Bits and Pieces - Summer 2018

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Suspect dead, 20 hurt in shooting at US arts festival

NEW YORK (AFP).- At least 20 people were hurt early Sunday in a shooting at an all-night arts festival in Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, that also left one suspect dead, a local prosecutor said.
"Multiple individuals opened fire" inside the festival venue shortly before 3:00 am, Mercer County chief prosecutor Angelo Onofri told reporters.
A 33-year-old man, one of the suspects, was killed, and another was taken into custody, he said. Among the injured at the Art All-Night Trenton event was a 13-year-old boy in critical condition. Several weapons were recovered at the scene, Onofri said.
The local CBS affiliate said 22 people were wounded, and that four of them were in critical condition. Officials offered no immediate theory as to what prompted the shooting spree, or how it unfolded. Art All-Night Trenton is an annual event in the city, which is home to 85,000 people and is located about 65 miles (100 kilometers) south of New York. The event was meant to last 24 hours from 3:00 pm Saturday. "It's with great regret that we announce that the remainder of Art All Night has been cancelled due to a tragic incident that occurred overnight," organizers said on the event's Facebook page. "We're still processing much of this and we don't have many answers at this time," the statement said. "Our sincere, heartfelt sympathies are with those who were injured."
© Agence France-Presse

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Thieves steal ancient arrow poison from Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in the Netherlands

THE HAGUE (AFP).- Dutch police were on Thursday hunting for thieves who stole a museum safe containing a potentially deadly poison used by South American tribes to lace their arrows for hunting.
The thieves broke into an outbuilding of the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in the eastern town of Leiden early on Wednesday and stole the refrigerator-sized, free-standing safe in which the ancient vial holding the poison was being stored.
"It's a poison called curare, which is used in South America on arrows to kill animals," Amito Haarhuis, director of what is the national Dutch museum of science and medicine, told AFP.
"It was offered to us recently as part of a collection, but we decided we didn't want to have it. So we locked it in the safe and we are going to have it destroyed safely," he said.
The poison is quite dried out and looks like a small "black sugar cube" contained in an ancient glass pot with a red lid, and a label saying "Curare".
In a warning to the public, police said it was "very toxic and can be fatal," urging anyone who finds it not to touch it, but to call them.
Haarhuis said there were so far no clues as to who had taken the safe, which other than the poison contained just a small amount of money.

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New Import Requirements for Ancient & Ethnographic Art

Ethnographic and Archaeological Objects and Coins Affected By July 1, 2018 Reporting Changes
Note: The Committee for Cultural Policy provides this website solely for informational purposes. Nothing herein is intended to constitute legal advice.
There are changes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2018) Revision 6, Annotated for Statistical Reporting Purposes that have implications for importers of ethnographic and archaeological objects as well as coin collectors. The new import reporting requirements went into effect on July 1st.
“Archaeological pieces” are now reported separately from “ethnographic pieces” and both of those are reported separately from “historical pieces”. Statistical notes 1 and 2 further define the ethnographic and archaeological categories and detail how components of collections should be reported.
From the statistical notes:
For the purposes of statistical reporting number 9705.00.0075, “Archaeological pieces” are objects of cultural significance that are at least 250 years old and are of a kind normally discovered as a result of scientific excavation, clandestine or accidental digging or exploration on land or under water. For the purposes of statistical reporting number 9705.00.0080, “Ethnographic pieces”, which may also be called “ethnological pieces” are objects that are the product of a tribal or nonindustrial society and are important to the cultural heritage of a people because of their distinctive characteristics, comparative rarity or their contribution to the knowledge of the origins, development or history of that people. See Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Informed Compliance Publication on “Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces, Antiques, and Other Cultural Property”.
For statistical reporting of merchandise provided for in subheading 9705.00.00, collections made up of articles of more than one type of cultural property, i.e., zoological, biological, paleontological, archaeological, anatomical, etc., shall be reported by their separate components in the appropriate statistical reference numbers, as if separately entered.
Besides the former differentiation of gold and other, “Numismatic (collector’s) coins” are now separated by age as “250 years or more in age” and “other”. “Numismatic (collector’s) coins” are also now differentiated from coins that are “archaeological pieces.”
Note: The Committee for Cultural Policy provides this website solely for informational purposes. Nothing herein is intended to constitute legal advice.
CCP Staff - July 6, 2018

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People -- and politics -- threaten Kano's ancient walls

KANO (AFP).- Young boys scramble up the remains of a crumbling section of the ancient city wall in the Kofar Na'isa area of Kano, in northern Nigeria.
"This wall may not survive the rainy season," warned Falalu Musa, a local resident.
"It will soon join the others," he added, pointing to mounds of red earth lying nearby.
Houses and commercial buildings have sprung up on other demolished sections or been turned into dumping grounds for rubbish, litter and sewage from the ever more crowded city.
Elsewhere, excavators dig into the fortifications for the red iron- and aluminium-rich rock laterite, which is loaded onto donkeys and taken away for use in construction and renovation.
What remains of the weakened walls that once stretched 14 kilometres (nine miles) around the city is then prone to crumble at the foundations and collapse when the rains come.
The historic walls are under threat as never before from a combination of an exploding population that has put pressure on land and housing, as well as local politics.
"If you look at the city wall generally, almost 80 percent of it has been destroyed," the curator of the Gidan Makama Museum in Kano, Mustapha Bachaka, told AFP.
The walls no longer mark the city limits.
"There is a lot of encroachment," he added.
Now, those wanting to protect the city's unique heritage are appealing for fresh funding to shore up the ancient defences before it is too late.
'Magnificent work'
The mud walls date back to the 11th century and have come to define Kano as an ancient city state, attracting archaeologists' attention and tourists from across the world.
Local archives record that in their original state the walls were 15 metres (50 feet) high and 12 metres thick at the base, with a broad rampart walk.
Surrounding the wall were added trenches several metres deep to further deter would-be invaders, while access was controlled by 13 large entrance gates. Two more have since been added.
"It was a magnificent work of military engineering, which captivated the British when they conquered Kano in 1903," said Aliyu Abdu, from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
Despite their shared culture, language and tradition, rivalry, warfare and conquest were the norm in pre-colonial Hausa states that now make up most of northern Nigeria.
But the city, now home to most of the estimated 13 million people living in Kano state, survived and developed into an important centre for Islamic scholarship, industry and a trading hub for the wider region.
"Wars were everywhere in Hausaland, just for territorial expansion. The city wall provided protection against invasion," Bachaka said.
"Without these walls there would have been no Kano by now."
Funding shortfall
Abdu blamed the Kano state government as "the main culprit" for the degradation of the city walls.
"The government is giving out land around the city wall to political supporters to compensate them for their support," he said.
That has robbed them of the moral authority to punish anyone who encroaches themselves. No one from the government responded to requests for comment.
But the situation demonstrates the difficulties in protecting sites of historic and national interest.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments took over protection of the walls from the Emir of Kano, the spiritual leader who is revered across the Muslim-majority north.
In 2007, the commission submitted a bid to have the walls, the emir's palace and other places of interest declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But little or no progress has been made in the last 10 years.
Experts fear that securing global protection status is unlikely if they are unable to save the walls from further damage.
"It is an irony that while we are making efforts to put Kano walls on the World Heritage map, people have turned them into pit latrines," Bachaka said.
Those keen to preserve the walls for generations to come say the widespread damage can be salvaged if money is found to fund the work.
The only work carried out in recent years was thanks to a 58,000 euro ($68,000) grant from the German government.
In the meantime, the Kano museum has set up a monitoring team to patrol the remaining walls to stop encroachment.
"This is all we can do in the interim," said the commission's Abdu.
"Despite the challenges, it will not be a lost battle."
© Agence France-Presse