By Cate Cadell and Tony Munroe BEIJING (Reuters) - With hours left in Donald Trump's presidency, China's foreign ministry took aim at its chief U.S. antagonist, "lying and cheating" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and said it would seek cooperation with the incoming administration of Joe Biden. Pompeo, who has unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, delivered his own parting shot on Tuesday when he announced that the Trump administration had determined that China has committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by repressing Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. "...
A rare Botticelli painting depicting Jesus Christ sold at auction for more than $45 million Thursday at Sotheby's in New York, a year after a record $92 million was paid for a work by the Italian Renaissance master.
While the majority of works by Sandro Botticelli, such as the famous "Allegory of Spring" or "Birth of Venus", are on display at the Uffizi gallery in Florence, pieces circulating in private collections are much rarer.
After a seven-minute bidding battle among three buyers via phone, the painting "The Man of Sorrows" sold for $39.3 million, plus fees and commissions, for a total of $45.41 million.
The price was above Sotheby's estimate of $40 million, and more than half the record set in 2021 for the Botticelli painting "Young Man Holding a Roundel," which sold for $92.2 million.
"The Man of Sorrows" is a portrait of Jesus against a black background. He is staring intently, a crown of thorns on his head and surrounded by angels. His hands are bound by ropes and scarred.
Art experts say the painting dates back to the early 1500s, at the end of Botticelli's life (1445-1510). In addition to his works at the Uffizi, the artist's frescoes decorate the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
The well-preserved painting had remained with the same family of art collectors, who split their time between Britain and Italy, since the mid-19th century, before being sold to its current owners in 1963 at auction for 10,000 pounds at Sotheby's.
Auction houses benefited from a dynamic art market in 2021, after the pandemic limited supply in 2020. Sotheby's reached its highest sales figure in history -- $7.3 billion -- in 2021.
Thursday's sale, which was devoted to Old Masters, was held in the morning in New York both in person and online, to allow European and Asian buyers to participate.
The Botticelli painting went on a world tour before being displayed in New York. Sotheby's also created a virtual chapel to show off the masterpiece.
© 2022 AFP
The National Butterfly Center is closing for the weekend as far-right conservatives gather nearby for a rally.
In a message shared on social media, the center said the closure was "due to credible threats we have received from a former state official, regarding activities planned by the We Stand America event, taking place in McAllen, TX, this weekend. This MAGA, mid-term election rally, hosted by Trump's former National Security Advisor and pardoned-criminal, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, is the national, kick-off event for what they are calling their 'Take Action Tour.'"
Speakers include Thomas Homan, Trump's acting director Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Mark Morgan, Trump's acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. The spokesperson for the John Birch Society, Heather Hobbs is also expected to speak.
"We made the difficult decision to close the center when [executive director Marianna Treviño Wright] was advised by the former state official (whose daughter is the Hidalgo County GOP chairperson) that she should be armed at all times or out of town this weekend, because the We Stand America events include a 'Trump Train'-style, 'caravan to the border.' He said the National Butterfly Center would likely be a stop on this "take action tour," and she and the center are targets," the center said.
"This 3-day, fundraising event organized by Trump operatives is just too similar to the 3-day Wall-o-thon organized by Bannon, Kolfage and Tommy Fisher, in celebration of their first, private border wall project (prior to their Mission project,) that likely incited the Wal-mart Massacre in El Paso," the National Butterfly Center wrote. "We simply cannot risk the safety and lives of our staff and visitors during this dangerous time."
The center said it would pay their staff what they would have made working "because this disruption to our operations caused by the disparagement of our organization should not result in their suffering the loss of wages that feed their families and pay their bills."
URGENT NOTICE! National Butterfly Center CLOSED Jan 28-30 due to credible threats. Please read more & SHARE here: https://mailchi.mp/nationalbutterflycenter/v4jla7bmp9-5505325?e=15f8f8f2a5\u00a0\u2026— National Butterfly (@National Butterfly) 1643297631
Vice News reported that the Wisconsin Republican Party is in full meltdown mode, but they have no one to blame but themselves.
The nationwide conversation about Trumpism conflicting with the Republican Party is the source of a battle that threatens to destroy the Wisconsin GOP from the inside out, according to the report.
"Accusations of slander. Leaked documents. Fake news pushed by a right-wing conspiracy website. Staff forcibly reassigned. Angry warnings from former President Donald Trump," Vice explained.
The fight comes down to the so-called "big lie," and those who don't support the false conspiracy that Trump won in 2020 aren't welcome anymore.
The more traditional Republican base and even reality-based conservatives don't meet litmus tests for Trump loyalists or the ex-president himself. It shows what Wisconsin could face if they opt to embrace Trumpism fully and take over the legislature.
“The conspiracy theorists have taken over the party,” said Republican state Sen. Kathy Bernier. She became a target of Trump's this week after proposing a bill to legalize dropboxes for ballots. Making it easier to drop a ballot or even access a polling place is being fought by Trump followers under the guise of "voter fraud."
When the GOP's election reform bill was leaked, conspiracy websites falsely claimed who was behind it and even what was in it. Trump was aghast, firing off one of his press releases because he's been banned from social media.
"Some RINO Republicans in Wisconsin are working hand in hand with others to have drop boxes again placed in Wisconsin. These fools are playing right into the Democrats’ hands. Drop boxes are only good for Democrats and cheating, not good for Republicans," Trump ranted.
Then things got worse. Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Timothy Ramthun railed against falsely Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, saying he was working with Hillary Clinton. Vos removed the one staffer that Ramthun had in his office.
The fine line between infuriating Trump and flying below the radar was finally breached despite months-long efforts to placate to his base without caving into QAnon conspiracy theories. Trump's rage meant they backed off, which means if the GOP gains power in the state they'll likely swing toward the extreme on voting rights.
“All of this is just finally coming to a head,” said Wisconsin Trump-publican Matt Batzel. “There’s a disconnect between elected officials and the base.”
Meanwhile, Bernier was floored that someone shared the draft bill with a conservative conspiracy site.
“For one of our colleagues to share that with a Gateway Pundit is despicable. That is wrong. It is where you cannot trust the people in your own party,” Bernier lamented.
It appears this is the new GOP in the state, however.