“How Much for the Mona Lisa?” France Considers Sale to Ease National Debt

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The Mona Lisa, painted in the early 16th century by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, and the France’s media has suggested that the “priceless” painting could be sold to alleviate the nation’s debt, which has mounted to $200 billion. The sale of other works was also suggested as possible salable items, including the collection of impressionists belonging to the Musee d’Orsay, which could be worth $6 billion.

The sale of the world’s best-known painting was suggested by France’s state-run France 24 news channel.

France has been selling off various cultural assets in the face of its burdensome $2000 billion national debt. France has already impressionistsfamously sold its former International Conference Center near the Arc de Triomphe to Qatari and Chinese buyers, and also sold some of its finest wines from the Elysee presidential palace cellar to private collectors.

The news site also suggested that the impressionist collection at the Musee d’Orsay would be worth approximately $6 billion.

In 1962, the Mona Lisa was valued at $100 million. The valuation was done for insurance purposes before sending the painting on tour in the US. Taking inflation into account, the painting could now be valued at around $2.5 billion.

The 1962 valuation made the Mona Lisa the highest valued piece of art in history, according to the Guinness World Records.

France 24 stated, “‘Her enigmatic smile beams down on hundreds of thousands of tourists a year at the Louvre Museum in Paris. And she could also bring a smile to France’s cash-strapped government if a sale could ease the national debt.”

Paris City Hall Head of Culture Bruno Julliard said that the sale would “In theory raise a very large sum of money,” but that France was not ready to sell off the painting for the sake of easing its debt.

Despite the high value of the Mona Lisa, France may be prohibited from selling the painting–and other such art works–due to French heritage law.

French law does not allow the selling of objects belonging to public museums. “The property constituting collections in France owned by a public entity is part of their public domain and is, as such, inalienable,” states Article 451-5 of the Code of French Heritage.

Analysts have commented that a sale would require a change to the law.

But if France did sell some of its collection of art to ease its debt problems, it would not be the first to do so.

Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands have all allowed the sale of art for similar purposes. Detroit, USA, facing state bankruptcy, sold a collection that included Van Goghs and Picassos in 2013.

Portugal is currently selling 85 works by Joan Miro, and hopes to receive over $50 million for the sale. Portugal is attempting to bail itself out of failed state status, and is $275 billion in debt.

By Cheryl Bretton

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Myanmar military’s foreign minister participates in ASEAN meeting

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YANGON, Myanmar — The foreign minister of Myanmar’s military participated virtually in an ASEAN ministerial meeting on March 3, in which he lobbied for a political road map for Myanmar that would be implemented during the first year after the coup.

At the meeting, ASEAN countries discussed the ongoing situation in Myanmar, but they could not make a common decision on it because each country had its own proposal for how to proceed.

By Htay Win
Photo credit: Shine

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Systematic, institutionalized torture found in Brazilian ‘Old Rust’ prison

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Widespread injuries and scars among prisoners at the “Old Rust” penitentiary in Brazil were caused by punches, kicks, blows, collective beatings, prods with pitchforks, and institutionalized torture, according to a report by the Mato Grosso state’s internal affairs department that concluded prisoners were being subject to institutionalized routine bodily injury by prison officials.

There was virtually no external supervision of what was happening inside Osvaldo Florentino Leite Ferreira Penitentiary, which provides an environment of impunity and stimulates the cycle of endless torture, said the report.

Prisoners were tied to an iron bar and suspended by their ankles and wrists and left in that position until blood no longer circulated, making the body swell and breathing difficult, the report detailed. These acts were carried out by several prison guards and the prison’s director of discipline and detailed by a committee composed of judges, auxiliaries, and public defenders. It was based on a surprise visit that took place between December 14 and 16, 2020. The report and medical examinations were only finalized in late February.

These acts were carried out by several prison guards and the prison’s director of discipline and detailed by a committee composed of judges, auxiliaries, and public defenders. It was based on a surprise visit that took place between December 14 and 16, 2020. The report and medical examinations were only finalized in late February.

“It is important to mention that several prison system officials presented testimony before the magistrates, confirming the assaults on prisoners which, together with the footage of the testimonies, photos and examinations of the body of crime, indicate the occurrence of systemic torture in the unit,” said the report. “It was like an establishment policy, something institutionalized indeed.”

Severe overcrowding, lack of hygiene, water rationing, humidity, mold, lack of ventilation, vermin, pests, plus untreated yeast and skin infections contributed to an environment of disease and violence, the report also concluded.

After the inspection, the Secretary of State for Public Security removed 12 guards from the prison, including the director, the deputy director, the head of discipline and other agents accused of mistreatment. However, they have not lost their jobs, and they are working at other prisons, according to advocates for the prisoners.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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Curbing planned obsolescence: March brings new rules to EU that will make electronics last longer, easier to repair

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Consumers in the 27-nation bloc now will have the right to expect that their consumer electronics will have parts available and be able to be repaired for up to 10 years. New rules take effect this month following legislation passed last November by the European Parliament aiming to reduce electronic waste, monitor energy use, and protect consumers means.

“To be sustainable, products must be repairable, so that they can remain on the market for as long as possible. It is time to stamp out practices which prevent or hinder product repairs,” says the legislation in addressing premature obsolescence.

Europeans can now rely on their Ecological Design Directive’s “Right to Repair Rules” that require manufacturers include repair manuals with their products, and that standard tools can be used for repair and dismantling, including easier battery replacement and easier recycling. The directive also requires consumers have easier access to how much electricity household devices consume.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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At least 7 dead in confrontation after 4 story fall at university in Bolivia

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Packed tightly and fighting, hundreds of students at the Public University of El Alto pressed and shoved against a railing that collapsed as the balcony appeared to crumble at the base, dropping 11, leaving a mounting death toll, and at least 4 young people in intensive care. The dead range in age from 19 to 27.

The tragedy came after a call to an extraordinary general student assembly which bucked biosecurity regulations and agglomerated protesting young people on a high hallway protected by a balustrade that gave way.

One woman can be seen in video footage lunging toward another young woman who is pressed into the railing as it gives way, dropping her from a height of over 50 feet. Various videos shows her in a pile of bodies at the bottom, and the lounging woman trapped by the weight of other students on her feet while she hangs precariously upside-down and is pulled to safety.

Investigations are under way into the decision to congregate so many people, the nature of the confrontation, and structural faults in construction.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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New GOP narrative emerges it was Antifa and not Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol, FBI classifies act ‘domestic terrorism’

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Pro-Trump politicians and right-wing media figures Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Matt Gaetz, Sean Hannity, Wisc. Sen. Ron Johnson, MyPillow chief Mike Lindell, and a growing chorus of Republicans magnified by right-wing media are repeating the claim that it was Antifa and “fake Trump protesters” that stormed the Capitol.

Meanwhile, FBI chief Christopher Wray has classified the assault as “domestic terrorism.”

“This attack, this siege was criminal behavior, plain and simple. And this behavior, which we, the FBI, see as domestic terrorism, has no place in our democracy,” said Wray Tuesday at a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Despite denials from pro-Trump participants in the Capitol siege that there were Antifa supporters in their midst, Rep. Gaetz, who stood on the ransacked House floor and claimed that many rioters “were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa,” repeated the claim again at CPAC this past weekend.

The repetition of the new narrative reaches audiences that have been told for months by Trump that Antifa is a dangerous terror group, providing an alternative that could be easier to accept than that of MAGA fans as domestic terrorists.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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