German Says Nazi-Looted Art is Love of His Life


Originally posted on World:

The German man discovered with a trove of missing priceless paintings looted by Nazis isn’t going to hand over his art without a fight.

Cornelius Gurlitt, 80, told German news magazine Der Spiegel in his first extensive interview that “there is nothing I have loved more in my life than my pictures.” The collection includes paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Renoir.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was a dealer commissioned by Nazis to sell illegal works in exchange for hard currency. The missing paintings Gurlitt kept were believed to be lost or destroyed, but a Feburary 2012 routine customs investigation revealed that Cornelius Gurlitt had been hiding more than 1,400 works in his Munich apartment.

Gurlitt maintains his father obtained the paintings lawfully, which makes him the legal owner, but state authorities are investigating him on charges of tax evasion and misappropriation of assets.

[Der Spiegel]

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Hong Kong Is Sitting On 30 Tons Of Ivory and Has No Plans to Destroy It


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When it crushed six tons of confiscated ivory on Thursday, authorities in the United States ensured that it had no chance of ending up in the wrong hands. Hong Kong, which seized more ivory between January and October this year than the U.S. has in the past twenty-five years, has yet to take the same precautions and the continued existence of its stockpile of confiscated ivory is arousing the concern of some conservationists.

China’s is the world’s leading destination for illegal shipments of elephant tusk and rhino horn, and Hong Kong a major transhipment point for the grisly but lucrative trade. The city’s cache of confiscated ivory is estimated to total around thirty tons, and wildlife groups have been calling for its destruction.

Although the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong government approved a plan to incinerate the stockpile, its own endangered species advisory committee reversed the…

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Risky Removal of Fuel Rods Begins At Fukushima


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Operators at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant started the slow and precarious task of removing radioactive fuel rods on Monday.

More than 1,500 uranium and plutonium rods must be pulled out of a storage pool in the plant’s reactor 4 building and transferred to a more stable storage area nearby, according to AFP.

It is the most dangerous task Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, has faced in decommissioning the facility so far, and is scheduled to take more than a year.

If the rods were to break or overheat, they could cause a nuclear chain reaction similar to the meltdowns that occurred after the nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Bloomberg reports.

[AFP]

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U.N. Report: More Than 10,000 Afghan Taliban Killed, Wounded Or Captured in 2013


Originally posted on World:

The Afghan Taliban suffered staggering losses in 2013 with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 fighters exiting the country’s battlefields due to death, capture or injury a U.N. report says,

While verifying Taliban causalities is a notoriously difficult task, the U.N. relied on both government sources and the insurgent group’s own figures to calculate their estimate.

The U.N. report adds that the central government has faced increased levels of violence from insurgents this year, but the Taliban has failed to secure strategic gains or win more popular support in the country. Afghan authorities are set to meet later this week to discuss NATO’s future withdrawal plans.

[AFP]

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“Geeky Lady Gaga goes head-to-head with Kim Kardashian on ‘SNL’ — sort of”


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