9 Shameless Abuses of Diplomatic Immunity

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iStock

Diplomatic immunity may be intended to keep diplomats from running afoul of local authorities while serving abroad, but some workers take it as a license to act like jerks. While the Vienna Conventions on International Relations of 1961 outline a series of safeguards that protect diplomats from being unfairly punished should tempers flare between their country and their host nations, more than a few diplomats have taken advantage of their privileges in an irritating way. Here are just a few annoying little liberties diplomats have taken.

1. PARK WHEREVER YOU WANT

The most common manifestation of this inconsiderate behavior involves diplomats' parking. Just ask New Yorkers; diplomats at the United Nations apparently view Manhattan as their private parking lot. Back in 1996, diplomats racked up 143,508 parking summons, which would have cost them $15.8 million if not for diplomatic immunity. Russia alone was responsible for 32,000 of those fines.

2. OR CLEAR A SPOT FOR YOURSELF

A few hundred thousand unpaid tickets look like downright responsible behavior when compared to former Afghan diplomat Shah Mohammad Dost's antics behind the wheel. In 1987, Dost was accused of intentionally running a woman over in order to get a parking spot during a trip to an air conditioner store in Queens. According to the victim, her boyfriend was backing into the spot when Dost rolled up and demanded they cede the space to him because he was an Afghan diplomat. When they refused, Dost threw his Lincoln into gear and ran the woman over, sending her to the hospital.

3. BECOME A DOGGIE DIPLOMAT

Here's a case where diplomatic immunity didn't work out quite as well as a diplomat had hoped. In 1975, a UN delegate from Barbados claimed that diplomatic immunity extended to his pooch, who had bitten several people. The delegate warned police officers of "possible international consequences" if they tried to contain the aggressive German shepherd. Nice try, but Fido's not exactly negotiating trade treaties.

A Mexican diplomat got the same rude awakening in 1984. Military attaché Enrique Flores was keeping a pack of 10 basset hounds at his Virginia home in violation of local zoning laws. Even though the laws stated that Flores could only have four hounds at once, he appealed to the State Department for diplomatic immunity. The State Department turned him down. Guess they're cat people.

4. LOSE YOUR IMMUNITY IN THE DIVORCE

In 1989, Mozambique's representative to the United Nations wanted to divorce his American wife, so he waived his diplomatic immunity in order to take the matter to court. Unfortunately for the diplomat, Antonio Fernandez, he didn't fare well in the case; he ended up losing the couple's $5 million estate in the decision. Whoops.

Fernandez didn't suffer from any shortage of gall, though. After losing the decision he attempted to invoke his diplomatic immunity privileges to keep from paying his ex-wife. Fernandez took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, but in the end his former love got the couple's Greenwich, Connecticut, estate.

5. LIGHT UP ON A PLANE

In 2010, a Qatari diplomat ran into trouble on a Washington-to-Denver flight when he decided to have a smoke in the plane's lavatory. To make things worse, Mohammed Al-Madadi also made a joke that some passengers and flight personnel perceived to be a terrorist threat. Air marshals sounded various alarms, and in the end two F-16 fighter jets escorted the flight to its final destination. While diplomatic immunity kept Al-Madadi from being charged with any crimes, the Qatari government sent him home to help smooth things over.

6. STOP CUTTING YOUR LAWN

The residents of New Rochelle, New York, found themselves with a common problem in 2008: one house in the community had become a real eyesore. It sat vacant for years as weeds took over the yard, the paint began peeling, and the property slipped into an ugly state of decay. New Rochelle had a problem, though: the dilapidated house had a sort of diplomatic immunity that protected it from local ordinances. Somalia owned the house, which it occasionally used to house United Nations diplomats. Since the vacant house was exempt from taxes, the town couldn't use liens or other penalties to force the Somalians to do a little landscaping. The lesson here: if you want to stop mowing your lawn, join the Foreign Service.

7. STOP PAYING YOUR RENT

A word of advice to landlords out there: if diplomats want to rent one of your properties, you might want to get a hefty security deposit. Just ask some of Manhattan's biggest landlords. A 1996 New York Times story illustrated the difficulty of renting to diplomats; landlords really don't have any legal mechanism through which they can collect delinquent rent or evict diplomatic tenants. At the time the article was written, one West African country was over $20,000 behind in its rent checks for a pair of luxury apartments in midtown Manhattan.

If you or I pulled a stunt like that, we'd be out on the streets. But diplomats enjoy a special kind of immunity known as "inviolability," which states that the private residences of diplomats can't be entered by the host country's agents without the visiting country's consent. In short, the only way you can evict foreign diplomats is if their home nation gives you the thumbs-up first.

8. SLAUGHTER A SHEEP

Diplomatic behavior is not, apparently, a prerequisite for becoming a diplomat. In 1984, six Iranian diplomats caused a stink in London by taking a sheep from a house and cutting its throat in the street. The ritual public slaughter of an animal is generally frowned upon, but since the men had diplomatic immunity the British authorities were powerless to charge them with violating animal cruelty laws.

9. GIVE ILLEGAL SMUGGLING A TRY

He should have just paid that checked baggage fee. In March, a North Korean diplomat to Bangladesh was detained when he refused to let customs officials scan his carry-on at Dhaka’s airport. After more than four hours of arguing that his diplomatic immunity protected him from having to submit to security screenings, the diplomat finally assented – at which point, officials discovered approximately $1.4 million worth of illegal gold hidden in his bag. Though charges were never brought against the envoy to North Korea – which, due to financial sanctions, is restricted in its ability to transport money internationally – he was reportedly sent back home by his boss, ambassador Ri Song-hyon.

The 10 Best Air Fryers on Amazon

Cosori/Amazon
Cosori/Amazon

When it comes to making food that’s delicious, quick, and easy, you can’t go wrong with an air fryer. They require only a fraction of the oil that traditional fryers do, so you get that same delicious, crispy texture of the fried foods you love while avoiding the extra calories and fat you don’t.

But with so many air fryers out there, it can be tough to choose the one that’ll work best for you. To make your life easier—and get you closer to that tasty piece of fried chicken—we’ve put together a list of some of Amazon’s top-rated air frying gadgets. Each of the products below has at least a 4.5-star rating and over 1200 user reviews, so you can stop dreaming about the perfect dinner and start eating it instead.

1. Ultrean Air Fryer; $76

Ultrean/Amazon

Around 84 percent of reviewers awarded the Ultrean Air Fryer five stars on Amazon, making it one of the most popular models on the site. This 4.2-quart oven doesn't just fry, either—it also grills, roasts, and bakes via its innovative rapid air technology heating system. It's available in four different colors (red, light blue, black, and white), making it the perfect accent piece for any kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Cosori Air Fryer; $120

Cosori/Amazon

This highly celebrated air fryer from Cosori will quickly become your favorite sous chef. With 11 one-touch presets for frying favorites, like bacon, veggies, and fries, you can take the guesswork out of cooking and let the Cosori do the work instead. One reviewer who “absolutely hates cooking” said, after using it, “I'm actually excited to cook for the first time ever.” You’ll feel the same way!

Buy it: Amazon

3. Innsky Air Fryer; $90

Innsky/Amazon

With its streamlined design and the ability to cook with little to no oil, the Innsky air fryer will make you feel like the picture of elegance as you chow down on a piece of fried shrimp. You can set a timer on the fryer so it starts cooking when you want it to, and it automatically shuts off when the cooking time is done (a great safety feature for chefs who get easily distracted).

Buy it: Amazon

4. Secura Air Fryer; $62

Secura/Amazon

This air fryer from Secura uses a combination of heating techniques—hot air and high-speed air circulation—for fast and easy food prep. And, as one reviewer remarked, with an extra-large 4.2-quart basket “[it’s] good for feeding a crowd, which makes it a great option for large families.” This fryer even comes with a toaster rack and skewers, making it a great addition to a neighborhood barbecue or family glamping trip.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Chefman Turbo Fry; $60

Chefman/Amazon

For those of you really looking to cut back, the Chefman Turbo Fry uses 98 percent less oil than traditional fryers, according to the manufacturer. And with its two-in-one tank basket that allows you to cook multiple items at the same time, you can finally stop using so many pots and pans when you’re making dinner.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Ninja Air Fryer; $100

Ninja/Amazon

The Ninja Air Fryer is a multipurpose gadget that allows you to do far more than crisp up your favorite foods. This air fryer’s one-touch control panel lets you air fry, roast, reheat, or even dehydrate meats, fruits, and veggies, whether your ingredients are fresh or frozen. And the simple interface means that you're only a couple buttons away from a homemade dinner.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Instant Pot Air Fryer + Electronic Pressure Cooker; $180

Instant Pot/Amazon

Enjoy all the perks of an Instant Pot—the ability to serve as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, and more—with a lid that turns the whole thing into an air fryer as well. The multi-level fryer basket has a broiling tray to ensure even crisping throughout, and it’s big enough to cook a meal for up to eight. If you’re more into a traditional air fryer, check out Instant Pot’s new Instant Vortex Pro ($140) air fryer, which gives you the ability to bake, proof, toast, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Omorc Habor Air Fryer; $100

Omorc Habor/Amazon

With a 5.8-quart capacity, this air fryer from Omorc Habor is larger than most, giving you the flexibility of cooking dinner for two or a spread for a party. To give you a clearer picture of the size, its square fryer basket, built to maximize cooking capacity, can handle a five-pound chicken (or all the fries you could possibly eat). Plus, with a non-stick coating and dishwasher-safe basket and frying pot, this handy appliance practically cleans itself.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dash Deluxe Air Fryer; $100

Dash/Amazon

Dash’s air fryer might look retro, but its high-tech cooking ability is anything but. Its generously sized frying basket can fry up to two pounds of French fries or two dozen wings, and its cool touch handle makes it easy (and safe) to use. And if you're still stumped on what to actually cook once you get your Dash fryer, you'll get a free recipe guide in the box filled with tips and tricks to get the most out of your meal.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Bella Air Fryer; $52

Bella/Amazon

This petite air fryer from Bella may be on the smaller side, but it still packs a powerful punch. Its 2.6-quart frying basket makes it an ideal choice for couples or smaller families—all you have to do is set the temperature and timer, and throw your food inside. Once the meal is ready, its indicator light will ding to let you know that it’s time to eat.

Buy it: Amazon

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8 Surprising Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1977.
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Rarely has anyone been more driven to succeed than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian came to America in the 1960s and became a champion bodybuilder. Refuting advice that his accent was too thick, his body too developed, and his name too confusing, he became the biggest box office attraction in the world thanks to films like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and 1984’s The Terminator. That would satisfy most ambitious people, but Schwarzenegger then went a step further and became governor of California in 2003.

With the “Austrian Oak” celebrating his 73rd birthday on July 30, we’re taking a look at some of the most interesting facts of his life and career.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger went AWOL in the Austrian military.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984).20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Born July 30, 1947 near Graz, Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s family did not lead a comfortable life. Their home had no plumbing and no telephone. Schwarzenegger’s father, Gustav, was the village police chief and also a member of the Nazi party, which his son didn’t learn until much later on in his life. His father also pitted Schwarzenegger against his older brother, Meinhard, in various athletic contests, but it wasn’t until Arnold discovered bodybuilding that he found his calling.

Schwarzenegger, who made his own weights at a local metalworking shop, trained while performing a compulsory one-year tour of duty in the Austrian Army beginning in 1965. (Thanks to the balanced meals and protein offered by the military, he also gained 25 pounds.) During his time there, Schwarzenegger fled the base without permission so that he could enter a bodybuilding competition in Germany. He won, then spent seven days in military prison for the offense.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger learned how to drive a tank.

While serving in the Austrian military, Schwarzenegger was given instruction on how to operate a tank. The vehicle apparently held some sentimental value for him, as he later acquired it and brought it to America. In 2000, he loaned the tank to the Motts Military Museum in Ohio, then had it returned to him in 2008 with plans to offer rides to disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles as a reward for working hard in school.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger used psychological warfare to defeat his bodybuilding opponents.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron (1977).Getty Images

Schwarzenegger arrived in the United States in 1968 to pursue his bodybuilding career and enjoyed tremendous success, eventually winning seven Mr. Olympia titles. But it wasn’t solely due to his physique. In 2015, Schwarzenegger told podcast host Tim Ferris that he purposely engaged in psychological warfare to distract and shake the confidence of other competitors. He might, for example, ask a bodybuilder if they had a knee problem. “And they say, ‘Why are you asking?’” Schwarzenegger said. “I said, ‘Well, because your thighs look a little slimmer to me. I thought maybe you can’t squat or maybe there’s some problem with leg extension.’” The contestant would then feel self-conscious, and Schwarzenegger—always possessed of immense confidence—would capitalize on their insecurity, upstaging his opponent in front of the contest judges.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a millionaire before he got into acting.

Though he was successful in his bodybuilding career, Schwarzenegger wanted to have a reliable source of income beyond prize purses. He invested the money he won in competitions in California real estate, profiting immensely off the rise in property values in the 1970s. In doing so, he was able to be selective about the opportunities he chose to pursue in acting.

5. Mark Hamill told Arnold Schwarzenegger to lose his accent.

When his bodybuilding career began winding down, Schwarzenegger started looking to acting as his next challenge. Getting the title role in 1970’s Hercules in New York (where he was billed as Arnold Strong) did little to advance his ambition, as the movie was poorly-received and his heavy Austrian accent was dubbed over by an American actor. Later, after 1977’s Star Wars became a hit, Schwarzenegger asked Mark Hamill for advice. Hamill told him to lose the accent and his last name to give himself the best chance for success. Schwarzenegger obviously ignored the advice. He later said that he ultimately felt the accent was a benefit, since it made him a more distinctive commodity in Hollywood.

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger almost starred in a Hans and Franz musical.

Schwarzenegger had a sense of humor about Hans and Franz, the over-pumped Austrian bodybuilders played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon on Saturday Night Live. According to writer Robert Smigel, the actor was even interested in appearing in a big-screen Hans and Franz movie musical in the early 1990s. The characters would have been depicted as heading to California to pursue stardom, with Schwarzenegger appearing as both a version of himself and as the duo’s grandmother. The film was never made.

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood home is now a museum.

As the pride of his tiny hometown of Thal, Austria, Schwarzenegger’s childhood residence is now a museum. The announcement came in 2011, with visitors able to go inside the first-floor flat and view Schwarzenegger’s old bed, a motorcycle from The Terminator, weightlifting equipment, and a copy of the desk he used while he was governor of California.

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be president (in a movie).

Because he was not born in America, Schwarzenegger is ineligible to run for the office of the President of the United States, which is something the actor said he would have done if he had been able. (And no, he couldn’t become vice president, either.) But there is no such law barring him from playing one in a movie. The actor will appear as the U.S. President in Kung Fury 2, a sequel to the 2014 short film parody of 1980s action movies directed by and starring David Sandberg. A release date has not yet been announced.