this summer, and a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference by writer Dinesh D’souza which explains President Obama’s inner compass as pursuit of his father’s anti-colonialism.


Boy, 6, forges note with a highlighter and finger painting paper to get out of school... and they ACCEPT it (despite three spelling errors) - Daily Mail

By Emine Sinmaz


A six-year-old boy forged a dismissal note with highlighter pen on finger painting paper to get out of an after-school program – and his school accepted it.

Gannon Farley, from Middleboro, Massachusetts, was fed up with playing with Lego at his day care and wanted to go home to play on his Wii instead.

So the Henry B. Burkland Elementary School first-grader forged a handwritten note in fluorescent  yellow marker, which said: ‘Dery [dear] Mrs. Trotty [Trottier]. Gannon is not going to the prgrogm [program].’

Scroll down for video

Bored: Gannon Farley, from Middleboro, Massachusetts, was fed up with playing with Lego at his day care and wanted to go home to play on his Wii instead

Bored: Gannon Farley, from Middleboro, Massachusetts, was fed up with playing with Lego at his day care and wanted to go home to play on his Wii instead

Handwritten: The Henry B. Burkland Elementary School first-grader forged a note in florescent yellow marker, which said: Dery [dear] Mrs. Trotty [Trottier]. Gannon is not going to the prgrogm [program].

Handwritten: The Henry B. Burkland Elementary School first-grader forged a note in florescent yellow marker, which said: Dery [dear] Mrs. Trotty [Trottier]. Gannon is not going to the prgrogm [program].

His teacher was suspicious and sent Gannon to see the school secretary for approval.

The secretary tried to call an old telephone number the school had listed for Gannon’s mother, Amie Nay, but could not get through.

After leaving a voice message, the school sent the six-year-old home. He rode the bus by himself to an empty house.

Nay had no idea Gannon had been sent home until she received a call from the school coordinator saying her son had not turned up to his after school program.

Furious: Amie Nay, left, had no idea Gannon, right, had been sent home until she received a call from the school coordinator saying her son had not turned up to his after school program

For hours the panic-stricken mother-of-three searched for him until a neighbour called to say he was with her.

Nay is furious that her son's school would put his life in danger and accept a note that had been written by a child.

'I looked at it and I said to the principal, "you're kidding me right, really? This was accepted as a legitimate note?"' Nay told

'It terrifies me to think that he managed to outsmart your administration.'

The school claims the incident was investigated but the secretary who dismissed Gannon remains at the institute.

'She's still employed,' Nay told NECN. 'I don't feel that appropriate action has been taken.'

Gannon says he has learned his lesson and will not be forging any more notes.

‘I lied. I was not really thinking anything,' he said. I was just writing the note, I was focusing on writing the note. ‘

Dispute: Henry B. Burkland Elementary School claims appropriate action has been taken but the secretary remains at the school

Dispute: Henry B. Burkland Elementary School claims appropriate action has been taken but the secretary remains at the school

Watch video here

Here's what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

(which all school's must have). - Tab, Falkirk, It is 'schools' not 'school's'. Elementary really dear Tab. So what were you saying about awful spelling and grammar?

I guess it's the same in the US where standards have dropped across the board over the years and you now have people doing jobs they clearly arent capable of i thought this would be in the UK going by the title and how we are a country where standards are VERY low everywhere and many people in jobs 10years ago they wouldnt have stood a chance at gettig

well the state of education over there an here I imagine there are a lot more which have gone undiscovered as the teachers probably cant read non print anymore.

Aside from being smart and intelligent and cunning, good handwriting for his age, too!


Please stop praising this child's ingenuity and supposed finesse. It wasn't even a good con, but the school officials behaved like idiots. The child lied, as all children will do as long as they think they won't get caught. If I had done something so deceitful and underhanded, my mother would have made sure I ate dinner standing up. And I wouldn't have seen that Wii again for a very, very long time.

If the school had not accepted the note and it turned out to ACTUALLY be from the parent - think how different the story would have been. Some of the notes I receive from parents are barely comprehensible.

(or is that an Old Wives' Tale)? - Grannie Morton, Newcastle, Staffs, 02/6/2012 13:56..... my son just turned 8 last week, he lost his first teeth at 4 and most of his friends started to loose them by 6.

I work in a London school and to be fair, this is about the standard of most of the legitimate parent notes I get given!

I work at a school and believe me the standard of paper used to write notes, coupled with awful spelling and grammar mean that it can be difficult to ascertain who wrote them. Some parents are illiterate. A phone call would have cleared this up, and the secretary should not have sent the child home without having first contacted someone from the emergency contact list (which all school's must have).

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.


Furniture company bringing 25 jobs to McDowell - McDowell News


SBFI North America, a manufacturer of trading desks and control room furniture, will locate its operations in the former Pisgah Yarn building in Old Fort.

The company plans to create 25 jobs and invest more than $1.4 million over the next three years in Old Fort. The project was made possible in part by a $75,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, according to a news release from the office of Gov. Bev Perdue.

“My first priority is creating jobs,” said Perdue. “Our investments in building a skilled workforce and job training programs have resulted in a top-notch business climate where companies can thrive. North Carolina’s support for the furniture industry is recognized worldwide.”

SBFI North America is located in Asheville. The international company is the world’s leading supplier of trading floor and control room furniture. This is the kind of furniture usually seen in the offices and control rooms for banks, stock market trading centers, airports and police headquarters. SBFI North America and its related companies currently employ more than 90 workers in North Carolina, according to a news release.

The company will expand its operations into the former Pisgah Yarn building, located on U.S. 70 West across from the Ethan Allen plant, said County Manager Chuck Abernathy, who is also the executive director of the McDowell Economic Development Association.

“My understanding is they will make high-end furniture for banking,” said Abernathy.

Salaries will vary by job function, but the average annual wage for the new jobs will be $31,080.  McDowell’s average annual wage is $29,692.

“We are excited about expanding operations inMcDowell County,” said Tom Finger, president of SBFI North America, in a news release. “SBFI has always been community minded and we look forward to contributing positively to the Old Fort community. We feel confident that our decision to locate in McDowell County was the best choice for everyone involved.

“There have been many people and agencies involved in the relocation and expansion decisions of SBFI,” he added. “We would like to thank everyone at N.C. Department of Commerce, McDowell County Economic Development Association, McDowellCounty, the town of Old Fort and the state of North Carolina in their assistance and hands-on approach towards making this decision possible. We look forward to working with and contributing to the local community of Old Fort and are excited at the prospect of becoming a contributing neighbor of the community.”

The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches.

Through use of the One NC Fund, more than 60,000 jobs and $11 billion in investment have been created since 2001.

To help recruit this industry, the commissioners approved an incentive of $60,000, to be paid over a three-year period. This money will be used for “machinery and equipment and building improvements.”

“It is good news for the town of Old Fort,” said Abernathy.

Mayor Garland Norton said more work will have to be done to the former Pisgah building before the new operation gets under way.

“I am glad to see it coming,” said Norton. “Every little bit helps. We’re going in a positive direction.”

For more information about SBFI North America, including job opportunities, go to


California's minor parties facing extinction under new voting system - San Jose Mercury News

They've been a colorful part of California's political landscape for decades -- Greens, Libertarians, American Independents and members of the Peace and Freedom Party.

But after Tuesday's election, most of them will be all but invisible -- and perhaps on their way to extinction.

In past years, minor parties held their own primary elections to choose nominees who would go on to compete with Democratic and Republican nominees in general elections. But that's no longer the case under California's new "top two" primary system, in which all voters choose from among all candidates of all parties -- and only the two candidates who get the most votes advance to November, regardless of party.

Because minor party

candidates rarely finish in the top two, and it's now harder for their candidates to get on the primary ballot in the first place, the parties will have little or no presence on the general-election ballot. And in politics, invisibility means oblivion.

"It could spell the end of the Peace and Freedom Party," said party chairman C.T. Weber, 71, of Sacramento. "It's a shame that democracy is being undermined by this, but that's the reality if we're not able to overturn the law."

The law was set in place with Proposition 14 in June 2010, approved by 54 percent of voters after then-state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, forced the Legislature's Democratic majority to put it on the ballot in exchange for his budget vote. Though minor parties complained from the get-go that they would be marginalized if not obliterated by the measure, voters liked the measure's stated purpose: increasing primary voters' choices in an effort to moderate the harsh political partisanship plaguing Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Maldonado argued recently that minor parties will get more exposure in the new top-two primary and "if they represent the views of a significant number of voters in a district, they'll be in the top two. ... I don't care what party you're from, if you have a message that resonates with the people, they're going to vote for you."

But minor-party officials contend that giving voters only two choices in November -- with no write-in votes allowed -- denies parties an opportunity to spread their messages and hobbles their ability to field candidates in the future.

"It's not a good situation," in part because it's a lot harder to recruit candidates, said Kevin Takenaga, chairman of the Libertarian Party of California.

"The final outcome is going to be the opposite of what people expect because it's going to force people to these established candidates -- the ones who have more money and more major-party support," he predicted.


is the United States of America, where we have more choices in what type of soft drink you want to drink or restaurant you want to go to than political parties and candidates," added Takenaga, 39, of Sunnyvale. "Why do we insist on having fewer choices?"

Minor parties have had three ways of staying qualified for the ballot. First, they can poll 2 percent of the vote for any statewide race in a nonpresidential general election. With little or no presence on general-election ballots anymore, though, this will be almost impossible.

The second way is to have at least as many registered members as 1 percent of the previous total gubernatorial vote.

About 10.3 million people voted in the November 2010 gubernatorial matchup, so a party would need about 103,000 registered voters to qualify this way. The American Independent and Green parties meet this threshold now, but the Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties don't. And the less visible all of them become, the harder the threshold will be to reach.

The third route -- gathering petition signatures from 10 percent of the state's 17 million registered voters -- always has been impossible for the cash-strapped parties.

American Independent Party chairman Mark Seidenberg, 65, of Aliso Viejo, said his party's registration is robust enough that he's not worried about staying on the ballot, but he agreed it would be "a shame" for voters to be denied the choices afforded by other parties.

Richard Winger, who edits the Ballot Access News blog, is still optimistic courts will overturn Proposition 14's obstacles to third-party access. But California already is seeing the effects, said Winger, 68, of San Francisco: About a quarter as many minor-party candidates filed for state legislative and congressional offices this year than in 2010.

That's because the Secretary of State's Office interpreted Proposition 14 to void the old system by which minor-party candidates could gather 150 signatures in lieu of paying the primary-election filing fee. Now, he said, they must gather the same number of signatures as a major-party candidate: 1,500 for an Assembly seat, 3,000 for a state Senate or House of Representatives seat.

Washington state's voters OK'd a top-two system in 2004, but it was declared unconstitutional by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 before being reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

Unlike in California, Washington voters don't declare party affiliation when they register, so maintaining party strength that way isn't an issue. But Jody Grage, chairwoman of that state's Green Party, said it has been a tough row to hoe nonetheless.

"Because the primary gets a lot less publicity and fewer voters, that makes a big difference in our visibility," she said, adding that no third-party candidate has advanced to a November election if two major-party candidates already were on the primary ballot.

Election-reform advocate Steven Hill, co-founder of the nonprofit FairVote, said losing minor parties would result in an ever-narrowing political discourse.

"Minor parties tend to be the laboratories for new ideas. They bring issues and ideas into the political discussion that the major parties often ignore," he said. "That's the first thing you're going to lose, and it's a fairly big loss."

He said most Democrat-vs.-Republican races end up with candidates battling for a relatively small population in the middle. So with no minor parties to widen the debate, he said, "they're going to be talking only to that narrow group of swing voters."

Laura Wells, a 64-year-old Oakland resident who was the California Green Party's 2010 gubernatorial nominee, hopes the new primary system leads to a backlash that wrecks the two-party system once and for all.

"I think we're due," Wells said. "Goodness, how bad does it have to get?"

Josh Richman covers politics. Follow him at Read the Political Blotter at


Voters have turned against California bullet train, poll shows - Los Angeles Times
California voters are losing faith in a proposed $68-billion bullet train project, saying the state has higher priorities, they would seldom use the service and they would halt public borrowing for construction if they could, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found.

A strong majority of voters have turned against the project just as Gov. Jerry Brown is pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction in the Central Valley later this year, a major step in the plan to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with high-speed rail service by about 2028.

In a state renowned for betting big on mega-infrastructure projects, including the world's most famous freeways and canals that move oceans of water across hundreds of miles, the fast-approaching decision on the bullet train project marks a historic Golden State moment.

Whether eroding public support will sway the Legislature is unclear. Brown, the Obama administration, labor unions and Democratic leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, are ramping up pressure on key state senators to cast aside doubts and commit funding this summer for an initial 130-mile section of track.

But the new poll numbers show that proceeding could put lawmakers on the wrong side of public opinion. Across the state, 55% of the voters want the bond issue that was approved in 2008 placed back on the ballot, and 59% say they now would vote against it.

Since voters approved that $9-billion borrowing plan, the state and national economic outlook has dimmed and some of the promises about the bullet train have been compromised. Its projected cost has roughly doubled, and it will now share track with slower commuter and freight trains in some areas. Powerful agriculture groups and freight railroads have asserted that proposed routes would damage their interests and compromise safety. Churches, schools, businesses and homeowners are fighting the project.

Brown and a coalition of bullet train backers have argued that the project requires a long-term optimistic view of California's future. Proponents say that highways and airports will reach their capacity someday and that the state must be prepared.

Said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, citing improvements to the plan: "This is a large, complex project, and we believe that once Californians learn more about the positive turnaround at the authority, they will embrace the improved direction."

Some lawmakers agree on the need for the rail service but are concerned that the existing plan is flawed and could set the state up for a big disappointment, if not financial disaster. The decline in public enthusiasm for the proposal appears to reflect more than a short-term fluctuation in sentiment, which might be expected and even discounted by officials trying to execute a decades-long project deemed crucial to the state's economic future.

"You have a situation where general financial pressure and cynicism toward the government has narrowed the support," said Drew Lieberman of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the survey jointly with American Viewpoint, a Republican-affiliated firm.

Indeed, the poll shows that concerns about the project extend broadly across regions, ethnic groups, income brackets and even political affiliations. In Southern California, 67% of voters said they would reject issuing bullet train bonds if they could vote again.

Although organized labor has been among the biggest proponents of the project, 56% of union households now would reject the state funding plan, the poll found. Even among Democrats, the strongest backers of the project, only 43% would support the bond in a new vote, while 47% would oppose it. And 76% of Republicans would vote it down.

"Voters are having some buyer's remorse over this," said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint.

The poll reflected clashing viewpoints expressed at recent public hearings held by the rail authority: While critics say that the project is seriously flawed, supporters argue that people desperately need jobs.

"It costs too much and we need the money in other places," said poll respondent Robert Coplin, a 49-year-old unemployed bus boy and dishwasher who identifies himself as a Republican. "We should fix the roads, fix the levees and reduce the deficit. The rail makes no sense at all."

Patricia Bradford, a Democrat from the Inland Empire, doubts she will ever use the train but nonetheless is a supporter. "They need to get people jobs. People have kids and families. They are living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, spend some money, create some jobs," she said.

Backers say the bullet train will help California's transportation system catch up with those in Europe, Japan and China. Yet the poll found that most voters don't expect to use it.

Sixty-nine percent said they would never or hardly ever ride it. Zero percent said they would use it more than once a week. Public opinion surveys cannot predict the revenues and ridership a rail service might generate. The poll results raise questions about whether the system would serve as a robust commuter network, allowing people to live in small towns and work in big cities or vice versa. On the other hand, 33% of respondents said they would prefer a bullet train over an airplane or car on trips between L.A. and the Bay Area.

The fare for the premium nonstop service, pegged in the rail authority's plan at $123 one way, gives many potential customers pause. Andres Ruiz of South Gate, who has worked in an aluminum foundry for 35 years, drives to San Francisco three or four times a year. Ideally, he'd like to take a train but questions whether he could afford tickets for his whole family. "I don't think the project is a very important thing," he said.

A majority of voters agree, the poll found. Across the state, 55% of the respondents said the state has bigger priorities than borrowing money to build a bullet train. And 43% said they would rather spend the money on improvements to rail transportation in their own area. Only 32% said the bullet train is a higher priority.

Both the Republican and Democratic pollsters agreed that souring public views on the train could jeopardize voter support for the governor's November ballot measure to increase taxes.

"The deficits are scary," agreed Dan Williams of Needles, a 50-year-old independent voter. "To me, this rail project is among the very lowest priorities for the state."

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said that if voters "connect the dots" between a tax increase and spending on a controversial bullet train, "it could completely undermine support for Brown's initiative."

The USC Dornsife/L.A. Times survey contacted 1,002 registered voters in mid-May. Two other polls last year also found shrinking support for the project, which was approved by 52.7% of voters in 2008. A third poll this year also found likely voters opposed the project, though adults in general favor it by a small margin.


California man rescues puppy from busy highway - Examiner
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    Painting a villain as martyr - Nation

    Dr Shakil Afridi, better known for running a fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad at CIA’s behest with the aim of tracking down Osama bin Laden, and sentenced to 33 years by a Fata court for his ties with a terrorist group, filed an appeal against his conviction last week. In his verdict, the Additional District magistrate, who sentenced him under the Frontier Crimes Regulations that govern the federally administered tribal areas, recommended that a court with relevant jurisdiction should proceed against the CIA operative for his liaison with a foreign intelligence service. The United States establishment, that views him as a hero, has put its full weight behind the doctor, pressurising our government not to punish him for his crime; making public statements, using diplomatic channels and slashing the aid it promised. And of course, the donor-driven lobby of human rights activists and our so-called liberal intelligentsia is working overtime to rescue him, clutching at every possible technicality to make a martyr out of a villain. Where on earth are they coming from on this one?
    Given the arrogance and double-standards displayed by the global bully, the reaction to Shakil Afridi’s sentence does not come as a surprise. The narrative of the US establishment is simple: Afridi helped them track down their enemy number one and that makes him a hero, who deserves to be rewarded with national awards instead of being punished. Congressmen would like to honour him and make him an American citizen for his services. So what if he broke the law of his country and committed treason. That is what the hired local intelligence operatives are supposed to do. To keep its credibility among the large network of local intelligence assets, that it openly boasted about after the Raymond Davis episode and the consequent deportation of American CIA agents, it cannot leave them in the lurch when they are caught. It is not about one man. The US would like to send the right message to its large network of local assets in Pakistan.
    Laws, whether international or of any land, have never been a consideration for the US when it comes to waging its dirty wars and funding subversive activities around the globe. After all, the spuriously defined interests of the sole superpower are supreme and it feels that it has the right to ride roughshod over everything that stands in its way. It would be silly to think that those in the US establishment and mainstream Western media who are applauding Afridi for his heroic role would even consider the ethical aspects of a doctor endangering children through a fake vaccination campaign in another country. They are known to overlook crimes perpetrated by the US government and CIA that are far more serious, like killing innocent civilians, including women and children, in illegal drone attacks. The barbarity of US actions is acceptable to these blind patriots because those at the receiving end are bad non-Americans out to harm their homeland.
    American writers critical of the US stance on Afridi have pointed out that the global bully has meted out much harsher punishments to its own citizens guilty of lesser crimes. They have raised many valid questions. What if an American citizen accepted money to work for a foreign intelligence agency to run a fake vaccination campaign targeting American children with the aim of locating someone wanted by that foreign agency without the knowledge of US authorities? Will the US government let him go scot-free and hand him over to the country whose intelligence agency had hired him? These conscientious voices are likely to remain unheard in the bigoted corridors of American power because the double standards that inform the US foreign policy go hand-in-hand with the arrogance that the superpower shamelessly parades around. What is good for the US is not good for other countries because, after all, they are not the US!
    The US response to the Afridi case is, therefore, quiet predictable and easy to understand. What is disconcerting, however, is the campaign to rescue the unethical doctor turned foreign agent that has been started by the one-eyed champions of human rights and a section of the media. The donor-driven civil society and co-opted writers are screaming murder, fishing for loopholes in his conviction and crying for a fair trial for the spy. Disregarding the recommendation in the verdict for trying him in a competent court of law with the jurisdiction to try him for working for a foreign intelligence agency, they smell a rat because he has been sentenced for another crime. It doesn’t even seem to matter that his appeal will go through the due process of the existing law, whatever its shortcomings. They do not dispute the facts about his devious fake vaccination campaign, but would like to employ all rules of fairplay to shield him from punishment. They have taken up his cause, as if the rule of law in the country depended on it. And that is basically the problem with these one-eyed champions.
    While they might have valid reasons to criticise the court verdict, their enthusiasm to come to Afridi’s aid gives us an insight into their priorities and perspective. In a national context, where they could help a multitude of innocent and helpless Pakistanis, why would these champions of human rights and rule of law make a big issue out of one case regarding a certified spy who didn’t have any qualms about running a fake vaccination campaign targeting children? Why do their hearts bleed for a the hired CIA operative more than it does for innumerable other cases involving poor Pakistani citizens, who did nothing wrong to get into trouble? Have they given some thought to their fellow citizens bombed by drones in their homes, a mosque and a bakery only last week? Given that even a criminal should be treated fairly, it is difficult to make sense of a concerted effort to save one hired spy in the present context; a spy who has appealed against his conviction, has the resources to defend himself and is protected by the sole superpower.
    What makes justice for a tainted Afridi more urgent than for other untainted citizens? Is it because, taking the cue from their donors and patrons, the one-eyed champions consider Afridi a hero, who must be saved? Or, as has been suggested by some writers, have they been assigned and funded for running this save-Afridi campaign?

    n    The writer is a freelance columnist.


    ArtKos: Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.355 - DAILY KOS

    For this week's cycle I will be starting an entirely new painting.  I'm going back to Victorian Cape May in New Jersey.  I'll be painting the late Victorian home seen in the photo directly below.

    I've had my eye on this one for a long time.  The house to the right, only partially seen, was the subject of an earlier SPP cycle.  This house is similar but with totally different details.  They were obviously built as a pair apparently toward the end of the nineteenth century.  Whle the one to the right has original details, this one may have had some updates.  I'll have to look more closely next time I'm in Cape May.

    I started with an outline of the home on an 8x8 inch canvas.  I'm using my usual acrylic paints.  I chose the bright orange seen in the prior cactus painting.  It will work well in the home's shingles.  I painted in the sky just to see the contrast of colors.  Then I painted a bit of the lawn.  I'm pleased so far though the house looks a bit squished at this point.

    The current state of the painting is seen in the photo directly below.

    That's about it for now. Next week I'll have an entirely new piece to show you. See you then. As always, feel free to add photos of your own work in the comments section below.

    Earlier paintings in this series can be  seen here.


    Banksy painting replaced by jubilee artwork in Bristol - Bristol Evening Post

    A wall previously daubed by graffiti artist Banksy has been re-painted with an image of the Queen as diamond jubilee celebrations take hold of Bristol.

    In October last year the popular Banksy work was vandalised in an apparent attack by rivals.

    1. Jubilee-themed artwork in the city centre - pic by @LukeReddy

    2. The Queen painted over former Banksy artwork - pic by @LukeReddy

    3. Banksy graffiti depicting an armed police officer and child which appeared in 2007

    4. Banksy's work, after it was vandalised last year

    5. The David Cameron and Boris Johnson graffiti

    The stencil in Upper Maudlin Street, featuring a boy creeping up behind a sniper with a paper bag in his hands, was covered in black paint and graffiti tags.

    Then in February a new stencil appeared showing David Cameron and Boris Johnson as rioters.

    Now a black and white image of the Queen has appeared, complete with a blue and red David Bowie-style lightning flash painted across her face.

    It is not known who did the painting, or if it has anything to do with urban art festival Upfest, which is also taking place in the city this weekend.

    It looks unlikely that it is another Banksy as the elusive artist has not claimed responsibility for it on his website, where he normally posts images of his most recent work.

    It is the latest artwork to adorn the wall next to Bristol charity the Grand Appeal, which raises money for the Children's Hospital.

    In July last year a Banksy mural on the side of a former Eastville social club was painted over during works to turn it into a Muslim cultural centre.

    The Gorilla in a Pink Mask in Fishponds Road was painted over by Saeed Ahmed who had never heard of Banksy. It was later restored.

    In June 2009 two other popular works in the city were vandalised within hours of each other.

    The Mild Mild West mural in Stokes Croft and the Park Street work featuring a naked man hanging from a windowsill, were attacked with a paint-gun. Efforts were made to remove the paint but tell-tale signs remain.


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