Notes and shorts from around the world


Hitler house seized
MPs in Austria have passed a law that will enable the state to expropriate the house in which Adolf Hitler was born in 1889, putting an end to a long dispute with its elderly owner. Gerlinde Pommer originally used the terraced building, in Braunau am Inn, as a guest house. It attracted a steady stream of neo-Nazis until 1972, when the authorities took over the main lease, to prevent misuse. The local council then sublet it. By 2011, it was in such disrepair that no new tenants could be found, yet Pommer refused either to refurbish it, or to sell it. There have been calls for the house to be torn down, but it seems the plan now is to alter its distinctive yellow facade and let it to a charity.
Rum business
Cash strapped Cuba has offered to settle its $374 million Cold War era debt to the Czech Republic with bottles of its famous rum. The Czech Republic has the world's highest per capita rate of beer consumption, but in 2015 imported only about $2.7 million worth of Cuban rum. At that rate of consumption, the repayment proposed would give Czechs enough rum to last almost 138 years. The Czech finance ministry said that it was considering the offer as a possible solution, but that at least part of the debt should be paid in cash.
Paining the censors
As a protest against censorship, a film-maker forced Britain's film censors to spend ten hours watching a film about paint drying. Charlie Lyne used the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to raise the $10,131 it cost to make his opus, and then submitted it to the British Board of Film Classification. The board's examiners duly sat through the 607 minute long film before granting it a U certificate. They concluded that “Paint Drying is a film showing paint drying on a wall. It contains no material likely to offend or harm.”
General invitation
A father in Mexico invited “everyone” to his daughter's 15th birthday party, and 1.3 million people said that they would attend. Rubi Ibarra Garcia posted a video on Facebook in which he innocently declared that everyone was cordially invited to the bash, complete with live music and even a horse race. It was intended for friends and family, but ended up going viral. Internet jokers then began posting pictures of swarms of people heading for Rubi's party, while the responses poured in. Garcia gamely said that the invitation still stood, and local authorities prepared for large crowds.
Bons mots
“I don't know how long a child will remain utterly static in front of the television, but my guess is that it could be well into their thirties.”
 – British journalist and author, A.A. Gill





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