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American Dream: Expelled Nazis Collected Millions in U.S. Social Security Benefits

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OSIJEK, Croatia (AP) — Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream.

His plastics company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate.

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Akron viaduct, Ohio

Then the Nazi hunters showed up.

In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. Denzinger later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

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Drava River

He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

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Osijek, Croatia

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

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The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.

Like Denzinger, many lied about their Nazi pasts to get into the U.S. following World War II, and eventually became American citizens.

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Among those who benefited:

—armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.

—an SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.

—a Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.

—a German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA’s highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.

Social Security Ad

The AP’s findings are the result of more than two years of interviews, research and analysis of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and other sources.

The Justice Department denied using Social Security payments as a tool for removing Nazi suspects. But records show the U.S. State Department and the Social Security Administration voiced grave concerns over the methods used by the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, the Office of Special Investigations.

State officials derogatorily called the practice “Nazi dumping” and claimed the OSI was bargaining with suspects so they would leave voluntarily. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hong Kong Protest and Social Media: Man Arrested Over Online Messages

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HONG KONG — Gillian Wong reports: A man was arrested on suspicion of posting messages online that urged people to gather and agitate at a protest site, police said Sunday.

“The arrest marks a relatively new tactic in Hong Kong police’s attempts to curb the demonstrations that have paralyzed key sections of the city for weeks.”

The move—one of the first such arrests during three weeks of d”emonstrations here—could potentially chill the protesters’ use of the Internet and social media to mobilize large crowds.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The Hong Kong Police Force said in a statement on its website that a 23-year-old man had been arrested Saturday on suspicion of “accessing a computer with illegal or dishonest intentions” and illegal assembly.

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A preliminary police investigation revealed the man had posted messages on online discussion boards urging others to go to Mong Kok—one of three main protest sites—to “join an illegal assembly, attack police and paralyze subway lines,” the statement said. The man, who has been released on bail, is separately accused of illegal assembly in Mong Kok, the statement said.

The police declined to give further information about the man or say whether he has retained a lawyer. Attempts by The Wall Street Journal to contact the man have been unsuccessful. Read the rest of this entry »


Rare Campaign Trail Appearance..Zzzzz

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(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.

[Sunday-night funnies: What's your #ReasonToExitAnObamaSpeech?]

With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election. Read the rest of this entry »


Surveillance-Proof

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First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.

For City Journal, Judith Miller writes: Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety.

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Judith Miller is a contributing editor of City Journal, and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute

In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, Comey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

“Law enforcement officials many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”

– Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology

Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. Read the rest of this entry »


HK: Dueling Definitions of Democracy

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Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

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Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee.

“There was no doubt in our minds that Beijing was quite prepared to give us democracy or universal suffrage as everybody would understand it to be.”

– Martin Lee

When China and the U.K. began negotiating the transfer of Hong Kong in the early 1980s, both sides spoke optimistically about elections. Promises for future balloting were embedded in documents signed at the time to guide Hong Kong after its return to Chinese control in 1997.

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For WSJ Ned Levin, Charles Hutzler and Jenny Gross: In recent months, arguments over the meaning of those promises have helped to propel increasingly confrontational protests over how the city will choose its next leader in 2017. Beijing says that it has honored its commitment to provide universal suffrage; pro-democracy activists say that China has trampled those promises by insisting that candidates be approved by a committee whose members are largely pro-business and pro-Beijing.

“No one told Hong Kongers when they were assured of universal suffrage that it would not mean being able to choose for whom they could vote.”

Rhetoric aside, China has always retained the final say on how the city’s leaders would be chosen. That power was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, by giving Beijing the right to final interpretations, including on elections.

“They can interpret white as black, yellow, green or red. And tomorrow, they can interpret back to white,” said Martin Lee, a leading democratic activist and former legislator who sat on the law’s drafting committee. He resigned after China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s 4 Stages of Crisis Management

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The ‘Truthy’ Project: Federal Agency Wants to Study ‘Social Pollution’ by Analyzing Twitter

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The NSF has already poured nearly $1 million into Truthy. To what end? Why is the federal government spending so much money on the study of your Twitter habits?

Ajit Paipai writes: If you take to Twitter to express your views on a hot-button issue, does the government have an interest in deciding whether you are spreading “misinformation’’?

“The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.”

If you tweet your support for a candidate in the November elections, should taxpayer money be used to monitor your speech and evaluate your “partisanship’’?

My guess is that most Americans would answer those questions with a resounding no. But the federal government seems to disagree. The National Science Foundation , a federal agency whose mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense,” is funding a project to collect and analyze your Twitter data.

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Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central. (Joel Hawksley/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

The project is being developed by researchers at Indiana University, and its purported aim is to detect what they deem “social pollution” and to study what they call “social epidemics,” including how memes — ideas thatAPPROVED-non-stop-panic spread throughout pop culture — propagate. What types of social pollution are they targeting? “Political smears,” so-called “astroturfing” and other forms of “misinformation.”

“The federal government has no business spending your hard-earned money on a project to monitor political speech on Twitter.”

Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.

But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems.head

It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Saboteurs Deflate Sex-Toy Artwork, Paris Installation Reduced to a Flaccid Heap

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A giant inflatable sculpture that caused outrage in Paris for its resemblance to a sex toy will not be reinstalled after being reduced to a flaccid heap by vandals, its creator said Saturday.

American artist Paul McCarthy, 69, was slapped three times in the face by an outraged passer as “The Tree” was put up on the city’s ritzy Place Vendome on Thursday next to a column topped by a statue of Napoleon.

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And on Saturday vandals cut a support cable to leave the 24-metre high work — which provoked a storm of mirth on social media for its resemblance to a “butt plug” — slumped on the pavement.

The FIAC contemporary art fair, which organised for the sculpture to be put up close to the Ritz Hotel, said in a statement that “the artist was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up”.

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“Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions.”

– Artist Paul McCarthy, pretending to be unhappy about the notoriety he’s enjoying as a result of his infantile ass-toy stunt

“Individuals waited until the security guard’s attention was elsewhere and cut the cable that kept the sculpture in place,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »


‘We Cannot Allow Ebola to Immobilize Us’

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London (AFP) – Aid agency Oxfam on Saturday said Ebola could become the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”, as US President Barack Obama urged against “hysteria” in the face of the growing crisis.

Oxfam, which works in the two worst-hit countries — Liberia and Sierra Leone — called for more troops, funding and medical staff to be sent to tackle the west African epicentre of the epidemic.

Chief executive Mark Goldring warned that the world was “in the eye of a storm”.

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“We cannot allow Ebola to immobilise us in fear, but… countries that have failed to commit troops, doctors and enough funding are in danger of costing lives,” he said.

The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly virus has so far killed more than 4,500 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but isolated cases have now begun to appear in Europe and the United States.

“The Ebola crisis could become the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation,” a spokesperson for the British-based charity said as it appealed for EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday to do more. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! Big Ass Sex Toy Masquerading as ‘Art Installation’ Provokes Outrage in Paris

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Place Vendôme Hosts Giant Inflatable Buttplug

Ruth Bender reports: Not everyone in Paris appears to like contemporary art.

A massive, green, inflatable installation by U.S. artist Paul McCarthy was vandalized in central Paris in the night from Friday to Saturday, according to a police official, after the piece of art entitled “Tree” sparked outrage.

The artwork, set up last week on the famous Place Vendôme, ignited a wave of comments on social media for its resemblance to a sex toy. It attracted even more attention after the Los Angeles artist—known for his sometimes controversial and provocative work—was attacked by a person in the street Thursday as “Tree” was being set up on the square.

French Mayor Anne Hidalgo Meets Young French Designers In Paris

 “Art has all its place on the streets of Paris and no one can hunt it away,”

–  Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, in a tweet condemning the attack

According to French daily Le Monde, a man approached Mr. McCarthy as he was watching “Tree” being blown up and hit him in the face three times. According to the paper, which was interviewing the artist during the incident, the man shouted at Mr. McCarthy that “he wasn’t French” and that his artwork had “nothing to do in this square.”

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A spokeswoman for Mr. McCarthy didn’t respond to requests for comment. The police official said no complaint had been filed on such an incident.

In the night from Friday to Saturday, a group of individuals cut through the cords that were holding up the artwork, the police official said. A person in charge of overseeing “Tree” then deflated it to limit any damage, the official said. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Is an Ebola Flight Ban a Good Idea? Nate Silver Doesn’t Think So

editor-commen-deskIt’s exceedingly rare that I agree with an Obama administration decision (though the decision is infirm, and could be weaseled any way the wind blows over the next several weeks) but the increasing calls to impose an Africa travel ban strike me as reflexive, not founded on proven disease strategy. Unlike a lot of bellyaching conservatives, and a handful of election-panicked Democrats, I’m not convinced that declining to respond to pressure to impose a travel ban is a bad thing. And I don’t think it’s motivated purely by narrow political or economic interests. That said, I don’t claim to be informed enough to have a clear opinion either way. So this morning I saw this, and thought it might be useful reading.

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Nate Silver writes:

On Sept. 19, Thomas Eric Duncan boarded a flight in Monrovia, Liberia, possibly after having lied on a screening questionnaire about his contact with persons carrying the Ebola virus. The next day, Duncan arrived in Dallas to visit his fiancée and son. Initially complaining of a fever, Duncan would soon become the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. Before dying of the disease on Oct. 8, Duncan would transmit it to two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who treated him at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.

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Duncan’s case has sparked calls to ban flights to the United States from the countries hardest hit by the recent Ebola outbreak — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — possibly along with others in West Africa. While some of these APPROVED-non-stop-panicarguments have been measured, others seem to convey the impression there are thousands of passengers arriving in cities like Dallas each day from flights originating in these countries.

There aren’t. We searched on Kayak.comExpertFlyer.com and airline websites for direct flights from West African nations (as the United Nations defines the region) to destinations outside the African continent. Specifically, we looked for flights available for the week from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, 2015, a time period far enough in advance that such flights are unlikely to have sold out.

There are no regularly scheduled direct flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone — and very few from other countries in West Africa. There are far more flights from West Africa to Western Europe instead. Duncan’s case was typical. Before arriving in the United States, he connected through Brussels.

Here are all the routes we identified:

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Our search may be missing a few flights here and there, but it ought to be reasonably comprehensive, especially for travel to and from the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet Ron Klain, Ebola Czar: Management Experience, Handing Out Stimulus Money

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For the WashingtonExaminerByron York writes: President Obama’s choice of veteran Democratic politico Ron Klain to serve as Ebola czar stunned many Republicans. Their first objection is that Klain has no experience in public health or infectious diseases. But in a larger sense, GOP critics see Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, more as a political operative than a potential leader of the fight against Ebola.

 “He’ll control the message better than most people would, which is really important from an economic standpoint, from a health standpoint, but it’s also important from a political perspective.”

– Anonymous Democratic donor

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What qualifies Klain for the job, the formal title of which is Ebola Response Coordinator? First, the White House makes no claim of any expertise in health matters. Instead, officials point to Klain’s impressive Washington resume — the jobs with Gore and Biden, plus chief of staff for Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno and top positions with Senate Democrats.

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Susan Rice: the woman who went on five Sunday talk shows to lie about a YouTube video being responsible for the 9/11 attack in Benghazi. She is also the same person who said alleged Army deserter and Taliban sympathizer Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction.

But those are job titles. What specifically has Klain done in those positions that would prepare him for the Ebola assignment? White House officials cite Klain’s work in Biden’s office, overseeing the dispensing of billions of federal dollars through the American Recovery Act, better known as the stimulus, as evidence that Klain can handle a problem like Ebola. Read the rest of this entry »


Hiding Politically Unpopular Policies from Voters, Obama Puts Top Priorities in their Proper Place: The Back of the Bus

“This whole place is paralyzed. Everything was kicked down the road.”

President Obama is taking time out from his much-trumpeted “year of action” to observe a period more important to his Democratic allies in Congress: the season of campaigning.

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One by one, the Obama administration is setting aside key priorities, in the hope that voters won’t do the same to his fellow Democrats.

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“We wish they would be as good as their rhetoric. We want them to step up and deliver. If they don’t, who’s going to?”

– Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch

Immigration reform, once deemed a pressing back-to-school item, will wait at least until the winter holidays.

Enrollment in Obamacare will start six weeks later than last year. The climate will warm at the same rate, with new regulations pending. [Reality check: Globe hasn't warmed in 19 years]

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“It looks like the president and the Democrats are playing politics with people’s lives.” 

– Frank Sharry, America’s Voice, one of many pro-amnesty, open-borders pressure groups.

The latest addition to the not-to-do list came this week, when the White House put off an announcement on the president’s nominee for attorney general, a pick he has been privately thinking about a long time.

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White House aides smile and defend the strategy, saying privately that they’re trying to be sensitive to the concerns of Democrats, especially senators in tough election races.

“He promised me a dollhouse. Democrats are playing politics with everything! I hate Obama!”

– Daughter of celebrity Obama fundraiser

The White House is trying to avoid being held responsible for Democrats losing control of the Senate in the midterm election in three weeks, especially when administration officials still hope to get a few things done during the final two years of Obama’s presidency and will need help from Democrats who remain in office. Read the rest of this entry »


‘My Bravery Shames Them': Kurdish Women Fight on Front Lines Against Islamic State

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When 19-year-old Dilar and her girlfriends learned last spring that a woman who taught at a local school had died fighting Islamic State, they made a pact: They would join an all-female Syrian Kurdish brigade named in the teacher’s honor.

“When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me. My bravery shames them.”

Her unit, the Martyr Warsin Brigade, saw action this summer in a tough battle against the extremist fighters for Ras al-Ayn, a town along the Turkish border. Dilar came away without injury and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

[Also see The Mystery of Ceylan Ozalp]

Now, during her downtime, she and her female comrades stride with a swagger through their villages east of the embattled city of Kobani.

Caskets holding the bodies of four female Kurdish fighters are carried from a hospital in Suruc, Turkey, to a cemetery near the border with Syria. Andrew Quilty for The Wall Street Journal

Caskets holding the bodies of four female Kurdish fighters are carried from a hospital in Suruc, Turkey, to a cemetery near the border with Syria. Andrew Quilty for The Wall Street Journal

“When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me,” said Dilar, who didn’t want to give her family name. “My bravery shames them.”

“Really we have no differences. We do what the men do.”

As debate flares in Washington and other capitals about whether the battle against Islamic State can succeed without more boots—even U.S. ones—on the ground, Kurdish women have stepped up to defend their lands in Syria and Iraq. An estimated one-third of the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kobani are women, fighters and residents say, a figure that mirrors their role in other significant battles across Kurdish territories this year.

The monthlong battle over the city on the Turkish border is straining Islamic State, Kurdish politicians and U.S. officials say, and hampering its overall expansion strategy.

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The overriding motivation that Kurds give for fighting the insurgents is to save their ancestral homeland from destruction. Yet many women combatants also cite a more personal crusade. Across the territory in Syria and Iraq that it now controls, Islamic State has reinstituted slavery, prohibited women from working and threatened to kill those Muslims, including Kurds, who don’t adhere to their ideology.

“Sometimes we are so close to them without knowing it, because they hide in empty buildings.” 

“Islamic State are terrorists, inhuman,” said a 28-year-old female commander of both men and women in Kobani who uses the nom-de-guerre Afsin Kobane.

Ms. Kobane was a kindergarten teacher when she decided last year to join the female unit of the Syrian Kurdish resistance force, known as YPJ. Speaking by telephone from her post in the besieged city on the Turkish border, she said her mixed-gender unit had been fighting for more than a month and was holding a position only a half-mile from Islamic State fighters. Read the rest of this entry »


[AUDIO] Miles Davis: ‘Darn That Dream’

“Darn That Dream” by Gerry Mulligan

 


[VIDEO] Clashes in Hong Kong: Cops Mix it Up with Protesters in Tunnel, Streets

Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Pro-democracy activists clashed with police and barricaded a tunnel near Hong Kong’s government headquarters overnight on Tuesday, expanding their protest zone again after being cleared out of some other streets in the latest escalation of tensions in a weeks-long political crisis.

[Follow Pundit Planet's EXCLUSIVE coverage of the Hong Kong Protests]

The demonstrators blocked the underpass with tyres, metal and plastic safety barriers and concrete slabs taken from drainage ditches. Read the rest of this entry »


An American Wife on the Loose in France: ‘Secrets of Paris Nights’

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[VIDEO] Want Your Avoid Having Your South Korean Citizenship Application Rejected? Be Prepared to Prove You Can Sing This Song

Can’t Sing the National Anthem? No Passport For You

Should you have to prove you can sing the national anthem of a country if you want it to make you a citizen?

In the U.S. the answer is no, but in South Korea it’s a clear yes.

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Chinese Woman Denied South Korean Citizenship Because She Couldn’t Sing the National Anthem

That’s what a 52-year-old Chinese woman found out when she failed to pass an interview in November to become Korean.

“At the test, we don’t expect the applicant to sing in perfect tune, but we expect to hear the right lyrics. If the applicant fails at the first try, we give one more chance to sing in thirty minutes or an hour. She failed both.”

According to the Justice Ministry, the woman, known only by her Korean surname Choi, flunked three tests; singing the national anthem, understanding the ideas of free democracy and basic knowledge about South Korea.

Seoul’s education office in August provided a new version of the song in a key two steps lower than the original composition, after complaints were raised that high notes in the song make it difficult for students to sing, particularly boys going through puberty.

Ms. Choi then filed a complaint with the Seoul Administrative Court, which ruled on Sept. 30 that the ministry’s decision was legitimate as it followed due process in a fair and valid way. Read the rest of this entry »


Headline of the Day: Tattoos Okay!

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[VIDEO] Astrud Gilberto ‘My Foolish Heart’

As often happens, I found this song on my way to look for something else. I was captivated by the scenic video, taken from a boat, apparently unrelated, but what a tasteful way to represent the feeling of listening to Astrud Gilberto‘s voice. I’m familiar with instrumental versions of this song, have rarely heard it with vocals, so I paused to take in the lyrics. I wasn’t aware that Astrid Gilberto recorded this 1949 classic song. She gives it her own signature sound. I swear, I could listen to Astrud Gilberto read the phone book, and think it’s musical, and romantic.

From Wikipedia, here’s some background on the song itself.

The music was composed by Victor Young and the lyric was written by Ned Washington. The song was introduced by the singer Martha Mears in the 1949 film of the same name. The song failed to escape critics’ general laceration of the film. Time wrote in its review that “nothing offsets the blight of such tear-splashed excesses as the bloop-bleep-bloop of a sentimental ballad on the sound track.” Nevertheless, the song was nominated for an Oscar, losing out to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Frank Loesser.

The song was also a popular success, with two recordings of the song listed among the top 30 on the Billboard charts in 1950Gordon Jenkins‘s recording of “My Foolish Heart”, Sandy Evans, vocal, reached the top ten on the charts. However, Billy Eckstine‘s version became a million seller, spending 19 weeks on the charts and peaking at number six. Read the rest of this entry »


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