From the daily archives: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Connecticut woman who seeks the return of a pair of 500-year-old paintings looted by the Nazis during World War II, kept for a time in the estate of Nazi leader Hermann Göring and purchased 40 years ago by the Norton Simon Museum of Art.

Brown’s friend of the court brief backs Marei Von Saher, who is suing the Pasadena museum over “Adam and Eve.” The two panels painted by the 16th century German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder are evocative of original sin, according to the museum’s website.

The works were confiscated by Nazi soldiers from an Amsterdam gallery owned by a relative of Von Saher’s during the war. From there, the panels were moved to Göring’s country estate near Berlin until May 1945, when they were discovered by American troops. The following year, they were returned to Amsterdam. From there, the artwork’s trail grows murkier, leading through Russia and to a sale in 1971 to the Norton Simon Museum, where the panels are on display on the main floor. The paintings were appraised last year at $24 million. A depiction similar to the “Eve” panel appears each week at the beginning of the TV show “Desperate Housewives.”

“It is only right that California be allowed to give victims additional time to untangle the historical record in cases linked to the darkest chapter in European history,” Brown said. “Despite the passage of so many years, justice will be served by finally permitting this matter to be heard in a court of law.”

At the end of World War II, American forces discovered hundreds of thousands of Nazi-looted artworks stashed in castles, banks, salt mines and caves. Most of those treasures were returned to their rightful owners following the war, but other precious works stolen by the Nazis eluded efforts to track them down. In recent years, a number of prominent museums have discovered their collections include art stolen during the war.

Brown’s amicus brief, submitted in support of Von Saher’s petition for a hearing before the Supreme Court, argues that California has the right to extend the statute of limitations for filing Nazi-era claims beyond the usual three-year limit. Last year, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the state extension would interfere with the federal government’s power to conduct foreign policy.

But, Brown argues, there is no conflict between federal authority and the state’s regulation of museums and galleries within its jurisdiction. That is “a traditional state responsibility,” Brown said. Von Saher’s claim doesn’t seek to “redress the wartime wrongs of foreign governments,” he said. It is made against a museum that no one alleges has any ties to “the Holocaust, the Nazi regime, or the conduct of World War II.”

A copy of the brief is attached. Images of the two paintings can be found at:


Padres Pitching Project Players To Peak Of N.L. West

Bob Hurst
Hitting a ball is one of the hardest things to do in baseball, and a player who gets a hit three times out of ten is determined a success. But throwing a baseball is usually automatic, especially when a catcher throws a ball back to the pitcher.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia has had a different experience however, and it’s why he’s still playing at Triple-A Oklahoma City instead of in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers.
Saltalamacchia, a catcher, has had problems throwing the ball back to the pitcher. In a game last week, he threw a dozen wild balls back to the mound, with some sailing into the outfield.
But Saltalamacchia tried a new routine in a game on Monday, and was able to throw each ball back to pitcher Michael Kirkman, without error.
“I’m patting myself on the back, but it’s a long road,” Saltalamacchia said after the Redhawks 3-2 loss at home to Fresno. “It’s not like I’m healed and fixed, not that there was anything major wrong. But it’s something I’ve got to work on and continue to work on, just like behind the plate and hitting. It’s just part of my routine.”
A sports psychologist has tried to help Saltalamacchia. Coaches are trying to get him to use a higher arm angle instead of a lower release point. Saltalamacchia tried a different grip on the ball in Monday’s game, along with tapping the ball twice against his glove before throwing it back to the pitcher.
“It was probably the best game he’s had going back to the pitcher since he’s been here,” Oklahoma City manager Bobby Jones said. Every throw was right on the money.”
Saltalamacchia had surgery on his right shoulder last season after losing feeling in his arm. He was the Opening Day catcher for the Rangers last month, but was sent to Oklahoma City on a rehabilitation assignment. Although he’s hitting .329 with the Redhawks, Saltalamacchia hasn’t returned to the majors, where he is a career .253 hitter in parts of three seasons with Atlanta and Texas.
“I want to see how it goes and just do it day-by-day,” Saltalamacchia said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I’m ready, but I have to prove it.”
Dodgers back on track: After a slow start, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be headed in the right direction.
The Dodgers weekend sweep over the San Diego Padres and win on Monday over Houston gave them an eight-game winning streak.
“This was a big series,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the games against the Padres. “It’s a big win because we put a streak together ourselves where we’ve played good baseball and had good pitching. That’s where we were fumbling around early on trying to get that good feel. Over the last 10 days we’ve played a lot better.”
The pitching has been a key point in the Dodgers’ turnaround, recording a 1.71 ERA during a seven-game stretch. Chad Billingsley combined with two relievers in allowing four hits in a 1-0 at San Diego on Sunday.
In Saturday’s 4-1 win, Clayton Kershaw held the Padres to three hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. It was his second straight effective start after giving up just two hits in eight innings in a 2-0 win against Colorado on May 9.
It was a perfect road trip for Los Angeles, which went 3-0 at Arizona before playing the Padres. The Dodgers went 13-3 through Monday’s game after an 8-14 record left them six games behind in the NL West on April 29.
But success doesn’t come easy, as the Dodgers found out on Saturday. Andre Ethier broke his right little finger during batting practice on Saturday. Starting this week, the right-fielder led the NL in batting with a .392 average; was tied for the home run lead with 11 and topped the league with 38 RBIs.
“It stinks, honestly,” said Kershaw after Saturday’s game. “He’s the best player in the game right now. The best hitter in the game, for sure. He’s going to be sorely missed in our lineup.”
The Dodgers placed Ethier on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, retroactive to May 15.
Los Angeles, 21-17 and two games out of first in the NL West on Tuesday, continues its seven-game homestand this week against San Diego and Detroit.
Quotable: “It’s his team, he can do whatever. That’s OK. He doesn’t understand that. He never played in the big leagues.” — Florida Marlins outfielder Hanley Ramirez on manager Fredi Gonzalez, a day after he was benched for loafing after a ball that he kicked into the corner, allowing two runs to score in a loss to Arizona.

Copyright © 2010  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.


The More Things Change II; Why Can’t We Stop Laughing? Brawley Cuts

I WAS LOOKING THROUGH  OLD ISSUES FOR IDEAS for a column this week and came across one from May, 2008 entitled “The More things change…”
The rest of that, of course, is “the more they stay the same.”
How much has changed in the last two years when it comes to political candidates? Not a whole lot. You still have a few people running again who have been in politics for years. It’s rare when you get a new face. And we wonder why nothing changes. If we keep voting in the same old boys and girls, how can we ever expect anything to change?
Take the District 5 Supervisor’s race. You have Wally Leimgruber going for his fourth term in office being opposed by old political hand Ray Castillo, the former mayor of El Centro. They are being opposed by Steve Vasquez, the former mayor of Brawley.
We have to wonder if political positions are entitlements that change only when the individual in office either dies or retires. Something needs to change at all levels of government. Term limits, perhaps?
At least you’d get a few new faces to run for some of the positions that will be available. The “Old Boys” are beginning to look mighty old and mighty stale. A little bit of fresh blood would go a long way in Imperial County. Maybe the candidates would have something to talk about besides the same old issues.
And the people would actually get a choice instead of supporting those who only support themselves.
I can dream, can’t I?
Why, Why, Why,
Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?
Why do banks charge a fee on ‘insufficient funds’ when they already know there is not enough money?
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars; but have to check when you say the paint is still wet?
Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Whose idea was it to put an ‘S’ in the word ‘lisp’?
If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator
with hopes that something new to eat will have
Why do people keep running over a string a dozen
times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the
vacuum one more chance?
Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?
How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, ‘It’s all right?’
Well, it isn’t all right, so why don’t we say,
‘That really hurt, why don’t you watch  where you’re going?’
Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table, you always  manage to knock something else over?
In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends — if they’re okay,
then it’s you.
A day without a smile is like a day without sunshine!
MORE GLOOM AND DOOM from the Brawley City Council.
Seems the boys on the northend have decided to cut the budget of the Brawley Economic Development Commission in order to retrieve some of the $670,000 they had to send to the state from their RDA funds.
The BEDC will lose $35,000 in city funding. That’s a lot for a small town.
Let’s see. Arnold wants to stimulate the economy, but he’s done it cutting everyone’s budgets. Now Brawley can’t help improve its own situation. In fact, more job cuts might be coming.
When do we get to terminate Arnold? Soon, I hope.


(StatePoint)  Don’t reach for another generic tie or watch when choosing a Father’s Day gift this year. Take a minute to think about what type of dad will be receiving your present. Is he an outdoorsman? Is he a gadget nut? Does he like puttering in the garden?

By considering his interests, it will be easier to make smart buying decisions. It’s about matching the right gift to the right dad.

* Techie Dads: If your dad is always the first to try out new gadgets, he falls into this category. Luckily, he shouldn’t be hard to shop for. If he doesn’t already have an iPad, your search is over. Or consider a gaming system if he’s young at heart. If your budget is lower, try one of the latest e-readers or a new smartphone. Even new headphones will work if your wallet is feeling light.

* Outdoorsy/Sports Dads: Not only is outdoor equipment a great gift, it’s the season for hiking, gardening and enjoying the outdoors. Golf equipment, camping and fishing gear, and GPS systems are great for sporty dads. For gardeners, an electrical shear will ease the task of tending gardens. For a bigger impact, consider a riding mower or tractor.

* Chef Dads: If he can’t be pried from the kitchen, he’s definitely a chef dad. If you have a large budget, consider a new grill, complete with add-ons like a smoker or rotisserie. If you’ve got less to spend, try a new espresso machine or countertop portable grill.

* Fix-It Dads: Bring on the most powerful electric drills, wrenches, nail guns and sanders for this dad. The choices are endless, no matter your budget. Be sure to get safety gear, such as goggles, protective footwear or work gloves.

* New Dads: A digital camera or camcorder will help him capture precious moments. Extra camera features to look for include image stabilization and sharpness in dim lighting. Remember to purchase a memory card with capacity to save all those new memories. Bassinets, carriers, strollers or car seats will also please the new papa.

Once you’ve found the perfect gift, protect it for the long-term. Most warranties that come with products are “limited.” Give dad extra peace of mind by purchasing an extended service plan. Many protect against failures from normal wear and tear, accidental damage, mechanical and electrical breakdowns, and defects in materials and workmanship.

“Today’s electronics, lawn equipment and sports gear can be expensive, and even simple repairs can be costly,” says Jamie Breneman, contributor to The Savvy Shopper blog ( and spokesperson for N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc., an independent administrator of buyer protection services. “With an extended service plan, dad has access to reputable servicers should something go wrong.”

Even the handiest of dads needs help when it comes to repairing a failed product, especially with today’s technology. But it’s not just about repairs. Service plans also offer benefits beyond fixing or replacing failed products. The better ones provide help using products via free support on the phone or online. So whether dad is struggling with setting up or operating your gift, a service plan can help.

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