I’m not a fan of royalty, but it does seem significant that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain may be dying. She took the throne on February 6, 1952 and is the “longest reigning monarch in world history.” She is 96 years old. The queen is in Scotland and she did not return to London for the appointment of the new Prime Minister Liz Truss. Her family members are either with her at Balmoral Castle or on their way there.
UPDATE: Queen Elizabeth II has died.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VfxpXro22W
Queen Elizabeth II is under medical care at Balmoral Castle after doctors became concerned about her health, Buckingham Palace said Thursday. Her family is traveling to Scotland to be by her side.
“Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral,” the palace statement said.
All of the queen’s children, including her heir, Prince Charles, were either at her bedside or en route. The others are Edward, Andrew and Anne, who was already in Scotland for some events there this week.
Prince Harry and Meghan are en route to Balmoral, a spokesperson for the couple said. Prince William was also on his way to Balmoral. His wife, Catherine, remained in Windsor as their children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, are on their first full day at their new school, Kensington Palace said.
The statement comes a day after Buckingham Palace said Wednesday that the queen, who is 96, had canceled a virtual meeting with the Privy Council on doctor’s advice to rest.
The statements may have been vague on details, but the fact that they were issued at all speaks volumes. The palace typically provides minimal information about the queen’s health.
Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw died Wednesday of pneumonia unrelated to Covid-19, Shaw’s family announced in a statement Thursday. Shaw was 82.
Shaw was CNN’s first chief anchor and was with the network when it launched on June 1, 1980. He retired from CNN after more than 20 years on February 28, 2001.
During his storied career, Shaw reported on some of the biggest stories of that time — including the student revolt in Tiananmen Square in May 1989, the First Gulf war live from Baghdad in 1991, and the 2000 presidential election.
“CNN’s beloved anchor and colleague, Bernard Shaw, passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Bernie was a CNN original and was our Washington Anchor when we launched on June 1st, 1980,” Chris Licht, CNN.
Chairman and CEO, said in a statement Thursday. “He was our lead anchor for the next twenty years from anchoring coverage of presidential elections to his iconic coverage of the First Gulf War live from Baghdad in 1991. Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family providing our viewers with context about historic events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go out to his wife Linda and his children.”
Anne Garrels, longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, died on Wednesday of lung cancer. She was 71 years old.
At NPR, Garrels was known as a passionate reporter willing to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice if the story required it. She was also a warm and generous friend to many.
When she arrived at NPR in 1988, she already had a lot of experience under her belt — including 10 years in television news at ABC, where she was bureau chief in both Moscow and Central America.
Garrels made a strong impression on NPR’s Deborah Amos. “She was this glamorous television reporter who came here,” she said. “She didn’t dress like the rest of us in the beginning. And she’d has this long and remarkable career before she landed here … She was always braver than me, and I always understood that she was braver than me.”
That bravery led Garrels into many war zones. And when it came to covering a war, she was there at the beginning, in the middle of the battle, and at the peace table. She was the kind of reporter who would drive alone across a war zone if that’s what it took to get the story.
Read more at NPR.
This morning Steve Bannon surrendered to prosecutors in New York on state charges similar to the federal ones for which Trump pardoned him.
Stephen K. Bannon has been charged with money laundering, fraud and conspiracy in connection with the “We Build the Wall” fundraising scheme, for which he received a federal pardon during Donald Trump’s final days in the White House.
Bannon, 68, was convicted this summer of contempt of Congress and is awaiting sentencing in that matter. He surrendered to prosecutors in Manhattan Thursday morning on the charges outlined in a newly unsealed state indictment and is expected to appear in court in the afternoon.
Arriving at the Manhattan district attorney’s office in a black SUV shortly after 9 a.m., Bannon stopped to shake hands with his attorneys before speaking briefly to a horde of journalists. In his remarks, he echoed past declarations that he was being prosecuted for political reasons, including in an effort to influence November’s upcoming midterm congressional elections.
“This is all about 60 days until the day!” he said, before being escorted into the building.
Bannon’s case will be handled in New York Supreme Court by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In a statement issued after the indictment was unsealed, Bragg said Bannon “acted as the architect of a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country – including hundreds of Manhattan residents.”
Bannon “took advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated,” James said in her own prepared remarks. “Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends.”
In August 2020, Bannon was yanked off a yacht by law enforcement agents to face his indictment in the federal “We Build the Wall” case. In that indictment, he was accused of personally pocketing $1 million from “We Build the Wall,” a Trump-aligned cash collection drive that Bannon helped to orchestrate starting in December 2018.
I was hoping for news from the DOJ on whether they will appeal the insane decision by Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to examine the government documents that Trump stole. But the only news I’ve seen is that they are proposing to unseal more of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, perhaps to use in their response to Judge Cannon.
NEW: the DoJ is investigating Trump’s Save America PAC. It’s of note that this PAC raised money off the big lie, and it’s using it to pay for several 1/6 witness lawyers – including Cassidy Hutchinson’s first lawyer. https://t.co/xAi8iAGn1h
A federal grand jury investigating the activities leading up the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the push by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the result of the 2020 election has expanded its probe to include seeking information about Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, sources with direct knowledge tell ABC News.
The interest in the fundraising arm came to light as part of grand jury subpoenas seeking documents, records and testimony from potential witnesses, the sources said.
The subpoenas, sent to several individuals in recent weeks, are specifically seeking to understand the timeline of Save America’s formation, the organization’s fundraising activities, and how money is both received and spent by the Trump-aligned PAC….
Trump and his allies have consistently pushed supporters to donate to the PAC, often using false claims about the 2020 election and soliciting donations to rebuke the multiple investigations into the former president, his business dealings, and his actions on Jan. 6.
After the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month, Save America PAC sent out a fundraising email in which Trump urged supporters to “rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”
A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.
According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events….
The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Another Trump aide was subpoenaed in connection with planning for the January 6 coup attempt.
Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to a personal aide to former President Donald J. Trump as part of the investigation into the events leading up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, people familiar with the matter said.
The move suggests that investigators have expanded the pool of people from whom they are seeking information in the wide-ranging criminal investigation into efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and that agents are reaching into the former president’s direct orbit.
This week, F.B.I. agents in Florida tried to approach William S. Russell, a 31-year-old aide to Mr. Trump who served as a special assistant and the deputy director of presidential advance operations in the White House. He continued to work for Mr. Trump as a personal aide after he left office, one of a small group of officials who did so.
It was not immediately clear what the F.B.I. agents wanted from Mr. Russell; people familiar with the Justice Department’s inquiry said he has not yet been interviewed. But a person with knowledge of the F.B.I.’s interest said that it related to the grand jury investigation into events that led to the Capitol attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters.
That investigation is said to have focused extensively on the attempts by some of Mr. Trump’s advisers and lawyers to create slates of fake electors from swing states. Mr. Trump and his allies wanted Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay certification of the Electoral College results during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to allow consideration of Trump electors whose votes could have changed the outcome.
EXCLUSIVE: Trump told his White House team he needed to protect Russiagate documents … which he called his 'evidence' of a deep state plot against him.https://t.co/MBHBkGWFcB
IN HIS FINAL days in the White House, Donald Trump told top advisers he needed to preserve certain Russia-related documents to keep his enemies from destroying them.
The documents related to the federal investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with Trump’s campaign. At the end of his presidency, Trump and his team pushed to declassify these so-called “Russiagate” documents, believing they would expose a “Deep State” plot against him.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation and another source briefed on the matter, Trump told several people working in and outside the White House that he was concerned Joe Biden’s incoming administration — or the “Deep State” — would supposedly “shred,” bury, or destroy “the evidence” that Trump was somehow wronged.
Trump’s concern about preserving the Russia-related material is newly relevant after an FBI search turned up a trove of government documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Since the search, Trump has refused to say which classified government papers and top-secret documents he had at Mar-a-Lago and what was the FBI had seized. (Trump considers the documents “mine” and has directed his lawyers to make that widely-panned argument in court.) The feds have publicly released little about the search and its results.It’s unclear if any of the materials in Trump’s document trove are related to Russia or the election interference investigation. A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
I have a few more articles to share, but I’ll do it in the comment thread. Sorry this post is so late; my internet keeps going in and out.
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According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, 19 current members of Congress reported holdings in Goldman Sachs during 2010. Whether by coincidence or not, most of these 19 Goldman Sachs investors in Congress are more powerful or more wealthy than their peers, or both.
Nine of them sit on either the most powerful committee in their chamber or committees charged with regulating the Wall Street giant. Moreover, seven of them are among the 25 wealthiest members of their respective chambers, according to the Center’s research.
And of the six lawmakers who fall into neither category, two are the most influential Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Altogether, the 19 had at least $480,000 and as much as $1.1 million invested in Goldman Sachs in 2010, the most recent year personal finance data are available. That’s an average of about $812,900 for these 19 lawmakers’ holdings combined.
Lawmakers are only required to report their personal assets and liabilities in broad ranges, meaning it’s impossible to know the precise value of these holdings. The Center uses the minimum and maximum values listed on the filings to calculate an average value for each asset and liability.
But these financial interests are not a one-way street: Goldman Sachs employees and its political action committee have contributed about $124,000, combined, to a dozen of the lawmakers who reported holdings in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research. This includes all money given during the 2010 election cycle and thus far in 2011.
So, not only do Boehner and Cantor get donations from Goldman Sachs, they are also stock holders. No wonder they want to get rid of the Volcker Rule. Looks like Paul Ryan is an investor also.
In the leadership category are names such as Boehner and Cantor, each of whom has an average $32,500 invested in Goldman.
Goldman Sachs’ employees, meanwhile, have also contributed heavily to Boehner and Cantor.
Boehner has received $29,500, and Cantor $48,000, from them since 2009, according to the Center’s research.
Other Goldman investors with this kind of power include two members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the debt supercommittee.
The first, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), reported $1,177 invested in Goldman in 2010, and, as minority whip, is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate.
And not only is Kyl a member of the supercommittee and party leadership, he also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which regulates Goldman Sachs and its peers on Wall Street.
Another one of Kyl’s colleagues on the supercommittee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is also a Goldman investor.
Upton had an average of $8,000 invested in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is another influential Goldman shareholder in Congress.
Ryan reported an average of $8,000 invested in Goldman and has received $5,800 from the company’s employees so far this year after receiving $10,000 from them during the 2010 cycle, according to the Center’s research.
One of Goldman Sachs’ most valuable congressional investors is Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), whose average of $550,000 in investments in the company is far and away the most in Congress.
The FSA opened its investigation into the bank in April after the SEC charged Goldman with misleading investors in a complex mortgage-backed security known as Abacus. The SEC claimed that Goldman had failed to disclose that a hedge fund that was betting against the security had selected some of the mortgage loans included in the portfolio, costing investors as much as $1bn.
Goldman, the world’s best-known investment bank, has seen its reputation tarnished in recent months as questions continue to swirl over whether it favoured the interests of some clients at the expense of others during the financial crisis.
The bank’s business model is also under pressure amid volatile markets and regulatory reforms that have forced it to shut some of its highly profitable “proprietary” trading operations.
No wonder we don’t see perp walks. These folks have skin in GS. We are so f’d.
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According to an investigation by Steve Croft of CBS’ 60 Minutes, a number of stories in Greg Mortenson’s bestselling book may be false or exaggerated.
The heart of Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” is the story of a failed attempt in 1993 to climb the world’s second-highest peak, K2.
On the way down, Mortenson says, he got lost and stumbled, alone and exhausted, into a remote mountain village in Pakistan named Korphe.
According to the book’s narrative, the villagers cared for him and he promised to return to build a school there. In a remote village in Pakistan, “60 Minutes” found Mortenson’s porters on that failed expedition. They say Mortenson didn’t get lost and stumble into Korphe on his way down from K2. He visited the village a year later.
That’s what famous author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer, a former donor to Mortenson’s charity, says he found out, too. “It’s a beautiful story. And it’s a lie,” says Krakauer. “I have spoken to one of his [Mortenson’s] companions, a close friend, who hiked out from K2 with him and this companion said, ‘Greg never heard of Korphe until a year later,'” Krakauer tells Kroft.
Mortenson also claimed to have been kidnapped and held for eight days by the Taliban in Waziristan. In his new book, Stones into Schools, he included a photo of three of his supposed captors.
“60 Minutes” located three of the men in the photo, all of whom denied that they were Taliban and denied that they had kidnapped Mortenson. One the men in the photo is the research director of a respected think tank in Islamabad, Mansur Khan Mahsud.
He tells Steve Kroft that he and the others in the photo were Mortenson’s protectors, not his kidnappers. “We treated him as a guest and took care of him,” says Mahsud. “This is totally false and he is lying.”
Kroft also talked to Daniel Borochoff of the American Institute of Philanthropy, who says that Mortenson’s foundation, The Central Asia Institute, spends most of the donations to promote his books. Jon Krakauer told 60 Minutes that he stopped donating after he learned from a former member of the Central Asia Institute board that that Mortenson uses the Central Asia Institute “as his private ATM machine.”
Kroft says he visited schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan that Mortenson supposedly has built and funded. He found that “some of them were empty, built by somebody else, or simply didn’t exist at all. The principals of a number of schools said they had not received any money from CAI in years.” But Mortenson blamed a “disgruntled employee” for not paying teachers and didn’t respond to the other accusations.
Mortenson has ignored CBS’s requests for an interview, but he defended himself in his hometown newspaper, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
“I hope these allegations and attacks, the people doing these things, know this could be devastating for tens of thousands of girls, for the sake of Nielsen ratings and Emmys,” Mortenson told the Chronicle in a phone interview Friday.
“I stand by the information conveyed in my book,” he wrote in a statement, “and by the value of CAI’s work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students.”
In the statement, Mortenson implied that the central story of his book was falsified.
The book told how Mortenson got lost on a 1993 climb of K2, the world’s second highest peak, and then stumbled exhausted into the remote village of Korphe, was cared for by villagers, and promised to return and build a school.
“I stand by the story of ‘Three Cups of Tea,'” Mortenson said in a written statement, but added, “The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993….What was done was to simplify the sequence of events for the purposes of telling what was, at times, a complicated story.”
According to records examined by the paper, the CAI pays Mortenson $180,000 per year. In 2009, the charity took in $14 million, of which it spent “$4.6 million on travel, guest lectures and educating Americans about the plight of Pakistani and Afghan children.” It spent $3.6 million on “schools overseas.” Mortenson told the Daily News that “as of now,” he will be paying his own travel expenses.
I haven’t read Mortenson’s books, mainly because they always sounded a little too good to be true to me. A blogger at Discover Magazine, Razib Kahn, wrote something similar based on actual knowledge:
I’ve been a bit skeptical of the details of Greg Mortenson’s story in his book Three Cups of Tea for years. It seems be to so predicated on contemporary biases about the basic universal goodness of human nature. I hoped everything was true, but it seemed too good to be true. Other people who worked in Afghan NGOs tended to tell a more gritty and gray story, so either Mortenson was embellishing, or he had a special magic touch. Since I don’t believe in magic touches, I wondered as to the nature of embellishment.
Kahn still says he’s not going to judge until he learns more.
A quick Google search shows that Mortenson has spoken at numerous colleges and universities as well as high schools and middle schools around the country. If any of this is true, a lot of young people are going to be very disillusioned.
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According to the politicians running things in our country these days, paying fair salaries to teachers, social workers, and firefighters is irresponsible because it runs up the deficit. Paying Social Security to old folks is driving the country into bankruptcy. But when the feds pour millions of dollars down the drain because they get duped by a con man, that’s a national security secret.
For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dealings with Washington stay secret.
In fact, the Justice Department has argued in court that if they had to reveal the embarrassing details of what happened, it would damage national security. That could be true if revealing how dumb our public officials and “intelligence” experts are puts our country in danger….
Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming that software he had developed could help stop Al Qaeda’s next attack on the United States. But the technology appears to have been a hoax, and a series of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, repeatedly missed the warning signs, the records and interviews show.
Get this, Montgomery convinced U.S. intelligence wizards that he had designed some software that could detect secret Al Qaeda messages concealed in Al Jazeera broadcasts! ROFLOL! That’s reminds me of the days when religious nuts used to claim they could detect Satanic messages in rock ‘n’ roll music by playing it backwards.
Montgomery also told the CIA that his magic software could “identify terrorists from Predator drone videos” and pick up sounds from submarines. And the CIA geniuses bought Montgomery’s tale hook, line, and sinker. As a result of the government’s involvement with this grifter, there was
…an international false alarm that led President George W. Bush to order airliners to turn around over the Atlantic Ocean in 2003.
The software led to dead ends in connection with a 2006 terrorism plot in Britain. And they were used by counterterrorism officials to respond to a bogus Somali terrorism plot on the day of President Obama’s inauguration, according to previously undisclosed documents.
OMG, my sides are splitting from laughter! And on top of all that,
C.I.A. officials…came to believe that Mr. Montgomery’s technology was fake in 2003, but their conclusions apparently were not relayed to the military’s Special Operations Command, which had contracted with his firm. In 2006, F.B.I. investigators were told by co-workers of Mr. Montgomery that he had repeatedly doctored test results at presentations for government officials. But Mr. Montgomery still landed more business.
In 2009, the Air Force approved a $3 million deal for his technology, even though a contracting officer acknowledged that other agencies were skeptical about the software, according to e-mails obtained by The New York Times.
Angelo Mozilo, Fraudster
Hold onto your wallets, I think President Obama is going to have to ask us “small people” to “sacrifice” some more to make up the difference. Meanwhile, Mr. Montgomery will very likely get away with his fraud, just like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo, formerly of Countrywide, and every other fraudster and bankster who comes down the pike. Don’t worry, though, “sacrifice” is good for you, your parents, and your children and grandchildren.
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Somebody must have a lot of time on their hands to write a song called “Hey, Paul Krugman” but still, if the angsty, artsy fartsy creative class that foisted this POTUS on us is finally waking up, then Twitter me when the Revolution comes. I’ve even read the orange cheeto place and seems even a few of them are beginning to see the writing on their blackberries.
Why am I so vehement about this? Because I’m afraid that this will be the administration’s only shot — that if the first bank plan is an abject failure, it won’t have the political capital for a second. So it’s just horrifying that Obama — and yes, the buck stops there — has decided to base his financial plan on the fantasy that a bit of financial hocus-pocus will turn the clock back to 2006.
I don’t know if you’ve ever sat in an economics class, but most of you who have will attest that few economics professors are what you would call the dramatic, excitable types. However, I’ve seen more animation out of them recently than I’ve seen in all recent Marvel Comic Books.
Consider that President-elect Obama voted FOR the horrible $700 billion bailout plan that accomplished less than zero in fixing the global economy while only transferring wealth from people that were struggling the most to the unethical financial executives that created this problem. These were my exact words in October, 2008, verbatim, about the eventual effect of the bailout plan: “Don’t believe the media spin. This will fix nothing. Even if and when the government overpays Wall Street and US banks by 300%, 500% and 1000% for their toxic assets, this temporarily recapitalizes these financial institutions but only creates A MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM for the future.” If I understood why the bailout plan would most definitely fail, as I blogged here, and the next President of the United States could not, that is a scary thought. On the other hand, if President Obama understood that the bailout plan would likely accomplish nothing but the transference of wealth from hard-working citizens to corrupt financial executives and still voted for the bill, then this action needs no further discourse.
Why are the unsecured creditors of banks and quasi-banks like AIG deemed too precious to take a hit or a haircut since Lehman Brothers went down? From the point of view of fairness they ought to have their heads on the block. It was they who funded the excessive leverage and risk-taking of banks and shadow banks. From the point of view of minimizing moral hazard – incentives for future excessive risk taking – it is essential that they pay the price for their past bad lending and investment decisions. We are playing a repeated game. Reputation matters.
Three arguments for saving the unworthy hides of the unsecured creditors are commonly presented:
Unless the unsecured creditors are made whole, there will be a systemic financial collapse, with dramatic adverse consequences for the real economy.
If the unsecured creditors are forced to take a hit, no-one will ever lend to banks again or buy their debt.
The ultimate ‘beneficial owners’ of these securities – notably pensioners drawing their pensions from pension funds heavily invested in unsecured bank debt and owners of insurance policies with insurance companies holding unsecured bank debt – would suffer a large decline in financial wealth and disposable income that would cause them to cut back sharply on consumption. The resulting decline in aggregate demand would deepen and prolong the recession.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.