TOKYO - JUNE 03: A man watches a model train running along the bar at Bar Ginza Panorama Shibuya Branch on June 3, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. The bar caters to model train enthusists and customers are able to bring their own model trains to run on the tracks.
Photo: Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Passport has mentioned in several dog-related posts that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a fear of dogs, reportedly due to a childhood biting incident. But this week, Merkel appears to have finally found a dog that doesn't induce cynophobia:
Above, Merkel and Bavaria's state premier, Horst Seehofer, admire a dog-shaped bag nominated for a toy award as she tours the 2009 International Toy Fair on Feb. 4 in Nuremberg. Merkel would be totally styling with this doggie bag.
Photo: TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images
A young girl gazes out of her class window at the school in the village of Gulucan on Nov. 17, 2008 in Hanyuan county, Sichuan province, China. More than 60 farmers' families live in six isolated locations, perched high above a spectacular canyon in the area. Some farmers' children have to walk three hours to their school along the edge of a crumbling, narrow mountain path with a sheer, 5,000-foot drop on one side. (Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)
The Obama transition team issued the following statement on today's meeting:
President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama were very warmly welcomed today at the White House by President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Upon arriving, President-elect Obama and President Bush proceeded to the Oval Office, where they had a productive and friendly meeting that lasted for over an hour. They had a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation's many critical economic and security challenges. President-elect Obama thanked President Bush for his commitment to a smooth transition, and for his and First Lady Laura Bush's gracious hospitality in welcoming the Obama's to the White House."
The president-elect also held a mysterious private meeting at Washington's National Airport before heading back to Chicago.
Photo: Eric Draper/The White House via Getty Images
The BBC is reporting that the following photograph of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, released earlier this week, may be a fake:
From the above distance, everything looks fine. It's just Dear Leader, the paragon of health, inspecting the troops as normal. But zoom in, the BBC found, and a few inconsistencies raise red flags:
Maybe North Korea has stolen CNN's hologram technology?
On a serious note, the inconsistencies in the photograph raise the question of whether Kim is in fact incapacitated, or even dead. The latest speculation is that Chang Sun-Taek, Kim's brother-in-law, is running the show. But nobody really knows for sure.
So, should we be worried about a destabilizing succession battle in this paranoid, impoverished, nuclear-armed regime? Stuart Reid of Foreign Affairs, in a new piece for ForeignPolicy.com, says the answer is, surprisingly, no. Check it out.
UPDATE: It appears the top photo is not the exact same one as that examined by the BBC. Thanks to readers for alerting me to this, and sorry for the mistake. Also, South Korea's intelligence community believes the Kim photo is real.
Acrobats from the Jiangxi Acrobatic Troupe of China perform 'Candle Contortionists' at the 8th China Wuhan International Acrobatics Art Festival on Oct. 28, 2008, in Wuhan of Hubei province, China. The festival, one of the major acrobatics events in the country, attracts performers from more than 12 countries and regions.
Photo: China Photos/Getty Images
Former British Telecom employee John Tasker stands in an old canteen in a secret air raid tunnel on Oct. 17, 2008 in London. The once-secret tunnels were built 100 feet under central London in 1940 as fully equipped air raid shelters and could accommodate 8,000 people. They have since been used by MI6 and the Public Records Office to hold 400 tons of secret documents. Current owner British Telecom (BT) once housed the London trunk exchange of the secure trans-Atlantic hotline between the presidents of the United States and the Soviet Union. BT is now seeking a buyer for the tunnels.
Read more about the tunnels here.
The Russian SOYUZ TMA-13 rocket is moved to the launch pad of the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on Oct. 10, 2008. U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott is set to blast off for the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz TMA-13 rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome with Michael Fink of the United States and Russia's Iouri Lonchakov on Oct. 12.
An overview of Ground Zero on Oct. 2 in New York City. The owners of the World Trade Center site have announced that the World Trade Center memorial can be opened on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack. It was also revealed in a 70-page report on Ground Zero's tortured rebuilding process that the rail hub will cost $3.2 billion, $700 million more than planned, and will not open until at least 2014.
The Freedom Tower won't be finished until the end of 2013.
Despite the usual comments about the need to keep comments short, the senators are still bloviating. Meanwhile, the first pictures of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are now dribbling in. Do these look like men who are happy to be sitting in front of the Senate Banking Committee this morning?
On a day when financial markets again reeled, this image seems especially timely:
President Abraham Lincoln presenter Jim Rubin of Prosperity, West Virginia, addresses the unveiling ceremony for the new 2009 Bicentennial One-Cent coin redesign at the Lincoln Memorial September 22, 2008 in Washington, DC. The coin redesign will highlight four phases of the 16th president's life: birth in Kentucky, formative years in Indiana, professional life in Illinois and finally Washington.
A colleague passed along the following tube of Iranian toothpaste, hilariously designed to look like Crest:
"Improve your dental hygiene," it reads on the front. "For long lasting tooth."
On the back, it explains that Crend "helps your dentist to fight against tooth decay and cavity. Crend can help improve your oral hygiene significantly." The sodium flouride content is 0.32 percent.
U.S. artist Jeff Koons opened a controversial show in Paris this week at the Hercules salon in the Château de Versailles. From a gargantuan balloon dog to his famous porcelain statue of Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Koons "redecorated" Louis XIV's former hunting lodge inside and out. He even filled Marie Antoinette's room with vacuum cleaners. Of course, as NPR reports, some in France were not amused:
Koons' sculpted rabbits and dogs "don't belong at the palace of Versailles, they belong at Disneyland," said journalist and radio host Anne Brassie.
Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, the president of a writers' union, agreed. "This exhibit is sacrilegious and insulting to the symbols of the Republic and its art," he said, wearing a velvet-and-gold-colored crown at the protest.
Here are some more unbelievable shots from the show:
Heritage Officer Nick Herepath views the remains of a Roman hypocaust hidden beneath a Spud-U-Like outlet on September 11, 2008, in Chester, England. The Roman hypocaust heated part of a Legionary bath house above the streets of Chester. The hidden treasure is one of hundreds of sites opened for Heritage Open Days, an event that celebrates England's architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.
UPDATE: Here's what the shop looks like above.
Angel Valodia Matos (L-red) of Cuba lands a kick on the referee Chakir Chelbat (R) of Sweden after he lost his bronze medal contest in the men's +80 kg taekwondo competition against Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 23, 2008.
People walk past a half-body statue in Shibuya, Tokyo's main shopping area, on August 22. Online Game Company NHN Japan has set up a series of these statues to promote the mobile game site hange.jp. When people touch the statue's arm with their mobile phone, the application site will automatically open and a lucky winner will be rewarded 10,000 U.S. Dollars.
If Dmitry Medvedev is trying to looking tough, these kinds of photo ops won't help him change his image:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev drives in a buggy at the presidential residence in Sochi on August 20, 2008.
Chinese policemen try to save a boy from being crushed by the crowd near a ticket booth at the Olympic Green on July 25 in Beijing, China. Starting today, the remaining 820,000 Olympic tickets, of which 250,000 are for competitions held in the capital city, became available for purchase by individuals at the Olympic venues.
U.S. Army soldiers carry shotguns as they walk along a corridor separating what they deem to be the most extreme and dangerous detainees held inside the Camp Bucca detention center located near the Kuwait-Iraq border on May 19, 2008.
Here's a photograph from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's recent trip to Iraq. What do you think was on his mind? Who do you think he wants to see on the receiving end?
UPDATE: And the winner is... nycbrian, with "do you think i can mow my backbenchers into submission w/ this?"
Scrap metal is piled up at a metal recycling facility on July 17 in Chicago, Illinois. With scrap metal prices near historic highs, many communities are experiencing an increase in thefts of metal including cemetery ornaments, plumbing pipe, gutters, and even manhole covers.
A bull charges a woman off the port during the traditional bulls celebration on the seafront in Denia Alicante, Spain, on July 7.
A fighting bull leaps over two fallen runners at the Mercaderes curve during the third San Fermin running of the bulls on July 9 in Pamplona, Spain. Fighting bulls are run through the historic heart of Pamplona for eight days in this fiesta made famous by The Sun Also Rises, the 1926 novel by U.S. writer Ernest Hemmingway.
A Fuente Ymbro fighting bull gores French matador Sebastian Castella during the third corrida of the San Fermin festivities on July 9 in Pamplona, Spain.
Passport has the day off tomorrow for the July 4th holiday here in the United States, so here's an early Friday photo to contemplate. Enjoy your weekend!
WASHINGTON - JULY 02: Eight-year-old Peter Wajda of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, poses for photographs on top of 10,512 sneakers tied by their laces and laid heel-to-toe in the courtyard at National Geographic Society headquarters July 2, 2008 in Washington, DC. Assembled by National Geographic Kids magazine, the string of shoes was certified Wednesday by Guinness World Records as the longest chain of shoes, measuring 8,700 feet or nearly 1.65 miles. Wajda, a third-grader at Moorestown Friends School, organized a shoe drive and collected 509 of the shoes used to set the record. The shoes will be shipped to Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program and recycled into basketball courts and other play surfaces.
More than 10,000 people have been mobilized to clean up green algae that has invaded the Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao, Shandong, China. The Qingdao Olympic Sailing Committee estimates that the area will be cleared before July 15.
Here are some wild scenes from the ongoing beef protests in South Korea:
Apparently, the South Korean riot police have been working in shifts, as some of the most violent protests have happened overnight. The protesters failed to convince South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who moved Thursday to lift the ban on American beef. Read the backstory here.
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