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Nigerian soldiers battle Boko Haram, kill 15, rescue 49 women, children

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The Nigerian Army on Wednesday said it killed 15 Boko Haram terrorists and rescued 49 persons in separate encounters between Boko Haram and troops in the Southern Lake Chad Basin.
Onyema Nwachukwu, the spokesperson of the army’s operation in the North-east, Operation Lafiya Dole, disclosed this in a statement.
He said that some of the insurgents were killed in the Lake Chad Island while others were killed in villages in Northern Borno on Tuesday.
“Troops dislodged the insurgents from their hideout after a fierce battle, killing 11 insurgents in Gomaran village of Southern Lake Chad Basin,” he said.
He explained that the troops also ambushed and killed four terrorists who were escaping from the military onslaught in Northern Borno.
Mr Nwachukwu, a colonel, said that the troops further engaged fleeing insurgents in Firgi and Moula, both in Bama and Dikwa council.
“The clearance operations also led to the recovery of one single barrel gun, one Dane gun and one locally made pistol.
“Other items recovered from the dislodged insurgents include four motorcycles, motorcycle spare parts, two tricycles, six water pumping machines, and two power generating sets.
“Additionally, the valiant troops captured two Boko Haram flags, a pair of camouflage uniform, a pair of combat boots, a camera, a bag of mechanical tools and medications.
“Four men, 33 women and 16 children were rescued by the troops from the insurgents’ hideouts . The rescued hostages are currently being profiled for subsequent hand over to officials of the Internally Displaced Persons Camp for documentation and administering,” Mr Nwachukwu said.
The army recently launched a major operation to clear the Boko Haram from the Lake Chad area, where the insurgents are still believed to have a foothold.
Despite losing most of the territory they once controlled in Northeast Nigeria, the insurgents are still able to launch attacks in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, mainly on civilian targets.
The insurgency has caused about 100,000 deaths since 2009, according to the Borno State Government.

Adolf Hitler definitely died in 1945 in Berlin, from taking cyanide and a bullet, according to French researchers who were given access to fragments of the dictator's teeth held in Moscow.

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 French researchers claim to have put an end to conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Adolf Hitler, after a study of his teeth proved he definitely died after taking cyanide and shooting himself in the head in Berlin in 1945.
The researchers reached their conclusion after they were given rare access to fragments of Hitler’s teeth which have been held in Moscow since the end of World War II.
"The teeth are authentic, there is no possible doubt. Our study proves that Hitler died in 1945," said professor Philippe Charlier.
"We can stop all the conspiracy theories about Hitler. He did not flee to Argentina in a submarine, he is not in a hidden base in Antarctica or on the dark side of the moon," he told AFP news agency.
The teeth were put on display in 2000 in Moscow as part of an exhibition to mark the 55th anniversary of the end of the war.
They were back in the news again last month when the memoirs of a Russian interpreter who worked in Berlin in 1945 were published in English for the first time.
She recounted how she had been tasked with proving Hitler's death by tracking down his dental records in the ruined German capital and seeing if they matched a set of teeth she had been entrusted with - which they did.
In March and July 2017, Russia's FSB secret service and the Russian state archives authorised a team of French researchers to examine Hitler’s bones for the first time since 1946, said Professor Charlier, who was one of the scientists chosen.
They were able to look at a skull fragment presented as being from the Fuhrer, which showed a hole on the left side which was in all probability caused by the passage of a bullet.
The scientists were not authorised to take samples from this fragment, they noted in their study published on Friday in the scientific magazine European Journal of Internal Medicine.
The skull fragment's morphology was "totally comparable" to radiographies of Hitler's skull taken a year before his death, the research found.
The analysis of the Nazi leader's bad teeth and numerous dentures found white tartar deposits and no traces of meat fibre - the dictator was vegetarian.
The examination of the teeth did not find any traces of powder, which indicates there was not a revolver shot to the mouth, more likely the neck or the forehead.
Equally, bluish deposits seen on his false teeth could indicate a "chemical reaction between the cyanide and the metal of the dentures," the researcher said.
If this study confirms the generally accepted view that Hitler died on the 30 April, 1945, in his Berlin bunker with his companion Eva Braun as the Soviets were capturing the city, it also sheds new light on the exact causes of death, said Mr Charlier.
"We didn't know if he had used an ampule of cyanide to kill himself or whether it was a bullet in the head. It's in all probability both," he said. 

Ripping children from parents will shatter America’s soul

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When I was 4 years old, I was taken away from my parents. We were refugees from Vietnam, fleeing the end of the war in 1975. With 130,000 other Vietnamese, we were put into refugee camps. To leave, we needed American sponsors, but no sponsor was willing to host my entire family. One took my parents, one took my 10-year-old brother and one took me. Memory for me begins here, howling with fear and pain as I was taken from my mother, too young to understand that I would be returned to her in a few months.
I thought of this experience when I read the words earlier this month of Attorney General Jeff Sessionsregarding his intent to separate children from undocumented parents at the border — possibly even sending those children to detention camps on military bases. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Sessions is a law-and-order man who believes he is protecting our country. I’m a man, a son, a father and a writer who worries about our nation losing its soul.
The intent of this policy is punitive. In practice, it will undoubtedly lead to shattered families. As Democratic Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke says, “You are either for separating children from their parents or you are against it. I am against it.” Me too.
The controversy over this policy should not be reduced to a partisan issue, or even to a debate about undocumented immigration. Sessions’s child-removal policy actually extends the callousness of current American penal practices. As Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, “That’s no different than what we do every day in every part of the United States — when an adult of a family commits a crime. . . . If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family.”
Nielsen inadvertently points to how removing children from their parents has been a longtime bipartisan practice of American society. Democrats and liberals who condemn contemporary Republican policy might want to consider how the Clinton and Obama administrations also sanctioned the removal of children from parents, both undocumented immigrants and those in prison for other crimes.
The war on drugs, tough-on-crime sentencing and mandatory minimum sentencing — all of which featured prominently in the Clinton administration — have led to rates of mass incarceration in the United States that are almost unrivaled worldwide. More than 2.3 million Americans are in some type of correctional facility. If they have children, they have been separated from them, and the chances of them losing their children to the state are high. More than 5 million children in the United States have had a parent in jail, and the impact is disproportionately high for black and Latino children.
As a nation, we have had little significant debate on the morality or efficacy of such policies. Perhaps this is because the removal of children from parents is not new in U.S. history. Indigenous children were sent alone to Indian schools to become assimilated into American society, and slaveowners separated slave children from slave parents to sell either, or both.
Comparing them to undocumented families today may anger many contemporary Americans. Like Sessions and Nielsen, they would argue that undocumented immigrants have broken the law, and that the law allows these removals.
It was legal for slaveowners to sell slave children, too. But was the practice just? Was it humane?
Hiding behind the law is so persuasive that it can lead those who have benefited from humane policies to endorse inhumane ones. Take some of my fellow Vietnamese immigrants, for example — such as Tri Ta, mayor of Westminster, Calif., which has more Vietnamese Americans per capita than any other U.S. city. Mayor Ta, along with the city’s Vietnamese American vice mayor, Tyler Diep, voted for a successful Westminster resolution against California’s sanctuary state stance, which protects undocumented immigrants.  
“The Vietnamese boat people came to the United States legally,” Ta said. “My family and I went through the process.”
Vietnamese people came to this country not only because it was legal but because it was humane. Congress decided that the United States owed a moral debt to the South Vietnamese, who had fought a war that was largely driven by U.S. interests. Would Ta be so willing to endorse legality if the United States had not welcomed the Vietnamese?
My removal from my parents was a benevolent act that led me to being housed for several months by a generous American family. And yet being separated from my parents hurt enough for me to remember it vividly more than 40 years later. I can easily imagine the kind of damage a prolonged removal, under much more adverse circumstances, would do to a child. Or to a parent, since I am now the father of a 4-year-old myself. I say I can imagine it, but the pain of losing my son is actually unimaginable.

I wonder whether whoever decided to take me from my mother considered her pain. Maybe they only saw her alienness and her lack of education, which happened because she was born poor and a girl. Perhaps they never saw that in Vietnam she had been a successful businesswoman. But even if she hadn’t, what difference should that have made? Are people who are less successful not human or deserving of the right to hold on to their children? Our answer to that question says everything about us.

Actually, the 1 Percent Are Still The Problem

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One of the nice things about Occupy Wall Street was that it provided a tidy shorthand to describe the problem of income inequality at a moment when the world didn’t really have one. Today, it’s a cliche: the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent. But at the time, that brief phrase awakened many people to the idea that America’s riches were distributed more unevenly than they thought, and that an increasingly outrageous share was being concentrated at the very top. The winners in this story were corporate executives, business owners, and highly paid professionals—especially bankers. The losers were just about everybody else. Like all shorthand, this tale was a bit oversimplified. But in the wake of a financial crisis brought on by the greed and recklessness of those 1 percenters, it felt apt.
Back then, the people who took issue with framing America’s economy as a tug of war between the ultrarich and the rest of us generally fell into two camps. They were either inequality skeptics, who insisted unconvincingly that research showing the rise of the 1 percent was flawed, or inequality apologists, who argued that letting some people get exorbitantly wealthy was good for the economy, since it rewarded hustle and entrepreneurship (basically, Paul Ryan during his peak makers-vs.-takers period).
Lately, though, a few writers have tried to play down the idea of the 1 percent for a different reason: They say it’s making us miss the real story of class and inequality in America. Last year, a Brookings Institution scholar named Richard Reeves published a book titled Dream Hoarders, in which he argues that America’s upper-middle class is rigging the economy in its own favor. Our national focus on the very rich, he suggests, is blinding us to the reality of how well-off soccer moms and dads in places like Arlington, Virginia, are killing the American dream for everyone but their own kids. “Too often, the rhetoric of inequality points to a ‘top 1 percent’ problem, as if the ‘bottom’ 99 percent is in a similarly dire situation,” he writes. “This obsession with the upper class allows the upper middle class to convince ourselves we are in the same boat as the rest of America; but it is not true.”
Reeves’ book received a brief burst of national attention after David Brooks used it as a launching point for a weird and widely pilloried New York Times column, in which he recounted a story about seeing his friend get flustered by the selection of Italian cold cuts at a sandwich shop. (He assumed this was because she only had a high school education, since you apparently need a philosophy degree to be familiar with soppressata.) But this week, the Atlantic published a long feature more or less rehashing most of Dream Hoarders’ arguments. In “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy,” writer Matthew Stewart argues that aside from a small sliver of true plutocrats who can actually afford to buy an election or two, the top 10 percent of wealthiest Americans are all essentially part of the same highly educated and privileged group—the “meritocratic class”—which has “mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children.”
Reeves and Stewart are both attempting to give us a new shorthand for who is ruining the economy. Instead of the 1 percent, they would like us to talk about the dream hoarders, or the 9.9 percent. But in the end, both authors fail by lumping together large groups of Americans who haven’t really benefited equally from our winner-take-all economy. As a result, their stories about how the country has changed, and who has gained, just don’t track.
Reeves and Stewart are both concerned about serious issues in the economy.1 We have a housing crisis thanks to the ridiculously restrictive zoning rules favored by many politically liberal, upper-middle-class homeowners. As a result, the poor and working class are being pushed to the urban fringes and less-resourced suburbs, away from jobs or decent transportation. By closing off their communities, upper-middle-class families are also segregating their public schools by both race and income. Then there’s the college-admissions process, which at elite schools is an expensive circus that favors kids whose parents have money to send them to SAT prep or pay for a French tutor. America favors those with money for lots of reasons, and the upper-middle class is not blameless. They (and I, and maybe you) deserve to be harangued once in a while.
Reeves’ and Stewart’s arguments start to fall apart, however, when they try to explain why we should supposedly pay less attention to the 1 percent. In Dream Hoarders, for instance, Reeves argues that the biggest cleavage in American class is between the top 20 percent of highest-earning households and the bottom 80 percent. “Americans in the top fifth of the income distribution—broadly, households with incomes above the $112,000 mark—are separating from the rest,” he writes. (As of this year, the figure is closer to $121,000.) But even a cursory glance at how America’s income distribution has changed over the past three decades shows why it doesn’t make sense to talk about the whole top 20 percent as a cohesive group or to give short shrift to the rise of the 1 percent. According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the share of after-tax income going to households in the 81st to 90th percentile dropped a bit between 1980 and 2014. The share belonging to the 96th to 99th percentiles rose slightly. And the most dramatic change, by far, has been the rise of the 1 percent.
The rise of the 1 percent, CBO
Jordan Weissmann / Slate
The most recent pre-tax income data from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman tell a similar story. The upper half of the upper-middle class fares slightly better, but the great change is the rise of the 1 percent. It’s hard to miss who is actually pulling away in this graph.
Income inequality in the United States
World Inequality Database
Reeves tries to scoot around these realities in a few ways. He argues that “class is not just about money” and that we need to take into account factors like education, health, parenting styles, marriage, and security—which is all well and good, except those things tend to correlate pretty strongly with having cash. He notes, weakly, that while the top 1 percent increased their total incomes by $1.4 trillion between 1979 and 2013, the next 19 percent of Americans increased theirs by 2.7 trillion. (There are, of course, many, many, many more people in the second group than the first.) Finally, he more or less tells us that 1-percenters are figments of our collective imaginations. “There is another reason why the top 1 percent should not be our primary focus. Far from being some kind of permafrost on top of the income distribution, the top 1 percent is a changeable group. The ‘upper class’ actually consists of an annually revolving cast of families from the rest of the top quintile, according to work by Mark Robert Rank of Washington University in St. Louis,” he writes. “In other words, the top 1 percent is not ‘them’—it’s us, having a good year.”
In some ways, Reeves is just making an intuitive point here: People’s incomes change. A young i-banker pulling down low six figures today will be tomorrow’s managing director with a house in the Hamptons. Law-firm associates become partners, then burn out and go to work for nonprofits. A writer might publish a hit novel, then never do it again. People move up the income ladder. They move down it too.
But Rank’s research—which I’ve written about a few times in the past—also shows that some people have much more staying power at the top than others. Reeves cites the finding that 20 percent of American adults will enjoy a household income of $250,000 or more during at least one year of their life. But he fails to mention that exactly 1 percent of adults earn that much for at least 10 consecutive years during their liftetime. Rank’s findings do suggest the line between the 1 percent and everyone else is a bit thinner than Occupy protesters may have led the world to believe. But they also show how the rich really are different from you and me: They make more money, year after year after year.
Again, Reeves ultimately wants his readers to pay less attention to income concentration at the very top for a well-meaning reason: He’s worried that we’re overlooking behavior of the upper-middle class that is making it harder for children of poorer families to join them. But even there, the data don’t firmly support his concerns. While there’s still lots of debate about the subject, research led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty has shown that relative income mobility—essentially, the likelihood that a child will end up higher on the income ladder than her parents—has been essentially flat for decades. What irrefutably has been changing isn’t people’s ability to move up and down the ladder, but rather the space between the rungs. And that story has much more to do with the rise of the 1 percent than dream hoarding by a poorly defined upper-middle class.
In his Atlantic article, Stewart tries to define his “new aristocracy” using wealth (what people own) rather than income (what they earn). The result makes even less sense than Reeves’ efforts.
By Stewart’s account, there are really three classes in America. First, there’s the 0.1 percent, the “big winners in the growing concentration of wealth” who have “the kind of money that can buy elections.” Then there’s the bottom 90 percent, who are busy getting screwed by the system. Finally, there are the winners of American meritocracy:
In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes (see Figure 1), it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent.
And here’s the graph:
Wealth inequality
The Atlantic
This gold line hovering above the others may look reasonably convincing, but there are problems. First, the 9.9 percent aren’t really who Stewart claims them to be. He describes the cohort (based on what, I don’t know) as “a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner.” He neglects to mention that many of them are actually just retirees. According to Saez and Zucman, whose data Stewart uses, more than 40 percent of all wealth belonging to Americans between and 90thand 99th percentiles is held by the the elderly, meaning age 65 or older. This is what makes wealth data a tricky way to measure class below the very tiptop of the distribution. Stewart’s “9.9 percent” includes a lot of working professionals and business owners with gilded academic résumés, sure. But it also probably encompasses a lot of 75-year-old former accountants and nurses and guys with construction businesses who made a comfortable living decades ago, bought a house, and paid down the mortgage while saving for retirement. There’s no real way to tell a consistent story about who these people are, which makes it a bit hard to blame them for the death of opportunity in this country.
It isn’t even accurate to say that the 9.9 percent has collectively held on to its share of America’s wealth. Here’s what happens when you break the group down into smaller chunks:
Wealth inequality
It turns out that this “new aristocracy” isn’t a coherent group at all, even if you just look at trends in wealth. Instead, it’s really three groups: one whose share of the pie is shrinking, one whose share is holding steady, and one whose share is growing. Stewart is hiding those differences by blending winners in the post-Reagan economy with some of the losers.
In an age when the likes of Jeff Bezos, the Mercers, and Sheldon Adelson are accumulating dynastic fortunes, it’s also just a bit precious to declare that the new “aristocracy” is made up of people who pay too much for yoga classes and buy their groceries at Whole Foods. The average net worth among adults in the 95th to 99th percentile is about $1.7 million. Among the 0.1 percent, it’s about $60 million. Who, exactly, are the aristocrats again?
The new aristocracy
It doesn’t help matters that while Stewart claims to be writing an article about, roughly, the top 10 percent of Americans, his article is chock-full of cultural signifiers and complaints that largely apply to people at the much richer end of that range. The corporate lawyers and midlevel investment bankers he references? They’re frequently 1 percenters, as measured by income. He decries how Republicans pared back the estate tax last year, a move that only helped multimillionaires. He focuses relentlessly on the college-admissions gauntlet typical of the top 30 or so most selective institutions. He sheds tears over the fact that Harvard and Princeton admit more than one-quarter of their students from private schools, as if 90thpercentilers are the ones sending their children to Andover and Choate. It’s almost as if Stewart has no idea who he’s actually writing about when he needles the “9.9 percent”—which isn’t shocking, since his stats don’t really tell him.
The broader problem with Stewart’s article isn’t his sloppy data analysis, his social reference points, or his awkward use of the phrase aristocracy, however. Rather, it’s how he collapses class distinctions that matter a great deal to people for the sake of a catchy headline. To put it bluntly, a doctor or lawyer who makes $400,000 is a whole hell of a lot richer than a doctor or lawyer who makes $120,000. Those two people are not living the same life, and they’re not necessarily benefiting from the same economic forces.
Stewart and Reeves are right to point out that the American upper class is bigger than just the top 1 percent. There are, indeed, many layers of economic privilege in this country. But they’re doing it in a way that essentially asks us to forget a lot of what we’ve learned about how income and wealth are really concentrating in this country. The 1 percent vs. the 99 percent may not be a perfect shorthand for what ails the economy, but it’s a whole lot more useful than what they’ve offered up. 

Students Stage Sit-In For Gun Control Outside Paul Ryan's Office, Get Arrested

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Some parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, are likely to hear an interesting response Friday night when they ask their teenagers how the day at school went.
Eight members of Montgomery County Students for Gun Control made their way to the U.S. Capitol on Friday afternoon, where they staged a sit-in outside the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). They were calling on him to pass common-sense gun control legislation.
The U.S. Capitol Police ended up arresting four of them, according to Daniel Gelillo, a member of the student group who didn’t attend the sit-in. 
Gelillo, 17, told HuffPost that the teens organized Friday’s action as a rapid response to that morning’s Texas high school shooting, which left 10 dead and another 10 wounded.
The protest caught the attention of David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, who tweeted his support:
“This is an issue we all care about deeply, and we’re all incredibly frustrated and saddened by the losses suffered in Texas today,” Gelillo told HuffPost. “We want to see change, and we want to see it sooner rather than later.”
He added, “We should not live in a country where we have to go to school in fear of the possibility of looking down the barrel of a rifle.”
Eva Malecki, communications director for the U.S. Capitol Police, confirmed that four juveniles were arrested Friday outside the office building where Ryan works. The four face charges of “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.”
Watch a full video of the protest and the arrests below:

It looks like President Trump’s attacks on Amazon go beyond tweets: He reportedly lobbied the USPS to double delivery rates

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Ask someone — like this Amazon reporter — if there’s anything that can slow Amazon down, and you’ll likely hear an answer that revolves around regulatory concerns; the company continues to flex its power at a time when the U.S. president is looking for reasons to make life harder for Jeff Bezos and his company.
But the chance of regulatory action has still seemed largely far-fetched, partly because of current antitrust law and partly because the president’s Amazon criticism has appeared to largely be relegated to angry tweets and not much more. No longer.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Trump has, on several occasions, personally lobbied the head of the U.S. Postal Service — U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan — to double the rates it charges Amazon and other online retail partners to deliver packages to customer homes. The most recent request reportedly came four months ago.
Such a change could potentially saddle Amazon with billions of dollars of extra costs, but Brennan, according to the Washington Post, has so far rebuffed Trump’s attempts.
Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.
Among Trump’s many issues with Amazon and Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, is the arrangement with the U.S. Postal Service — one of Amazon’s main partners in delivering orders to customer doors. Trump maintains that the online retailer is getting a sweetheart deal from USPS, worsening the service’s financial problems along the way. He has ordered a review of the USPS by a special task force that would recommend reforms.
Amazon and the Postal Service have countered that the arrangement is a profitable one for the USPS, though the contract between the two parties is not public. A Business Insider report from April also poked holes in a Citigroup study — which Trump has latched onto — that claimed that the USPS was miscalculating costs associated with Amazon deliveries.
There still might not be anything that can slow Amazon down. But it now looks as though Trump is trying harder than we previously knew.

Impossible Illusions Made Possible

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Impossible illusions are a type of optical illusions that cannot possibly exist. These figures seem plausible at first sight, but after viewing it for a few seconds the impossibility becomes apparent. However, with clever design it’s possible to create objects that look impossible when viewed from the correct angle.
impossible_structures (1)
One the most common impossible figure is the Penrose Triangle. The Penrose Triangle also called the Penrose Tribar appears to be a solid object, made of three straight beams of square cross-section which meet pairwise at right angles at the vertices of the triangle they form.
Now here is the impossible made possible.
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The “Impossible Triangle” in Perth, Australia, was created by artist Brian McKay in collaboration with architect Ahmad Abas. But how did they do it? Let’s look at it from the other side.
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Another impossible triangle located in Ophoven, Belgium. This one was achieved differently.
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An another one at Gotschuchen, South Austria.
The Belvedere is another impossible structure
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….made possible.
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Another look at it from a different angle.
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M. C. Escher’s “Ascending and Descending” is another famous impossible building.
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Andrew Lipson and Daniel Shiu constructed several “Ascending and Descending” structures using Lego.
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Cool, isn’t it?