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Retired high-ranking Chinese official asks why Jews are so smart

During a speech on Tuesday in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told his audience that the Jews "have contributed greatly to America. No group has had such an outsized influence per capita," inspiring the New York magazine headline, "Biden Praises Jews, Goes Too Far, Accidentally Thrills Anti-Semites."

But cringe-inducing philo-Semitism is not just a U.S. phenomenon. In a recently published memoir, titled A Collection of Works Written During Leisure Time, Wu Guanzheng, who from 2002 to 2007 was China's top anti-corruption official, reminisces about his time in Israel. "I bought some books on the Jewish people," he writes. One, which he cites later, is written by someone with the name "Abraham" and called --- you guessed it! -- Why Are Jews Intelligent.

Wu notes how Jews "attach extreme importance to study" and how they see scholars "as their spiritual leaders." Somewhat ironically for the man who was once the seventh-highest-ranking figure in an authoritarian system, Wu also praises Jews' ability to "speak truth to power" and "freely express different opinions."

Chinese are notoriously philo-Semitic. Jewish visitors are often greeted with the platitude, "Ah, Jews, you so easily make money" (no joke), and there are dozens of Chinese-language books promising insight into Jewish secrets like raising smart children, succeeding in business, or unlocking the moneymaking secrets of the Talmud.

Wu also tweaks China's conventional wisdom about Judaism. "There are people who say that the world's wealth is in the Jews' pocket," he writes. "Actually, Jews' wealth is in their own brain." (The line works better in Chinese, where Wu uses a word for brain that literally means "brain pocket.")

Many retired Chinese officials publish (or try to publish) books after leaving office. And it is required -- or at least strongly recommended -- that Chinese news outlets covering these memoirs say nice things about them. The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, has applauded Wu's book for exhibiting a "deep and true unaffected emotionality," while Xinhua, China's state news agency, has noted how the book's "sincere and honest" writing style has received attention "from all walks of life," which explains why the publishers issued 300,000 copies the first week after the release. (According to a write-up in China Publishing News Online, the book includes "essays, reflections, jottings, fiction, discussions" and features discursions on the legal system as well as "how to conduct oneself in society.")

The news website for Wu's birthplace, part of the Jiangxi provincial city of Shangrao (a city I'd never heard of before, but which apparently has a population of more than 6.5 million people), published an article titled, "The Party Officials and Ordinary People of the Entire City Have Set Off a Popular Craze of Studying" Wu's book.

The praise from Chinese state media does not necessarily mean the book is filled with drivel -- Southern Weekly, a liberal newspaper that generally publishes less censored news than its competitors, remarked on its "unconventionality" in featuring a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's most powerful body, "exposing his inner thoughts."

Wu's inner thoughts include a verdict on Franklin Delano Roosevelt ("excellent"), Bill Gates ("he stepped down to let talented youth take on heavy responsibility"), and retirement ("I look up and observe the universe, I look down and observe all living things -- I feel totally full of vitality.")

And when he does look down and observe all living things, there's apparently a special place in his heart for the Jews.

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With doppelganger, Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram account gets even weirder

FP may have published its list of Ramzan Kadyrov's weirdest Instagrams a bit too soon. Instead of shutting down his account, as he threatened last week, the Chechen strongman appears to be doubling down on the photo-sharing site this week.

Take, for example, the Instagram aficionado's decision to introduce his followers to what appeared to be his doppelganger. According to the Moscow Times, the caption to the photo below reads, "Dear friends, I will reveal a secret to you, but please don't tell anybody. I have sent my double to work instead of me today. Let's see how he manages!"

Around the same time, Kadyrov played guide to British actress Elizabeth Hurley, who is currently in Grozny filming a thriller with French actor (and Kadyrov kindred spirit) Gérard Depardieu. Below, the trio tours Grozny; Kadryov shows Hurley how to use an iPhone?; and the boys inspect a monster truck.

"I can't dictate to Mr Depardieu and Miss Hurley whom they should meet with, but I hope they are not taking money from a person who is accused of involvement in egregious human rights violations," Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch told the Telegraph. (The American actor Steven Seagal arrived in Grozny on Wednesday.)

 

And then Kadyrov's two worlds collided, as the Chechen leader introduced both Hurley and Kadyrov #2 to his kitten (this is, by the way, a different creature than his cat named Chanel.)

In a vaguely worded Instagram message, Kadyrov later suggested that the photos of his double had been a "joke" he played on detractors who spread "rumors" about him, though he didn't go into detail about how he had pulled it off -- or why posting photos with a lookalike or a Photoshopped version of himself would silence his critics.

Oh, and did we mention this one?