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New Austria row over Hitler’s birth house

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A long-running legal battle over the house where Adolf Hitler was born erupted again on Tuesday when the Austrian government appealed against the amount of compensation it has been ordered to pay for seizing the property.

Last month, a regional court ruled that the state should pay the house’s former owner, Gerlinde Pommer, 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) in compensation, instead of the 310,000 euros she had originally been offered.

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According to Austrian media reports, the court decided on the higher sum to take into account the building’s historical significance.

But the Austrian Financial Procurator’s Office, which represents the government in legal matters, argued that the sum was too high because it did not take into account the rent the state had already paid for the property prior to its seizure, nor the costs of the building’s upkeep.

Hitler was born in the yellow corner house in the northern town of Braunau on April 20, 1889 and Pommer’s family owned it for nearly a century.

The government took control of the dilapidated building in December 2016 after years of legal wrangling with Pommer.

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It wanted to prevent the premises from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

Wolfgang Peschorn of the procurator’s office said Tuesday the state was not contesting a compensation payment per se.

Nevertheless, “the Republic of Austria has an obligation towards taxpayers to ensure that the amount of compensation is verified by independent courts”, he said.

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According to the state, the current market price of the property — set by a court-appointed expert at 810,000 euros excluding any rental income — would constitute an appropriate amount of compensation.

Pommer had been renting the 800-square-metre (8,600-square-feet) property — which also has several garages and parking spaces located behind the main building — to the interior ministry since the 1970s.

The government paid around 4,800 euros a month in rent and used it as a centre for people with disabilities.

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But the agreement fell apart in 2011 when Pommer refused to carry out essential renovation work and also refused to sell it.

Since then, the building has lain empty.

At one point, the interior ministry was pushing to have it torn down but the plans ran into angry resistance from other politicians and historians.

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In June 2017, Austria’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, ruled in favour of its expropriation.

Although Hitler only spent a short time at the property, it continues to draw Nazi sympathisers from around the world.

Every year on Hitler’s birthday, anti-fascist protesters also organise a rally outside the building.


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New ‘Lord of the Rings’ show to start filming in New Zealand`

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US-based streaming giant Amazon announced Wednesday its big-budget "Lord of the Rings" series will within months start filming in New Zealand, home to Peter Jackson's movies of the fantasy epic.

Amazon is reportedly spending US$1 billion-plus on the series as it seeks to emulate the runaway success enjoyed by "Games of Thrones".

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the South Pacific nation offered the "primordial beauty" of Middle Earth, the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of elves, dwarf and hobbits.

"We needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople," they said in a statement.

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Mitch McConnell crony running for Kentucky AG is ineligible for office: lawsuit

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On Tuesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that a new lawsuit seeks to remove Daniel Cameron from the ballot as the Kentucky GOP's nominee for state attorney general.

According to the lawsuit, filed by retired union worker and "concerned citizen" Joseph Leon Jackson Sr. in Jefferson Circuit Court, Cameron does not meet the office requirement of having practiced law for eight years — because although he was admitted by the Kentucky Bar Association in 2011, he spent two of the following years clerking for U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.

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Trump lashes out at Lindsey Graham after he accuses the president of showing ‘weakness’

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President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham, once bitter enemies, have become close allies since the 2016 election as the South Carolina Republican realized it was in his personal interest to cozy up to the White House. But on Tuesday, fractures emerged between the two in public over a key issue for Graham: Iran.

Graham is on the severely hawkish wing of the Republican Party, and he clearly wants a war with Iran. He began a series of tweets Tuesday by praising Vice President Mike Pence’s briefing that day about the recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, saying he believes that “such a sophisticated attack could not have occurred without Iran’s blessing and direct involvement.” He called it an “an act of war” and lauded the Trump administration’s “efforts to create a regional coalition, thoroughly brief the Congress on the actions taken, and come up with a plan of action to restore deterrence against an evil regime in Iran.”

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