Hobby Lobby's President Steve Green was part of a conspiracy to steal a lot of irreplaceable antiquities. The stolen artifacts have now been returned to the Iraqi Government. Mr. Green is suffering as a devout Christian does, before his God and no one else.
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Thousands of ancient clay tablets, seals and other Iraqi archaeological objects that were smuggled into the U.S. and shipped to the head of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby were returned to the Iraqi government on Wednesday.
The Oklahoma City-based private company, whose devout Christian owners won a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling exempting them from providing certain contraceptive coverage for employees, agreed to pay a $3 million fine last year to settle a lawsuit over the company's role in the smuggling of the artifacts, which authorities say were looted from the war-torn country.
Prosecutors say Steve Green, the president of the $4 billion company, agreed to buy more than 5,500 artifacts in 2010 for $1.6 million in a scheme that involved a number of middlemen and the use of phony or misleading invoices, shipping labels and other paperwork to slip the artifacts past U.S. customs agents.
If you're not up to speed on Hobby Lobby's sketchy investments in illegal artifacts from Iraq, here's the lowdown. Read the rest
According to a lawsuit (PDF) filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, craft retailer Hobby Lobby illegally imported thousands of Iraqi artifacts, intentionally mislabeled them and lied about their origins.
Though a consultant to the company estimated the artifacts' value at $11,820,000, an invoice shows Hobby Lobby paid $1,600,000 for them in deals with the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Shipment of these artifacts, which were labeled “ceramics” and “samples,” totaled more than $2,000 and thus require formal entry. Hobby Lobby continued with the deal even though an expert advised the company the artifacts were likely looted and carried "considerable risk." Hobby Lobby did not attempt verify the legal custodian or origin of 5,513 of the artifacts at any point, according to the suit.
NBC News reports that Hobby Lobby has agreed to return its stolen loot.
In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" that he chalked up to inexperience.
"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled," Green said, adding that the firm fully cooperated with the investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Hobby Lobby markets itself as a Christian company and famously took the government to court to secure a religious exemption from providing insurance plans that covered birth control.
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UC Berkeley Political Scientist Wendy Brown came to the London School of Economics last week to discuss her book Undoing the Demos, and her lecture (MP3) is literally the best discussion of how and why human rights are being taken away from humans and given to corporations. Read the rest
The controversial Hobby Lobby decision elevated religious belief over legal compliance -- this may be good news for Quakers, Amish, Mennonites and others who've historically faced punishing reprisals for withholding some of their tax to avoid funding the military. Read the rest
You knew this was coming, right? Read the rest
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether a corporation can have religious beliefs. Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the science of birth control, and how it might inform the debate.